Saturday, July 07, 2007

Daniel Handler / Lemony Snicket

Daniel Handler

Daniel Handler (born February 28, 1970), is an American author, screenwriter, and accordionist. He is best known for his work under his pen name, Lemony Snicket.

Personal life

Handler was born in San Francisco, California, and is an alumnus of the San Francisco Boys Chorus and graduate of Lowell High School and Herbert Hoover Middle School. Handler graduated from Wesleyan University in 1992.

Handler is married to Lisa Brown, who is a graphic artist he met at the University, and he lives in an old Victorian house in San Francisco. His father Louis Handler is an accountant, and his mother is retired City College of San Francisco dean Sandra Handler. He also has a younger sister, Rebecca Handler. Handler has one son named Otto, who was born around Halloween 2003.

Handler is politically active and helped form LitPAC, a political action committee formed to assist liberal candidates.

In the June 10, 2007 edition of the New York Times Magazine Handler reveals ambivalence toward his wealth, and the expectations it creates. He states he is often asked for money for charitable causes and often gives.

His professional work

Handler has pursued careers in books, music, and film.


Three of his novels have been published under his name. His first, The Basic Eight, was rejected by many publishers for its subject matter and tone (a dark view of a teenage girl's life). Handler claims that the novel was rejected thirty-seven times before finally being published. The book's tone served as an impetus of sorts for the Lemony Snicket works, the sad A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Watch Your Mouth, his second novel, was actually completed before The Basic Eight was published. It follows a more operatic theme, complete with stage directions and various acts. Described by HarperCollins, the book's reprint publisher, as an "incest opera," it mixed Jewish mythology with modern sexuality. Watch Your Mouth's second half replaces the opera trope with the form of a 12-step recovery, linguistically undergone by the protagonist.

His most recent effort under his own name is Adverbs, a series of short stories that he says are "about love." It was published in April 2006.

Handler has stated that his next adult novel is about pirates - or, more specifically, a modern-age pirate who "wants to be an old-fashioned kind of pirate".

Lemony Snicket

Handler began writing A Series of Unfortunate Events under the Snicket pseudonym in 1999. The books concern three orphaned children who have progressively more terrible things happen to them, and Snicket acts as the narrator and biographer of the fictional orphans.

Handler has also appeared at author appearances as "Lemony Snicket's handler," as well as appearing as Snicket himself in various other books and media, including the commentary track for the film version of his books, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. He also wrote an introduction to Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography under his own name.

The Lemony Snicket books have been international bestsellers, and the 13th and final instalment of the series came out Friday, October 13, 2006. On the day the thirteenth book came out, Handler appeared on the Today show as Lemony Snicket's representative.
Handler has also written some short fiction under the Lemony Snicket pseudonym.


Daniel Handler sings a sorrowful tune.

Handler is an accomplished musician, having played accordion on various recordings as well as worked on an unfinished musical with The Magnetic Fields singer and songwriter Stephin Merritt.

He was in two bands following college, The Edith Head Trio and Tzamboni, neither of which had any noted success. He has also played accordion in the Merritt project The Gothic Archies, which have provided music for the audiobooks in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

Handler also contributed accordion to a number of tracks in the Magnetic Fields project 69 Love Songs. In the box set of the project, Handler provides a lengthy interview with Merritt about the project, as well as conversations about the songs.

On October 10, 2006, an album with all 13 songs from the 13 audiobooks in A Series of Unfortunate Events was released. The album includes two additional songs, one about the band attributed to producing the album--The Gothic Archies.

Handler also wrote the lyrics to the song "Radio," performed by One Ring Zero


Handler has also had some success in film work. He produced the screenplay for Rick, which was based on the Verdi opera Rigoletto, as well as Kill the Poor, which was based on the novel by Joel Rose.

Handler was involved in the screenwriting process for the film version of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but was ultimately removed from the project. He had completed eight separate drafts of the film before giving up following a change in those who were producing the film. Robert Gordon (screenwriter of Galaxy Quest) was hired to replace Handler and eventually received credit for the film's screenplay, and Handler has noted his pleasure with the film.

