February 25 Writer Birthdays

1814 – Taras Shevchenko, Ukrainian poet, playwright, painter, anthropologist, and ethnographer.

1866 – Benedetto Croce, Italian writer, philosopher, politician, art historian, and literary critic.

1900 – Marina Yurlova, Russian child soldier and author who fought in World War I and later in the Russian Civil War; wounded several times, she won the Cross of Saint George for bravery three times before making her way to Japan and finally the US, where she performed as a dancer and published an autobiography in three volumes.

1905 – Perry Miller, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and author who specialized in the history of early America; Margaret Atwood dedicated her book The Handmaid’s Tale to him.

1906 – Mary Coyle Chase, American playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and children’s novelist, best known for her Broadway play Harvey, which was adapted into a popular film starring James Stewart.

1915 – Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, Sri Lankan-born Singaporean short-story writer and Deputy Prime Minister who wrote the Singapore National Pledge.

1917 – Anthony Burgess, English author, comic writer, and composer; he is best known as the author of the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange.

1930 – Sister Wendy Beckett, South African-born, Scottish-raised Roman Catholic nun, writer, educator, translator of Medieval Latin, and hermit who presented a series of programs and books on the meaning of art for the BBC.

1942 – John Saul, bestselling American author of suspense and horror novels.

1942 – Cynthia Voigt, Newbery Award-winning American educator and writer of young-adult novels; many of her books are realistic in tone and center around young people who are isolated from society.

1945 – Shiva Naipaul (born Shivadhar Srinivasa Naipaul), Trinidadian and British novelist and journalist who was the younger brother of novelist V.S. Naipaul.

1949 – Amin Maalouf, Lebanese-born French author who writes in French and is a winner of the Prix Goncourt for his novel The Rock of Tanios.

1949 – Jack Handey, American humorist best known for “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey” — a large body of surrealistic one-liners popularized by National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live — and for his deadpan delivery. Although many people assume otherwise, Handey is a real person, not a pen name or character.

1960 – Joyce Tyldesley, British archaeologist, egyptologist, anthropologist, writer, and broadcaster whose work focuses on women in Ancient Egypt.

Pepino Returns

After dealing with several mice in the house, we were finally convinced that we had succeeded in getting rid of them. We hadn’t seen or heard a mouse in weeks.

And then, on Saturday night, I walked into the kitchen to see Pepino scurrying across the floor to disappear under the refrigerator. Damn.

Bob said he’d known there was a hole in the wall near the floor back there, but hadn’t gotten around to sealing it, even when he sealed the larger hole behind the stove. We pulled out the fridge, and sure enough, there was a hole plenty large enough to serve as a mouse doorway.

Bob wasn’t sure he had anything on his workbench suitable for covering the hole, and really didn’t want to get started on a construction job late at night. So at my suggestion, we filled the gap with crumpled aluminum foil. We have not seen or heard a mouse since then, but I’m not ready to believe we’ve solved the problem.

The big question: did we eradicate the mice last month, until a new mouse found a way in when the weather got cold last week? Or was the mouse here all along, but laying low?

Our seemingly mouse-free weeks roughly coincided with a period of warmer weather between cold spells — which gives credence to the first theory, since mice tend to sneak inside when temperatures drop outdoors.

On the other hand, they also coincide with the weeks our son was away at school before coming home for the weekend. Last month, his bedroom was the mouse’s favorite hangout. If the mouse stayed mostly in there while Jon was away, we would be less likely to have seen or heard it, since we’re seldom in there when Jon is away. Maybe his return forced the little guy out into the open.

So now we wait. Is Pepino hiding out in Jon’s room, snacking on whatever crumbs he dropped over the weekend that we missed when we cleaned up after his visit home? Is Pepino trapped inside the wall behind the fridge, after we blocked the entry point? Or did Pepino make his way outside through some Yet-to-be-discovered-by-humans passageway from the Great Outdoors, only to return the next time the temperature drops?

