Dave Barry: Biography, Books & Essays

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist. Barry's work has appeared in over 500 newspapers, and he has published dozens of books. In this lesson, we will look at his life, books, and essays.


Dave Barry is a prolific Pulitzer Prize-winning writer best known for his use of humor. He began as a reporter in the 1970s and went on to become a columnist published in more than 500 newspapers. Barry has written dozens of books that use satire and humor to discuss topics that are more serious. In this lesson, we will examine Dave Barry's life as well as his most popular books and essays.

dave barry


Born on July 3, 1947, in Armonk, New York, Dave Barry is the son a Presbyterian minister. From an early age, he showed an interest in becoming a writer. Barry's sense of humor earned him the title of Class Clown during high school. Dave went on to earn his bachelor's degree in English at Haverford College in 1969.

His first newspaper job was at the Daily Local. After taking a job with a consulting company, Barry continued working on his writing and humor column. In 1983, he took a job as a columnist with the Miami Herald and published his first book, Taming the Screw, a hilarious piece about home ownership.

Dave Barry won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1988. The selecting council explained that he earned this award 'for his consistently effective use of humor as a device for presenting fresh insights into serious concerns.' Winning the award skyrocketed his career. His column was syndicated for 25 years and appeared in more than 500 periodicals.

Although Dave Barry retired his column in 2005, he has continued to write satirical books on topics such as finance, history, and fitness, among other topics. Barry has authored over 30 books and continues to contribute special edition columns annually.


Dave Barry has written over 30 books during his career. His books, both fiction and nonfiction, are humorous. Both categories consistently receive solid marks for humor, but critics have scrutinized his ability to build strong plots in his fiction pieces.

Fiction: Big Trouble

Big Trouble was Dave Barry's debut novel, published by Putnam in 1999. The humorous novel follows a family as they encounter a dangerous chain of events that changes their lives forever. The novel touches on alcoholism, embezzlement, and parenting in a witty and newfound style. The novel was criticized by literary buffs for having a weak plot, although it is clear that the novel wasn't written for scholarly recognition. The book is said to be bright, witty, and an excellent example of brilliant description.

Nonfiction: You Can Date Boys When You're Forty

In 2014, Putnam published You Can Date Boys When You're Forty, a nonfiction book that toyed with modern parenting and family structures. From family vacations to dating, Barry leaves no part of parenting woes untouched. The book was praised for painting an accurate, albeit hilarious, account of what it is like to actually be a parent in the modern world.

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