January 1 Writer Birthdays

1714 – Kristijonas Donelaitis, Lithuanian poet and Lutheran pastor who wrote the first classic Lithuanian-language poem, The Seasons, which depicts the lives and struggles of Lithuanian peasants and which became one of the principal works of Lithuanian poetry.

1768 – Maria Edgeworth, prolific Irish writer of adults’ and children’s literature; she was a pioneer in realistic writing for children and an influential figure in the evolution of the novel.

1819 – Arthur Hugh Clough, English poet whose first and best-known poem was “The Bothie of Toberna-Vuolich.”

1839 – Ouida (pseudonym of Maria Louise Ramé), prolific English novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and children’s author.

1854 – James George Frazer, Scottish social anthropologist who studied mythology and comparative religion and is considered one of the founding fathers of modern anthropology.

1873 – Mariano Azuela González, Mexican novelist, playwright, literary critic, short-story writer, and physician who has been called the first of the Novelists of the Revolution for his fictional stories of the Mexican Revolution of 1910; his works had significance influence on other Mexican novelists of social protest.

1873 – Marija Jurić, Croatian journalist, novelist, and dramatist who wrote under the pen name Zagorka; she was the first female journalist in Croatia.

1879 – Edward Morgan “E.M.” Forster, British novelist best known for his book, A Passage to India.

1903 – Jasimuddin Mollah (Bengali: জসীমউদ্দীন), Bengali Indian poet, songwriter, prose writer, folklore collector, and radio personality who is known in Bangladesh as The Rural Poet for his faithful use of Bengali folklore in his work.

1911 – Audrey Wurdemann Auslander, U.S. poet and novelist who at age 24 became the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, for her collection Bright Ambush.

1914 – Noor Inayat Khan (full name Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan, also known as Nora Baker), Russian-born writer, poet, children’s author, composer, and musician of Indian descent who in World War II became a British resistance agent in France, where under the code name Madeleine she became the Special Operations Executive’s first female wireless operator to be sent from the UK into occupied France to aid the French Resistance; she was captured and executed at Dachau concentration camp.

1919 – Jerome David “J. D.” Salinger, U.S. author, best known for his novel The Catcher in the Rye and his reclusive nature.

1921 – Isma’il Raji al-Faruqi, Palestinian philosopher best known for Al-Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life.

1923 – Sembene Ousmane, Senegalese novelist and screenwriter whose films and novels addressed social wrongs in post-colonial Africa.

1933 – John Kingsley “Joe” Orton, controversial English playwright and author of scandalous black comedies.

1943 – Jean Ure, prolific British children’s book author whose first book was published when she was 16 years old.

1943 – Drauzio Varella, Brazilian physician, educator, scientist, and bestselling author known for popular writing about science and public commentary on government and social welfare.

1949 – Olivia Goldsmith, U.S. author who is best known for her novel The First Wives Club; she was born Randy Goldfield but changed her name to Justine Goldfield and later to Justine Rendal.

1952 – René de Ceccatty, French novelist, essayist, and literary translator.

1953 – Toyin Omoyeni Falola, award-winning and prolific Nigerian historian, author, essayist, memoirist, and professor whose primary research interest is African history since the 19th century.

1960 – Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is a Lebanese-born essayist, editor, professor, statistician, and bestselling author whose work focuses on problems of randomness and probability; the Sunday Times called his book The Black Swan one of the twelve most influential books since World War II.

1964 – Simon Lehna Singh, British author who writes popular books about math and science.

1975 – Eiichiro Oda (尾田 栄一郎), Japanese manga artist and author whose series One Piece is the bestselling manga ever.

1979 – Darin Ahmad, Syrian writer, poet, editor, painter, and web designer; she currently lives in Germany.

1980 – Ceridwen Dovey, South African and Australian social anthropologist and author; in 2009 she was named a “5 under 35” nominee by the National Book Foundation.

1984 – Briony Stewart, award-winning Australian writer and illustrator of children’s books and picture books; she is well known for her book Kumiko and the Dragon and its sequels, a fantasy adventure series inspired by folktales and Japanese mythology.

1986 – Victoria Amelina, award-winning Ukrainian novelist and children’s book author.

1991 – Ayat Hassan Mohammed Al-Qurmezi, Bahraini poet and activist; she became famous in Bahrain and internationally after reading aloud a poem that criticized Bahraini government policies, leading to harassment and death threats, and then to her arrest, torture, and conviction. After international human-rights organizations got involved, she was sentenced to a term of imprisonment but allowed to serve it under house arrest.

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