Stay tuned.

February 24 Writer Birthdays

1304 – Ibn Battuta, Moroccan-born Muslim Berber writer, scholar, geographer, cartographer, merchant, and explorer who widely traveled the medieval world; his account of his journeys was called, A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling.

1786 – Wilhelm Carl Grimm, German author, folklorist, librarian, and literary historian who was the younger of the Brothers Grimm.

1848 – Grant Allen, Canadian novelist, essayist, and science-fiction writer.

1852 – George More, Irish author best known for his early work in Paris and London as a struggling artist.

1885 – Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski, Polish novelist and journalist.

1887 – Mary Ellen Chase, Maine-based American educator, teacher, scholar, and novelist who is one of the most important regional literary figures of the early 20th century.

1903 – Irène Némirovsky, Ukrainian novelist of Jewish origin who lived most of her life in France but was denied French citizenship; despite her conversion to Roman Catholicism, she was arrested as a Jew and died at Auschwitz in 1942.

1909 – August William Derleth, American writer and anthologist who was the first book publisher of H.P. Lovecraft, and who contributed himself to the Cthulhu Mythos and the Cosmic Horror genre, as well as founding of the groundbreaking supernatural fiction publisher Arkham House. He was also a leading American regional writer of his day, writing fiction, historical fiction, poetry, and nonfiction about Wisconsin, and was prolific in other genres, including historical fiction, poetry, detective fiction, science fiction, and biography.

1942 – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Indian writer, translator, professor, literary theorist, and feminist critic who is best known for her essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” and for her translation of and introduction to Jacques Derrida’s De la Grammatologie; she is a founding members of Columbia University’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and is considered one of the most influential postcolonial intellectuals.

1943 – Kent Haruf, American novelist who wrote literary fiction set in the fictional eastern Colorado town of Holt.

1952 – Judith Ortiz Cofer, Puerto Rican poet, novelist, essayist, autobiographer, and children’s writer.

1956 – Judith Butler, American writer, professor, journalist, sociologist, literary critic, philosopher, feminist, and gender theorist.

1959 – Kasi (Karen) Lemmons, American filmmaker, screenwriter, and actress.

1966 – Alain Mabanckou, Congolese-born French novelist, journalist, poet, and professor who is best known for novels and nonfiction depicting the experience of contemporary Africa and the African diaspora in France.

1971 – Gillian Flynn, American screenwriter, writer, journalist, film critic, novelist, television critic

1973 – Rainbow Rowell, American journalist and novelist best known for her young-adult books.

1976 – Yuval Noah Harari, Israeli historian and author of popular-science bestsellers.

February 23 Writer Birthdays

1633 – Samuel Pepys, English diarist and member of Parliament; the detailed diary he kept during the 1660s was first published in the 19th century and is one of the most important historical sources on the English Restoration period, including eyewitness accounts of such events as the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.

1787 – Emma Hart Willard, American author, educator, and women’s rights activist.

1843 – Frances Murray, American-born Scottish author, poet, travel writer, musicologist, university teacher, and women’s rights activist.

1857 – Margaret Deland, American novelist, short-story writer, poet, university teacher, and autobiographer who was part of the literary realism movement.

1865 – Anna Ritter, German poet and writer whose work was lyric, saturated with symbolism, and influenced by folklore and a New Romanticism; several composers set her poems to music, including Max Reger, Jean Sibelius, and Kurt Weill.

1868 – W.E.B. duBois, American author, editor, autobiographer, professor, sociologist, historian, and civil-rights activist whose best known work is The Souls of Black Folk.

1873 – Liang Qichao, Chinese writer, historian, journalist, translator, philosopher, and reformist.

1877 – Frederic L. Paxson, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, historian, and professor.

1887 – Henriqueta Galeno, Brazilian writer, poet, lawyer, and teacher who played an active role in gaining Brazilian women the right to vote.

1889 – Musidora (real name Jeanne Roques), French writer, journalist, screenwriter, actress, and film director.

