March 30 Writer Birthdays

1820 – Anna Sewell, English novelist whose only published work was the book Black Beauty, told from the point of view of a horse; it is one of the most popular children’s classics, though it was originally intended for adults who worked with horses.

1844 – Paul Verlaine, French poet associated with the Symbolist and Decadent movements.

1858 – Princess Catherine Radziwill, Polish-Russian-Lithuanian aristocrat who wrote two dozen books about European royalty and the Russian court, as well as an autobiography; she was a prominent figure at the Imperial courts in Germany and Russia, and was involved in a series of scandals.

1857 – Gabriela Zapolska (born Maria Gabriela Korwin-Piotrowska), Hungarian-born Polish actress, novelist, and playwright of the Naturalist school.

1880 – Sean O’Casey, Irish playwright and memoirist who was the first Irish playwright of note to write about the Dublin working classes.

1882 – Emma Jung (born Emma Marie Rauschenbach), Swiss psychologist, analyst, author, and essayist; she married Carl Gustav Jung, supporting him financing and editing his work, to help him to become the founder of analytical psychology. After her death, he described her as “a Queen”.

1886 – Frances Crofts Cornford (née Darwin), English poet who was the granddaughter of Charles Darwin; because of the similarity of her first name to her father’s (Francis), she was known to her family before her marriage as “FCD” and sometimes used it as a pen name.

1895 – Jean Giono, French author whose novels were mostly set in Provence and often celebrate nature.

1899 – Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay (শরদিন্দু বন্দোপাধ্যায়), Bengali novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and screenwriter, best known for his detective fiction.

1903 – Countee Cullen, American poet, novelist, children’s writer, and playwright who was akey figure in the Harlem Renaissance.

1909 – Lalithambika Antharjanam, award-winning Indian novelist, short-story writer, poet, children’s writer, autobiographer, and social reformer who was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi; her writing reflects a sensitivity to the women’s role in society, in the family, and as an individual.

1923 – Milton James Rhode Acorn, Canadian writer, playwright, and Canada’s National Poet, often called the People’s Poet

1924 – Alan Davidson, British diplomat and historian who was best known for his food writing, in particular the editing of the Oxford Companion to Food.

1928 – Thomas Ridley Sharpe, English satirical novelist who lived in South African for 10 years until he was deported for sedition.

1947 – Satoko Tsushima (pen name Yuko Tsushima), award-winning Japanese novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and critic; The New York Times called her “one of the most important writers of her generation.”

1949 – Ruth Elynia S. Mabanglo, Filipina writer, poet, journalist, editor, anthologist, and professor.

1958 – Thierry Cabot, French poet who says that his work “is often marked with the seal of melancholy.”

1959 – Martina Cole, bestselling British crime writer, detective novelist, film producer, television presenter, and businesswoman.

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

I posted this on my old blog a few years ago. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get the veggies to make them this year, given the current state of the nation’s grocery stores. But if you can, you might want to try this. It’s more labor-intensive than using those little chemical dye packs with the chicks and bunnies on the packages, but the results are much nicer, and the process a whole lot more satisfying.


I just finished making a batch of Easter Eggs, using a technique I hadn’t tried before. Onion skins and purple cabbage impart vibrant orange and blue shades, and flowers and leaves I picked in my own yard make interesting stencils! This is what they look like finished:

And here is how I made them.

First, assemble your materials. You’ll need eggs (unboiled), a head of purple cabbage, and the skins of yellow onions. I used the skins of 6 or 7 large onions, but I also grabbed some of the unattached skins from the onion bin at the grocery store, and shoved them into the bag with my onions. You’ll need a large pot or saucepan for each color you plan to make. I had only one large pot, so I used that for the onion skins and broke up the head of cabbage into two smaller ones, a Calphalon saucepan and a Corning Ware stovetop-safe casserole dish. You’ll also need small flowers, leaves, ferns, or herbs for the designs, and some knee-high hose (for a dozen eggs, you’ll need six of them). Distilled white vinegar is optional. With a pair of scissors, cut the knee-high hose in half.

