October 16 Writer Birthdays

1745 – Olaudah Equiano, writer, autobiographer, abolitionist, sailor, and merchant who was born in what is now Nigeria, enslaved as a child, and brought to the British West Indies and later to London, where he bought his own freedom and became a leader in the movement to abolish slavery; his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which depicts the horrors of slavery, went through nine editions and helped gain passage of the British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the African slave trade.

1758 – Noah Webster, American lexicographer, textbook author, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author who has been called the Father of American Scholarship and Education, and whose name is synonymous with “dictionary.”

1849 – George Washington Williams, American historian, political activist, newspaper editor, and clergyman who was the first African-American to graduate from the Newton Theological Institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the first African-American to serve in the Ohio State Legislature; his groundbreaking books include The History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880: Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens — which is considered to be the first overall history of African-Americans — and A History of Negro Troops in the War of Rebellion.

1854 – Oscar Wilde, Irish writer, playwright, and poet, well known for the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, for the play The Importance of Being Earnest, and for his witticisms.

1859 – Daisy Bates, Irish-Australian author, journalist, welfare worker, and anthropologist who wrote about Australian Aboriginal culture and society.

1869 – Claude H. Van Tyne, American historian and winner of the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book The War of Independence.

1888 – Eugene O’Neill, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Nobel Prize-winning American playwright who is remembered “for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy.”

1908 – Olivia Coolidge, award-winning British-born American author of children’s history books and biographies.

1916 – George Turner, Australian science-fiction writer.

1919 – Kathleen Winsor, American romance author who is best known for her novel Forever Amber.

1927 – Günter Grass, Nobel Prize-winning German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor whose “frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten side of history.”

1931- Kabita Sinha, influential Indian Bengali writer, poet, novelist, teacher, and radio director who is known for her modernist stance, rejecting the traditional housebound role for Bengali women.

1942 – Joseph Bruchac, American author of novels, poetry, and short stories relating to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a particular focus on northeastern Native American and Anglo-American lives and folklore; much of his work is for children and teens. He is of Abenaki, English, and Slovak descent.

1945 – Paul Monette, American author and poet best known for his essays about gay relationships.

1946 – Suzanne Somers, American actress who also has a line of diet and heath books.

1949 – Frank Mkalawile Chipasula, Malawian writer, editor, and university professor who is one of the best known writers in Malawian literary study.

1950 – Elinor Lipman, American novelist, essayist, and short-story writer.

1954 – Lorenzo Carcaterra, American author whose book Sleepers was adapted into the film of the same name.

1960 – Pearl Abraham, Israeli novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and university teacher.

1968 – Olajumoke Adenowo, Nigerian author, architect, and radio host; she has lectured on the arts, architecture, gender issues, women’s empowerment, and entrepreneurialism in Africa.

1969 – Alafair Burke, American crime novelist, professor of law, and legal commentator who is the daughter of novelist James Lee Burke; she is the author of two series of crime novels, featuring Detective Ellie Hatcher and prosecutor Samantha Kincaid, as well as several stand-alone novels.

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