August 20 Writer Birthdays

1613 – Elisabeth Sophie of Mecklenburg (Duchess of Brunswick-Lüneburg), German poet, writer, and composer.

1663 – Amalia von Königsmarck (Amalia “Emilie” Wilhelmina Königsmarck), Swedish poet, writer, and painter. As an actress, she was one of a group of courtiers who performed the Swedish premier of Iphigénie by Racine, which was the first play with an all-female cast known to be performed in Sweden; Amalia played Achilles.

1881 – Edgar Guest, English-born American poet whose works tended to be optimistic in outlook; he was known as The People’s Poet.

1888 – Mohammed Hussein Heikal, Egyptian writer, journalist, and politician, who was Egypt’s Minister of Education.

1889 – Cora Coralina (pseudonym of Anna Lins dos Guimarães Peixoto Bretas), Brazilian writer, poet, children’s author, sociologist, confectioner, and diplomat who drew on her experiences of rural Brazil to create rich, poetic prose, often featuring the Brazilian countryside, and focusing on the people in small towns across the state of Goiás.

1890 – Una Isabel Carter, New Zealand cooking teacher, demonstrator, writer, and cookbook author.

1890 – H.P. Lovecraft, American author and editor of horror, fantasy, and science fiction; he is best known for his Cthulhu Mythos cycle but was also a prolific letter writer.

1895 – Marianne Katharina “Käthe” Leichter, Austrian economist, women’s rights activist, trade unionist, journalist, and politician.

1897 – Engvald Bakkan, Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, children’s author, and pharmacist.

1897 – Ole Barman, Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, theatre director, and lawyer.

1901 – Salvatore Quasimodo, Nobel Prize-winning Italian author and poet who was known for his lyrical poetry, “which with classical fire expresses the tragic experience of life in our own times.”

1905 – Mikio Naruse, Japanese screenwriter, filmmaker, and producer whose films were primarily shomin-geki (working-class dramas) with female protagonists; acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa compared Naruse’s style of melodrama to “a great river with a calm surface and a raging current in its depths.”

1908 – Jeanne Stern, award-winning French and German writer, biographer, screenwriter, and translator.

1910 – Yi Sang, Korean avant-garde writer and poet who experimented with language and was influenced by Western literary concepts including Dadaism and Surrealism.

1918 – Jacqueline Susann, American actress and author know for her bestselling novels including Valley of the Dolls; she was the first author to have three novels on the New York Times Best Seller List at the same time and is credited with revolutionizing the process of book promotion and creating the modern author book tour. Her books were considered racy and were panned by critics but popular with the reading public.

1919 – Noni Jabavu (full name Helen Nontando Jabavu), South African writer, journalist, columnist, editor, and autobiographer was one the first African women to pursue a successful literary career and the first black South African woman to publish autobiography.

1922 – Augustus Taiwo “Tai” Solarin, Nigerian educator and author who founded the Mayflower School and was an activist for civil rights and a vehement critic of military rule in Nigeria.

1932 – Vasily Aksyonov, Soviet novelist, screenwriter, poet, physician, and teacher.

1933 – Sue Alexander, American author of children’s fiction and nonfiction books and stories.

1935 – Lionel G. Garcia, award-winning Mexican-American novelist, playwright, and short-story writer.

1937 – Rosemarie Said Zahlan, Egyptian-born Palestinian-American Christian historian, author, journalist, educator, musician, and writer on the Persian Gulf states; she is best known for championing the Gaza Library Project for supplying books to Palestine. She earned a degree in musicology, with plans of becoming a concert pianist, until a car accident injured her hands, making that impossible and leading to a career in writing instead.

1940 – Musa Geshaev, Chechnyan poet, literary critic, and cultural historian who wrote about the culture of the Chechen and Ingush people.

1942 – Cho Sehui, South Korean novelist and short-story writer who was a member of the “hangul generation” of writers who were the first to be educated in the Korean language after Japanese domination ended. Cho’s writing is sparse and explicit, and can seem surreal. His most famous work is The Dwarf, a collection of short stories that are linked to form a novel; it is a powerful work of social criticism focusing on the forced redevelopment of Seoul in the 1970s and the human costs that accompanied it.

1945 – Farag Foda, prominent Egyptian writer, columnist, professor, and human rights activist who was the victim of a political assassination by member of an Islamic extremist group being accused of blasphemy by a committee of clerics.

1945 – Taro Gomi, prolific award-winning Japanese children’s book writer and illustrators; in the English-speaking world, his best known work is the picture book Everyone Poops.

1948 – Anneke Brassinga, award-winning Dutch writer, poet, translator, and linguist.

1948 – Heather McHugh, American poet, essayist, translator, and educator.

1951 – Greg Bear, American science-fiction author known for his many different series; his themes include galactic conflict, artificial universes, consciousness and cultural practices, and accelerated evolution.

1951 – Helge Torvund, Norwegian psychologist, poet, essayist, literary critic, and children’s writer who is the brother of sculptor Gunnar Torvund.

1958 – Goddy Jedy Agba, Nigerian bureaucrat, politician, businessperson, farmer, author, and autobiographer.

1960 – Deidre Madden, award-winning Irish novelist who has been described as “a pivotal voice in Northern Irish writing, her understated yet complex fictions often touching on the religious and political turmoil of the North.”

1960 – Mirjam Oldenhave, Dutch author of children’s literature who was initially trained as a drama therapist and taught drama and music in special education.

1961 – Greg Egan, Australian science-fiction author who writes most in the sub-genre of hard science fiction.

1961 – Martha Medeiros, Brazilian writer and journalist.

1973 – Juan Becerra Acosta (full name Juan Alberto Becerra Acosta Aguilar de Quevedo), Mexican journalist, columnist, editor, and television and radio host.

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