May 16 Writer Birthdays

1718 – Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Italian writer, essayist, mathematician, theologian, philosopher, philanthropist, and humanitarian who was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a mathematics professor at a university. She wrote the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus, and also wrote extensively on the marriage between intellectual pursuit and mystical contemplation. The composer Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini was her sister.

1788 – Friedrich Rückert, German poet, writer, translator, and professor of Oriental languages.

1803 – Constantina Carolina Amalia “Amelie” von Strussenfelt, Swedish writer, poet, novelist, educator, painter, and women’s rights activist whose sister was the writer Ulrika von Strussenfelt.

1884 – Eric P. Kelly, Newbery Medal-winning American children’s author, journalist, and academic.

1886 – Douglas Southall Freeman, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, author, newspaper editor, radio commentator, and biographer of Robert E. Lee and George Washington.

1888 – Berthe-Sultana Bénichou-Aboulker, Algerian poet and playwright who wrote in French; her play La Kahena, reine berbière was the first work published by a Jewish woman in Algeria.

1890 – Gertrude Chandler Warner, American author of children’s books; best known as the first author of the beloved Boxcar Children series. The books were criticized for encouraging child rebellion by depicting children with little parental supervision; her response was that the children liked them for that very reason.

1898 – Desanka Maksimovic, Serbian poet, writer, professor, children’s author, and translator.

1905 – H.E. Bates, English novelist, journalist, essayist, and short-story writer.

1906 – Margret Rey, German-American co-author and illustrator (with her husband H.A. Rey) of the Curious George children’s books.

1910 – Olga Berggolts, Russian poet and radio broadcaster

1910 – Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, American educator, Transcendentalist writer, and translator who opened the first English-language kindergarten in the U.S.

1912 – Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, historian, and broadcaster who is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans.

1917 – Juan Rulfo, Mexican novelist and short story writer who is considered one of Latin America’s most esteemed novelists and short-story writers; he strongly influenced author Gabriel García Márquez.

1929 – Adrienne Rich, National Book Award-winning American poet, essayist, and feminist who has been called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century.”

1934 – Robert Dallek, American professor, historian, and biographer who specializes in American presidents.

1934 – Yusufali Kechery, Indian poet, film lyricist, film producer, and director who is considered one of the modern era’s leading writers of Malayalam poetry.

1944 – Ahmet Emin Atasoy, Bulgarian-born Turkish poet, author, teacher, and interpreter.

1946 – Laila Stien, Norwegian novelist, poet, children’s author, and translator.

1950 – Bruce Coville, prolific, award-winning American author of children’s and young-adult novels.

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