December 4 Writer Birthdays

0034 – Persius (full name Aulus Persius Flaccus), Ancient Tuscan poet, writer, philosopher, and satirist of Etruscan origin; in his poems and satires he shows a stoic wisdom and a strong criticism for what he considered to be the stylistic abuses of his poetic contemporaries. His work enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the Middle Ages.

1555 – Heinrich Meibom, German writer, poet, historian, author, and university teacher.

1595 – Jean Chapelain, French poet, writer, philosopher, and literary critic who was best known for his role as an organizer and founding member of the Académie Française.

1784 – Giovanni Emanuele Bidera (or Bideri), Italian writer, poet, essayist, playwright, nonfiction author, and librettist who is remembered primarily as the librettist of Gaetano Donizetti’s operas Gemma di Vergy and Marino Faliero.

1795 – Thomas Carlyle, Victorian-era Scottish satirical writer and historian.

1817 – Prince Nikoloz “Tato” Baratashvili (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ “ტატო” ბარათაშვილი), Georgian poet credited with combining modern nationalism with European Romanticism to introduce “Europeanism” into Georgian literature; he was often referred to as the “Georgian Byron.”

1822 – Frances Power Cobbe, Victorian-era Irish author, essayist, and activist who wrote about women’s suffrage, human rights, and animal rights.

1825 – Aleksey Pleshcheyev, radical Russian writer, poet, translator, children’s writer, literary critic, and theatre critic who was a member of the Petrashevsky Circle; many of his poems have been set to music by Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, among others.

1835 – Samuel Butler, English author and satirist, best known for Erewhon and The Way of All Flesh.

1841 – Maria del Pilar Maspons i Labrós (pseudonym Maria de Bell-lloc), Spanish poet, novelist, and writer of Catalan descent; notable as one of the first Spanish women folklorists, she conducted research with her brother, Francisco Maspons y Labrós, and her brother-in-law, Francesc Pelagi Briz.

1857 – Francisco Filinto de Almeida, Portuguese-born Brazilian playwright, poet, novelist, editor, and journalist; his wife was the novelist Júlia Lopes de Almeida.

1857 – Julia Evelyn Ditto Young, U.S. poet, novelist, and short-story writer who was noted for her versatility.

1875 – Rainer Maria Rilke (born René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke), Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist who is considered one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets.

1883 – Katharine Susannah Prichard, Fiji-born Australian author of novels, plays, and short stories; she was also a founding member of the Communist Party of Australia.

1884 – Babilina Khositashvili, Georgian poet, writer, translator, literary researcher, feminist, and labor-rights activist; much of her early work explored the problems of the working class, but she later turned to themes of women’s struggles.

1903 – Cornell Woolrich, U.S. novelist, many of whose works were adapted into noir films.

1905 – Munro Leaf (born Wilbur Monroe Leaf), U.S. author and illustrator of children’s literature; he is best known for The Story of Ferdinand, a children’s classic about a bull, which he wrote on a yellow legal pad in less than an hour.

1921 – Nalinidhar Bhattacharya, award-winning Indian poet and literary critic who was regarded as one of the important poets of the Jayanti era in Assamese literature.

1921 – Carlos Franqui, Cuban writer, poet, journalist, art critic, and political activist; at first he supported the Cuban revolution, but later he grew disenchanted with Castro’s regime and became a vocal critic of the government.

1931 – Park Hijin, South Korea poet who grew up under Japanese colonial rule and who early in his career wrote in Japanese; his work, influenced by the Romantic poets , starkly contrasts heaven and earth, and light and darkness. He also wrote travel poems, based on his extensive travel to the United States and Europe.

1934 – Wen Shaoxian (溫紹賢), Chinese translator, scholar, and novelist.

1936 – Michiko Yamamoto (real name Michiko Furuya), award-winning Japanese short-story writer, poet, and novelist.

1937 – Rahmatullah Dard, Indian-born Pashto-language ghazal poet (ghazal is a form of poetry made up like an odd numbered chain of couplets, where each couplet is an independent poem).

1940 – Trudi Guda, Surinamese writer, poet, and anthropologist who headed Suriname’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

1947 – Ursula Krechel, award-winning German writer, lyric poet, playwright, radio drama writer, and translator

1949 – A. Scott Berg, Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning U.S. author of bestselling biographies.

1950 – Zsuzsa Rakovszky, award-winning Hungarian poet, writer, poet, librarian, and translator.

