Today is my teenage son’s birthday; he turns 19 today. It would be a bit of a stretch, but you could call him a published author. When he was 6, he entered a contest for Kids’ Letters to President Obama. He was one of the winners, and had his letter appear in the book of that name. If you ever come across the book, look for his missive on page 34. He’s the first-grader who offered to teach the President of the United States and leader of the free world how to bowl.
And now, I’ll move on to the list of writers who share his birthday.
January 16 Writer Birthdays
1675 – Louis de Rouvroy (Duke of Saint-Simon), French writer, memoirist, diplomat, and courtier whose enormous memoirs are a classic of French literature, giving the fullest and most lively account of the court at Versailles of Louis XIV and the Régence at the start of Louis XV’s reign.
1749 – Vittorio Alfieri, Italian Count who was a dramatist and poet; considered the founder of Italian tragedy.
1874 – Robert W. Service, British-Canadian poet known as the “Bard of the Yukon.”
1882 – Margaret Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist.
1885 – Zhou Zuoren, Chinese writer, essayist, translator, and Esperantist.
1900 – Sukumar Sen, Indian Bengali linguist, author, and literary historian of Bengali literature; he was also well versed in Pali, Prakrit, and Sanskrit.
1901 – Laura Riding, American poet, critic, novelist, and essayist who lived with poet Robert Graves.
1905 – Anna Sakse, award-winning Latvian writer, editor, and translator who also wrote under the names Austra Seja, Smins, Trine Grecina, and Zane Mežaduja.
1918 – Stirling Silliphant, Oscar-winning screenwriter.
1920 – Wei Wei (originally known as Hong Jie), Chinese poet, prose writer, literary reporter, editor, and journalist whose works are noted for their themes of patriotism, communism, and nationalism.
1923 – Anthony Hecht, American poet whose work often focused on World War II and the Holocaust.
1928 – William Kennedy, novelist, and journalist who often wrote about a fictional Irish-American family.
1930 – Tekkatho Phone Naing, Burmese writer who was primarily known for his lovelorn stories that still represent some of the best popular Burmese story writing in the postwar era.
1932 – Dian Fossey, groundbreaking American zoologist who studied and wrote about gorillas in Rwanda.
1933 – Susan Sontag, American writer, filmmaker, activist, and literary icon.
1935 – Inger Christensen, Danish poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, children’s writer, and editor who is considered the foremost Danish poetic experimentalist of her generation.
1941 – Hyun Ki Young, South Korean author who specializes in the modern history of Jeju island; he was arrested and tortured for three days for writing about the Jeju Massacre of 1948, in which islanders were killed en masse by the Korean police in an attempt to exterminate communist sympathizers.
1942 – Sigrid Combüchen, Swedish novelist, writer, biographer, journalist, literary critic, and essayist.
1947 – Kate McMullan, prolific American author of children’s picture books, nonfiction books, and young-adult books who often collaborates with her husband, illustrator Jim McMullan. She has also written joke books under the name Katy Hall, and the “Dragon Slayers’ Academy” series under the name K.H. McMullan.
1947 – Magdalen Nabb, British author of detective novels.
1948 – Ruth Reichl, American food writer, editor, memoirist, and TV food-show producer.
1952 – Julie Anne Peters, American author of young-adult fiction.
1955 – Mary Karr, American poet, essayist, and bestselling memoirist.
1957 – Stella Tillyard, English novelist, nonfiction author, and historian best known for her popular award-winning work, Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832, which was made into a BBC mini-series.
1958 – Anatoli Boukreev, Kazakhstani writer, mountaineer, and explorer who climbed 10 of the 14 “eight-thousander” peaks—those above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet)—without supplemental oxygen, including K2 and Everest; he became even more widely known for saving the lives of climbers during a 1996 Mount Everest disaster. His memoir, Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer, was published posthumously after he was killed on Annapurna in Nepal in a Christmas Day 1997 avalanche.
1958 – Marla Frazee, two-time Caldecott Honor-winning American children’s book author and illustrator.
1958 – Ayşenur İslam (born Ayşenur Külahlıoğlu), Turkish writer, professor, and government cabinet minister who wrote ten books an 40 other publications.
1966 – Alek Popov, Bulgarian novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and scriptwriter whose best known work is his first novel, Mission London, which was made into a film.
1968 – Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning American author of children’s and young-adult books.
1970 – Garth Ennis, Northern Irish comic book writer.