July 14 Writer Birthdays

1634 – Pasquier Quesnel, French theologian.

1860 – Owen Wister, American author credited with inventing the western novel, with the publication of his iconic book, The Virginian; he also wrote nonfiction and biographies.

1903 – Thomas Dionysius Clark, historian, professor, and author of a landmark history of Kentucky; he was a champion for historic preservation, credited with saving from destruction a large portion of Kentucky’s printed history, which later become a core body of documents in the state archives.

1903 – Irving Stone, American writer who specialized in biographical fiction, best known for books on artists Vincent Van Gogh (Lust For Life) and Michelangelo (The Agony and the Ecstasy).

1915 – Jerome Lawrence, American playwright and author who helped create Armed Forces Radio.

1916 – Natalia Ginzburg, Italian short-story writer and political activist.

1917 – Arthur Laurents, American playwright, stage director, radio writer, screenwriter, and author of U.S. Army training films; his best known works include West Side Story and Gypsy.

1921 – Leon Garfield, British author of historical fiction for children; he was also a screenwriter who adapted Shakespearean plays into animated television programs.

1927 – Peggy Parish, American author of children’s books, including her beloved series “Amelia Bedelia”; since her death in 1988, the series has been written by her nephew, Herman Parish.

1931 – E.V. Thompson, British historical novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction writer who was formerly in the Navy and on the police force; he often used the pseudonym James Munro.

1936 – Pema Chödrön, American Buddhist nun, author, and teacher.

1940 – Susan Howatch, English author of historical and domestic fiction, often with religious and philosophical themes; she is especially known for generational sagas.

1943 – Christopher Priest, award-winning British author of novels, short stories, radio and television scripts, biographies, criticism, novelizations, journalism, and children’s nonfiction.

1949 – Edward Graydon Carter, Canadian-born American journalist and magazine editor and founder.

1949 – Brian Sibley, English writer of radio dramas and documentaries.

1952 – Jeffry P. Freundlich, American playwright and crime novelist who uses the pen name Jeff Lindsay; his wife Hilary Hemingway coauthored many of his early published works.

1953 – Laura Numeroff, American children’s author, best known for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and its sequels.

1958 – Joe Keenan, Emmy Award-winning American screenwriter, television producer, and author, sometimes referred to as a “gay P.D. Wodehouse.”

1959 – Tom Wujec, Canadian author, editor, and lecturer on topics relating to creativity, innovation, and technology.

1966 – Brian Selznick, Caldecott Medal-winning American author and illustrator of children’s books; his grandfather was a cousin of Hollywood producer David O. Selznick.

1974 – Aaron Becker, Caldecott Honor-winning American author and illustrator of children’s books.

1976 – Ranj Dhaliwal, controversial Indo-Canadian author of crime fiction.

Postcards from the World: Still Life with Books

I haven’t posted lately about any Postcrossing cards I’ve received, but this one deserves to be shared. This postcard arrived from Jana in Czechia. She chose it because I wrote in my profile about how much I love reading books. There is no indication of the artist’s name or the title of the work, but here is what Jana says about the image:

“The author of the picture captured well how to make those moments of reading more pleasant….”

Postcrossing card CZ-1702661

July 13 Writer Birthdays

1793 – John Clare, English poet, essayist, and violinist, known especially for his poetry about nature and preserving the environment in the face of the agricultural revolution.

1894 – Isaak Babel, Russian journalist, translator, dramatist, and short-story writer who was arrested and executed during Stalin’s purges.

1918 – Marcia Brown, American children’s author, illustrator, and three-time winner of the Caldecott Medal.

1922 – Louis R. Harlan, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian who won a Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Booker T. Washington.

1923 – Ashley Bryan, American writer and illustrator of children’s books, best known for his books based on African and African-American folklore.

1933 – David Storey, English playwright, screenwriter, and Booker Prize-winning novelist who was also a former professional rugby player.

1934 – Akinwande Oluwole “Wole” Soyinka, Noble Prize-winning Nigerian playwright and poet.

1938 – Helga Königsdorf, German author and physicist; her published works include novels, short-story collections, and nonfiction books about science and mathematics.

1946 – Anna Grossnickle Hines, American author and illustrator of children’s books.

