May 2 Writer Birthdays

1362 – Empress Xu, Chinese Ming dynasty empress and writer whose work focused on virtuous women.

1551 – William Camden, leading English historian who is best known as author of Britannia, the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Annales, the first detailed account of the reign of Elizabeth I.

1729 – Catherine the Great (Yekaterina Alexeevna, born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg), Empress of Russia, who presided over Russia’s Golden Age while also writing memoirs, comedic plays, fiction, and a book about pedagogy.

1772 – Novalis (pseudonym for Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg), German Romantic poet, author, and philosopher.

1779 – John Galt, Scottish explorer and prolific novelist; he has been called the first political novelist in the English language, because he was the first to deal with issues of the Industrial Revolution.

1837 – Henry Martyn Robert, American army general who authored Robert’s Rules of Order, the widely used manual of parliamentary procedure that remains the most common parliamentary authority in the U.S. today.

1856 – Helene von Druskowitz (born Helena Maria Druschkovich), Austrian author, philosopher, literary critic, and music critic; she was the second women to obtain a Doctorate in Philosophy, and usually published under a male alias because of predominant sexism.

1858 – Edith Somerville, Greek-born Irish author and artist who wrote stories and novels with her cousin Violet Martin, sometimes using the joint pen name “Somerville and Ross”; she was also a skilled sportswoman, an accomplished artist, and an activist for women’s rights and Irish nationalism.

1859 – Jerome K. Jerome, English playwright, journalist, editor, and author of humorous novels, best known for the travelogue Three Men in a Boat.

1860 – Theodor Herzl, Austro-Hungarian Jewish playwright, journalist, and activist who is considered the father of modern Zionism.

1872 – Ichiyo Higuchi (Higuchi Natsu), Japanese novelist, short-story writer, poet, and diarist who was one of Japan’s first prominent women writers of modern times; she died at age 24 so she did not leave a large body of work, but her stories greatly influenced Japanese literature.

1890 – Hedda Hopper, American actress, journalist, and iconic gossip columnist.

1890 – E.E. Smith, American food engineer and early science-fiction author; he is known as the father of space opera.

1895 – Larissa Reissner, Russian Bolshevik writer, soldier, poet, diplomat, journalist, and revolutionary leader.

1903 – Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician whose baby-care book was a huge bestseller for decades.

1921 – Satyajit Ray, Indian film director, screenwriter, fiction writer, film critic, and calligrapher.

1931 – Martha Grimes, American author of detective fiction.

1936 – Norma Aleandro Robledo, award-winning Argentine actress, screenwriter, theater director, author, and cultural icon.

1936 – Kwon-taek Im (also called Im Kwon Taek), Korean film director and screenwriter.

1949 – Alan Titchmarsh, English broadcaster, gardening journalist, and novelist.

1971 – Maria Sole Tognazzi, Italian screenwriter and film director.

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