October 19 Writer Birthdays

1433 – Marsilio Ficino, Italian philosopher, Italian writer, poet, astrologer, translator, cleric, and philosopher who was the first translator of Plato’s complete works into Latin; Ficino is regarded as one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance.

1761 – Deborah Norris Logan, U.S. Quaker historian, writer, editor, biographer, diarist, and memoirist who was the first woman elected to the Historical Society of Pennylvania; she grained prominence by transcribing and annotating a historically significant collection of old letters between William Penn and his secretary James Logan, amounting to eleven volumes.

1775 – Kamma Rahbek (real name Karen Margrethe Rahbek, née Heger), Danish artist, writer, salonniere, memoirist, and woman of letters.

1825 – Johanna “Jeanette” Charlotta Granberg (also known by her married name Stjernström and by the pseudonym Georges Malméen), Swedish writer, playwright, journalist, translator, and feminist. She was considered an exceptional dramatic talent and expected to become one of the greatest within her profession; her death at age 31 was seen as a great loss for the Swedish theatre.

1826 – Athénaïs Michelet (née Athénaïs Mialaret), French writer, historian, naturalist, memoirist, biographer, and natural-history writer; she and her husband, the historian and author Jules Michelet, collaborated on many of his works but did not receive credit until he later acknowledged her contribution. She also wrote books on her own, published under her own name, after her husband’s death. While researching cat behavior for her book, Les chats, she corresponded with Charles Darwin.

1835 – Krišjānis Barons, Latvian writer, folklorist, and journalist who worked to preserve, catalog, and publish works of Latvian folk culture.

1835 – Amanda Theodosia Jones, U.S. author, poet, and inventor who invented a vacuum method of canning called the Jones Process.

1850 – Annie Smith Peck, award-winning U.S. mountaineer, adventurer, speaker, suffragist, and author who wrote travel and adventure-related books to encourage exploration; the northern peak of the Peruvian Cordillera Blanca mountain chain Huascarán was named Cumbre Aña Peck in her honor.

1856 – Elín Rannveig Briem (née Eiriksdóttir), Icelandic teacher and writer who published one of Iceland’s most popular books, Kvennafræðarinn (The Women’s Instructor), which was primarily a cookbook but which also provided advice on health, hygiene, and economics.

1870 – Atabek Khnkoyan, Armenian writer of prose and poetry, who wrote under the pen name Khnko Aper and specialized in children’s literature.

1874 – Mentona Moser, award-winning Swiss social worker, communist functionary, writer, autobiographer, and children’s author who founded an Association for the Blind, one of the first birth-control clinics in Zurich, and an international children’s home in Russia; she relocated to Berlin to participate in communist opposition to fascism, but fled back to Switzerland when Hitler rose to power.

1875 – Arturo Ambrogi, Salvadoran writer and journalist who was considered one of the pioneers of Salvadoran literature; his work was influenced by Romance and by Spanish American Modernism, and his stories are chronicles of traditional peasant life. His father was an immigrant from Italy.

1891 – George Habib Antonius, Lebanese and Egyptian author and diplomat who was one of the first historians of Arab nationalism; his book The Arab Awakening generated debate over such issues as the origins of Arab nationalism, the significance of the Arab Revolt of 1916, and the machinations behind post-World War I political settlement in the Middle East.

1899 – Miguel Ángel Asturias, Nobel Prize-winning Guatemalan writer of “vivid literary achievement, deep-rooted in the national traits and traditions of Indian peoples of Latin America.”

1908 – Olga Lengyel, Hungarian Jewish author who survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during World War II and wrote about her experiences in her book Five Chimneys; she was the only member of her immediate family to survive the Holocaust.

1909 – Marguerite Catherine Perey, French physicist, chemist, radiochemist, and author who was a student of Nobel Prize-winner Marie Curie and who was a five-time Nobel Prize nominee herself; Perey discovered the element francium and was the first woman to be elected to the French Académie des Sciences, an honor denied to her mentor Curie.

1922 – Ebrahim Golestan, Iranian novelist, screenwriter, photographer, writer, translator, journalist, film director, and literary critic.

1922 – Elsa Joubert, South African Afrikaans-language novelist, short-story writer, autobiographer, and travel writer whose novel Die swerfjare van Poppie Nongena (The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena) was translated into 13 languages and also staged as a drama; she is associated with the Sestigers literary movement, which aimed to elevate Afrikaans, introduce European artistic innovations, and confront the Apartheid state..

1922 – Shanta Shelke, Indian Marathi poet, writer, short-story writer, journalist, translator, children’s author, and music composer whose pen name was Vasant Avsare.

1924 – Nirendranath Chakravarty, Indian Bengali writer, poet, and children’s author.

1931 – Ed Emberley, U.S. author and illustrator of books that teach children how to draw.

1931 – John le Carré, bestselling British author of espionage novels; many of his books have been adapted for film or television.

1937 – Renata Adler, U.S. author, journalist, and film critic whose books include Speedboat and Pitch Dark.

1937 – Tarek Ali Hassan, Egyptian professor of medicine and endocrinologist who is also a composer, musician, writer, playwright, painter, and philosopher.

1938 – Eugenio Montejo, Venezuelan poet, children’s author, essay writer, and founder of a literary magazine and a poetry magazine.

1939 – Algimantas Anicetas Bucys, award-winning Lithuanian poet, writer, translator, literary theorist, historian, and literary critic.

1941 – Artur Carlos Maurício Pestana dos Santos, major Angolan novelist and satirist who writes under the name Pepetela; much of his writing deals with Angola’s political history in the 20th century.

1941 – Nurit Zarchi, prolific, award-winning Israeli writer, poet, author, journalist, and children’s writer.

1942 – Andrew Vachss, U.S. attorney and author of crime fiction.

1943 – L.E. Modesitt, prolific U.S. science-fiction and fantasy novelist who also writes technical studies and articles, columns, poetry, and short stories. About writing, he says, “The bottom line is simple: As a writer, you first must entertain your readers. To keep them beyond a quick and final read, you have to do more than that, whether it’s to educate them, make them feel, anger them by challenging their preconceptions—or all of that and more. But if you don’t entertain first, none of what else you do matters, because they won’t stay around.”

1945 – Maire Leadbeater (née Locke), New Zealand writer, social worker, peace activist, politician, and human-rights activist.

1946 – Philip Pullman, award-winning, bestselling, and sometimes controversial British novelist who wrote the YA fantasy masterpiece “His Dark Materials,” beginning with the book Northern Lights (titled The Golden Compass in the U.S.); among many other works, he has also written a fictionalized biography, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. The Times has named him one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945, and a BBC poll called him the eleventh most influential person in British culture.

1947 – Bárbara Jacobs,Mexican writer, poet, essayist, and translator.

1955 – Dan Gutman, U.S. children’s author, especially of school stories and books about sports.

1960 – Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist U.S. novelist celebrated for her book Highwire Moon.

1962 – Tracy Rose Chevalier, U.S.-British historical novelist and screenwriter whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring was adapted for film.

1963 – Mark Behr, award-winning Tanzanian-born author and professor whose work dealt with themes of violence, racism, nationalism, militarization, masculinity, and colonialism.

1966 – Jennifer Zeng, Chinese writer, autobiographer, and human-rights activist.

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