1948 – Tony Kornheiser, American sportswriter, sports analyst, columnist, broadcaster, and author.

1957 – Cameron Crowe, American actor, film director, author, and screenwriter who was an editor at Rolling Stone magazine; he is married to musician Nancy Wilson of the rock band Heart.

1957 – Jane Hamilton, American novelist and short-story writer whose first two books, The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World, gained fame as Oprah’s Book Club picks.

1973 – Carolyn Mackler, American author of bestselling teen novels.


My son overslept this morning and missed his online piano lesson, the one that was scheduled for noon. He was still in bed at 2:30 this afternoon, but by then was wide awake, phone in hand.

His piano teacher said he should have told her ahead of time that he planned to oversleep. I don’t think there was anything planned about it. They’ve rescheduled for this evening.

I like to sleep late as much as anyone, but this is ridiculous! Despite his formidable intelligence and remarkable musical ability, like many teenage boys, he excels at sleeping, eating, and playing video games.

We keep suggesting that he set an alarm, but he never, ever does.

July 12 Writer Birthdays

1817 – Henry David Thoreau, American author, essayist, poet, and philosopher, best known for his works Walden and Civil Disobedience.

1876 – Max Jacob, French poet, painter, writer, and critic whose work is seen as an important link between the symbolism and surrealism; despite the fact that the Jewish-born Jacob had converted to Catholicism decades earlier, he was arrested by the Gestapo and died while awaiting deportation to a concentration camp.

1892 – Bruno Schulz, Polish writer, artist, literary critic, and art teacher who is considered one of the great Polish-language prose stylists of the 20th century.

1904 – Pablo Neruda, pen name and, later, legal name of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician who was born as Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto; Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”

1909 – Herbert Zim, naturalist, author, and educator best known as founder and editor of the Golden Guides nature books for children.

1918 – Betty Sue Cummings, author of books of history and of fiction for both adults and children.

1920 – Pierre Berton, Canadian nonfiction author, journalist, and television personality.

1928 – Tayeb Salih, Sudanese novelist, broadcaster, and teacher.

1933 – Donald Westlake, American writer of mostly crime fiction; he also wrote under many pseudonyms, including Richard Stark and Alan Marshall.

1937 – Bill Cosby, controversial actor, comedian, educator, Jello spokesperson, and activist who has written many books, including books of comedy; nonfiction about children, parenting, education, and family relationships; and fiction for children. His reputation as the quintessential family man was shattered by revelations of multiple incidents of sexual assault and rape.

1939 – Phillip Andrew Hedley Adams, Australian columnist, broadcaster, and farmer; In 1997 the International Astronomical Union named a minor planet orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter after him.

1944 – Delia Ephron, bestselling American author, screenwriter, and playwright; sister of writer Nora Ephron.

1946 – Robert Fisk, Beirut-based English journalist.

1951 – Joan Bauer, Newbery Honor-winning American author of young-adult literature.

1955 – Timothy Garton Ash, British historian, professor, author and commentator who specializes in modern history of Central and Eastern Europe.

1967 – Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short-story writer.

July 10 Writer Birthdays

1509 – John Calvin, French theologian, pastor, and reformer who wrote bible commentaries, treatises, and many of the foundation documents for reformed churches.

1856 – Nikola Tesla, Serbian/Austrian/American scientist, inventor, and engineer who wrote books and articles about his work, including an autobiography; he is best known for his work with electricity; among his discoveries: fluorescent light, laser beams, wireless communications, remote control, and more; his alternating-current induction motor is considered one of the ten greatest inventions ever, and a unit of magnetic field strength is named tesla after him. His mother, Djuka Mandic, was also an inventor, despite the fact that she was illiterate.

1871 – Marcel Proust, French novelist and short-story writer, best known for his seven-volume autobiographical stream-of-consciousness novel, À la recherche du temps perdu, which is currently translated as In Search of Lost Time but is also known as Remembrance of Things Past. He died before he could complete the last three volumes; they were edited by his brother and published posthumously.

1875 – Edmund Clerihew Bentley, English novelist and humorist; after whom is named the clerihew, an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics; he is also credited with writing the first modern detective novel.

