February 27 Writer Birthdays

1807 – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, American poet, author, educator, and translator; one of the Fireside Poets, he is best known for “Paul Revere’s Ride” and “The Song of Hiawatha.”

1814 – Maria Susanna Kübler, Swiss writer, teacher, and translator who is remembered for her housekeeping guides and cookbooks.

1837 – Francesca Alexander, Tuscan-based American expatriate illustrator, author, folklorist, and translator.

1850 – Laura E. Richards, Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer, author, poet, and children’s writer; she is best known for her biography of her mother, Julia Ward Howe, the poet, women’s suffragist, and abolitionist who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

1869 – Olivia Ward Bush-Banks (née Olivia Ward), U.S. author, poet, columnist, and journalist of African-American and Montaukett Native American heritage; she celebrated both of her heritages in her poetry and other writing.

1880 – Angelina Weld Grimké, African-American poet and playwright who was an important forerunner of the Harlem Renaissance; her aunts Angelina and Sarah Grimké were prominent white abolitionists despite being raised in a slave-owning family.

1888 – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., American social historian and author who was father of author Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

1902 – John Steinbeck, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Nobel Prize-winning American writer of novels, short stories, and nonfiction; his “realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humor and keen social perception” are considered classics of Western literature. Much of his work is set in California and explores themes of fate and injustice.

1904 – James T. Farrell, American novelist, poet, and short-story writer, best known for his Studs Lonigan trilogy.

1910 – Peter DeVries, American novelist and editor known for his satiric wit, especially when writing about religion.

1912 – Lawrence Durrell, expatriate Indian-born British writer whose most famous work was his Alexandria quartet. His brother Gerald and sister Margaret were also authors; Gerald’s My Family and Other Animals and its sequels detailed the family’s life on the Greek isle of Corfu in the 1930s and was the basis for the television series, The Durrells in Corfu.

1912 – Kusumagraj (real name Vishnu Vaman Shirwadkar), influential, award-winning Indian Marathi poet, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, playwright, author, songwriter, and lyricist who wrote of freedom, justice, and emancipation; his collection of lyrics, The Vishakha, inspired a generation to join the Indian freedom movement, and is today considered one of the masterpieces of Indian literature.

1913 – Irwin Shaw, American novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and short-story writer.

1931 – Kazuko Shiraishi, Canadian-born Japanese poet, writer, editor, translator and linguist; a modernist, outsider poet, she has been called “The Alan Ginsberg of Japan.”

1934 – N. Scott Momaday, Native American (Kiowa) author whose novel House Made of Dawn won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

1934 – Ralph Nader, American author, lecturer, political activist, and occasional presidential candidate whose work centers on environmentalism, consumer protection, and government reform; his work has been credited with the passage of several consumer protection laws, and he has been named repeatedly to lists of the most influential Americans.

1935 – Uri Shulevitz, Caldecott Medal-winning American writer and illustrator of children’s books.

1942 – Charlayne Hunter-Gault, American journalist, broadcaster, foreign correspondent, and civil-rights activist.

1944 – Ken Grimwood, World Fantasy Award-winning American author of fantasy fiction; he sometimes wrote under the name Alan Cochran.

1956 – Meena Keshwar Kamal, Afghan writer, poet, essayist, journalist, politician, and social worker who founded the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and was assassinated in 1987.

1962 – Atiq Rahimi, French-Afghan writer, screenwriter, and documentary film director.

1964 – Chi Zijian, Chinese novelist best known for her book The Last Quarter of the Moon.

1972 – Pius Adebola Adesanmi, Nigerian-born Canadian professor, writer, literary critic, satirist, essayist, and columnist who died in March 2019 when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff.

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