January 12 Writer Birthdays

1492 – Andreas Alciato (known as Alciati), Italian author and jurist who founded the French school of legal humanists and was one of the first to interpret civil law by the history, languages and literature of antiquity, and to substitute original research for the servile interpretations of the legal establishment.

1628 – Charles Perrault, French author, lawyer, and member of the Académie Française who collected folk tales to lay the foundations for a new literary genre, the fairy tale.

1724 – Frances Brooke (née Moore), English novelist, essayist, playwright, journalist, and translator who was the author of the first English novel to be written in Canada.

1729 – Edmund Burke, Irish politician, orator, philosopher, and prolific author of political pamphlets and essays; some sources give his birth year as 1730.

1797 – Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (full name Anna Elisabeth Franziska Adolphine Wilhelmine Louise Maria, Freiin von Droste zu Hülshoff), important German writer, poet, novelist, and composer whose fame rests chiefly on her lyric poems, her pastorals, and her ballads; according to an article in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia, “In the poetic representation of nature, few can equal her.” She was known as “Germany’s greatest poetess.”

1829 – Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon (born Rosanna Eleanor Mullins), Canadian writer and poet who was one of the first English-Canadian writers to depict French Canada in a way that earned praise from both anglophone and francophone Canadians.

1869 – Constance Lytton (Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton; though she sometimes went by Jane Warton), influential Austrian writer, pamphleteer, memoirist, social reformer, lecturer, and suffragist who was an activist for prison reform, birth control, and women’s rights; she was imprisoned four times for suffrage work. While in prison, she used a piece of broken enamel from a hairpin to carve the letter “V” (for “Votes for Women”) into her breast, over her heart. Her death at age 54 were attributed in part to the trauma of her hunger strike and force feeding by prison authorities. (Her grandfather was writer and politician Edward Bulwer-Lytton, best known for opening a book with the phrase, “It was a dark and stormy night”; her father was Robert Bulwer-Lytton, poet, statesman, and Viceroy of India.)

1874 – Laura Adams Armer, Newbery Medal-winning American artist, author, and photographer.

1875 – Marika Stiernstedt, Swedish novelist, short-story writer, young-adult author, travel writer, journalist, artist, and philanthropist; her full name is Maria (Marika) Sofia Alexandra Stiernstedt.

1876 – Jack London, American journalist, activist, and author of adventure fiction, best known for his Alaskan gold-rush novels The Call of the Wild and White Fang.

1878 – Ferenc Molnár (born Ferenc Neumann), Hungarian novelist and playwright.

1894 – Dorothy Wall, New Zealand writer and illustrator of children’s books; she is best known for creating Blinky Bill, an anthropomorphic koala.

1896 – Nobuko Yoshiya, Japanese novelist who was one of modern Japan’s most successful and prolific writers; she specialized in serialized romance novels and adolescent girls’ fiction and was a pioneer in Japanese lesbian literature, with several of her stories made into films.

1914 – Mieko Kamiya, prolific Japanese writer, translator, physician, and psychiatrist; one of her most popular books, Ikigai Ni Tsuite (On the Meaning of Life), was based on her experiences treating leprosy patients.

1915 – Margaret Esse Danner, African-American poet, many of whose poems focus on Africa, where she visited in 1966.

1916 – Mary Wilson (Baroness Wilson of Rievaulx), bestselling British poet who was married to Prime Minister Harold Wilson; she lived to be 102 years old.

1923 – Alice Miller (born Alicija Englard), Polish-born Swiss writer, psychologist, sociologist, painter, and philosopher who is noted for her books on parental child abuse, translated into several languages; her book The Drama of the Gifted Child became an international bestseller.

1930 – Jennifer Johnston, award-winning Irish novelist.

1931 – Leyla Erbil, Turkish novelist, short-story writer, and essayist who was the first female Turkish writer to be nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature by PEN International.

1945 – Nancy Pearl, American author and Seattle-based librarian who was the model for the Librarian Action Figure.

1948 – William Nicholson, Oscar-nominated British screenwriter, playwright, and author of fiction and science fiction.

1948 – Carme Riera, award-winning Spanish novelist, screenwriter, short-story writer, essayist, radio scriptwriter, and professor who writes in Catalan and Spanish and often translates her own work.

1949 – Haruki Murakami, bestselling Japanese writer of fiction and nonfiction, and translator of English works into Japanese.

1952 – Walter Mosley, American writer of crime fiction, known for the “Easy Rawlins” series set in Los Angeles.

1954 – Sharon Lechter, American accountant, author, businesswoman, investor, motivational speaker, philanthropist, and appointee to the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy.

1955 – Arif Yunusov, Azerbaijani writer, historian, and human rights activist.

1957 – Celia S. Friedman, American speculative-fiction author and former costume designer.

1962 – Khadija Besikri, Libyan poet, writer, and human rights activist; she started a campaign to promote reading among young people and has worked for the rights of women and refugees.

1963 – Kyung-sook Shin, South Korean writer who was the first South Korean and the first woman to win the Man Asian Literary Prize.

1969 – Abhijat Joshi, Indian screenwriter and professor.

1969 – David Mitchell, English novelist, recently well known for his 2004 novel Cloud Atlas.

1970 – Julia Quinn, bestselling American historical romance author who was the 13th author to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame; her novels include the Bridgerton series, which has been made into a popular television series.

1972 – Lê Thị Diễm Thúy, Vietnamese poet, novelist, and performer.

1973 – A. Lee Martinez, American fantasy and science-fiction author.

1978 – Vania Vargas, Guatemalan poet, novelist, writer, editor, and cultural journalist whose works focus on Guatemalan culture.

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