Handler did submit a commentary track for the DVD version of the Lemony Snicket film, alongside director Brad Silberling. In character as Snicket, he derides the Snicket in the film - played by Jude Law - as an imposter, as well as choosing to play accordion and sing about leeches rather than pay attention to the film. He also made several interesting comments about the film which include the company Nickelodeon, "being on another planet, I see" when he saw the planets in the Nickelodeon Movies title, as well as being "frightened by the sudden appearance of an eye" when Aunt Josephine looks through her front door's eye hole. At numerous times during the track he comments on the horrible things that are happening to the poor children, and implies that he is being held captive by the director in order to do the commentary.

List of works

This is a partial list of works Handler has created or been involved with. For more information regarding his works as Lemony Snicket, see Lemony Snicket.

  • The Basic Eight St. Martin's Press/HarperCollins (1998)
  • Watch Your Mouth St. Martin's Press/HarperCollins (2000)
  • How to Dress for Every Occasion, by the Pope (with illustrations by Sarah "Pinkie" Bennett, pseudonym for Lisa Brown) McSweeney's (2005)
  • Adverbs HarperCollins (2006)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events (as Lemony Snicket) HarperCollins (1999 to 2006)
  • Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid (as Lemony Snicket)
    As editor or contributor:
  • Nonsense Novels by Stephen Leacock (Introduction) New York Review of Books Classics (2004)


  • Rick (2003)
  • Kill the Poor (2006)


  • 69 Love Songs - The Magnetic Fields
  • The 6ths.
  • The Tragic Treasury - The Gothic Archies


Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket is a pseudonym used by author Daniel Handler in his book series A Series of Unfortunate Events, as well as a character in that series. An autobiography was published, entitled Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography with an introduction from Handler. A pamphlet, 13 Shocking Secrets You'll Wish You Never Knew About Lemony Snicket, was released in promotion of The End.

Handler has also written some other books and short fiction under the Lemony Snicket name.

Name origin

The name Lemony Snicket ostensibly came from research for Handler's first book, The Basic Eight. Handler wanted to receive material from organizations he found "offensive or funny", but did not want to use his real name, and invented "Lemony Snicket" as a pseudonym. He would also use the name to write prank letters to newspapers, pretending to be outraged at a trivial news item. When writing A Series of Unfortunate Events, he and his editor decided the books should be published under the narrator's name, rather than his.

Biography of character

Early life

Like the Baudelaire children, Snicket came from a family of three children. His brother Jacques and sister Kit were also V.F.D. members and friends of the Baudelaire parents. Both Jacques and Kit appear as supporting characters in the Series of Unfortunate Events books. He also knew Count Olaf in his early life, as the two attended school together.

In his youth, Lemony Snicket attended a V.F.D.-run boarding school with several other characters from the series. He received later tuition at a V.F.D. headquarters in the Mortmain Mountains, and was employed at newspaper The Daily Punctilio after graduating.

During his early life, after meeting at school, Snicket conducted an ill-fated romance with an actress and V.F.D. member named Beatrice, revealed at the end of the series to be the mother of series protagonists Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Lemony and Beatrice were engaged to be married, but Beatrice broke off the engagement for unclear reasons (although the series heavily implies that she believed Lemony to be responsible for crimes committed by Count Olaf) and returned her ring to Lemony, along with a two-hundred page book explaining why the two could not be wed. She eventually married another man, Bertrand, and finally suffered a tragic death in the fire that destroyed the Baudelaires' mansion. Snicket frequently alludes to Beatrice in his narration and dedicates each Series of Unfortunate Events book to her. Certain dedications, however, may refer to Beatrice Snicket, his niece whose mother, Kit Snicket, died.

