August 12 Writer Birthdays

1774 – Robert Southey, English poet and biographer.

1831 – Helena Blavatsky, Russian-German occultist who founded the Theosophical Society.

1859 – Katharine Lee Bates, prolific American writer, poet, essayist, novelist, travel writer, children’s author, editor, college professor, scholar, and social activist; today she is primarily remembered as the author of the poem “America the Beautiful,” which became the lyrics to the popular patriotic song.

1866 – Jacinto Benavente, Nobel Prize-winning Spanish dramatist renowned “for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama.”

1867 – Edith Hamilton, German-American author, essayist, educator, and scholar of the Classics; her 1942 book Mythology is still considered a standard introductory text on the subject.

1876 – Mary Roberts Rinehart, American mystery writer, sometimes called the American Agatha Christie; she is credited with originating the phrase, “The butler did it,” and was cited by Bob Kane as an inspiration for his “Batman.”

1880 – Radclyffe Hall, English novelist and poet who is best known for the novel The Well of Loneliness, a groundbreaking work in lesbian literature.

1889 – Zerna Sharp, American teacher, book editor, and children’s author; she created the “Dick and Jane” beginning readers that were widely used in schools in English-speaking countries for more than 40 years.

1920 – P. Singaram,Indian Tamil writer who lived most of his adult life in Indonesia and Malaysia who is considered one of the greatest Tamil novelists of the modern era, despite having authored only two novels.

1925 – Donald Justice, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, essayist, editor, librettist, and teacher; one critic said of his poems, “They were great in the way that tells us what poetry used to be, and is, and will be.”

1926 – Wallace Markfield, American comic novelist best known for his first novel, To An Early Grave.

1928 – Fatima Meer, South African author, screenwriter, sociologist, academic, educator, politician, and prominent anti-apartheid activist.

1931 – William Goldman, American novelist, screenwriter, and playwright who wrote the Oscar-winning scripts for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men.

1937 – Walter Dean Myers, prolific African-American author of young-adult fiction, picture books, and nonfiction who was the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s literature and a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. His novel Fallen Angels is on the ALA’s list of frequently challenged books because of its language and depiction of the Vietnam War; he is especially known for writing about the challenges of urban life for young black men and the complicated moral minefield they must negotiate to stay alive. One of his goals in writing was to expand the face of publishing so that children of color could see themselves reflected in literature.

1940 – Gail Parent, American novelist and Emmy-winning screenwriter, best known for her writing for television, most notably for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Golden Girls.

1945 – J.D. McClatchy, American poet, literary critic, opera librettist, and essayist.

1946 – Deborah Howe, American children’s author who, along with her husband James, wrote the book Bunnicula and its sequels, about a vampire bunny who sucks the life out of vegetables.

1948 – Sue Monk Kidd, American novelist, memoirist, essayist, editor, and nurse, best known for her bestselling novel The Secret Life of Bees.

1955 – Ann Martin, American children’s author who created the juvenile book series “The Baby-Sitters Club.”

1956 – Akimi Yoshida, award-winning Japanese manga author and illustrator, best known for the crime thriller series “Banana Fish.”

1964 – Katherine Boo, American journalist and author whose first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, won the National Book Award in 2012.

1970 – Anthony Swofford, American writer and former U.S. Marine whose autobiography Jarhead recounts his experience during the first Gulf War.

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