1969 – Plum Sykes (born Victoria Sykes), British fashion writer, editor, and novelist.

NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

I posted the last day of November about successfully completing NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, by writing 50,000 words of the novel I’ve been working on. I was what we call a NaNo Rebel; instead of strictly following the rules about starting a brand new project on November 1, I chose to work on a book I already had in progress, though of course I counted only words written in November toward my goal.

I finished the month with a total of 53,556 words written in November. At the time, I thought it would take me another day or so to fill in some missing passages and move some scenes around, and then I would have a first draft. In reality, that process is proving to be more time-consuming. I’m on three days and counting. So I’m still working on that first draft, but hope to be finished soon.

December 3 Writer Birthdays

1560 – Jan Gruter (also spelled Gruytère, and Latinized as Janus Gruterus), Flemish-born Belgian writer, poet, philologist, professor, and librarian.

1714 – Anica Boškovic, Ragusan writer, songwriter, and translator whose work, The Dialogue, was the first known literary work written by a female author in the literature of Ragusa, former republic that is now a city in southeast Sicily.

1764 – Mary Ann Lamb, English writer, poet, and journalist who is best known for the collaboration with her brother Charles on the collection Tales from Shakespeare. She and Charles presided over a literary circle in London that included the poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, among others, until, suffering from a mental breakdown, she stabbed her mother to death and spent much of the rest of her life confined to mental institutions.

1765 – Adélaïde Dufrénoy, award-winning French writer, novelist, poet, erotic poet, translator, painter, children’s author, and salonnière.

1807 – Gamaliel Bailey, U.S. physician who left that career to become an abolitionist journalist, editor, and publisher.

1857 – Joseph Conrad, Polish author who wrote in English after moving to Britain and became one of the best-known authors in the English language; he is famous for such classic novels as Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim.

1864 – Ethna Carbery (born Anna Johnston), Irish journalist, writer, and poet who co-published two Irish nationalist magazines, but is best known for the ballad “Roddy McCorley” and the “Song of Ciabhán”; the latter was set to music by Ivor Gurney.

1870 – Nino Martoglio, Sicilian Italian screenwriter, writer, poet, playwright, journalist, film producer, film editor, and magazine publisher; through his magazine, he became an important figure in the establishment of Sicilian as an acceptable literary language.

1872 – Berto Barbarani (full name Roberto Tiberio Barbarani), Italian poet and journalist who wrote in the Veronese dialect of Northern Italy.

1879 – Mohammadjaafar Khan Gerashi (known as Moghtader ol-Mamalek, and by his pen-name Sheyda), Persian poet and lyricist.

1882 – Taneda Santoka (pen name of Taneda Shoichi), Japanese author and haiku poet who is notable for his free-verse haiku — a style that does not conform to the formal rules of traditional haiku.

1897 – Kate O’Brien, award-winning Irish novelist, playwright, screenwriter, travel writer, and short-story writer; many of her works dealt with issues of female agency and sexuality in ways that were new and radical at the time, leading to some of them being banned at times. Several of her books even include positive gay or lesbian characters, make her a pioneer in queer literary representation.

1902 – Olga Scheinpflugová, Czech writer, poet, playwright, and actress; her father was writer, journalist, and playwright Karel Scheinpflug, and her husband was novelist and playwright Karel Capek, who coined the word “robot.”

1905 – Shi Zhecun, Chinese essayist, poet, short-story writer, and translator who is most known for his Modernist short stories that explored the psychological conditions of Shanghai urbanites; later in his career, he translated western novels into Chinese and worked as a scholar of classical Chinese literature.

1914 – Alaíde Foppa de Solórzano, Guatemalan and Argentinian poet, writer, art critic, translator, feminist, and human-rights activist; she created a radio show that discussed inequalities within Mexican society, violence, and how violence should be treated as a public rather than a private concern. Her activism against governmental human-rights violations led to her being labeled as a subversive; she disappeared in 1980 and is thought to have been abducted and killed.

1920 – Cho Chi-hun, South Korean poet, critic, essayist, and activist.

1923  – Malcolm Franklin, Shanghai-born U.S. author who was the stepson of writer William Faulkner and wrote about his life with him.

1924 – Francisco Sionil José, Filipino novelist and short-story writer who is one of the most widely read Filipino authors in the English language.

1928 – Karin Bang, Norwegian poet, novelist, children’s writer, and crime-fiction writer.

