William Wordsworth borrowed from his sister Dorothy's diary to create one of the most famous poems in English. Charles Darwin's grandfather Erasmus wrote poetry.
Having a famous relative is a double edged sword. You can be inspired, cash in on their fame... or feel overshadowed.
An international symposium in Dunedin is looking at the 19th century families of writers including Robert Burns, Jane Austen, the Brontes and Virginia Woolf.
Robbie and his nephew The Reverend Thomas Burns, Dunedin's founding figure, is the topic of Professor Liam McIlvanney's talk - while Dr Grace Moore from Melbourne University is speaking about the less famous Kingsley family.
Lynn Freeman spoke to them and to the symposium organiser, and curator of an accompanying exhibition,
Dr Thomas McLean from the University of Otago:
The symposium starts on 12 February 2017. Meanwhile the exhibition Keeping it in the Family: British and Irish Literary Generations 1770-1930, is on at the de Beer Gallery at the University of Otago.