December 9 Writer Birthdays

1608 – John Milton, English epic poet, intellectual, and pamphleteer who penned Paradise Lost, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of English literature; he was also an ardent advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

1617 – Richard Lovelace, English “cavalier poet” who fought on behalf of the king during the English Civil War; his best known works are “To Althea, from Prison,” and “To Lucasta, Going to the Warres.”

1848 – Joel Chandler Harris, U.S. journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist; collector and re-teller of the African-American folktales that became known as the Uncle Remus stories.

1858 – Nisthananda Bajracharya, Nepalese author who marked a turning point in Nepal Bhasa literature by breaking away from the classical style and writing prose in colloquial language; he was one of the leaders of the Nepal Bhasa renaissance, and a pioneer of printing with moveable type in Nepal.

1864 – João Carlos de Medeiros Pardal Mallet, Brazilian journalist, novelist, and short-story writer.

1867 – Gregorios Xenopoulos, Turkish-born Greek novelist, journalist, magazine editor, and playwright whose trademark signature translated to “yours faithfully, Phaedon,” which he used in letters ostensibly addressed to his magazine.

1880 – Begum Rokeya, Indian Bengali feminist writer, science-fiction author, essayist, educator, and social reformer who was a pioneer of women’s liberation in South Asia and who established the first school aimed primarily at Bengali Muslim girls in Kolkata; in 2004, she ranked 6th in BBC’s poll of the Greatest Bengali of all time.

1890 – Laura Salverson, award-winning Canadian author whose works reflected her Icelandic heritage.

1895 – Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, Spanish politician, communist activist, orator, writer, and autobiographer who was commonly known as la Pasionaria (the Passionflower); she is remembered for coining the famous slogan ¡No Pasarán! (“They shall not pass!”) during the 1936 Battle for Madrid.

1896 – Tomás Blanco, Puerto Rican writer, historian, and physician, best known for his essays analyzing Puerto Rican culture; his work focused on political and social issues, but he also wrote novels, short stories, and poetry.

1899 – Jean de Brunhoff, French author of children’s books, best known for creating Babar the Elephant.

1899 – Leonie Fuller, U.S. poet, writer, editor, and professor who was U.S. Poet Laureate and had connections to many of the leading intellectuals of her day; anthropologist Margaret Mead was her college roommate; friends included writer Gertrude Stein, literary critic Edmund Wilson, and another Poet Laureate, Louise Bogan.

1901 – Lauro Adolfo De Bosis, Italian poet, writer, translator, aviator, and anti-fascist.

1905 – Dalton Trumbo, Oscar-winning U.S. screenwriter of Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus, and many other films; he was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

1906 – Grace Hopper, U.S. computer scientist, computer language developer, technical writer, and author.

1915 – Eloise Jarvis McGraw, three-time Newbery Honor-winning U.S. author of novels for children and young adults.

1916 – Wolfgang Hildesheimer, German artist, author, playwright, and Mozart biographer who worked as a translator and clerk at the Nuremberg Trials.

1917 – Jolan Chang, Chinese-Canadian sexologist and Taoist philosopher who wrote the luminary classics on Eastern sexuality, The Tao of Love and Sex, which interprets ancient Taoist sexual teachings into a modern model of sexuality; British author Lawrence Durrell wrote about Chang in his 1980 book A Smile in the Mind’s Eye.

1926 – Václav Jaroslav Karel Pinkava, award-winning Czech-British poet, novelist, science-fiction author, composer, painter, mathematician, translator, and psychologist who also wrote under many pen names, including Jan Křesadlo, Jake Rolands, J.K. Klement, Juraj Hron, Ferdinand Lucovický z Lucovic a na Suchým dole, and Kamil Troud.

1928 – Joan Blos, U.S. writer and children’s literacy advocate whose historical novel A Gathering of Days won a National Book Award and the Newbery Medal.

1929 – Raghuvir Sahay, award-winning Indian Hindi poet, short-story writer, editor, essayist, literary critic, translator, and journalist.

1930 – Buck Henry, U.S. humorous actor and screenwriter; he worked on The Graduate, Catch 22, Get Smart, Saturday Night Live, and more.

1930 – Edoardo Sanguineti, Italian poet, critic, and playwright.

1931 – Ladislav Smoljak, Czech screenwriter, humorist, journalist, educator, director, and actor, humorist, educator, director and scriptwriter.

1934 – Mahmoud Moshref Azad Tehrani (pen name M. Azad), Iranian poet and young-adult author.

1936 – A.B. Yehoshua, Israeli novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and playwright whom the New York Times has called the “Israeli Faulkner.”

1937 – Mary Downing Hahn, U.S. author of young-adult mysteries.

1941 – Mehmet Ali Birand, Turkish journalist, writer, and political commentator.

1942 – Joe McGinniss, U.S. author of nonfiction, novels, and true-crime stories.

1943 – Joanne Trollope, British writer of romantic and historical fiction who also wrote under the pen name Caroline Harvey.

1948 – Gioconda Belli, Nicaraguan author, poet, journalist, activist, and diarist.

1949- Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Bolivian sociologist, historian, oral history expert, and subaltern theorist whose work draws upon anarchist theory as well as Quechua and Aymara cosmologies; she is also an activist who works directly with indigenous movements. Some of her best known works include Oppressed But Not Defeated: Peasant Struggles Among the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia, 1900–1980, and Ch’ixinakax Utxiwa: A Reflection on the Practices and Discourses of Decolonization.

1956 – Ann Hood, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and author of books for middle-grade readers and young adults.

1969 – Ayse Arman, Turkish journalist, columnist, and author who is best known for her interviews.

1970 – Anna Gavalda, bestselling, award-winning French novelist, screenwriter, writer, translator, journalist, and children’s writer.

1975 – Tishani Doshi, Indian poet, journalist, and dancer.

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