1936 – Abu Hena Mustafa Kamal, Bangladeshi songwriter, singer, poet, essayist, critic, and professor.

1937 – Morgan Llywelyn, award-winning U.S.-born Irish author known for her historical and mythological fiction, as well as her historical nonfiction books.

1938 – Thea Doelwijt, award-winning Dutch-born Surinamese novelist, poet, playwright, journalist, literary critic, children’s writer, and Surinamist.

1940 – Mamman Jiya Vatsa, Nigerian writer, poet, and Army general who was executed by the government for treason for his role in an abortive coup.

1942 – David K. Shipler, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. nonfiction author and journalist; he is perhaps best known for his books Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land and The Working Poor: Invisible in America.

1944 – Craig Anthony Raine, English poet who is one of the best-known exponents of Martian poetry, a minor movement in British poetry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, in which everyday things and human behavior are described as if by a visiting Martian who does not understand them.

1944 – Telcine Turner-Rolle, Bahamian poet, playwright, children’s writer, and educator; she was best known for her award-winning play Woman Take Two.

1953 – Boris A. Novak, Slovenian poet, playwright, children’s writer, and translator.

1955 – Michael Musto, U.S. journalist, author, and Village Voice columnist.

1956 – Sergio Bizzio, award-winning Argentine screenwriter, writer, poet, author, short-story writer, and film director.

1962 – Francesca Lia Block, U.S. author of young-adult novels, short stories, screenplays, and poetry, best known for her “Weetzie Bat” series.

1963 – Aasne Linnestå, Norwegian poet, novelist, lyricist, educator, and literature critic who is interested in the history of ideas.

1963 – Selena Millares, Canarian-born Spanish writer, poet, novelist, essayist, philologist, and professor.

1963 – Ahmet Yalçinkaya, award-winning Turkish poet, author, essayist, and engineer.

1980 – Zlata Filipović, Bosnian writer, author of the bestselling journal Zlata’s Diary which she first wrote when she was between the ages of 11 and 13, during the war in Sarajevo.

1987 – Andriy Lyubka, Latvian-born Ukrainian poet, essayist, and translator.

December 2 Writer Birthdays

1728 – Ferdinando Galiani, influential Italian economist and writer who was a leading figure of the Enlightenment.

1820 – Elizaveta Niklaevna Akhmatova (pen name Leila), Russian writer, publisher, and translator who is remembered most today for her translations of English and French writers into Russian.

1868 – Francis Jammes, French poet whose poems are known for their lyricism and for singing the pleasures of a humble country life; his later work also introduced a strong religious element, after the poet’s conversion to Roman Catholicism.

1885 – Níkos Kazantazakís, Greek novelist, playwright, essayist, travel writer, and translator who was nominated nine times for the Nobel Prize for Literature; his best known books are Zorba the Greek (also published as The Life and Times of Alexis Zorbas) and The Last Temptation of Christ.

1886 – Annie Francé-Harrar, prolific Austrian writer, utopian novelist, poet, and scientist who addressed the issue of soil fertility and erosion in both her fiction and her scientific works. Albert Einstein was an admirer of her work.

1897 – Rewi Alley, New Zealand-born writer, educator, translator, and activist who spent many years in China and dedicated much of his career supporting the Communist Revolution and its social reforms.

1900 – Nina Gagen-Torn, Russian writer, poet, historian, ethnologist, and anthropologist who served two terms in labor camps during the Stalinist era; most of her work was in Russian and Bulgarian folklore, the ethnography of the peoples of the Soviet Union, and the history of the Russian ethnography. She also wrote and published poems and short stories.

1900 – Shigeko Yuki, Japanese novelist and children’s writer; she also studied music composition and piano.

1901 – Ida Friederike Görres (born Elisabeth Friederike, Reichsgräfin Coudenhove-Kalergi), Austrian writer, biographer, and essayist who was the daughter of an Austrian count and his Japanese wife.

1905 – Åse Gruda Skard, Norwegian author, university professor, and child psychologist; she was a noted pioneer in the field of childhood development and psychology.

1908 – Helena Bechlerowa, Polish author, poet, children’s writer, and translator.

1909 – Helen Adam, Scottish poet, collage artist, and photographer who is often associated with the Beat poets, though she would more accurately be considered one of the predecessors of the Beat Generation.

