Heritage website delves into literary prize winner’s lineage and strikes it rich.

Man Booker prize-winner Eleanor Catton is made of the write stuff. The acclaimed Kiwi author's lineage includes a who's who of famous names in the worlds of literature, music, films and politics.

Researchers at family history website ancestry.com.au have discovered Catton - who won the Booker last year for her novel The Luminaries - is related to American playwright Tennessee Williams, novelist Louisa May Alcott of Little Women fame, triple Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Archibald MacLeish, and historian Bruce Catton, who also won the Pulitzer in 1954.

"We were delighted to find so many achievers in Eleanor's family," Ben Mercer, ancestry.com's content manager, told the Herald on Sunday.

"Such a rich array of literary achievement wouldn't be typical of many families. Her ancestry has set her up wonderfully to be the writer that she is."


The ancestral research has also revealed Catton is a distant cousin of late Hollywood movie icon, actor Humphrey Bogart, whose widow, Lauren Bacall, died on August 12, aged 89.

The luminaries in Catton's background don't stop there though.

She is also related to legendary inventor Thomas Edison, songwriting genius Cole Porter and has links to three past presidents of the United States - Gerald Ford and the Bushes.

"Eleanor's roots in the US go back to Connecticut in the 1630s," Mercer said.

"At the time there was only about 1500 people living in that region and a lot of very famous American families sprang from there."

Despite her global fame, the 28-year-old author still works as a teacher at the creative writing department at the Manukau Institute of Technology, but has been travelling the world in the wake of her Booker success. She will soon have an essay, Questioning The Zodiac, turned into a "high end" limited-edition book to raise money for MIT's arts faculty.

Canadian-born Catton's mother, Judith, is a Kiwi from Canterbury, and her father, Philip, hails from Washington State in the US.

Her manager, Kirsten McDougall, said Catton would not comment on the research.

The author's immediate family could not be contacted this week for comment.

Mercer said the research was carried out into Catton's family tree to highlight what could be discovered by ancestorial searches.

To discover if you have any literary greats or famous connections in your own tree, see www.ancestry.com.au.