Snicket was believed to be dead by the Baudelaire parents, as their book on Olaf-Land states that, following with the tradition of naming children after someone who has died, Violet was to be named Lemony if she was a boy. However, it can be assumed that since Klaus, the next born, was not named Lemony, the Baudelaire parents found out that Lemony was in fact alive, possibly because of a telegram Lemony sent to them (which appears in The Beatrice Letters).

Snicket is also known to have been close friends with a woman called "R.", who was the Duchess of Winnipeg.

Lemony Snicket is a former theater critic for the fictional Daily Punctilio who has charged himself with the task of researching and writing the sad story of the Baudelaire orphans for "various personal and legal reasons." [3] He traced their movements and collects evidence relating to their adventures, but it is possible that he never met Violet, Klaus, or Sunny in person, though fans often identify him as a taxi driver who appeared briefly in The Penultimate Peril. As the series progresses it becomes increasingly clear that Snicket knew the late Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire well for many years through their connections to the secret organization "V.F.D.". However, as mentioned in The Hostile Hospital and The End, despite all of Lemony's research and hard work, he still does not know the current location, position and status of the Baudelaire children. Lemony was recruited by V.F.D. as a child, according to the Little Snicket Lad song. In The Beatrice Letters his niece, the daughter of Kit Snicket, who is also named Beatrice, mentions that she believes he is a detective of some sort, a reference to his investigations into the case of the Baudelaire children.

Snicket is frequently disparaging of himself; he has described himself as a coward, and at various points in his novels comments that he would not have been as brave as the Baudelaire children had he been in their situation. He also confesses that he has done things that were not noble, most notably the theft of the sugar bowl from Esmé Squalor. He has also implied that he had a part in the murder of the parents of the main antagonist of the series, Count Olaf.

In the narration of the books, Snicket describes doing many unusual things in his free time, including: hiding all traces of his actions, locating new hiding places, considering suspicious dishes, and researching the perilous lives of the Baudelaires. He claims to often write himself a thank-you note in an attempt to cheer himself up, but these attempts are always in vain. In The Grim Grotto, Captain Widdershins states that "Jacques's brother", obviously Lemony, was once part of his crew on the Queequeg. He is also implied to have been a member of the crew on one cruise of the ship Prospero.

Snicket's enemies are constantly behind him and often attempt to very forcefully denounce him, and a frequent topic in Snicket's narration are the various traps set by his enemies and the actions he has undertaken to escape them. He is often said to be the victim of a world-wide conspiracy, possibly a reference to his enemies in V.F.D. This subject is often extended to Snicket's author blurbs and other publisher material not written by Snicket.

Other work

Daniel Handler has also written or contributed to other works under the Lemony Snicket persona that are not related to A Series of Unfortunate Events. He has stated, "There's a chance some other matters may take up Mr Snicket's attention, that he may research and publish, but I'm always weary of making such promises."

The first of these was a secular Nativity story entitled "The Baby in the Manger" that caused controversy for its supposed anti-family views. Another Christmas story, entitled "The Lump of Coal," was published in USA Weekend in 2004. As Snicket, Handler wrote an introduction and endnotes for The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily, his favourite children's book, that referenced A Series of Unfortunate Events. A book of humorous quotes partly drawn from A Series of Unfortunate Events was published as Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid.

Upcoming books written under the Lemony Snicket name are The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, which describes itself as a Christmas story, and The Composer is Dead, a murder mystery designed to introduce young readers to the instruments of the orchestra; it was previously produced as an orchestral work by the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, with Handler narrating as Snicket, and a recording of the performance is to be included with every copy of the expanded book.


Jayde_Bramblerose said...

( WOW ) that is some info on " lemony snicket " i didnt realise he was still a young man .

i started to read the piece you put in first " but " i stopped as i thought it might tell me some of the story that i havent yet read , i am nearly through the " slippery slope " .

grandma x

Tori_Z said...

It doesn't really give anything away, Grandma.. You'll learn more from reading the books than from reading that. Reading 'The Slippery Slope' first will give far more away than reading the Lemony Snicket post.