1909 – Joseph P. Lash, U.S. political activist, Eleanor Roosevelt biographer, and author who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

1910 – Russell Lynes, U.S. art historian, critic, and author who was also managing editor of Harper’s Magazine.

1911 – Ieronim Șerbu, Romanian writer, short-story author, and literary critic; his early prose was analytical, but after 1945, and his country’s turn toward socialist realism, he adopted social and ethical themes.

1914 – Adolph Green, U.S. lyricist and playwright who, with long-time collaborator Betty Comden, penned the screenplays and songs for some of the most beloved Hollywood and Broadway musicals, including On the Town, Singing in the Rain, and Peter Pan.

1926 – Pak Kyongni, prominent, award-winning South Korean novelist. She is best known for her 16-volume story Toji (토지, or The Land), an epic saga set amidst the turbulent history of Korea during 19th and 20th century; it was later adapted into a movie, a television series, and an opera.

1927 – Goh Sin Tub, prolific and well-known Singaporean novelist, children’s author, and short-story writer who was a pioneer of Singaporean literature.

1929 – Leon Litwack, Pulitzer Prize winning U.S. author and historian whose work focused on U.S. history, especially slavery and the Reconstruction era, and their aftermath into the 20th century.

1931 – Rama Kant, Indian Hindi-language fiction writer best known for his works about the struggles of the lower and middle-classes.

1935 – David Hackett Fisher, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, author, biographer, and professor whose work ranges from macroeconomic and cultural trends to narrative histories of significant events, and also includes exploration into the study of history itself.

1936 – Hebe Uhart, Argentine writer, journalist, novelist, playwright, travel writer, and short-story writer; she was also a teacher.

1936 – Aagot Vinterbo-Hohr, Norwegian Sami physician, novelist, essayist, and poet.

1937 – Brian Lumley, English author of horror fiction who first became known for writing in H.P. Lovecraft’s shared universe centered on the Cthulhu Mythos; he is a winner of the Bram Stoker Award for lifetime achievement in horror writing.

1939 – Jaleh Amouzgar, award-winning Azerbajaini writer, historian, Iranologist, translator, linguist, and professor who has contributed significantly to Ancient Iranian studies and to the history of literature in ancient Iran; she also took part in the Encyclopædia Iranica project at Columbia University.

1939 – Yaël Dayan, Israeli political activist, novelist, newspaper columnist, and journalist who was elected to the Knesset, Israel’s legislative body.

1941 – Ahn Junghyo, award-winning South Korean novelist, linguist, and literary translator.

1942 – Anna Guðrún Jónasdóttir, Icelandic writer, editor, professor, political scientist, and gender studies academic; the New York Times Book Review described her book Why Women Are Oppressed as a “thorough attempt to revitalize one of the most provocative early themes of America’s women’s liberation movement.”

1943 – Michiel Heyns, award-winning South African author, translator, novelist, critic, and professor.

1944 – Ibrahim Rugova, Yugoslavian-born writer, poet, literary critic, literary theorist, journalist, and scholar who was elected the first President of the Republic of Kosovo.

1944 – Botho Strauss, award-winning Germany playwright, novelist, and essayist.

1946 – Ibrahim Abdel Meguid, renowned Egyptian novelist and writer whose best-known books include Birds of Amber, No One Sleeps in Alexandria, and The Other Place.

1946 – David Macaulay, bestselling Caldecott Medal-winning British-born U.S. author and illustrator of picture books for children and adults; his books, including Cathedral and The Way Things Work, combine text and highly detailed illustrations that explain architecture, design and engineering.

1947 – Charles Lovemore Mungoshi, versatile, award-winning Zimbabwean novelist, editor, poet, children’s author, translator, and short-story writer who wrote in both English and Shona.

1948 – Elizabeth Berg, bestselling U.S. novelist, playwright, registered nurse, and rock-band singer whose books have won many awards.

1948 – T.C. Boyle (Thomas Coraghessan Boyle), prolific U.S. novelist and short-story writer who has been awarded the PEN/Faulkner prize for fiction.

1950 – Benedict Fitzgerald, controversial U.S. screenwriter who co-wrote the screenplay for the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ.

1950 – Olvido García Valdés, Spanish poet, essayist, translator, art critic, and professor; she is married to the poet Miguel Casado.

1954 – Angela Webber, Australian author, screenwriter, television producer, and comedian; she was especially known for her portrayal of her comedic alter-ego, the anarchic punk pensioner “Lillian Pascoe,” who had a fondness for heavy metal music and who regularly proclaimed her slogan “Rage ’til ya puke!”

