October 17 Writer Birthdays

1517 – Amalia of Cleves (sometimes spelled Amelia), German writer, poet, and princess who was the sister of Anne of Cleves and was descended from the kings of both England and France.

1711 – Jupiter Hammon, poet, writer, and slave who became the first African-American to be a published writer in the United States, with the publication of his poem “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries.”

1719 – Jacques Cazotte, French author of romantic fiction, poety, and children’s stories.

1720 – Geneviève Thiroux d’Arconville. French writer, science writer, essayist, translator, chemist, biologist, and anatomist who is remembered for her work on the subject of putrefaction.

1725 – John Wilkes, outspoken English journalist and politician.

1813 – Georg Büchner, German playwright, poet, and author who was also a revolutionary, a natural scientist, and the brother of physician and philosopher Ludwig Büchner.

1814 – Yakub Holovatsky, Ukrainian writer, priest, poet, politician, professor, historian, author, journalist, anthropologist, ethnographer, lexicographer, bibliographer, and linguist.

1827 – Samuel Ringgold Ward, African-American abolitionist who escaped slavery to become a minister and author.

1835 – Ellen Palmer Allerton, American poet whose inspiration came from her life on farms in rural New York, Wisconsin, and Kansas; she is best remembered for the poems “Beautiful Things,” “The Trail of Forty-Nine,” and “Walls of Corn.”

1846 – Mary Davies (also known as Mair Eifion), award-winning Welsh poet.

1864 – Elinor Glyn, British novelist and scriptwriter whose romantic fiction was considered scandalous in her day.

1866 – Lidia Shishmanova, Ukrainian and Bulgarian writer, journalist, theatre and music critic, translator, and social activist; much of the advancement of women’s rights in Bulgaria has been attributed to Shishmanova.

1886 – Tokubei Kuroda, Japanese scientist, writer, marine biologist, and academic who is best known as a pioneering taxonomist and malacologist specializing in Japanese marine and terrestrial mollusks; he published a vast body of research in his field, and his own shell collection is now housed in the Nishinomiya Shell Museum.

1897 – Ștefana Velisar Teodoreanu, Romanian poet, novelist, and translator who was part of the Poporanist traditionalism movement, with her work infused with moral themes from Romanian Orthodoxy and with echoes of modernist literature.

1898 – Simon Vestdijk, Dutch doctor who gave up medicine and became instead a novelist, poet, and essayist; he is considered one of the Netherlands’ most important 20th century writers.

1903 – Nathanael West (born Nathan Weinstein) American novelist, screenwriter, and satirist.

1915 – Arthur Miller, Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, essayist, novelist, and screenwriter; his second wife was actress Marilyn Monroe.

1917 – Sumner Locke Elliott, Australian-born American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor.

1920 – Miguel Delibes, Spanish novelist, journalist, and newspaper editor.

1921 – Priscilla Langford Buckley, American journalist, author, and memoirist who was the longtime managing editor of the National Review; the conservative pundit William F. Buckley was her brother, and feminist thought leader and author Betty Friedan was one of her closest friends when they were students at Smith College.

1925 – Ihab Hassan, Egyptian-born academic who now lives in the United States; he is an author, journalist, memoirist, essayist, short-story writer, philosopher, literary critic, and literary theorist who is best known for his Table of Differences between Modernism and Postmodernism.

1927 – Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeemi, internationally known Pakistani scholar and author in the field of spiritualism; he heads the Azeemia Sufi order, presenting spiritualism in a modern and scientific way.

1930 – Jimmy Breslin, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, columnist, and author.

1932 – C.K. Stead (full name Christian Karlson Stead), award-winning New Zealand poet, novelist, short-story writer, professor, and literary critic; he was the New Zealand Poet Laureate for 2015-2017.

1936 – Doodhnath Singh, award-winning Indian Hindi writer, critic, literary analyst, poet, and playwright.

1937 – Mustapha Tlili, Tunisian writer, novelist, and United Nations official.

1944 – Ann Pilling, award-winning English author and poet best known for young-adult fiction; she has also written horror fiction under the pen name Ann Cheetham.

1945 – Choi In-ho, award-winning South Korean novelist, short-story writer, and professor, some of whose books were considered controversial; his works were translated into many languages and several were adapted for television. In his youth, he was known as a prodigious drinker, and his hand-prints were memorialized on the sidewalk in the Seoul neighborhood where he frequently drank. His writing depicts harsh and satirical landscapes of the results of consumerism, often focusing on people caught in the middle of a rapidly industrializing Korea.

1946 – Drusilla Modjeska, English-born Australian writer and editor whose work often explores the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction.

1948 – Robert Jordan (pen name for James Oliver Rigney Jr.), American writer, fantasy author, novelist, and military officer who is beloved for his Wheel of Time book series, which was finished by author Brandon Sanderson upon Jordan’s death; he is one of the original writers of the Conan the Barbarian novels and also wrote historical fiction under his pseudonym Reagan O’Neal, a western as Jackson O’Reilly, and dance criticism as Chang Lung. Additionally, he ghostwrote an “international thriller” that is generally believed to have been written by someone else.

1950 – Wally Lamb, award-winning American author of such novels as She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True; he has also taught creative writing to college students and in a program for incarcerated women.

1953 – Gordon Torr, South African novelist, nonfiction author, and businessman who is well known both for his novel Kill Yourself and Count to Ten, about life in an apartheid-era hard-labor camp, and the business book Managing Creative People: Lessons for Leadership in the Ideas Economy.

1959 – Threes Anna (pseudonym for Threes Schreurs), Dutch novelist, screenwriter, and filmmaker.

1961 – David Means, award-winning American novelist and writer of short stories whose best known books are the short-story collections A Quick Kiss of Redemption and The Secret Goldfish.

1963 – Beatriz Hernanz, Spanish writer, poet, literary critic, and translator.

1965 – Anna Leahy, American writer, poet, essayist, nonfiction author, and professor.

1966 – Mark Gatiss, British actor, screenwriter, comedian, television and film director, science-fiction writer and novelist who is best known for his work on the television series Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Game of Thrones.

1974 – Dhondup Wangchen, award-winning Tibetan screenwriter, filmmaker, and journalist who was imprisoned by the Chinese government on charges related to his documentary Leaving Fear Behind, which consists of interviews with ordinary Tibetan people discussing the Dalai Lama, the Chinese government, the Beijing Olympics, and Han Chinese migrants; after his release from prison, he escaped China for the United States, where he has been given political asylum.


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