May 4 Writer Birthdays

1006 – Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Persian Sufi poet known as the “Sage of Herat” for his oratory and poetic talents.

1749 – Charlotte Turner Smith, English Romantic poet, novelist, and children’s writer who initiated a revival of the English sonnet, helped establish the conventions of Gothic fiction, and wrote political novels of sensibility; scholars credit her with transforming the sonnet into an expression of woeful sentiment.

1793 – Dorothea Primrose Campbell, Scottish Shetland poet, novelist, short-story writer, and teacher whose melodic and whimsical poems and works of fiction are regarded as revealing works of English literature, containing themes about historical and societal barriers.

1825 – Thomas Henry Huxley, English biologist and essayist who advocated for evolutionary theory; he was the grandfather of biologist Julian Huxley and novelist Aldous Huxley.

1853 – Marie Robinson Wright, prominent American travel writer whose books focused on Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico.

1859 – Julia de Asensi, Spanish journalist, translator, author, and children’s writer.

1866 – Lucie Faure-Goyau, French writer, poet, traveler, and woman of letters.

1900 – Meta Davis Cumberbatch, Trinidadian poet, playwright, pianist, composer, and cultural activist who spent most of her life in The Bahamas, where she became known as the “Mother of the Arts.”

1903 – Hu Yepin, Chinese writer, poet, and playwright who was a prominent member of the League of Left-Wing Writers and one of the Five Martyrs of the Left League, executed in 1931 by the Kuomintang government; he was husband of the celebrated writer Ding Ling, who was also a member of the Left League.

1905 – Boris J. Kochanowsky, Russian-born American memoirist who was forced to flee Russia for Germany during the Revolution, and then had to flee Germany for the United States to escape Nazi persecution.

1907 – Lucy Walker (pseudonym for Dorothy Lucie Sanders), prolific Australian romance novelist and teacher.

1912 – Elvi Aulikki Sinervo, award-winning Finnish poet and author.

1914 – Toshihiko Izutsu, Japanese professor and author of many books on Islam and other religions; he was fluent in more than 30 languages.

1916 – Jane Jacobs, American/Canadian journalist, author, urban planner, economist, sociologist, activist, and writer on urbanism; her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of city-dwellers, and organized grassroots efforts to protect neighborhoods from “slum clearance.”

1917 – Nicomedes “Nick” Márquez Joaquín, Filipino novelist, poet, short-story writer, and journalist who wrote in English; he also wrote using the pen name Quijano de Manila.

1921 – Suzanne Marie Adèle Beauclerk, Duchess of St Albans (née Fesq; and also known as Suzanne St Albans), Malaysian-born British writer, biographer, autobiographer, and painter.

1925 – Ruth First, South African writer, politician, author, university teacher, journalist, and anti-apartheid political activist who moved to Mozambique in exile from South Africa, and was assassinated there.

1928 – Thomas Kinsella, Irish poet, translator, and anthologist.

1935 – Dalip Kaur Tiwana, award-winning Indian Punjabi novelist, and short-story writer, and professor.

1937 – Göran Tunström, Swedish author, poet, and translator with a style that was personal and intimate, with a clear autobiographical tone.

1939 – Amoz Oz (born Amos Klausner), Israeli writer, novelist, journalist, and literature professor.

1940 – Robin Cook, American physician and novelist known for his medical thrillers.

1941 – George Will, American conservative writer, journalist, and columnist whose works focus on politics or baseball.

1945 – Sylviane Agacinski-Jospin, French author, philosopher, and professor; her husband, Lionel Jospin, is a former Prime Minister of France.

1947 – Marele Day, award-winning Australian author of mystery novels.

1949 – Ágústína Jónsdóttir, Icelandic writer, artist, and educator.

1949 – Graham Swift, award-winning English author of magical realism novels.

1953 – Yacouba Konaté, Ivorian writer, art critic, curator, and professor.

1956 – David Guterson, American author best known for the novel Snow Falling on Cedars, which was made into a feature film.

1963 – Maria Evangelina Leonel Gandolfo (known as Vange Leonel), Brazilian novelist, journalist, playwright, singer-songwriter, rhythm guitarist, feminist and LGBT activist, and beer sommelier.

1963 – Vera Anatolyevna Pavlova, Russian poet, music historian, librettist, and lyricist.

1967 – Justin D. Fox, South African author, photojournalist, lecturer, and editor.

1967 – Dalia Ibelhauptaitė, Lithuanian playwright, writer, and theatre director whose work combines the traditions of Russian and Western theatre.

1969 – Ben Mutua Jonathan Muriithi (born Jonathan Nyaga, and often known simply as BMJ), Kenyan-born, U.S.-based print, radio and television journalist.

1979 – Kristin Harmel, American author of women’s fiction.

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