July 20 Writer Birthdays

1304 – Petrarch (born Francesco Petrarca), Italian poet and scholar who is considered one of the earliest humanists.

1822 – Gregor Mendel, German-speaking Austrian scientist and monk who is considered the founder of modern genetics; he coined the terms “dominant” and “recessive” genes in his writings about his experiments with pea plants, such as his groundbreaking monograph, Experiments With Plant Hybrids.

1882 – Olga Hahn Neurath, Austrian mathematician, author, and philosopher who was a member of the Vienna Circle of philosophers and scientists.

1901 – Elizabeth Dilys Powell, British journalist, author, and film critic.

1910 – Cicely Veronica Wedgwood, English historian, author, and biographer who published under the name C.V. Wedgwood; she specialized in the history of 17th-century England and continental Europe.

1914 – Hana Zelinová, Slovak novelist, short-story writer, and playwright; she wrote several novels influenced by the Slovak social novel and the Scandinavian saga, and three Ibsenesque plays that dealt with the role of women in urban society.

1951 – Paulette Bourgeois, Canadian author and illustrator of children’s books, best known as creator of Franklin the Turtle.

1864 – Eric Axel Karlfeldt, Nobel Prize-winning Swedish symbolist poet, teacher, and journalist.

1920 – Mohammed Dib, Algerian novelist, children’s author, poet, and short-story writer who is probably Algeria’s most prolific and well-known writer.

1924 – Thomas Berger, American author of darkly comic novels, best known for his book Little Big Man.

1927 – Lyudmila Alexeyeva, Russian author, historian, politician, and human-rights activist.

1927 – Simin Beh’bahāni (Persian: سیمین بهبهانی), Iranian poet who is one of the most prominent figures in modern Persian literature; she was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize.

1930 – William H. Goetzmann, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian known for his research into exploration and settlement of the American West.

1930 – Lotte Ingrisch (born Charlotte Gruber), well known Austrian novelist, playwright, and librettist who wrote some of her work under the pseudonym Tessa Tüvari.

1931 – Marina Lavrentievna Popovich (née Vasiliyeva), Russian Soviet Air Force colonel, engineer, writer, and decorated Soviet test pilot who was the third woman and the first Soviet woman to break the sound barrier; she was known as “Madame MiG” for her work in the Soviet fighter and set more than 100 aviation world records. She also wrote a book about UFOs, claiming that the Soviet pilots had confirmed 3,000 UFO sightings and that the Air Force and KGB had recovered fragments of five crashed UFOs.

1933 – Cormac McCarthy, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and playwright, known for his books The Road, All the Pretty Horses, and No Country for Old Men.

1934 – Henry Dumas, African-American poet, short-story writer, science-fiction writer, and educator who was called “an absolute genius” by author Toni Morrison. Some of his work was about the violent killings of Black people by white police officers; ironically, he himself was shot and killed at the age of 33 by a white New York City transit cop.

1936 – Alistair MacLeod, Canadian novelist, short-story writer, and academician.

1939 – May Menassa, Lebanese novelist, translator, editor, journalist, and art critic.

1942 – Bang Young-ung, South Korean novelist whose works focus on affectionately portraying the lives of ordinary people in contemporary South Korea.

1946 – Htin Kyaw, Burmese politician, writer, economist, and scholar who served as the President of Myanmar.

1953 – Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and author who is known for his books on globalization, climate change, and the Middle East.

1962 – Brian L. Falkner, New Zealand author, children’s writer, and science-fiction writer.

1963 – Federico Moccia, Italian author, screenwriter, filmmaker, and politician.

1965 – Abdourahman A. Waberi, award-winning Djiboutian novelist, essayist, poet, academic, and short-story writer.

1965 – Jess Walter, American author of novels, short stories, and nonfiction; he was a finalist for the National Book Award.

1973 – Anni Milja Maaria Sinnemäki, Finnish writer, poet, and politician who was a member of the Finnish Parliament.

1977 – Timothy Ferriss, American author, public speaker, and entrepreneur.

1981 – Hanna Hryhorivna Mashutina, Ukrainian playwright and poet who was also known by her pseudonyms Anna Yablonskaya and Hanna Yablonskat; she was killed at the age of 29 in the 2011 Domodedovo Airport bombing.

1990 – Galina Rymbu, Russian poet, author, translator, and curator.

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