December 31 Writer Birthdays

1514 – Andreas Vesalius, Flemish physician and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy; he is considered the founder of modern anatomy.

1779 – Horace Smith, English poet and novelist who once competed against Percy Shelley in a sonnet-writing contest.

1805 – Marie d’Agoult (Marie Catherine Sophie, Comtesse d’Agoult), French romantic author, poet, essayist, diarist, historian, composer, and salonnière who was also known by her pen name, Daniel Stern.

1829 – Alexander Smith, Scottish poet of the Spasmodic school who also wrote essays, magazine articles, and a novel, and edited a volume of Burns.

1874 – Holbrook Jackson, British journalist, writer, and publisher who was one of the leading bibliophiles of his time. His works include The Anatomy of Bibliomania, The Reading of Books, and The Fear of Books.

1903 – Fumiko Hayashi, Japanese writer, poet, novelist, and screenwriter; many of her works revolve around themes of free-spirited women and troubled relationships, but her appeal is rooted in the clarity with which she conveys the humanity not just of women, but also others on the underside of Japanese society.

1905 – Frank Marshall Davis, African-American poet and journalist whose poetry protested racial inequality.

1908 – Isha Basant Joshi, Indian writer, poet, and civil servant who published books under the name Esha Joshi; she was also British India’s first woman Indian Administrative Services officer.

1931 – Bob Shaw, Hugo Award-winning science fiction novelist and short-story writer from Northern Ireland; he was noted for his originality and wit.

1933 – Edward Bunker, American screenwriter and author of crime fiction.

1936 – Clarence Major, American experimental fiction writer, editor, poet, and artist who has been described as a “polymorphous writer who has been iconoclast, black esthetician, modernist, surrealist, postmodernist, and deconstructionist.”

1946 – Roy Sydney Porter, award-winning British nonfiction writer and professor known for his important work on the history of medicine.

1945 – Connie Willis, American science-fiction author known for her time-travel books; winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula awards.

1949 – Ellen Datlow, award-winning American editor and anthologist of science fiction, fantasy, and horror;she has won a Hugo Award, two Bram Stoker Awards, and many World Fantasy Awards, including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

1949 – Susan Shwartz, American author of science fiction, alternate history, and fantasy who is a multiple Hugo and Nebula winner.

1951 – Susan Elaine Eisenhower, American author and consultant who is an expert on international security, space policy, energy, and U.S.-Russian relations; she is the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

1962 – Machi Tawara, Japanese poet, writer, and translator; she is credited with revitalizing the tanka poetic form for modern Japanese audiences.

1965 – Nicholas Sparks, bestselling American novelist and screenwriter.

1968 – Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning Dominican-American writer, editor, and professor.

1974 – Joe Abercrombie, Locus Award-winning British fantasy writer and film editor.

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