October 19 Writer Birthdays

1835 – Krišjānis Barons, Latvian writer, folklorist, and journalist who worked to preserve, catalog, and publish works of Latvian folk culture.

1835 – Amanda Theodosia Jones, American author, poet, and inventor who invented a vacuum method of canning called the Jones Process.

1856 – Elín Rannveig Briem (née Eiriksdóttir), Icelandic teacher and writer who published one of Iceland’s most popular books, Kvennafræðarinn (The Women’s Instructor), which was primarily a cookbook but which also provided advice on health, hygiene, and economics.

1899 – Miguel Ángel Asturias, Nobel Prize-winning Guatemalan writer of “vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America.”

1908 – Olga Lengyel, Hungarian Jewish author who survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during World War II and wrote about her experiences in her book Five Chimneys; she was the only member of her immediate family to survive the Holocaust.

1922 – Ebrahim Golestan, Iranian novelist, screenwriter, photographer, writer, translator, journalist, film director, and literary critic.

1922 – Elsa Joubert, South African Sestigers Afrikaans-language novelist, short-story writer, autobiographer, and travel writer whose novel Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena (The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena) was translated into 13 languages and also staged as a drama.

1922 – Shanta Shelke, Indian Marathi poet, writer, short-story writer, journalist, translator, children’s author, and music composer whose pen name was Vasant Avsare.

1924 – Nirendranath Chakravarty, Indian Bengali writer, poet, and children’s author.

1931 – Ed Emberley, American author and illustrator of books that teach children how to draw.

1931 – John le Carré, bestselling British author of espionage novels; many of his books have been adapted for film or television.

1937 – Renata Adler, American author, journalist, and film critic whose books include Speedboat and Pitch Dark.

1942 – Andrew Vachss, American attorney and author of crime fiction.

1943 – L.E. Modesitt, prolific American science-fiction and fantasy novelist who also writes technical studies and articles, columns, poetry, and short stories. About writing, he says, “The bottom line is simple: As a writer, you first must entertain your readers. To keep them beyond a quick and final read, you have to do more than that, whether it’s to educate them, make them feel, anger them by challenging their preconceptions—or all of that and more. But if you don’t entertain first, none of what else you do matters, because they won’t stay around.”

1946 – Sir Philip Pullman, award-winning, bestselling, and sometimes controversial British novelist who wrote the YA fantasy masterpiece “His Dark Materials,” beginning with the book Northern Lights (titled The Golden Compass in the U.S.); among many other works, he has also written a fictionalized biography, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. The Times has named him one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945, and a BBC poll called him the eleventh most influential person in British culture.

1947 – Bárbara Jacobs,Mexican writer, poet, essayist, and translator.

1955 – Dan Gutman, American children’s author, especially of school stories and books about sports.

1960 – Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist American novelist celebrated for her book Highwire Moon.

1962 – Tracy Rose Chevalier, American-British historical novelist and screenwriter whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring was adapted for film.

1963 – Mark Behr, award-winning Tanzanian-born author and professor whose work dealt with themes of violence, racism, nationalism, militarization, masculinity, and colonialism.

1966 – Jennifer Zeng, Chinese writer, autobiographer, and human rights activist.

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