August 31 Writer Birthdays

1844 – Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward, American feminist author, poet, essayist, lecturer, and intellectual who challenged traditional Christian beliefs of the afterlife and women’s traditional roles in marriage and family, and advocated clothing reform for women, including urging women to burn their corsets. In her 40s, she she again broke convention by marrying a man 17 years her junior. She was also the first woman to present a lecture series at Boston University.

1845 – Amália dos Passos Figueiroa, Brazilian writer, poet, and journalist.

1866 – Elizabeth von Arnim, Australian-born British memoirist and semi-autobiographical novelist who was born Mary Annette Beauchamp, became Countess von Arnim-Schlagenthin with her first marriage, and was styled Elizabeth Russell, Countess Russell after her second marriage; she also wrote under the pen name Alice Cholmondeley. One of her cousins was the New Zealand-born Kathleen Beauchamp, who wrote under the pen name Katherine Mansfield.

1879 – Alma Mahler, Austrian-born author, editor, composer, musician, and painter whose first husband was composer Gustav Mahler; she fled Austria in 1938 because it was unsafe for her as a Jew, and eventually settled in the U.S.

1885 – DuBose Heyward, American author best known for his 1935 novel Porgy, which was eventually adapted into plays, opera, and films as Porgy and Bess.

1886 – Conrad Buff, American children’s illustrator, who, with his wife — author and illustrator Mary Buff, was a Caldecott Medal or Newbery Medal runner-up four times.

1887 – Zenobia Camprubí Aymar, Spanish writer, poet, linguist, and translator.

1908 – William Saroyan, Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, novelist, and short-story writer.

1916 – Alice Schwarz-Gardos, Austrian-born Israeli journalist, author, and editor.

1918 – Alan Jay Lerner, three-time Tony Award-winning and three-time Oscar-winning American lyricist, librettist, songwriter, biographer, and film producer who created some of the world’s most popular and enduring works of musical theater for the stage and film, often in collaboration with Frederick Loewe, and later Burton Lane.

1919 – Amrita Pritam, award-winning Indian novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, biographer, collector of folk songs, and autobiographer who wrote in Punjabi and Hindi and is considered the first prominent female Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist, and the leading 20th century Punjabi poet; she is best remembered for her poignant poem, Ajj aakhaan Waris Shah nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah – “Ode to Waris Shah”), an elegy to the 18th-century Punjabi poet and an expression of her anguish over massacres during the partition of India.

1929 – Julio Ramón Ribeyro, award-winning Peruvian writer, journalist, novelist, playwright, diarist, essayist, and diplomat who was best known for his short stories; his work is often funny and is written in simple but ironic language, and much of his fiction includes autobiographical characters who end up with their hopes cruelly dashed.

1935 – Eldridge Cleaver, American writer and political activist who was an early leader of the Black Panther Party.

1936 – Fabrizia Ramondino, Italian fiction author who body of work “includes and crosses the boundaries between poetry, novels, plays, travelogues, memoirs, confession, self-reflection, anthropological, cultural and linguistic comment.”

1938 – Elvania Namukwaya Zirimu, Ugandan writer, poet, and playwright; her best known work is the one-act play “Keeping Up with the Mukasas.|

1940 – Shivaji Sawant, award-winning Indian Marathi novelist.

1982 – G. Willow Wilson (Gwendolyn Willow Wilson), American-born comics writer, prose author, music critic, essayist, and journalist whose first graphic novel, Cairo, has been listed as a top graphic novel for teens.

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