May 12 Writer Birthdays

1812 – Edward Lear, English author and illustrator, best known today for his nonsense poetry and his children’s books.

1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti (born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti), pre-Raphaelite English poet, translator, illustrator, and painter; the renowned poet Christina Rossetti was his sister.

1841 – Ricardo Rossel Sirot, Peruvian author, poet, politician, scholar, and entrepreneur who was the founder of the Club Literario de Lima.

1868 – Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, Peruvian-born Bolivian poet whose Symbolist-influenced verse, which frequently took advantage of free-verse forms, was important in the development of Latin American modernism.

1869 – Albert Engström, Swedish writer, poet, historian, illustrator, comics artist, songwriter, painter, cartoonist, and journalist.

1885 – Saneatsu Mushanokōji, Japanese artist, novelist, screenwriter, photographer, writer, poet, playwright, painter, and philosopher.

1892 – Ramanlal Vasantlal Desai, Indian Gujarati novelist and essayist who is considered a key figure in Gujarati literature.

1907 – Leslie Charteris (born Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin), Singapore-born Chinese-English author of screenplays and adventure fiction; his character Simon Templar, “The Saint,” has appeared not only in Charteris’s books, but also in books by other authors as well as in television shows, movies, and radio plays.

1916 – Albert L. Murray, African-American author and essayist who incorporated a blues aesthetic into his novels.

1919 – Wu Wenjun, Chinese writer, historian, mathematician, and editor of the ten-volume Grand Series of Chinese Mathematics, covering the time from antiquity to late part of the Qin dynasty.

1921 – Farley Mowat, award-winning Canadian author, children’s writer, and environmentalist who wrote about the Canadian north; he has been praised for his poetic language, vivid descriptions, and advocacy for environmental causes, but has also been ridiculed for inaccuracies in his books.

1924 – Claribel Alegria, Nicaraguan poet, novelist, and documentary filmmaker.

1925 – John Simon (born Ivan Simmon), acerbic Yugoslavian culture critic who wrote literature, film, and art reviews for New York Magazine; his book Reverse Angle: A Decade of American Films recommended only 15 of the 245 films discussed.

1930 – Mazisi Kunene, South African poet best known for his poem “Emperor Shaka the Great”; he was part of the anti-apartheid movement and became the Poet Laureate of both South African and Africa, as well as being the author of Anthem of the Decades: A Zulu Epic.

1933 – Andrey Andreyevich Voznesensky, Soviet Russian poet and writer whom poet Robert Lowell called, “one of the greatest living poets in any language”; as part of the new wave of Russian intellectuals called the “Children of the ’60s,” he was counted among the most daring writers of the Soviet era, and was once threatened with expulsion by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

1934 – Elechi Amadi, Nigerian novelist and playwright who wrote about African village life, customs, beliefs, and religious practices prior to contact with the Western world.

1937 – George Carlin, American comedic author, social critic, stand-up comedian, actor, and television personality who was called, “the dean of counterculture comedians”; his “seven dirty words” routine has become a classic, but he was caused controversy because of his use of language that was considered by many to be obscene.

1939 – Rosellen Brown, award-winning American novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist; the film Before and After was adapted from her novel of the same name.

1942 – Vittal Rao K., Indian Tamil short-story writer, novelist, and essayist.

1945 – Tormod Haugen, Norwegian children’s writer, author, translator, and linguist.

1946 – L. Neil Smith, American science-fiction author and libertarian political activist; he also wrote in the “Star Wars” universe.

1949 – Paul Starr, Pulitzer Prize-winning American professor and nonfiction author.

1955 – Blue Balliett, American author and teacher who is best known for her award-winning, groundbreaking children’s novel, Chasing Vermeer; she was born Elizabeth Balliett, but her family started calling her Blue when she was still a baby.

1961 – Jennifer Armstrong, American author of children’s adventure novels, historical fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, and nonfiction; she has also edited an anthology.

1964 – Lijia Zhang, Chinese writer, journalist, and public speaker who describes herself as a communicator between China and the world.

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