August 11 Writer Birthdays

1823 – Charlotte Mary Yonge, English novelist who wrote religious books that helped spread the influence of the Oxford Movement.

1885 – Sophia Parnok, Russian poet, writer, journalist, linguist, and translator whose work explores her own sense of Russianness, Jewish identity, and lesbianism; she has been called “Russia’s Sappho,” for writing openly about her lesbian relationships. She worked as a journalist under the pen name of Andrei Polianin.

1892 – Hugh MacDiarmid, pen name of Scottish poet Christopher Murray Grieve, whose most well-known work is the book-length poem A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle.

1897 – Enid Blyton, British children’s author also known as Mary Pollock; she is best known for the Character Noddy, and for such series as “The Famous Five” and “The Secret Seven.”

1897 – Louise Bogan, American writer, poet, and literary critic who was the fourth U.S. Poet Laureate and the first woman to hold the position.

1898 – Luang Wichitwathakan (also known as Wichit Wichitwathakan), Thai major general who was a novelist, historian, playwright, politician, and diplomat; he was largely responsible for changing the name of the country from Siam to Thailand.

1908 – Don Freeman, American children’s book author and illustrator; author of the classic Corduroy.

1915 – Suzanne Césaire (née Roussi), French writer, teacher, scholar, anti-colonial and feminist activist, and Surrealist; she married poet and politician Aimé Césaire.

1917 – Inge Scholl, German writer whose brother and sister, Hans and Sophie Scholl, were core members of the White Rose student resistance movement in Nazi Germany and were executed by the Nazis. Inge Scholl wrote several books about the White Rose after the war.

1921 – Alex Haley, African-American novelist, screenwriter, and biographer who co-authored The Autobiography of Malcolm X but was best known as the author of the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, for which he traced his own ancestry back to Africa. Roots was made into a seminal television miniseries and is credited for touching off Americans’ interest in studying their family histories.

1922 – Mavis Gallant (Mavis Leslie de Trafford Gallant, née Young), Canadian short-story writer who was also a novelist, playwright, journalist, and essayist; she spent much of her life in France.

1932 – Keiko Kishi, Japanese writer, actress, and UNFPA Goodwill Ambassador.

1936 – Andre Dubus II, American short-story writer and essayist who was the father of the author Andre Dubus III.

1938 – Bapsi Sidhwa, Pakistani-born American novelist and screenwriter of Gujarati Parsi descent who writes in English. A documentary about her life called Bapsi: Silences of My Life is expected to release 2021.

1944 – Joanna Cole, prolific American children’s book author, writer, and librarian who is best known as the author of the beloved Magic School Bus series, which was also made into a television program and video games. She passed away in July 2020.

1946 – Marilyn vos Savant, US American magazine columnist, author, playwright, journalist, and lecturer who is listed as having the highest recorded I.Q. (intelligence quotient) and is best known for her Parade magazine column, “Ask Marilyn.” She was born Marilyn Mach but adopted her mother’s maiden name; Savant means “learned person.” She married Dr. Robert Jarvik, who invented the Jarvik-7 artificial heart.

1961 – David Brooks, American political and cultural commentator who writes for the New York Times, and has authored several books on American culture.

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