1957 – Carl Jóhan Jensen, award-winning Faroese writer, poet, and literary critic.

1958 – George Saunders, U.S. writer of essays, short stories, and children’s books.

1961 – Doron Rabinovici, Israeli and Austrian novelist, historian, short-story writer, and essayist who is known as an intellectual voice against racism and anti-Semitism; in his book Credo und Credit, a collection of essays and articles about literature and politics, he combines serious and ironic texts to speak about his identity as a Jew who was born in Israel, lives in Vienna, and writes in German.

1963 – Ann Patchett, U.S. novelist who won the Orange Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

1971 – Frank Cho, South Korean-born screenwriter, comic-book writer and illustrator, and comic-strip artist.

1971 – Jüri Reinvere, Estonian essayist, poet, and composer who often sets his own poems to music; much of his work combines Modernism with Romanticism.

1971 – Roman Senchin, award-winning Russian novelist, editor, and literary critic.

1974 – Xavier Domènech i Sampere, Spanish historian, writer, politician, and social activist.

1971 – Linn Tormodsdatter Grøndahl Sunne, award-winning Norwegian novelist, children’s writer, and politician.

1981 – Shredy Jabarin, Arab-Israeli screenwriter, actor, director, and producer.

1983 – Tara June Winch, award-winning indigenous Australian novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and short-story writer; one reviewer wrote, “Winch can pack a punch and break your heart within a few pages.”

December 1 Writer Birthdays

1083 – Anna Komnene (also spelled Comnena), a Greek princess, scholar, doctor, hospital administrator, and the daughter of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos of Byzantium; she wrote the Alexiad, a historical account of her father’s reign.

1722 – Anna Louisa Karsch, German writer and poet who was known in her day as “the German Sappho” and who became the first German woman to support herself through her writing.

1726 – Eggert Ólafsson, Icelandic explorer, writer, and naturalist; a conservator of the Icelandic language, he worked to revive the Icelandic culture and economy.

1785 – Gábor Döbrentei, Hungarian writer, poet, linguist, philologist, translator, and antiquary.

1861 – Maria Stona (also known as Marie Scholz, born Stonawski), Silesian German writer, poet, and salonnière; her daughter was the sculptor Helen Zelezny-Scholz.

1875 – Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi, South African writer, poet, playwright, essayist, critic, biographer, translator, and historian whose works were instrumental in standardizing the grammar of the Xhosa language and preserving the language in the 20th century.

1886 – Rex Stout, U.S. writer of detective fiction, known for the character Nero Wolfe.

1895 – Henry Williamson, English author known for his natural and social history novels.

1897 – Helen de Guerry Simpson, Australian novelist, screenwriter, writer, poet, playwright, musician, and British Liberal Party politician.

1918 – Ivan Elagin, Russian émigré poet, writer, and translator, best remembered for writing about the Holocaust; His “Kirillovskie iary” (another name for Babi Yar), was one of the first-ever literary works on the subject of the 1941 massacre of Ukrainian Jews in Kiev.

1926 – Fernanda Botelho, Portuguese writer, novelist, and poet whose fiction was influence by the French nouveau roman.

1932 – Salvador Elizondo, innovative Mexican writer, poet, novelist, playwright, translator, university teacher, journalist, literary critic, and linguist who was part of the 60s Generation of Mexican writers and was regarded as one of the creators of the most influential cult noirè, experimental, intelligent literature in Latin America.

1932 – Amélia Veiga (also known as Amélia Maria Ramos Veiga Silva), award-winning Portuguese-born Angolan poet and teacher; her poem “Angola,” figuring her country as a surrogate mother, has frequently been anthologized.

1934 – Florenţa Albu, Romanian poet, writer, nonfiction author, journalist, and university instructor.

1941 – Riaz-Ur-Rehman Saghar, award-winning Pakistani poet and a film song lyricist who was credited with having written more than 25,000 songs in his lifetime.

1942 – John Crowley, U.S. author of fantasy and science fiction.

1944 – Tahar Ben Jelloun, Moroccan writer who writes in French, though his first language is Arabic; he is best known for his novel L’Enfant de Sable (The Sand Child), and was short-listed for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

1944 – Sally Purcell, British poet, writer, and translator whose work is notable for her old-fashioned style of diction, which never used contractions, and for the influence of folklore and the classics.

