December 15 Writer Birthdays

1754 – Shaihu Usman dan Fodio (also known as Usuman ɓin Foduye, Shehu Uthman Dan Fuduye, and Shaikh Uthman Ibn Fodio), prolific and influential Fulani scholar, religious teacher, revolutionary, military leader, writer, promoter of Sunni Islam, and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate; he wrote extensively on religion, government, culture, and society, critiquing existing Muslim elites and encouraging literacy and scholarship, for women as well as men. He was lived in what is now northern Nigeria.

1867 – Georges Polti, French writer best known for his list of thirty-six dramatic situations.

1896 – Ann Nolan Clark, U.S. children’s writer, who won a Newbery Medal for Secret of the Andes.

1896 – Betty Smith, U.S. author best known for her novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which is considered one of the great novels of the 20th century.

1897 – Mary Brooksbank, Scottish poet, songwriter, musician, mill worker, women’s rights activist, and trade unionist.

1897 – Zenta Mauriņa, Latvian writer, essayist, and researcher in philology.

1905 – Irawati Karve, Indian writer, poet, sociologist, anthropologist, and educator.

1913 – Muriel Rukeyser, U.S. poet and political activist, best known for her poems about equality, feminism, social justice, and Judaism.

1917 – Shan-ul-Haq Haqqee (Urdu: شان الحق حقی), notable Indian-born Urdu poet, writer, journalist, broadcaster, translator, critic, researcher, linguist and lexicographer.

1920 – Gamal al-Banna, Egyptian author, liberal scholar, and trade unionist best known for his criticism of Islamic traditional narratives.

1923 – Alki Zei, award-winning Greek novelist and children’s writer.

1930 – Edna O’Brien, award-winning Irish novelist, memoirist, biographer, playwright, poet, screenwriter, and short-story writer; author Philip Roth once described her as “the most gifted woman now writing in English.” Her works often revolve around the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men and to society as a whole; her first novel, The Country Girls, is credited with breaking silence on sexual matters and social issues during a repressive period in Ireland following World War II, resulting in the book being banned, burned, and denounced from the pulpit. O’Brien now lives in London.

1931 – Shuntarō Tanikawa, Japanese poet, writer, screenwriter, translator, lyricist, children’s writer, and novelist who is one of the most widely read and highly regarded of living Japanese poets, both in Japan and abroad.

1939 – Alan Armstrong, Newbery Honor-winning U.S. children’s author.

1933 – Vasireddy Seethadevi (Telugu: వాసిరెడ్డి సీతాదేవి), Indian writer in the Telugu language who published 42 novels, 10 short-story collections, and several essays; when her novel Mareechika was banned, she took the government to court and got her book released.

1953 – Robert Charles Wilson, U.S.-Canadian Hugo Award-winning science-fiction author.

1961 – Ahn Do-Hyun, South Korean poet, writer, and university professor.

1965 – José Tolentino de Mendonça (full name José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça), Portuguese writer, poet, playwright, essayist, theologian, university professor, and Catholic priest who is regarded as one of the most original voices of modern Portuguese literature.

1966 – Simone van der Vlugt, Dutch writer, crime novelist, historical novelist, young-adult author, and children’s writer.

1969 – Marion Poschmann, award-winning German novelist and poet.

1973 – Gísli Örn Garðarsson, Icelandic author, screenwriter, playwright, actor, writer, film producer, and theater director. He began his career as an internationally competitive gymnast.

1975 – Ayesha Hazarika, Scottish comedian, broadcaster, journalist, political commentator, and political advisor.

1978 – Sameh Sami (also spelled Samy), Egyptian writer and journalist who is editor-in-chief of a movie magazine.

1987 – Mayra Dias Gomes, Brazilian writer, novelist, reporter, and media personality.

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