February 17 Writer Birthdays

1836 – Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (born Gustavo Adolfo Claudio Domínguez Bastida), Spanish Romanticist poet, short-story author, playwright, literary columnist, and artist; one of the most important figures in Spanish literature, he is considered the most-read Spanish writer after Cervantes.

1864 – Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson, Australian bush poet, journalist, and author who wrote many ballads and poems about Australian life, focusing on the rural and outback areas; his best known poems include “Waltzing Matilda,” regarded widely as Australia’s unofficial national anthem.

1899 – Jibanananda Das, popular Bengali poet who is credited with introducing modernist poetry to Bengali Literature

1912 – Andre Norton, pen name (eventually changed legally) of Alice Mary Norton, American science-fiction author who also wrote under the pen names Andrew North and Allen Weston; she was the first woman to be named Gandalf Grand Master of Fantasy, the first woman to be SFWA Grand Master, and the first inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. The annual award for best young-adult novel, given by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, is named after her.

1912 – Virginia Sorensen, Newbery Award-winning American novelist and children’s author.

1913 – Russel B. Nye, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, biographer, professor, and popular-culture specialist.

1914 – Julia de Burgos, Puerto Rican poet and advocate of Puerto Rican independence; she served as Secretary General of the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, and was a civil-rights activist for women and Afro-Caribbean writers.

1918 – William Bronk, National Book Award-winning American poet.

1924 – Margaret Truman, American biographer and mystery writer known for the popular Capital Crimes series; the daughter of U.S.President Harry Truman, she was also an actress, journalist, radio and television personality, and coloratura soprano.

1928 – Robert Newton Peck, American author of young-adult novels, best known for the semi-autobiographical novel, A Day No Pigs Would Die; he has also written nonfiction books, songs, poetry, and three television specials.

1929 – Chaim Potok, American rabbi, short-story writer, and bestselling National Book Award-nominated author, most celebrated for his book The Chosen; his work was significant for exploring the conflict between modernity and traditional aspects of Jewish thought and culture.

1930 – Ruth Rendell (Baroness Rendell of Babergh), Edgar Award-winning English author of crime novels, thrillers, and psychological murder mysteries; she created the Inspector Wexford mysteries.

1951 – Meena Alexander, Indian poet, scholar, novelist, writer, and professor.

1955 – Mo Yan, Nobel Prize-winning Chinese novelist and short-story writer “who with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history, and the contemporary.”

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