1899 – Erich Kästner, German author, poet, satirist, children’s writer, and screenwriter.

1899 – Elisabeth Langgässer, German novelist, short-story writer, lyric poet, lyricist, literary critic, and teacher; she became a writer when fired from her teaching position because she gave birth to an out-of-wedlock child. Her best known work is the short story Saisonbeginn, which provides a graphically human portrayal of a 1930s German Alpine village erecting a sign that forbids the entry of Jews.

1904 – William M. Shirer, National Book Award-winning American journalist, broadcaster, and historian whose best-known book was The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

1913 – Sabine Sicaud, French poet who won her first poetry prize at age 11 and published a book of poems at age 13, expressing a child’s awakening to the wonders of nature. She died of osteomyelitis at age 15; the poems she wrote in her last year of life were published for the first time thirty years later.

1924 – Parviz Shapour, Iranian artist, short-story writer, author, politician, and man of letters known for his witticisms and for his brief and troubled marriage to poet Forough Farrokhzad; his short, witty writings have been described as “cartoons expressed as words.”

1937 – Amina Haider al-Sadr (also known as Bint al-Huda al-Sadr, Iraqi writer, educator, and political activist who in 1980 was executed by Saddam Hussein, along with her brother, Ayatullah Sayyid Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr.

1937 – Claude Brown, American novelist, autobiographer, and sociologist whose best known book is Manchild in the Promised Land.

1942 – Haki R. Madhubuti (born Don Luther Lee), African-American poet, essayist, critic, and publisher who founded Third World Press and was a key member of the black arts movement.

1944 – John Sandford (pen name of John Roswell Camp), Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and bestselling author of thrillers.

1944 – Bernard Cornwell, British author of historical novels, contemporary thrillers, and history.

1949 – Maya Bejerano, award-winning Israeli poet.

1950 – Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, American novelist, philosopher, writer, biographer, classical scholar, and philosopher, who writes both fiction and nonfiction, often centered around science and philosophical rationalism.

1953 – Walter Wick, American artist and photographer known for his intricate photographs in the I Spy series of picture books for children.

1964 – Milly Jane Johnson, award-winning British author of bestselling romantic fiction; she is also a poet, short-story writer, and newspaper columnist.

1967 – Anupama Chopra, Indian author, journalist, film critic, and director of the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.

1968 – Sonya Hartnett, Australian novelist, young-adult author and children’s writer who has been called, “the finest Australian writer of her generation.”

1970 – Heidi Marie Kriznik, award-winning Norwegian novelist.

1982 – Eileen Barbosa, award-winning Cape Verdean short-story writer, poet, and advisor to the Prime Minister.

1991 – Alanda Kariza, Indonesian writer and activist; she initiated the Indonesian Youth Conference as a tool for young people to speak up and address their aspirations.

February 22 Writer Birthdays

1804 – William Whipper, American anti-slavery activist and essayist.

1819 – James Russell Lowell, American poet, social critic, journalist, essayist, and abolitionist.

1864 – Pierre-Jules Renard, French novelist, playwright, and nonfiction author, most famous for the works Poil de carotte (Carrot Top) and Les Histoires Naturelles (Nature Stories).

1871 – John Langalibalele Dube, South African essayist, philosopher, educator, politician, publisher, editor, novelist and poet who was the founding president of the South African Native National Congress, which became the African National Congress.

1876 – Zitkála-Šá (Lakota: Red Bird, or Cardinal, and also known as Gertrude Simmons Bonnin, her missionary-given and later married name), Yankton Dakota Sioux writer, editor, translator, violinist, educator, and political activist; she wrote several works chronicling her struggles with cultural identity and the pull between the majority culture she was educated within and her Dakota Sioux culture into which she was born.

1879 – Norman Lindsay, Australian journalist, artist, and author the children’s classic The Magic Pudding.

