February 20 Writer Birthdays

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.

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

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 American 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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