Pick up an egg; arrange a leaf, frond, or flower on it; and pull one of the knee-high halves over it. This will feel awkward at first. I recommend you keep your design simple. Don’t try to decorate both sides of the egg, at least at first; it’s easiest with one botanical per egg. Place the hose over the design first and then pull it around the rest of the egg; tie it tightly on the opposite side, tightly enough so that the flower can’t move. This will get easier after you do the first few.

Place the hose-wrapped eggs deep within the onion skins or cabbage. Make sure the onion skins or cabbage pieces cover them. And don’t try to fit in too many. I made a baker’s dozen eggs, with 6 in my large pot and 3 or 4 in each of the small ones.

Fill the pots with water, higher than the level of the eggs. You might add a splash of white vinegar, which is supposed to help set the dye, but this is optional. Some of the instructions I found said to use it and some didn’t. I used it, but I haven’t tried it without, so I don’t know how much of a difference it makes.

Put them on the stove on high heat. Heat until boiling. Then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, depending on how hard-cooked you like your eggs.

Turn off the heat and let the eggs cool in the pots. When the pots feel cool, put them in the fridge overnight.

The next day, pull them out, fish out the hose-wrapped eggs, and leave them on paper towels to dry a bit.

I started to unwrap one immediately, and the dye started to come off. You’ll get better results if you wait a while.

When they’re mostly dry, take your scissors and carefully make a cut in the hose, near the knot, and pull it off an egg. Once the egg is unwrapped, peel off the flower, leaves, or herbs. Voila! You’ve made an egg. Repeat for all of your eggs.

For some reason, the cabbage-dyed eggs from the Calphalon saucepan came out a darker shade of blue than the ones I cooked in Corning Ware. I’m not sure why; maybe one had a higher ratio of cabbage to water. But I was pleased to see it. It gave me three different colors of eggs instead of two. (And did I mention that they’re UVa colors????)

I read that you rubbing a bit of vegetable oil on these will give them a nice shine, but I haven’t tried that yet. And don’t worry if a bit of the color penetrates some of the eggs (as it sometimes does with store-bought dyes). It does not make your eggs taste like onions or cabbage!

Aren’t these awesome?

March 29 Writer Birthdays

1831 – Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr, prolific British novelist, autobiographer, and teacher, much of whose fiction was set in Scotland and England.

1865 – Stephen Bonsal, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, war correspondent, author, translator, and diplomat.

1901 – Andrija Maurović, Croatian comic book author and illustrator who is considered the father of Croatian and Yugoslav comics.

1929 – Lennart Meri, Estonian history and travel writer who served as president of Estonia from 1992 to 2001.

1936 – Judith Guest, American novelist and screenwriter who is best known for her book Ordinary People and its film adaptation.

1952 – Jo-Ann Mapson, American novelist whose work is mostly set in the Southwest and deals with friendship, love, and families.

1952 – K.N.Y. Patanjali, Indian writer, journalist, editor, novelist, and short-story author who was especially known for his satire.

1957 – Elizabeth Hand, bestselling American novelist, short-story author, and essayist whose work spans several genres including science fiction and fantasy and has won multiple World Fantasy and Nebula Awards

1961 – Amy Sedaris, American author, comedian, screenwriter, and actress; writer David Sedaris is her brother.

1969 – Ranjit Hoskote, Indian poet, art critic, and cultural theorist.

March 28 Writer Birthdays

1868 – Maxim Gorky, Russian Soviet writer and founder of the Socialist Realism literary movement; he was a four-time nominee for the Nobel Prize.

1887 – Dimcho Debelianov (Димчо Дебелянов), Bulgarian poet

1909 – Nelson Algren, National Book Award-winning American novelist and short-story writer.

1924 – Byrd Baylor, American novelist, essayist, and picture-book author whose work won four Caldecott Honor awards.