1892 – Edna St. Vincent Millay, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, writer, translator, playwright, and librettist; the poet Richard Wilbur asserted, “She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century.” She used the pseudonym Nancy Boyd for her prose work.

1898 – Lázaro Francisco y Angeles, award-winning Filipino novelist, essayist, and playwright.

1900 – Seán Ó Faoláin, Irish short-story writer also known as John Francis Whelan.

1900 – Giorgios Seferis, Nobel Prize-winning Greek poet.

1903 – Morley Callaghan, Canadian novelist and short-story writer whose works are marked by undertones of Roman Catholicism, often focusing on individuals whose essential characteristic is a weakened sense of self.

1917- Jane Auer Bowles, American novelist, playwright, and short-story writer who has been called “one of the finest modern writers of fiction in any language.”

1923 – François Cavanna, French author and satirical newspaper editor.

1925 – Edward Gorey, American writer and artist noted for his illustrated books; his characteristic pen-and-ink drawings often depict vaguely unsettling narrative scenes in Victorian and Edwardian settings.

1935 – Danilo Kis, Serbo-Hungarian novelist and essayist.

1938 – Ishmael Reed, American poet, novelist, and essayist.

1945 – Fleur Una Maude Beale (née Corney), New Zealand author of books for children and teens, including the bestselling novel I Am Not Esther.

1947 – Pirjo Honkasalo, Finnish screenwriter, film director, and cinematographer.

1950 – Julie Walters (Dame Julia Mary Walters), award-winning English actress and autobiographer; she is a mulitple BAFTA Award winner, has won a Golden Globe, and has been nominated for two Academy Awards; she is best known internationally for playing Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter films.

1956 – Sükrü Altin, Turkish historian, novelist, educator, and painter.

1956 – Philip Ballantyne Kerr, Scottish-born crime novelist and children’s fantasy novelist, known for his crime series featuring Nazi-era detective Bernie Gunther.

1968 – Abdel-Rahman Ayas, Lebanese writer, journalist, translator, and researcher.

1971 – Elisha Cooper, American writer and illustrator of children’s books.

1976 – Isla Fisher, Omani-born Australian novelist and actress who is best known for her work in soap operas and movies but who has also written several novels for children and teens.

Postcards From the World: Deux de France

Olivier sent this card, which shows seaside scenery from the beautiful Cote Vermeille (Vermillion Coast) city of Collioure, near the border with Spain. Olivier likes playing football and poker, fishing, skiing, collecting stamps, and watching old American Western movies, especially those starring John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, or Gary Cooper.

I know I just posted about a recent Postcrossing card I received. But an envelope that just came in the mail was noteworthy enough to deserve another Postcards From the World mention.

The envelope came from France and contained not one but two postcards. They are from Sandra and Olivier, who live together in Alsace. Sandra explained that she and her boyfriend, both Postcrossers, asked for addresses to send to at the same time, and both received my profile!

If you don’t know anything about Postcrossing, that might not seem remarkable. But there are more than 800,000 Postcrossers all over the world. What are the chances that two Postcrossers who happen to live together would both receive my name and address at the same time? It’s rare enough so that I have received more than 5,000 Postcrossing cards over the years, and this is only the second time I know of that such a thing has happened. The last time was years ago. Two best friends in China both got my address and sent cards from the same series to me at the same time, which arrived on the same day.

This scrumptious card of berry pies is from Sandra, who says Olivier (who sent the first card above) is her boyfriend; they live together in Alsace, France. Sandra has a passion for sewing, gardening, and photography. She also loves Disney, Totoro, and Harry Potter, and has a Korean squirrel and two guinea pigs.

February 21 Writer Birthdays

1755 – Anne Grant (often called Mrs. Anne Grant of Laggan), Scottish poet and author best known for her collection of mostly biographical poems Memoirs of an American Lady as well as her earlier work Letters from the Mountains.

1817 – José Zorrilla y Moral, Spanish poet and dramatist whose work was part of the Romantic movement.

