January 17 Writer Birthdays

1600 – Pedro Calderón de la Barca (full name Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño!), a dramatist, poet, and writer of the Spanish Golden Age who was also a soldier and a Roman Catholic priest.

1814 – Ellen Wood, bestselling English novelist, better known as Mrs. Henry Wood and remembered especially for her novel East Lynne.

1820 – Anne Brontë, British author, poet, and governess, and the youngest and least well-known of the Brontë sisters; her 1848 book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is considered to be one of the first feminist novels. Her works was first published under the pen name Acton Bell.

1871 – Nicolae Iorga, Romanian historian, politician, literary critic, memoirist, poet and playwright who was also a founder of the Democratic Nationalist Party and a member of Parliament.

1883 – Compton Mackenzie (Sir Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie), Scottish writer of fiction, history, biography, and memoir, best known for his comic works, including Monarch of the Glen; he was also one of the founders of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

1886 – Ronald Firbank, British author of eight short novels, influenced by the London aesthetes of the 1890s, especially Oscar Wilde.

1891 – Leonard D. White, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian.

1899 – Neville Shute, prolific British novelist, pilot, and aeronautical engineer; his full name was Neville Shute Norway, but he used the shorter version in his writing to distance his engineering career from his fiction.

1900 – Kaitarō Hasegawa, Japanese novelist, mystery writer, short-story writer, travel writer, and memoirist who wrote under numerous pen names, each with a unique personality, and caused a sensation with what critics considered the sheer brilliance of his fiction, nonfiction, and translations.

1914 – William Stafford, American poet and essayist who was U.S. Poet Laureate and Oregon Poet Laureate; he was known for his pacifism, his unique method of composition, his soft-spoken voice, and his independence from social and literary expectations.

1925 – Robert Cormier, American journalist and author of young adult fiction, known for dark novels exploring themes including abuse, mental illness, violence, revenge, betrayal, and conspiracy; his book The Chocolate War, despite being considered by some critics as one of the best YA novels of all times, has been banned in some places for sexual content, violence, and strong language.

1938 – John Bellairs, American author best known for fantasy and gothic mystery novels for young adults.

1950 – Honey Irani, award-winning Indian screenwriter and short-story writer who was also a Bollywood child star; her son and daughter, Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar, are both critically acclaimed filmmakers.

1962 – Sebastian Junger, American author, filmmaker, and journalist, best known for creative nonfiction works like The Perfect Storm.

1967 – Wendy Mass, award-winning American author of children’s and young adult novels.

1969 – Cecilia May Gibbs, British-born Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist.

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