December 20 Writer Birthdays

1648 – Tommaso Ceva, Italian writer, poet, mathematician, professor, and Jesuit priest; he was well known for his poetry, and for his only mathematical work, the Opuscula Mathematica, which dealt with geometry, gravity, and arithmetic.

1738 – Juliana de Lannoy, Dutch writer, poet, playwright, and artist who is known for her wit and commentary on women in society; she often wrote about strong women.

1778 – Angela Veronese, Italian writer and poet who was one of the most significant Italian poets of her time; she wrote some of her poems under the pen name Aglaia Anassillide.

1808 – Laura Smith Haviland, Canadian abolitionist, suffragette, and social reformer who was an important figure in the history of the Underground Railroad.

1834 – Valtazar Bogišic, Serbian Catholic lawyer, writer, and sociologist whose most notable research was on family structure and the unique Montenegrin civil code of 1888; he is considered to be a pioneer in the sociology of law and sociological jurisprudence.

1838 – Edwin Abbott Abbott, English schoolmaster and theologian, best known for the satirical novella Flatland.

1843 – Lowy Hevesi Lajos (also known as Ludwig Hevesi), Hungarian journalist, author, editor, and theater critic who studied medicine and classical philology before turning to writing.

1873 – Mehmet Akif Ersoy, Ottoman-born Turkish poet, writer, academic, and politician who was also the author of the Turkish National Anthem; widely considered one of the premiere literary minds of his time, Ersoy is noted for his command of the Turkish language, as well as for his patriotism and his role in the Turkish War of Independence.

1875 – Theodore Francis Powys (published as T.F. Powys), British novelist and short-story writer who is best remembered for his allegorical novel Mr. Weston’s Good Wine, in which Weston the wine merchant is evidently God.

1875 – Marie de Régnier (also known by her maiden name Marie de Heredia and her pen-name Gérard d’Houville), French writer, poet, novelist, journalist, and children’s writer who was a key figure in the artistic circles of early 20th-century Paris).

1880 – Sara Cecilia Görvell Fabricius (better known by her pen name Cora Sandel), Norwegian writer and painter whose most famous works are the novels now known as the Alberta Trilogy.

1883 – Marjorie Paget (Marchioness of Anglesey), British writer, art historian, biographer, artist, and illustrator.

1888 – Yitzhak Baer, Israeli writer, historian, pedagogue, and university teacher who was an expert on medieval Spanish Jewish history.

1891 – Maria Skobtsova (born Elizaveta Yurievna Pilenko, and known as Mother Maria, or Saint Mary of Paris), Russian writer, poet, and member of the French Resistance during World War II; she died in a Nazi concentration camp and was canonized as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

1894 – Mara Ðordevic-Malagurski, prominent Serbian writer, playwright, and ethnographer who sometimes wrote under the pen name Nevenka.

1899 – Claudia Lars (born Margarita del Carmen Brannon Vega), award-winning Salvadoran poet, writer, and translator who was appointed cultural attaché to the Embassy of El Salvador in Guatemala.

1902 – Vasil Iljoski, Macedonian writer, dramatist, and professor who was an important figure in Macedonian literature.

1904 – Yevgenia (Eugenia) Solomonovna Ginzburg, Russian author, memoirist, and journalist who served an 18-year sentence in the Gulag as a political prisoner.

1905 – Galina Iosifovna Serebryakova, Polish-Russian writer, journalist, opera singer, and Gulag survivor; her most ambitious writing project was a three-volume fictionalized life of Karl Marx.

1911 – Hortense Calisher, U.S. writer of neo-realist fiction who was the second female president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters; she was also an activist for abortion rights. Her books were known for extensive exploration of her characters; complex plots; imagination and daring; and allusive, nuanced language that was at odds with the minimalism typical of fiction at the time.

1920 – Väinö Linna, Finnish author best known for his novel, Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier).

1927 – David Markson, U.S. author of postmodernist novels, including Wittgenstein’s Mistress.

1951 – Kate Atkinson, postmodern British novelist and playwright whose work has been described as “Kurt Vonnegut meets Jane Austen.”

1951 – Peter May, Scottish novelist known for his crime fiction.

1954 – Sandra Cisneros, Mexican-American U.S. novelist, acclaimed for her first novel The House on Mango Street.

1957 – Lulu Delacre, prolific Puerto Rican U.S. author and illustrator of award-winning children’s books that celebrate Latino heritage and promote cultural diversity.

1960 – Nalo Hopkinson, Jamaican-born Canadian science-fiction and fantasy author of novels and short stories whose work often draws on Caribbean history and language, and on its traditions of oral and written storytelling.

1969 – Alain de Botton, bestselling British-based Swiss writer, philosopher, essayist, television presenter, and entrepreneur whose books and television shows emphasize philosophy’s relevance to everyday life.

1973 – Nadège Noële Ango Obiang, Gabonese short-story writer, playwright, romance author, poet, and economist.

1973 – Maarja Kangro, Estonian poet, short-story writer, librettist, and translator.

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