1820 – Apollo Korzeniowski, Polish poet, playwright, translator, clandestine political activist, and father of Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad.

1821 – Charles Scribner, American founder of the company, Charles Scribner’s Sons, a major publisher of books and magazines.

1888 – Clemence Dane, pseudonym of Winifred Ashton, English novelist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, science-fiction writer, painter, and sculptor.

1903 – Anais Nin, French-born Cuban-American novelist, diarist, critic, essayist, and writer of short stories and erotica; she is best known for the journals she wrote for 60 years, many of which have been published, and which feature intimate details of her relationships with friends and lovers who included some of the best-known literary figures of the day.

1903 – Raymond Queneau, French author who produced some of the most important prose and poetry of the mid-20th century.

1907 – W.H. Auden (Wystan Hugh Auden), Pulitzer Prize-winning English-born American poet and anti-war socialist whose work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievement; its engagement with politics, morals, love, and religion; and its variety in tone, form and content.

1927- Erma Bombeck, American humorist, columnist, and author whose writing found the humor in suburban home life and gained her an enormous following.

1936 – Barbara Jordan, groundbreaking African-American lawyer, politician, professor, speechwriter, and autobiographer; she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and was President Bill Clinton’s choice for Supreme Court Justice but was not nominated because of her poor health.

1937 – Jilly Cooper, British author, journalist, nonfiction writer, children’s book author, and bestselling romance novelist.

1943 – Lyudmila Evgenyevna Ulitskaya, internationally acclaimed modern Russian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, children’s writer, translator, and human-rights activist.

1946 – Monica Johnson, award-winning American screenwriter and producer for television and movies; she often collaborated with Albert Brooks and sometimes wrote under the name Monica McGowan.

1947 – Lidia Bastianich (Lidia Giuliana Matticchio Bastianich), Croatian-born Italian-American celebrity chef, television host, author, and restaurateur who specializes in Italian cuisine.

1948 – Elizabeth Edmondson (who also wrote under the names Elizabeth Aston and Elizabeth Pewsey), Chilean-born English author who wrote primarily in the mystery, historical, and contemporary fiction genres; many of her published stories were adaptations and sequels of Jane Austen’s works.

1952 – Jia Pingwa, one of China’s most popular authors of novels, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction; one of his best-known novels, Ruined City, was banned for more than 17 years for explicit sexual content.

1956 – Ha Jin, Chinese-born poet, novelist, short-story writer, and university teacher whose work is associated with the Misty Poetry movement.

1950 – Håkan Nesser, Swedish author best known for his crime fiction.

1952 – Jeff Shaara, American author of historical fiction; he is the son of Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Shaara.

1962 – Charles Michael Palahniuk, American novelist and journalist who describes his work as “transgressional fiction”; he is best known for the novel Fight Club.

1962 – David Foster Wallace, influential American novelist.

1977 – Jonathan Safran Foer, American modernist author of fiction and nonfiction, best known for his novels Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.

Postcards From the World: Books from Germany

Today I’m featuring a particularly nice card I received this week. This Postcrossing postcard comes from Ines in Germany, in the city of Chemnitz, which is a little southwest of Dresden. Like me, Ines loves to read; hence, the postcard covered with bookshelves. Her favorite kinds of books are crime stories, fantasy, and books set in the 1920s. She seems to have made this card herself, and even added a row of bookshelf washi tape to the back.

Here is Postcrossing card #DE-10050913, from Germany. If I can trust Google Translate, the German quote on the card reads, “Without books in the world I would have long been desperate.”

February 20 Writer Birthdays

1713 – Anna Maria Elvia, Swedish feminist writer who was renowned for her academic abilities and regarded intellectual development as not just a right but a duty of women.

1805 – Angelina Emily Grimké, American author, pamphlet writer, lecturer, abolitionist, and women’s rights activist who grew up in a white, slave-owning family and, as a child, defied her parents by teaching slaves to read. She and her sister Sarah left South Carolina for Pennsylvania and became Quakers; they were the only prominent white Southern women to become well known as abolitionists. Their niece Angelina Weld Grimké was an influential African-American playwright and poet.