1946 – Moysey (Moses) Fishbeyn, influential Ukrainian Jewish poet, writer, linguist, translator, and artist.

1948 – Nellickal Muraleedharan, award-winning Indian writer and poet who wrote in Malayalam.

1948 – Azar Nafisi (Persian: آذر نفیسی), Iranian-born U.S. writer and professor of English literature, best known for her book Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, which was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 117 weeks.

1949 – Jan Brett, U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books, focused mainly on Scandinavian cultures.

1951 – William Seymour Sewell, Greek-born New Zealand poet, editor, and literary critic whose poems focus on political themes and are influenced by modern German poetry.

1956 – Claire Chazal, French romance writer, journalist, and television news director.

1958 – Candace Bushnell, U.S. author of the international best-selling book, Sex and the City.

1960 – Sergio F. Bambaren, Peruvian writer, noted for his love of the ocean and unknown horizons, and for his books related to surfing.

1964 – Jo Walton, Hugo Award-winning Welsh-Canadian science-fiction and fantasy author, best known for her novel, Among Others.

NaNo News!

Woo hoo! Last night I hit 50,000 words for November and won NaNoWriMo!

The whole manuscript is more than that; I’m a NaNo Rebel and was working this month on a book that I already had in progress. But I did write 50K of it this month, as well as editing most of what I had written before. I still have a lot of work to do Tuesday, the last day of the month, filling in some blanks, fleshing out some “placeholder” passages, and reordering some scenes. But I am soon to have an actual first draft. Such as it is.

November 30 Writer Birthdays

0538 – Gregory of Tours (born Georgius Florentius), French-born Gallo-Roman historian and writer who was Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that has been referred to as Gaul; his work is the primary contemporary source for Merovingian history, including his most notable work, Decem Libri Historiarum (Ten Books of Histories), better known as the Historia Francorum (History of the Franks).

1554 – Phillip Sidney, English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier who is remembered as one of the prominent figures of the Elizabethan age.

1667 – Jonathan Swift, Anglo-Irish writer, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin; he is still known for such works as Gulliver’s Travels.

1817 – Theodore Mommsen, Nobel Prize-winning German classicist who was called “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing” in reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome.

1835 – Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens), U.S. author, essayist, humorist, travel writer, and journalist, best known for his classic novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

1868 – Angela Brazil, one of the first British writers of “modern schoolgirls’ stories,” books written from the characters’ point of view and intended as entertainment rather than moral instruction; she also published numerous short stories; her books were commercially successful and widely read by pre-adolescent girls but were seen as disruptive and a negative influence on moral standards by some authority figures, leading to them being banned or even burned. She made a major contribution to changing the nature of fiction for girls, presenting a young female point of view that was active, independent-minded, and aware of current issues.

1874 – Winston Churchill, British politician and military leader who led Great Britain through World War II as Prime Minister; he was also a journalist and writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his six-volume history of the war.

1874 – L.M. Montgomery (Lucy Maud Montgomery), Canadian author of the wildly popular “Anne of Green Gables” books, which have been the basis for many television and movie versions; she was also a poet, short-story writer, and essayist. Though her books were a huge commercial success and she is still the bestselling Canadian novelist of all time, in her own day she was often dismissed by critics because books for women and children were not considered serious literature.

1902 – Maria Villavecchia Bellonci, Italian writer, translator, biographer, historian, and journalist, known especially for her biography of Lucrezia Borgia.

1906 – John Dickson Carr, U.S. author of detective stories; he also published under the pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn.

1907 – Jacques Barzun, French-born writer of critical and historical studies.

1910 – Balakrishna Bhagwant Borkar, Indian writer and poet who wrote in the Marathi and Konkani languages; he wrote about nature, patriotism, the body and soul, and the individual in society, and his work has been praised for his diverse sensibility, his multi-colored imagery, and the ease with which he showcased the joys and sorrows of life.

1912 – Gordon Parks, U.S. poet, novelist, photographer, biographer, and filmmaker who was the first Black photographer to work for Vogue and Life magazines. His autobiographical novel The Learning Tree was made into a film; Parks himself directed, becoming the first African-American to direct a film for a major studio. He went on to direct Shaft, the first major-studio action film with a black hero, and other movies.

1926 – Chie Nakane (中根 千枝), award-winning Japanese anthropologist and author who was the first female professor at the University of Tokyo and the first female member of the Japan Academy; her work focuses on cross-cultural comparisons of social structures in Asia, and she is internationally known for her bestselling book, Japanese Society.

