May 8 Writer Birthdays

1736 – Caterina Dolfin, Italian (Venetian) poet and salonnière who was best known both for her sonnets and for her scandalous divorce and love affairs.

1737 – Edward Gibbon, English historian and politician, known for his major work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

1753 – Phyllis Wheatley, American poet who was the first African-American woman to be published, she wrote poetry while a slave, with her owners’ encouragement; George Washington was a fan of her work.

1858 – J. Meade Falkner, English novelist, poet, and arms manufacturer executive.

1912 – Joyce Lussu, Italian writer, poet, linguist, translator, and politician.

1915 – Milton Meltzer, American author and historian, known for children’s nonfiction books.

1917 – Miguel Bernad, Filipino writer, journalist, editor, educator, linguist, historian, and Jesuit priest.

1920 – Sloan Wilson, American magazine writer and author, best known for his classic novel, Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

1922 – Mary Q. Steele, Newbery Honor-winning American author and naturalist.

1924 – Suppiramaniam Vithiananthan, Sri Lankan writer, professor, and the first vice-chancellor of the University of Jaffna; he specialized in Asian and African Studies.

1925 – Gururaja Shyamacharya Amur, Indian writer, critic, and professor who writes in the Kannada and English languages.

1928 – Ramesh Chandra Jha, Indian writer, poet, novelist, journalist, freedom fighter whose poems and stories evoke patriotism and human values.

1928 – Rose Zwi, Mexican-born South African and Australian writer best known for her work about the immigrants in South Africa.

1930 – Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet of the Beat Generation.

1932 – Julieta Campos, award-winning Cuban and Mexican novelist, writer, and translator.

1937 – Thomas Pynchon, National Book Award-winning American author known for writing dense, complex novels, and for protecting his privacy.

1940 – Peter Benchley, American author, editor, and screenwriter best known for his novel Jaws.

1942 – Park Taesun, award-winning South Korean novelist, short-story writer, and translator who was part of the “April 19 Generation,” the group of writers who came into prominence in the 1960s and whose writing reflects the values of the Korean April 19 Student Revolution; his primary themes revolve around his criticisms of the customs of modern urban life.

1943 – Pat Barker, English author of historical fiction.

1944 – Mongane Wally Serote, South African poet, political activist, and writer who became involved in political resistance to the apartheid government by joining the African National Congress (ANC) and was arrested and detained for several months without trial; he spent years in exile before returning to South Africa in 1990.

1947 – Dhruv Bhatt, Indian Gujarati-language novelist and poet.

1952 – Beth Henley, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oscar-nominated American playwright and screenwriter; her works often deal with Southern women.

1953 – Sachithanantham Sri Kantha (also known as Sachi Sri Kantha), Sri Lanka-born Japanese Tamil scientist, historian, and author.

1957 – Ahmed Parker Yerima, Nigerian playwright, professor, and theater director who was director-general of the Nigerian National Theatre.

1958 – Roddy Doyle, Irish novelist, playwright, and screenwriter; most of his work is set in working-class Dublin.

1963 – Robin Jarvis, British author of young-adult and children’s dark fantasy & supernatural thrillers.

1964 – Nira Konjit Wickramasinghe, Sri Lankan writer, professor, and historian who specializes in Modern South Asian Studies; she is currently based in the Netherlands, where she is working on a history of the reception of the sewing machine in colonial Sri Lanka.

1970 – Naomi Klein, Canadian activist and nonfiction author known for criticisms of corporate globalization.

1972 – Jigme Gyatso (aka Golog Jigme), Tibetan journalist, filmmaker, and human rights activist.

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