February 12 Writer Birthdays

0661 – Ōku (大来皇女 or 大伯皇女), Japanese princess and poet who was the daughter of Emperor Tenmu and older sister of Prince Ōtsu; her best known poem mourns the death of her brother the prince, after their stepmother had him executed so that her own son would become the next emperor.

1567 – Thomas Campion, English poet, composer, and physician who wrote more than a hundred lute songs, masques for dancing, and an authoritative technical treatise on music.

1663 – Cotton Mather, prolific American author, pamphleteer, and Puritan minister who was one of the most important intellectual figures in English-speaking colonial America.

1734 – Innocenzio Ansaldi, Italian painter, poet, and art historian who wrote about art.

1809 – Charles Darwin, English naturalist, biologist, and geologist whose On the Origin of Species advanced the theory of natural selection and became the foundation for the science of evolution.

1813 – Maria Frances Ann Morris Miller, award-winning Canadian artist, illustrator, writer, and poet who is known for her botanical paintings and illustrations; the first professional woman artist in Nova Scotia, she presented her work to Queen Victoria and received royal patronage for life.

1828 – George Meredith, English novelist and poet who was nominated seven times for the Nobel Prize.

1865 – Franciszka Arnsztajnowa, Polish poet, playwright, translator, and suffragist of Jewish descent; she was nicknamed The Legend of Lublin. Much of her creative oeuvre falls within the Young Poland period, stylistically encompassing the twilight of neo-romanticism.

1890 – Kostas Ouranis, acclaimed Greek poet, travel writer, essayist, journalist, and translator.

1893 – Fred Albert Shannon, Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer, professor, and historian whose work looked at American history from the perspective of average people.

1895 – Vera Albreht, Slovene poet, writer, children’s author, publicist, and translator. During World War II, she worked with the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People and was imprisoned by the Italian fascist authorities several times before the Germans sent her to Ravensbrück concentration camp; she survived the war.

1905 – Federica Montseny Mañé, Spanish anarchist, intellectual, trade unionist, and Minister of Health during the Spanish Revolution of 1936 who was one of the first female cabinet ministers in Western Europe and was also known as a novelist, poet, essayist, and children’s writer.

1919 – Subhash Mukhopadhyay, one of the foremost Indian Bengali poets of the 20th century.

1923 – Alan Dugan, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet whose work is known for everyday, no-nonsense language, irony, and a lack of sentimentality.

1929 – Donald Kingsbury, American-Canadian mathematics professor and author of science-fiction novels and short stories.

1932 – Axel Buchardt Jensen, Norwegian author of novels, poems, essays, a biography, and manuscripts for cartoons and animated films.

1934 – Saša Vegri (real name Albina Vodopivec, née Doberšek), award-winning Slovene poet, writer, children’s author, and librarian.

1938 – Judy Blume, influential bestselling American author primarily of children’s and young-adult fiction whose works, including Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, were groundbreaking in their handling of tough issues; a Library of Congress “Living Legend,” she has also been awarded a National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contribution to American letters.

1939 – Yaël Dayan, Israeli novelist, columnist, memoirist, biographer, and politician; she served as a member of the Knesset and was the chair of Tel Aviv city council.

1945 – Janaki Srinivasa Murthy (nickname Vaidehi), popular, award-winning Indian writer of fiction, poetry, and children’s literature in the modern Kannada language.

1945 – David Small, Caldecott Medal-winning American children’s author and illustrator.

1948 – Ray Kurzweil, American author, inventor, and futurist who is a proponent of transhumanism and has written books on topics including health, artificial intelligence, and futurism.

1949 – Mzi Mahola (pen name for Mzikayise Winston Mahola), award-winning South African poet, novelist, and playwright who was a member of the Black Consciousness Movement.

1951 – Jure Detela, Slovene poet, writer, autobiographical novelist, and essayist who collaborated with poet Iztok Osojnik and sociologist Iztok Saksida in publishing The Podrealisticni Manifest (The Sub-Realist Manifesto).

1960 – George Elliott Clarke, Canadian novelist, poet, playwright, and professor.

1963 – Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award and Newbery Honor-winning African-American author who writes books for children and young adults; her works often explore issues of race and class and tackle subjects that were not commonly discussed when she began writing, including interracial couples, teenage pregnancy, and homosexuality.

1974 – Abdul-Wasa Taha Al-Saqqaf, Yemeni writer, poet, researcher, analyst, and translator.

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