Florence King, an author and reviewer whose humorous books and essays poked fun at Southerners, Anglo-Saxon Protestants and the American male, died Jan. 6 in an assisted-living facility in Fredericksburg. She turned 80 on Jan. 5.
A trubute written by Jay Strafford, a retired writer and editor for The Richmond Times-Dispatch, recalls King as a 10th-generation Virginian who by "geographical accident" was born in the District of Columbia. In the 1960s King worked in newspapers and magazines, then turned to full-time writing. The results were often irreverent and and wildly humorous.
Strafford recalled King's "acerbic humor and her keen mind," adding that she skewered white Anglo-Saxon Protestants in “Wasp, Where Is Thy Sting?” and men in “He: An Irreverent Look at the American Male.” Next came her only published novel, “When Sisterhood Was in Flower,” and her tender and moving autobiography, “Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady.”
"With crackling wit, King poked fun and told truths about human folly," Strafford wrote, noting King's remark that “I don’t suffer fools, and I like to see fools suffer.” One of her editors called her “the Venus de Milo of the compassionate embrace,” added Strafford. King also wrote occasional book reviews for the Times-Dispatch and its then afternoon paper, The News Leader.
"A unique voice in social commentary," Strafford concluded, "she leaves a blend of sociology and satire unlikely to be equaled, let alone surpassed, in American letters."