1936 – Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize-winning Peruvian-Spanish writer known “for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual’s resistance, revolt and defeat.”

1948 – Jayne Ann Krentz, American author of romance novels, who also writes under the names Jane Quick and Amanda Quick.

1956 – Amanda Aizpuriete, award-winning Latvian poet and translator.

1962 – Nuray Lale, Turkish-born, German-based writer and translator.

1964 – Lisa Moore, acclaimed Canadian novelist, short-story writer and editor, much of whose work is set in Newfoundland.

1968 – Iris Chang, American historian, journalist, and political activist best known for her 1997 account of the Nanking Massacre, The Rape of Nanking.

1970 – Jennifer Weiner, bestselling American author, journalist, and television producer who has been an activist against gender bias in publishing and the media.

1977 – Lauren Weisberger, bestselling American author best known for her novel The Devil Wears Prada.

1985 – Heart Yngrid, Filipina romance author, two of whose books have been made into television series.

Photo Friday: Homemade Bagels

With the pandemic having shut down so much of society outside our homes, many of us are spending some of our newfound free time in the kitchen. Generally, I am not what anyone would call domestic, but I do like to bake. In fact, I frequently bake bread. But for years, I’ve wanted to attempt the more labor-intensive process of making my own bagels. Last weekend, I gave it a try.

Bagels begin with bread dough. But after being shaped into that familiar bagel shaped and allowed to rise once more, bagels are boiled for a minute or two before being baked in the oven.

Next time, I will make these slightly smaller than my recipe called for. After rising, I thought they were just too big. And smaller bagels would be easier to work with in a pot of boiling water. Also, the recipe I used did not call for oil or butter, which means the bagels will dry out sooner. Next time I plan to add a tablespoon of oil. Also, some are a bit misshapen. Now that I have been through the process once, I think I’ll do better next time.

But besides those caveats, I thought my bagels came out well! And my husband insists they’re the best he’s ever tasted.

My very own homemade bagels!

March 27 Writer Birthdays

1770 – Eleonora Charlotta d’Albedyhll, née Wrangel, Swedish countess, poet, writer, and salon holder.

1770 – Sophie Friederike Mereau, novelist, poet, translator, publisher, and short-story writer associated with German Romanticism.

1883 – Marie Under, Estonian writer, poet, translator, and archivist who is considered one of Estonia’s greatest poets; she was nominated eight times for the Nobel Prize.

1892 – Thorne Smith, American writer of humorous supernatural fantasy fiction; notably his two Topper novels, which were considered racy inthe 1930s.

1910 – Ai Qing (艾青), Chinese writer who was regarded as one of the finest modern Chinese poets.

1914 – Budd Schulberg, American novelist and screenwriter.

1922 – Barnaby Conrad, American artist and author who was also a nightclub proprietor, bullfighter, and boxer.

1922 – Dick King-Smith, British author of children’s books whose book The Sheep-Pig was published in the United States as Babe the Gallant Pig and adapted into the popular movie Babe.

1923 – Louis Simpson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Jamaican poet.

1926 – Frank O’Hara, National Book Award-winning American poet.

1939 – Leila Kasra, Iranian writer, poet, songwriter, and lyricist .

1942 – Michael Jackson, English author and journalist who was best known for writing about beer and whisky.

1949 – Dubravka Ugrešic, Amsterdam-based Croatian novelist, short-story writer, and essayist; she is also a literary scholar, much of whose work focuses on contemporary Russian literature.

1950 – Julia Alvarez, Dominican-American novelist, poet, essayist, and children’s writer who is considered one of the world’s most important Latina writers.

1952 – Dana Stabenow, American author of science fiction, mystery and crime fiction, thrillers, and historical adventures; many of her books are set in her native Alaska.

1955 – Patrick McCabe, award-winning Irish author whose dark, violent novels are set in modern-day Ireland.

