May 18 Writer Birthdays

1048 – Omar Khayyám, Persian poet, philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician; known for his collection of poetry that translator Edward FitzGerald titled The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám.

1809 – Harriett Low Hillard, American writer and diarist who lived for several years in the Portuguese colony of Macau on the South China coast. She and her sickly aunt became the first American women to go to China; while there, she wrote a journal in the form of letters to her sister Molly.

1814 – Mikhail Bakunin, influential Russian revolutionary, writer, activist, philosopher, politician, and theorist of collectivist anarchism who is considered one of the most influential figures of anarchism and one of the principal founders of the social anarchist tradition; his book God and the State has been widely translated and remains in print.

1871 – Fanny “Franziska” zu Reventlow (Fanny Liane Wilhelmine Sophie Auguste Adrienne), German writer, artist, translator, and countess; she became famous as the “Bohemian Countess of Schwabing” in the years leading up to World War I.

1872 – Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize-winning British writer, historian, essayist, philosopher, logician, social critic, mathematician, and political activist, famed for his “varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.”

1874 – Madeleine Pelletier, French writer, essayist, autobiographer, anthropologist, physician, psychiatrist, politician, activist, socialist, and suffragist.

1879 – Henry James III, Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer who was the nephew of acclaimed novelist Henry James.

1889 – Gunnar Gunnarsson, prolific Icelandic novelist, dramatist, essayist, and poet who wrote mainly in Danish (to gain a wider audience) and whose work celebrated the courage and dignity of the common people of the North; his five-volume fictionalized autobiography Kirken paa bjerget (The Church on the Mountain) is considered his best work and a masterpiece of modern Icelandic literature.

1895 – Zhang Henshui (pen name of Zhang Xinyuan), popular and prolific Chinese novelist.

1904 – Lady Margaret Pansy Felicia Lamb (known as Lady Pansy Lamb), English writer, novelist, translator, and biographer under her maiden name, Pansy Pakenham.

1907 – Irene Hunt, Newbery Medal-winning American author of books for children and teens, best known for her historical and coming-of-age novels; her most famous works are Across Five Aprils and Up a Road Slowly. According to one critic, “Brilliant characterization, a telling sense of story, an uncanny ability to balance fact and fiction, and compassionate, graceful writing mark Hunt’s small but distinguished body of work.”

1910 – Ester Boserup, influential Danish writer and economist who wrote seminal books on agrarian change and the role of women in development; she is known for her theory of agricultural intensification, also known as Boserup’s theory, which posits that population change drives the intensity of agricultural production.

1915 – Seo Jeong-ju, five-time Nobel Prize-nominated Korean poet and professor who wrote under the pen name Midang (“not yet fully grown”); he is widely regarded as one of the best poets in 20th-century Korean literature.

1925 – Lillian Hoban, American children’s writer and illustrator who often collaborated with her husband Russell Hoban.

1930 – Fred Saberhagen, American science-fiction and fantasy author of novels and short stories.

1952 – Diane Duane, American/Irish science-fiction and fantasy author who writes in the Star Trek universe, as well as her own settings.

1956 – Gisèle Pineau, French/Guadeloupean novelist, writer, and psychiatric nurse who has written books on the difficulties of her childhood as a person of color growing up in Parisian society; in particular, she focuses on racism and the effects it can have on a young girl trying to discover her own cultural identity.

1957 – Lionel Shriver, American/British journalist and author; born Margaret Ann Shriver.

1959 – Debbie Dadey, author of more than 125 children’s books, including the bestselling series, The Adventure of the Bailey School Kids.

1967 – Nina Björk, Swedish feminist, author, journalist, and columnist.

1970 – Tina Fey, American comedy writer, comedian, actress, and television personality.

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