December 13 Writer Birthdays

1720 – Carlo Gozzi, Italian playwright, poet, memoirist, and champion of Commedia dell’arte.

1797 – Christian Johann Heinrich Heine, German journalist, essayist, and literary critic who was also one of the most significant German poets of the 19th century; some of his early lyric poetry was set to music by such composers as Robert Schumann and Franz Schubert.

1832 – Matsudaira Teru (or Princess Teru), Japanese writer, poet, and aristocrat who was the leader of 600 women and children involved in the siege of Aizuwakamatsu Castle (Tsuruga Castle); she was also skilled in waka poetry and calligraphy.

1835 – Pathani Samanta (real name Mahamahopadhyaya Chandrasekhara Singha Harichandana Mahapatra Samanta), Indian astronomer, writer, and scholar who measured the distance from the Earth to the Sun with a bamboo pipe and many other traditional instruments; he compiled his observations, research, and calculations into the book Siddhanta Darpana, with verses written in Sanskrit.

1871 – Emily Carr, Canadian artist and writer who was heavily inspired by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast; her autobiography is still considered the finest example of Canadian autobiographical literature.

1879 – Belle da Costa Greene (born Belle Marion Greener), U.S. librarian best known for managing and developing the personal library of J.P. Morgan; afterfter Morgan’s death in 1913, she continued as librarian for his son, and in 1924 was named the first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library. Greene was African-American but spent her career passing for White. (Her birthdate is sometimes listed as November 26.)

1890 – Mary Francis Butts (also known as Mary Rodker), British modernist writer whose work found recognition in literary magazines such as The Bookman and The Little Review, as well as from fellow modernists including T. S. Eliot.

1890 – Dulcie Deamer, New Zealand-born Australian-based writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and novelist.

1890 – Marc Connelly, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. playwright who was a key member of the Algonquin Round Table.

1895 – Lucía Sánchez Saornil, Spanish poet, writer, journalist, trade unionist, feminist, and anarchist; she is best known as one of the founders of Mujeres Libres.

1902 – Yevgeny Petrov (Евгений Петров), pen name of Yevgeny Petrovich Katayev (Евгений Петрович Катаев), a popular Soviet author and war correspondent; he is best known for satirical novels written with his coauthor Ilya Ilf.

1903 – Shibram Chakraborty (শিবরাম চক্রবর্তী), popular Bengali writer, poet, playwright, humorist, novelist, nonfiction author, and revolutionary whose humorous stories are noted for their unique use of puns, alliteration, and irony.

1906 – Laurens Jan van der Post, prolific South African Afrikaner book author, journalist, educator, philosopher, explorer, and conservationist who was also a farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Britain’s Prince Charles, and godfather of Prince William.

1907 – Teodor Bujnicki, Polish poet, satirist, writer, journalist, editor, and literary critic.

1911 – Mom Luang Boonlua Debyasuvarn née Kunchon (pen name Boonlua), award-winning Thai writer, novelist, literary critic, educator, translator, and government official; she is considered one of Thailand’s most important educators during a crucial phase of the country’s modernization.

1911 – Kenneth Patchen, award-winning U.S. poet and novelist who experimented with different forms of writing and incorporated painting, drawing, and jazz music into his works.

1912 – Andrés Sabella, Chilean writer, cartoonist, journalist, and poet.

1915 – Ross McDonald, pen name of U.S.-Canadian crime-fiction writer Kenneth Millar, known for his Lew Archer series.

1916 – Leonard Weisgard, U.S. writer and illustrator whose work on Margaret Wise Brown’s picture book The Little Island won him the 1948 Caldecott Medal.

1922 – Karel Destovnik, Slovenian poet, translator, linguist, and resistance fighter who wrote under the pen name Kajuh; he was killed in 1944 when his Partisan unit was attacked by a German patrol, and declared a People’s Hero of Yugoslavia in 1953. He is considered a key Slovene poet of World War II, and an important symbol of the Slovene Partisan movement.

1924 – Beatriz Guido, Argentine writer, screenwriter, and novelist.

1925 – John Ehle, U.S. novelist, playwright, and nonfiction writer best known for fiction set in the Appalachian Mountains; he has been described as “the father of Appalachian literature.”

1926 – Rita Tornborg, award-winning Swedish novelist and short-story writer who was born in South Africa and grew up in Poland.

1927 – James Wright, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet who was known for the clarity and power of his terse, imagistic, free verse; he and his son, poet Franz Wright, are the only parent/child pair to have won Pulitzer Prizes in the same category.

1928 – Loula Anagnostaki, Greek writer and playwright who was the sister of poet Manolis Anagnostakis.

1929 – Kyi Kyi Tin-Myint (known by her pen name Kyi Aye) Burmese poet, novelist, and short-story writer whose work has been highly influential in her own country, though it is largely unknown in the West.

1930 – Nathan Zach, award-winning German-born Israeli writer, poet, editor, literary scholar, translator, songwriter, and university teacher who is widely regarded as one of the preeminent poets in Israel’s history.

1931 – Ida Vos, Dutch writer, poet, and children’s author; much of her work describes her experiences as a Jewish girl during World War II, including her time spent in hiding from the Nazis.

1935 – Adélia Luzia Prado Freitas, award-winning Brazilian poet, prose writer, and translator whose work is a seeming paradox of a deep and spiritual Catholicism, combined with the physical and the carnal.

1935 – Türkan Saylan, Turkish medical doctor, writer, teacher, and social activist; she was famous for fighting leprosy and for founding a charitable foundation.

1944 – Mahmoud Tounsi, Tunisian author, poet, short-story writer, painter, and politician. His short-story collection Espace, published in 1973, paved the way for the avant-garde movement in Tunisia.

1946 – Kim Chae-won, South Korean author best known for the dreamlike quality of her prose.

1949 – R.A MacAvoy, U.S. fantasy author whose books draw on Celtic and Zen themes.

1951 – Anne-Marie Alonzo, award-winning Egyptian-born wright, poet, novelist, critic, magazine founder, and publisher; as a teenager, she was in a car accident that left her a paraplegic.

1951 – Jiro Asada (pen name for Kojiro Iwato), award-winning Japanese author who wrote picaresque novels, historical novels, novels set in China, and short stories.

1952 – Jean Rouaud, French author who won the Prix Goncourt for the novel Fields of Glory (Les Champs d’honneur.)

1954 – Emma Bull, influential U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author; her novel War for the Oaks is a pioneering work in urban fantasy.

1954 – Tamora Pierce, popular and prolific award-winning U.S. author of young-adult fantasy fiction; she says she first started writing to escape the drama of her parents’ divorce, writing fan fiction based on her favorite stories until she decided to write her stories about strong female characters, because she noticed a lack of them in the books she read when she was young.

1959 – Todd Stanley Purdum, U.S. writer, reporter, editor, and political correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine.

1962 – Ilkka Remes (real name Petri Pykälä), popular, award-winning Finnish author of thrillers and young-adult literature; he says he uses a pseudonym because he does not want to be considered only a thriller writer, and wants to be able to write in other genres in the future.

1991 – Brianna “Bri” Lee, Australian writer, editor, lawyer, and women’s rights activist who is best known for her memoir Eggshell Skull, which describes her experience as a complainant in the Australian court system for sexual abuse as a child.

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