1931 – John Samuel Mbiti, Kenyan-born writer, philosopher, and Anglican priest who is considered the father of modern African theology.

1931 – Margot Zemach, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books, many of whose works were adaptations of folk tales from around the world.

1934 – Donato Francisco Mattera (better known as Don Mattera), South African poet, author, and journalist.

1946 – Marina Abramović, Serbian conceptual and performance artist, writer, filmmaker, and philanthropist whose work explores body art, feminist art, the relationship between the performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.

1946 – Andrés Luciano Mateo Martínez, award-winning Dominican writer, novelist, poet, philologist, educator, literary critic, essayist, researcher, and philosopher.

1947 – Sergio Badilla Castillo, Chilean poet, writer, journalist, and translater who is the founder of transrealism in contemporary poetry; he is also considered the Latin American poet with the broadest Nordic influence.

1947 – David Mamet, U.S. playwright, essayist, and film director who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony-nominated playwright.

1947 – Moses Nagamootoo, Guyanese novelist, writer, lawyer, and politician who is Prime Minister of Guyana.

1950 – Chris Claremont, British-born U.S. comic book writer and novelist; he is best known for his 1975–1991 stint on Uncanny X-Men, during which he is credited with developing strong female characters as well as introducing complex literary themes into superhero narratives, turning the once underachieving comic into one of Marvel’s most popular series.

1951 – Rønnaug Kleiva, award-winning Norwegian poet, writer of short stories, and author of children’s literature.

1951 – Torild Wardenær, award-winning Norwegian writer, poet, essayist, playwright, and children’s writer; she has collaborated extensively with visual artists and musicians.

1966 – Ogaga Ifowodo, Nigerian lawyer, scholar, poet, columnist, public commentator, and rights activist; he was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, given to writers “who have fought courageously in the face of adversity for the right to freedom of expression.”

1966 – Iman Mersal, Egyptian writer, poet, translator, and professor; in her book How to Mend: On Motherhood and its Ghosts, she “navigates a long and winding road, from the only surviving picture of the author has with her mother, to a deep search through what memory, photography, dreams and writing, a search of what is lost between the mainstream and more personal representations of motherhood and its struggles.”

1966 – David Nicholls, award-winning English novelist and screenwriter.

1970 – Tayari Jones, U.S. novelist and professor whose book An American Marriage was an Oprah’s Book Club Selection.

1974 – Halyna Kruk, Ukrainian writer, poet, translator, university teacher, children’s writer, and literary scholar.

1978 – Robert Kirkman, U.S. comic-book writer whose best-known works included Invincible and The Walking Dead, and who also worked on Ultimate X-Men for Marvel Comics.

1979 – Om Swami, Indian monk who has written bestselling books about wellness, enlightenment, and spirituality, as well as a memoir.

What Is Wrong With People?

I read something online today about a couple of paramedics who were called to the scene where a young woman had drowned. She was in her 20s and wearing a bikini. One of the paramedics suggested to his partner that they turn over the body, because he thought the way she was lying was sexy and he wanted to see her backside. The other paramedic helped him turn her over so they could both ogle her.

This is horrifying to decent people, right? It’s disrespectful, inappropriate, and unethical. The police officers who also responded to the call were disturbed by the behavior of these two paramedics. So was the girlfriend of one of the paramedics, when he told a group about it later, claiming it was a funny story.

So why am I mentioning this? Because I am appalled not only at the paramedics’ actions, but at the number of people who replied online to this “funny story” by condoning this behavior as acceptable because it is a form of gallows humor that first responders use to cope with the stress of their jobs.

No. This is not humor. This is sexual exploitation of a dead body. No amount of stress justifies it. How would these paramedics and their apologists feel if someone did this to their wives, sisters, or daughters? Would they still consider it an acceptable form of black humor? Or would they be outraged?

I have said this more in the past five years than I ever had in my entire life: What is wrong with people?

November 29 Writer Birthdays

1724 – Saviour Bernard, Maltese medical practitioner, scientist, author, and major philosopher.

1781 – Andrés Bello (also known as Andrés de Jesús María y José Bello López), Venezuelan poet, humanist, educator, philologist, diplomat, and scholar whose political and literary works constitute an important part of Spanish American culture.