1885 – Mary O’Hara, American author of fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, and children’s books; she was also a screenwriter, rancher, pianist, and composer; her most famous book is My Friend Flicka.

1903 – John Wyndham, pen name of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, an English science-fiction writer known for post-apocalyptic novels; he also wrote under the names John Beynon and Lucas Parkes.

1905 – Mildred Wirt Benson, American journalist and children’s book author who wrote 23 early Nancy Drew mystery books under the pen name Carolyn Keene; she also wrote many other books and was a pilot, amateur archaeologist, and adventurer.

1916 – Martin Provensen, Caldecott Medal-winning American writer and illustrator of children’s books, who collaborated with his wife Alice Rose Provensen on many titles.

1922 – Jean Kerr, American author and playwright whose best-known book was a collection of humorous essays, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, which was made into a film and TV series; she was married to Pulitzer Prize-winning drama critic Walter Kerr.

1926 – Fred Gwynne, six-foot, five-inch American actor best known as television’s Herman Munster; he also wrote and illustrated children’s books.

1931 – Julian Clare May, An American science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and children’s book author who has also written science articles for encyclopedias and two episodes of the Buck Rogers comic strip.

1931 – Alice Munro, Nobel Prize-winning Canadian short-story author.

1951 – Arja Uusitalo, Finnish poet, journalist, editor, and broadcaster who wrote in Swedish as well as Finnish.

July 9 Writer Birthdays

1764 – Anne Radcliffe, English author and pioneer of the Gothic novel; she was the most popular author of her day, but not much is known about her life because she was so reclusive. Poet Christina Rossetti tried to write her biography but abandoned the project because so little information was available.

1775 – Matthew Lewis, English Gothic novelist and playwright who was wildly successful with his novel, The Monk, earning him the nickname “Monk Lewis,” though critics condemned its horror, violence, and eroticism.

1887 – Samuel Eliot Morison, a retired Navy Rear Admiral, he was also a maritime historian who won Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Christopher Columbus and John Paul Jones.

1893 – Dorothy Thompson, journalist, political commentator, columnist, women’s suffrage activist, and radio broadcaster who was the first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany; in 1939, Time magazine named her the second most influential woman in America (after Eleanor Roosevelt); her husbands included American Noble Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis and Hungarian writer Joseph Bard; Thompson was often called “The First Lady of American Journalism” and was the model for title character in Woman of the Year, played by Katharine Hepburn in the film and Lauren Bacall in the stage production.

1901 – Barbara Cartland, English romance author who held the Guinness Book records for most novels written in a year and for bestselling author of all time; she also wrote cookbooks and even nonfiction books about nutrition and vitamins; in addition, she was an advocate for the rights of the Roma people, and for better wages and working conditions for midwives and nurses, and she helped create the first aeroplane-towed glider airmail, earning an award for her contributions to the development of aviation.

1903 – Arthur Walworth, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Woodrow Wilson who also wrote about China and Japan.

1911 – Mervyn Peake, Chinese-born English writer and illustrator, most well known for his Gormenghast series, a work of dark fantasy, and his illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

1933 – Oliver Sacks, British-American neurologist, professor, and writer whose books explore the science of the brain.

1936 – June Millicent Jordan, Jamaican-American poet, columnist, teacher, memoirist, and activist.

1945 – Dean R. Koontz, bestselling American author known for his suspense novels.

1953 – Thomas Ligotti, American horror writer and editor.

1966 – Amélie Nothomb, Belgian novelist who writes in French; her parents were diplomats, her grandfather was writer, poet, and politician Pierre Nothomb, and her sister is children’s author and culinary writer Juliette Nothomb.

1967 – John Rocco, American author and illustrator of children’s books, best known for illustrating the Percy Jackson series.

JMU Orientation

My son has his five-hour online college orientation session today. I’m not sure what all might be included. Parents were welcome to join in for the introductory session. He’s on his own since then.

We had some issues getting it set up. His own computer doesn’t have a mic or camera. He hadn’t needed them; he had a school-issued Chromebook that was equipped with them, but after graduation he had to turn it in. We pulled out my husband’s laptop and added my microphone, and he was able to join the Zoom session. (Part of the day was prerecorded on YouTube, with other parts designed as breakout sessions on Zoom.)