1962 – Kevin J. Anderson, American science-fiction author who has written spin-off novels for Star Wars, The X-Files, and other popular series, as well as work set in his own science-fiction worlds; with Brian Herbert, he is the co-author of the Dune prequel series. He is married to writer and sometimes writing partner Rebecca Moesta.

1966 – Bettina Balàka, award-winning Austrian novelist, poet, essayist, playwright and short story writer.

March 26 Writer Birthdays

1859 – A.E. Housman (Alfred Edward Housman), English classical scholar and poet, best known for his lyrical “A Shropshire Lad” poems, which evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside.

1819 – Louise Otto-Peters, German journalist, suffragist, and women’s rights activist who wrote novels, poetry, essays, and libretti.

1874 – Robert Frost, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet whose work is closely associated with the northern U.S. but was first published in England; known for realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, he examined complex social and political themes through observations about rural life in New England. He was also Poet Laureate of Vermont.

1904 – Joseph Campbell, American writer, professor, and lecturer who was known for his work in comparative mythology and religion.

1905 – Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist; his Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles his time in a Nazi concentration camp.

1907 – Mahadevi Verma, Hindi poet, freedom fighter, and professor; she was a major poet of the “Chhayavaad,” a literary movement of romanticism in modern Hindi poetry.

1911 – Tenessee Williams, Pen name of Thomas Lanier Williams III, creator of many classics of American drama; along with contemporaries Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered one of the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.

1930 – Gregory Nunzio Corso, American poet who was part of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers.

1931 – Leonard Nimoy, screenwriter, photographer, actor, writer, poet, musician, voice actor, film director, film producer, television actor, and film actor; he is, of course, best known for playing Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

1941 – Richard Dawkins, Kenyan-born English evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and author who is best known for his book The Selfish Gene and his outspoken views against religion.

1942 – Erica Jong, American novelist, satirist, and poet who pushed the boundaries of female sexuality with her 1973 novel Fear of Flying.

1943 – Sanmao, Taiwanese novelist, translator, screenwriter, and lyricist; her
works range from autobiographical writing, travel writing, and reflective novels, to translations of Spanish-language comic strips; she also studied philosophy and taught German.

1943 – Bob Woodward, American journalist and author who, with Carl Bernstein, did much of the investigative reporting for the Washington Post that exposed the Watergate scandal.

1952 – T.A. Barron, American author of fantasy literature for children and young adults.

1954 – Dorothy Porter, Australian writer, poet, children’s author, and librettist.

1964 – Hai Zi, pen name of the Chinese poet Zha Haisheng, one of the most famous poets in Mainland China after the Cultural Revolution; he committed suicide by lying on a rail at the age of 25, lying beside a bag containing a Bible, a book of selected stories by Joseph Conrad, Thoreau’s Walden, and Heyerdahk’s Kon-Tiki, a death now regarded as an important event in modern Chinese literature.

March 25 Writer Birthdays

1347 – Saint Catherine of Siena, a laywoman associated with the Dominican Order who was a mystic, activist, and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and the Catholic Church.

1625 – Ann Fanshawe, English memoirist and cookbook author; in her 1665 book of recipes, she published the first known written recipe for ice cream (which she called “icy cream”).

1920 – Paul Scott, Booker Award-winning British novelist, playwright, and poet.

1925 – Flannery O’Connor, American novelist, short-story writer, and essayist in the Southern Gothic style whose work often features disturbing elements, deals with questions of morality and ethics, and revolves around morally flawed characters, many of whom are disabled or interact with people with disabilities; her writing is noted for a grasp of the nuances of human behavior.

1934 – Gloria Steinem, American journalist, columnist, editor, feminist, and leader of the Women’s Liberation movement; best known as a co-founder of Ms. magazine.

1939 – Toni Cade Bambara, African-American novelist, short story writer, essayist, documentary filmmaker, professor, and civil-rights activist whose work focused on the lives of African-Americans.

