February 20 Writer Birthdays

1713 – Anna Maria Elvia, Swedish feminist writer who was renowned for her academic abilities and regarded intellectual development as not just a right but a duty of women.

1805 – Angelina Emily Grimké, American author, pamphlet writer, lecturer, abolitionist, and women’s rights activist who grew up in a white, slave-owning family and, as a child, defied her parents by teaching slaves to read. She and her sister Sarah left South Carolina for Pennsylvania and became Quakers; they were the only prominent white Southern women to become well known as abolitionists. Their niece Angelina Weld Grimké was an influential African-American playwright and poet.

1870 – Pieter Cornelis Boutens, Dutch mystic poet, classicist, translator, and teacher.

1883 – Naoya Shiga, Japanese novelist, playwright,and short-story writer.

1888 – Georges Bernanos, French novelist best known for his Journal d’un Cure de Campagne (Diary of a Country Priest).

1894 – Jaroslaw Leon Iwaszkiewicz (pseudonym Eleuter), Polish writer, poet, essayist, dramatist, and translator who was nominated four times for the Nobel Prize in Literature; in 1988, he was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations for his role in sheltering Jews during World War II.

1901 – René Dubos, Pulitzer Prize-winning French-born microbiologist, pathologist, environmentalist, humanist, and author.

1902 – Ansel Adams, American landscape photographer and environmentalist known for his black-and-white photography of the American West.

1912 – Pierre Boulle, French novelist and spy known for both The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes.

1913 – Dame Mary Durack, Australian author, poet, children’s writer, and historian.

1917 – Hugo Alfaro, Uruguayan writer, journalist, film critic, autobiographer, and newspaper founder.

1919 – Matilde Elena López, Salvadoran poet, essayist, playwright, and literary critic who was part of the League of Anti-Fascist Writers, a group of young writers with leftist ideas; in April 1944, she participated in the movement to overthrow the government of dictator Maximiliano Hernández Martínez.

1924 – Alex La Guma, South African novelist and activist against apartheid; his vivid style, distinctive dialogue, and realistic portrayal of oppressed groups have made him one of the most notable South African writers of the 20th century.

1924 – Nevena Stefanova, Bulgarian poet, literary critic, essayist, and translator.

1925 – Robert Altman, American film director and screenwriter.

1925 – Rivka Basman Ben-Hayim, Lithuanian-born Israeli Yiddish poet, writer, teacher, and activist.

1925 – Alex La Guma, award-winning South African novelist and leader of the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO); his works helped characterize the movement against the apartheid era in South Africa, and his vivid style, distinctive dialogue, and realistic, sympathetic portrayal of oppressed groups have made him one of the most notable South African writers of the 20th century.

1926 – Richard Matheson, American author of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, many of whose works have been adapted for screen.

1927 – Sidney Poitier, American-born Bahamian actor, director, diplomat, and author who was the first black to win an Academy Award for Best Actor.

1932 – Bhabendra Nath Saikia, award-winning Indian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and film director.

1932 – Kuntagodu Vibhuthi Subbanna, influential, award-winning Indian dramatist and writer who wrote in the Kannada language and founded an important drama institute and a publishing house.

1935 – Ellen Gilchrist, National Book Award-winning American novelist, short-story writer, and poet.

1939 – William Bayer, bestselling American detective novelist.

1943 – Diana Lucile Paxson, American fantasy and historical-fiction novelist, composer, journalist, and short-story writer whose work is primarily in the fields of Pagan and Heathen religious practices; she is a founder of the Society for Creative Anachronism, where she is known as Diana the Listmaker.

1948 – David Kertzer, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, anthropologist, biographer, professor, and author who specializes in the political, demographic, and religious history of Italy.

1951 – Sean Wilentz, American historian, author, and professor whose work explores U.S. social and political history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

1962 – Kenn Nesbitt, American poet who writes for children and was named Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.

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