1799 – Amos Bronson Alcott, U.S. teacher, writer, philosopher, abolitionist, reformer, and women’s rights advocate who was a key figure in the Transcendentalist movement but who is best known today as the father of author Louisa May Alcott, also born on November 29.

1832 – Louisa May Alcott, U.S. author, short-story writer, children’s writer, feminist, and abolitionist best known for her semi-autobiographical novel Little Women; she also wrote one of the earliest works of detective fiction. Her father was educator and reformer Amos Bronson Alcott, also born on November 29.

1855 – August Kitzberg, Estonian playwright, short-story author, and memoirist; his early works consisted of comedies and humorous stories of village life; later, his plays developed a component of social criticism.

1895 – Hamid Ullah Afsar (also known as Afsar Merathi), Indian Urdu poet, short-story writer, children’s author, textbook author, teacher, and critic.

1898 – C.S. Lewis, English writer, children’s novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist; he is best known for his books in the Chronicles of Narnia series.

1902 – Carlo Levi, Italian novelist, essayist, memoirist, painter, and activist who is best known for his book Cristo si è fermato a Eboli (Christ Stopped at Eboli), a memoir of his time spent in exile in Lucania, Italy, after being arrested in connection with his political activities. The book was made into a film.

1905 – Vasily Grossman, Ukrainian-born Soviet writer, journalist, novelist, short-story writer, war correspondent, and screenwriter who originally trained as an engineer and was called Vasya the Chemist because of his diligence as a student; as a war correspondent during World War II he wrote firsthand accounts of battles and eyewitness reports of a extermination camp that were among the earliest journalistic accounts of a Nazi death camp. His major literary works were censored by the authorities as anti-Soviet; his book manuscripts were published only after his death, after they were smuggled out of the Soviet Union.

1912 – Ai Xia, Chinese left-wing silent film actress and screenwriter whose suicide inspired Cai Chusheng’s classic film New Women, starring Ruan Lingyu, who also killed herself soon after the release of the film.

1913 – Alexander Badawy, Egyptian Egyptologist, author, anthropologist, archeologist, and professor.

1914 – Eleanor Perry (born Eleanor Rosenfeld), Emmy Award-winning U.S. screenwriter, novelist, journalist, and playwright who was an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and screenwriters’ recognition, often criticizing the film industry.

1917 – Gopal Singh, Indian writer, poet, translator, biographer, lexicographer, philosopher, mystic, and politician

1918 – Madeleine L’Engle, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author of fiction, poetry, a play, autobiographies, and young-adult books, including her best known novel, A Wrinkle in Time; her works tend to take place in settings that are mostly realistic, but with some some fantasy elements, and many of her books draw on a multigenerational cast of related characters.

1934 – Willie Morris, U.S. fiction and nonfiction writer and editor known for his lyrical prose style and his reflections on the Mississippi Delta region.

1933 – David R. Reuben, U.S.psychiatrist who is best known for writing Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (but Were Afraid To Ask).

1943 – Sue Miller, bestselling U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and memoirist; some of her work has been adapted for film.

1946 – Conceição Evaristo, Brazilian writer and poet whose work is marked by her life experiences as an Afro-Brazilian woman.

1948 – George Szirtes, award-winning Hungarian poet, essayist, editor, biographer, playwright, and translator.

1953 – Jacqueline French, prolific, award-winning Australian author of children’s books, novels for adults, picture books, history, fantasy, and historical fiction; she is also an author of numerous books on ecology, gardening, pest control, wombats, other wildlife, and hens. She is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, and has presented gardening segments on television.

1955 – Astrid Saalbach, award-winning Danish playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and short-story writer.

1956 – Nathalie Magnan, French writer, navigator, artist, university teacher, media theoretician, feminist, and activist.

1958 – Carmen Firan, Romanian poet, novelist, essayist, short-story writer, journalist, and playwright who currently lives in New York City.

1965 – Susanne Schädlich, German author, autobiographer, ghost writer, journalist, and literary translator.

1969 – Sheena Iyengar, Canadian writer, psychologist, and professor who is best known as an expert on decision making.

1977 – Diana Vladimirovna Mashkova, Russian journalist, writer and author.

1978 – Ville Ranta, award-winning Finnish writer, cartoonist, and comics artist who is noted for his focus on controversial and provocative subject matter.

1983 – Girish Kohli, bestselling Indian author and screenwriter.

1988 – Alaa Eddine Aljem, Moroccan screenwriter and film director.