1939 – D.C. Fontana (Dorothy Catherine Fontana) – screenwriter, television producer, and story editor known for her work on the original Star Trek television series; she also wrote for Star Trek, the Next Generation, Star Trek DS9, and other popular television shows, as well as writing a Star Trek novel. She used her initials because women were not commonly accepted in writing science fiction for television at the time.

1942 – Ana Blandiana, Romanian poet, essayist, journalist, children’s writer, and political figure.

1946 – Stephen Hunter, Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic and author of thrillers.

1948 – Bayyinah Bello, Haitian historian, teacher, writer and humanitarian worker.

1952 – Jung Chang, Chinese-born British writer, poet, historian, linguist, biographer, and autobiographer; she is best known for her family autobiography Wild Swans, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide but was banned in the People’s Republic of China.

1954 – Thom Loverro, American sportswriter and columnist.

1958 – Susie Bright (a.k.a. Susie Sexpert), American feminist, author, journalist, critic, editor, publisher, producer, and performer, often on the subject of sexual politics and sexuality.

1960 – Linda Sue Park, Newbery Award-winning American author of teen fiction and children’s picture books.

1964 – Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Award-winning American writer of children’s and young-adult fiction.

1965 – Melina Marchetta, Australian author, children’s writer, screenwriter, and teacher, best known for her young-adult novels.

Update to the End of High School

I posted yesterday about the Virginia governor’s announcement that schools are closed through the end of the school year. And today, it was no surprise that the high-school principal confirmed in an email to parents what I’d already assumed: that my son and other seniors will not have a graduation ceremony or prom.

I’m sure there will be many more similar announcements, as all the other milestone events are officially canceled. I am sad for our students.

March 24 Writer Birthdays

1775 – Muthuswami Dikshitar, Indian poet, author, and legendary composer of Indian classical music.

1826 – Matilda Joslyn Gage, American author, editor, journalist, lecturer, abolitionist, suffragist, and activist for women’s rights and Native American rights who ran an Underground Railroad station out of her home and wrote prolifically against oppression of all kinds; her son-in-law, Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, called her “the most gifted and educated woman of her age.”

1834 – William Morris, influential English poet, artist, designer, and social activist who was a key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.

1855 – Olive Schreiner, South African author, anti-war activist, and intellectual who was best known for her novel, The Story of an African Farm.

1897 – Theodora Kroeber (full name Theodora Covel Kracaw Kroeber Quinn), American writer, anthropologist, and university Regent, best known for her accounts of several Native Californian cultures; her influential book Ishi in Two Worlds was an account of the last member of the Yahi tribe of Northern California, whom her husband, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, had befriended and studied. Her later work included a collaboration with her daughter, renowned science-fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin.

1916 – Donald Hamilton, American writer of pulp spy fiction, crime fiction, and westerns.

1919 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American beat poet, painter, social activist, and founder of San Francisco’s City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

1920 – Mary Stolz, Newbery Honor-winning American author of children’s books and young-adult novels.

1923 – Michael Legat, British author of romance novels and guides for writers.

1924 – Vincent Cronin, British author of cultural histories and biography, best known for biographies of French royalty and historical work about the Renaissance; his father was the Scottish novelist A.J. Cronin.

1926 – Dario Fo, Nobel Prize-winning Italian playwright, actor, and director who “emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

1935 – Mary Berry, British food writer, prolific cookbook author, autobiographer, and television presenter who was one of the judges on the Great British Baking Show.

1943 – Kate (Catherine Merrial) Webb (born March 24, 1943) – New Zealand journalist and war correspondent; she was known for her fearless and tenacious reporting throughout the Vietnam War, and at one point was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese and was thought to have been killed in captivity but survived to write about the weeks-long ordeal.

1944 – Mary Balogh, Welsh-Canadian author of historical romance novels.

1949 – Tabitha King, American writer, novelist, and science-fiction writer; she is married to author Stephen King.

1970 – Erica Kennedy, African-American author, journalist, blogger, singer, and bestselling novelist.