We were able to see his cousin Annemarie! She’s one of the upperclass JMU students who is working as a peer advisor through the process.

I just hope he is actually paying attention, and not playing games or texting friends on his phone through today’s session. He texted his girlfriend, who is also going to JMU, to see if she was attending today’s session, but she hadn’t replied when I last asked him. He figured she was probably still in bed, which probably means she signed up for a different day.

July 8 Writer Birthdays

1621 – Jean de la Fontaine, French fabulist poet whose collections of fables and poems are still widely read and who also wrote books of stories whose sexual content led to them being were banned by French authorities; before his death he re-embraced Catholicism and publicly denounced his work, going so far as to burn his newest comedy.

1893 – R. Carlyle Buley, educator and Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and author whose best known works dealt with the settlement of the American West; he also wrote a book about the history of life insurance.

1917 – J.F. Powers, National Book Award-winning American novelist and short-story writer whose best known stories took inspiration from the lives of Catholic priests.

1926 – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Swiss-American psychiatrist, known for her book On Death and Dying, in which she proposed the now well-known Kubler-Ross model of grieving, commonly known as the Five Stages of Grief.

1929 – Shirley Ann Grau, Pulitzer Prize-winning, National Book Award-nominated American author of novels and short stories who wrote about the Deep South, focusing on issues of race and gender; when a representative from the Pulitzer Prize committee called to tell her she’d won, she hung up on him, thinking it was a joke.

1933 – James Cross Giblin, editor and author of children’s nonfiction books, including many biographies.

1948 – Raffi, Stage name of Raffi Cavoukian, Egyptian-born Canadian singer-songwriter who has a line of children’s books tied to his song lyrics; he has also written several books for adults.

1952 – Anna Marie Quindlen, Pulitzer Prize-winning bestselling American novelist, journalist, and columnist.

1952 – Marianne Williamson, bestselling American author, spiritual teacher, lecturer, and political candidate; she also officiated at one of actress Elizabeth Taylor’s weddings.

1955 – Susan Price, British author of books for children and teens, including science fiction, fantasy, ghost stories, historical fiction, and folktales.

1959 – Tom Egeland, Norwegian novelist and screenwriter known especially for his thrillers; his most famous novel, published in English as Relic, bears some similarities to Dan Brown’s bestselling Da Vinci Code, leading to speculation that Brown plagiarized Egeland’s book (which was published first); Egeland chalks up the similarities to coincidence and a reliance on the same reference works.

1982 – Pendleton Ward, screenwriter, animator, producer, and voice actor for cartoons.

July 7 Writer Birthdays

1851 – Lillien Jane Martin, a pioneer in the field of psychology, especially in her work with children and the elderly; she wrote 12 books, but her contributions were ignored in her own time because women were not accepted in her field.

1893 – Herbert Feis, Pulitzer Prize-winning American nonfiction author, professor, and economic advisor.

1904 – Simone Beck, French cooking teacher and cookbook author who collaborated with Julia Child.

1906 – Helene Johnson, Harlem Renaissance poet who was cousin to author Dorothy West.

1907 – Robert Heinlein, American novelist and short-story writer who was one of the most influential science-fiction authors of his time; he was a four-time Hugo Award winner and was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America; before he turned to writing, he was a Naval officer and Annapolis graduate.

1915 – Margaret Walker, African-American poet and novelist (full name Margaret Abigail Walker Alexander); Langston Hughes read some poetry she wrote at age 16 and urged her to move north (from her native New Orleans) to become a writer.

1931 – David Eddings, American author of epic fantasy novels, including his popular series, The Belgariad; some of his books were coauthored with his wife, Leigh Eddings.

1932 – T.J. Bass, American science-fiction author and doctor who also wrote a nonfiction book on exercise and nutrition.

1933 – David McCullough, American author, narrator, historian, and lecturer; best known for his presidential biographies; he is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

1941 – Nancy Farmer, American author, best known for her children’s books, YA fiction, and science fiction; she wrote three Newbery Honor books and won the National Book Award.

1965 – Lesego Rampolokeng, South African playwright, poet, and novelist.