May 31 Writer Birthdays

1773 – Johann Ludwig Tieck, German poet, translator, editor, novelist, writer, and critic; he was one of the founding fathers of the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

1819 – Walt Whitman, influential American poet, essayist, and journalist whose best-known collection is Leaves of Grass, which breaks the boundaries of poetic form and is generally more prose-like; his work used unusual images and symbols, and was controversial in his time for overt references to death and sexuality, including prostitution. His groundbreaking Song of Myself used a first-person narrator that assumed the identity of the common people to respond to the impact of urbanization on the masses. He is often labeled as the father of free verse, though he did not invent it.

1887 – Gunnar Björling, Finnish-Swedish modernist poet who was a devoted dadaist; his work was incomprehensible to many readers at the time, but was reevaluated later.

1887 – Saint-John Perse (pseudonym for Marie-René-Auguste-Aléxis Saint-Léger), Nobel Prize-winning French poet.

1889 – Helen Jane Waddell, Tokyo-born Irish poet, translator, and playwright.

1892 – Konstantin Georgiyevich Paustovsky (Константин Георгиевич Паустовский), Nobel Prize-nominated Russian Soviet writer, journalist, and novelist.

1893 – Elizabeth Coatsworth, American author of fiction and poetry whose novel The Cat Who Went to Heaven won the Newbery Medal.

1898 – Norman Vincent Peale, American minister and author, most notably of The Power of Positive Thinking.

1913 – William Ewart Gladstone Louw (W.E.G. Louw), South African poet, professor, and magazine founder.

1915 – Judith Wright, Australian poet, environmentalist, and human rights activist.

1916 – Hubert Ogunde, Nigerian playwright, actor, musician, and theater director who is considered the father of Nigerian theatre and the father of contemporary Yoruba theatre.

1919 – Cù Huy Cận, Vietnamese poet who was one of the leading figures in the Vietnamese New Poetry movement; he also held several high-level government positions, including Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Culture and Education.

1919 – Robie Mayhew Macauley, American editor, novelist, and critic.

1924 – Theunis Theodorus Cloete (T.T. Cloete), award-winning South African Afrikaans poet, bible translator, essayist, and academic.

1924 – Patricia Jean “Patsy” Adam-Smith, Australian author, historian, and servicewoman who wrote on a range of subjects covering history, folklore, and the preservation of national tradition, in addition to writing an autobiography in two parts.

1925 – Julian Beck, American actor, director, poet, and painter.

1933 – Gary Brandner, American horror author best known for his werewolf themed novel trilogy, The Howling.

1933 – Sadashiv Vasantrao Gorakshkar, Indian writer, art historian, art critic, and museum director.

1939 – Albert James Young, American poet, novelist, essayist, memoirist, screenwriter, and professor who was Poet Laureate of California and who was called “an original American voice.”

1945 – Rainer Werner Fassbinder, German movie director, screenwriter, and actor; one of the key figures of the New German Cinema.

1945 – Bernard Richard Goldberg (also known as Bernie Goldberg), multiple Emmy Award-winning American writer, journalist, sports correspondent, and political pundit.

1946 – Barbara Spinelli, Italian journalist, writer, and politician.

1947 – Phillip Hoose, Newbery Honor-winning American author of books for adults and children, best known for a children’s biography of civil rights pioneer Claudette Colvin.

1948 – Svetlana Alexievich, Belarusian author, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature for “her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.”

1953 – José Jaime Maussan Flota, Mexican journalist and leading ufologist.

1955 – Lynne Truss, English novelist, nonfiction author, journalist, novelist, grammarian, and radio broadcaster who is known for her championing of the English language in the popular book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.

1960 – Christopher Nash Elliott, American actor, comedian, and screenwriter, best known for his comedic sketches on Late Night With David Letterman.

1968 – John Connolly, Irish writer; author of the Charlie Parker detective series.

1968 – Jane Green, bestselling English novelist who is considered one of the founders of the genre known as chick lit.

1975 – Mary Watson, award-winning South African author who in 2014 was named on the Africa39 list of young writers from sub-Saharan Africa with the potential and talent to define trends in African literature.

1977 – Cat Hellisen, South African author of fantasy novels who currently lives in Scotland.

1982 – Ian Flynn (also known by his Internet pen name Ian Potto), American comic writer; chief writer for Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog.

1985 – Amru Salahuddien (عمرو صلاح الدين‎), Egyptian painter, photojournalist, and writer.

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