February 5 Writer Birthdays

1626 – Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné (widely known as Madame de Sévigné), French letter writer who is revered as one of the great icons of French 17th-century literature for her letters, which were celebrated for their wit and vividness; most were addressed to her daughter, Françoise-Marguerite de Sévigné.

1804 – Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Finnish lyric and epic poet, lyricist, and Lutheran priest who is the national poet of Finland and the author of the lyrics to the National Anthem; he was also a key figure in the modernization of the Finnish Lutheran hymnal and produced many texts for the new edition. Despite his literary accomplishments, his name is best known because of the quintessential Finnish dessert, the raspberry-topped Runeberg cake, which was invented by the poet’s wife, Fredrika Runeberg, and named after him.

1813 – Jermain Wesley Loguen, American writer and abolitionist, known for The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman, a Narrative of Real Life.

1848 – Joris Karl Huysmans (born Charles Marie Georges Huysmans), French novelist and art critic whose work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, satirical wit, and far-ranging erudition.

1871 – Jovan Dučić, Bosnian Serb modernist poet, political writer, and diplomat.

1880 – Liu Yizheng, Chinese writer, historian, librarian, academic, calligrapher, cultural scholar, and educator.

1893 – William Earl Johns, English pilot and writer of adventure stories, usually under the name Captain W.E. Johns (though he was never actually a captain); he is best known as creator of pilot and adventurer Biggles.

1911 – Galina Nikolaeva (born Galina Volyanskaya), award-winning Russian novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and physician whose written works are characterized by an interest in the inner world of contemporary men and women, and a direct confrontation of the social and moral issues of her time.

1914 – William S. Burroughs, American experimental novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and visual artist who was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodern author whose influence affected popular culture as well as literature.

1915 – Margaret Ellis Millar (née Sturm), American-Canadian mystery and suspense writer; married to Kenneth Millar (better known by his pen name Ross Macdonald); she often used Santa Barbara, California, as a setting in her novels, but fictionalized it as San Felice or Santa Felicia.

1922 – Kim Gu-yong, Korean poet, calligrapher, and professor whose work showed the spirit of Taoism but also reflected Buddhist thought and revealed the influence of Western surrealism.

1924 – Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, Romanian-born German-language writer, poet, lyricist, translator, and Holocaust victim who died in a labor camp at the age of 18.

1928 – Andrew Greeley, prolific American novelist, journalist, columnist, sociologist, and Catholic priest; his novels were controversial because of his explicit treatment of sexuality, leading the National Catholic Register to accuse him of having “the dirtiest mind ever ordained.”

1928 – Edmund Leroy “Mike” Keeley, Syrian-born award-winning American novelist, poet, essayist, and translator who is a noted expert on Greek poets and modern Greek history.

1936 – K.S. Nissar Ahmed, prominent Indian poet and writer in the Kannada language; he is also a geologist.

1941 – Stephen Joseph Cannell, American mystery novelist and television screenwriter and producer who created or co-created nearly 40 television series, many of them popular crime shows.

1951 – Elizabeth Swados, American novelist, nonfiction author, children’s book author, composer, and theatre director who often wrote humorous satire but also explored racism, murder, and mental illness; she collaborated on two musicals with cartoonist Gary Trudeau, writing the music to his lyrics.

1953 – Giannina Braschi, Puerto Rican novelist and poet who is considered an influential and revolutionary voice in contemporary Latin American literature.

1956 – David Wiesner, Caldecott Medal-winning American illustrator and author of children’s picture books.

1957 – Azouz Begag (عزوز بقاق ‎), French writer, politician, and researcher in economics and sociology.

1967 – Alexandre Najjar, award-winning Lebanese novelist, biographer, nonfiction writer, lawyer, columnist, artist, and literary critic.

1982 – Maria Markova, award-winning Russian poet and writer.

1986 – Yashica Dutt, Indian writer and journalist who has written on topics including fashion, gender, identity, culture, and caste.

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