1870 – Pieter Cornelis Boutens, Dutch mystic poet, classicist, translator, and teacher.

1883 – Naoya Shiga, Japanese novelist, playwright,and short-story writer.

1888 – Georges Bernanos, French novelist best known for his Journal d’un Cure de Campagne (Diary of a Country Priest).

1894 – Jaroslaw Leon Iwaszkiewicz (pseudonym Eleuter), Polish writer, poet, essayist, dramatist, and translator who was nominated four times for the Nobel Prize in Literature; in 1988, he was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations for his role in sheltering Jews during World War II.

1901 – René Dubos, Pulitzer Prize-winning French-born microbiologist, pathologist, environmentalist, humanist, and author.

1902 – Ansel Adams, American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white photography of the American West.

1912 – Pierre Boulle, French novelist and spy known for both The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes.

1913 – Dame Mary Durack, Australian author, poet, children’s writer, and historian.

1917 – Hugo Alfaro, Uruguayan writer, journalist, film critic, autobiographer, and newspaper founder.

1919 – Matilde Elena López, Salvadoran poet, essayist, playwright, and literary critic who was part of the League of Anti-Fascist Writers, a group of young writers with leftist ideas; in April 1944, she participated in the movement to overthrow the government of dictator Maximiliano Hernández Martínez.

1924 – Alex La Guma, South African novelist and activist against apartheid; his vivid style, distinctive dialogue, and realistic portrayal of oppressed groups have made him one of the most notable South African writers of the 20th century.

1924 – Nevena Stefanova, Bulgarian poet, literary critic, essayist, and translator.

1925 – Robert Altman, American film director and screenwriter.

1925 – Rivka Basman Ben-Hayim, Lithuanian-born Israeli Yiddish poet, writer, teacher, and activist.

1925 – Alex La Guma, award-winning South African novelist and leader of the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO); his works helped characterize the movement against the apartheid era in South Africa, and his vivid style, distinctive dialogue, and realistic, sympathetic portrayal of oppressed groups have made him one of the most notable South African writers of the 20th century.

1926 – Richard Matheson, American author of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, many of whose works have been adapted for screen.

1927 – Sidney Poitier, American-born Bahamian actor, director, diplomat, and author who was the first black to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.

1932 – Bhabendra Nath Saikia, award-winning Indian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and film director.

1932 – Kuntagodu Vibhuthi Subbanna, influential, award-winning Indian dramatist and writer who wrote in the Kannada language and founded an important drama institute and a publishing house.

1935 – Ellen Gilchrist, National Book Award-winning American novelist, short-story writer, and poet.

1939 – William Bayer, bestselling American detective novelist.

1943 – Diana Lucile Paxson, American fantasy and historical-fiction novelist, composer, journalist, and short-story writer whose work is primarily in the fields of Pagan and Heathen religious practices; she is a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism, where she is known as Diana the Listmaker.

1948 – David Kertzer, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, anthropologist, biographer, professor, and author who specializes in the political, demographic, and religious history of Italy.

1951 – Sean Wilentz, American historian, author, and professor whose work explores U.S. social and political history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

1962 – Kenn Nesbitt, American poet who writes for children and was named Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

Photo Friday: the Big Easy

This week was Mardi Gras, but pandemic precautions meant the cancellation of the usual parades and parties. That was necessary, but it’s unfortunate.

I’ve never actually visited New Orleans for Mardi Gras. But I’ve been to New Orleans on various occasions and I love that city. Of course, I enjoy the music and the food. But I also love the culture, the art and architecture, and the history. I know of no other place with the same kind of color and energy, no other place with that level of audaciousness.

I know there’s a lot more to New Orleans than just the French Quarter, but I just came across this photo I took on Bourbon Street a few years back, and the neon signs amuse me.

I hope to travel back there again next year!