January 11 Writer Birthdays

1653 – Paolo Alessandro Maffei, Italian writer, antiquarian, archeologist, author, biographer, and humanist.

1657 – Elisabeth van der Woude, Dutch author, diarist, and traveler who left the Netherlands at age 19 with her family and hundreds of others bound for Guyana (now French Guiana) with the goal of starting a colony with her father as appointed governor; many of the group, including her father and sister, died en route or shortly after arriving, and she embarked on a voyage home, but was kidnapped by privateers and held prisoner for some time. Eventually she returned home with her diary, which described her adventures and her father’s experiences in the Anglo-Dutch Wars.

1732 – Peter Forsskål, Swedish explorer, writer, orientalist, naturalist, botanist, ichthyologist, theologist, and philosopher who was one of the Apostles of Carl Linnaeus, a group of scholars who carried out scientific explorations throughout the world, under the tutelage of the famous botanist.

1793 – Charles Alexander Bruce, British soldier, explorer, and author who is considered the father of the tea industry in India.

1801 – Caroline Mathilda Stansbury Kirkland, U.S. author, editor, essayist, and educator who was best known for her books about the American frontier and her friendships with famous writers of the day including Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Robert Browning; some of her work was published under the pseudonym Mary Clavers.

1805 – Lelio Della Torre, Italian Jewish author, poet, translator, and scholar who wrote in Italian, German, French, and Hebrew and was best known for his critical translation of the Book of Psalms.

1808 – Annie Tinsley (born Annie Turner), British novelist and poet who wrote under the name Mrs. Charles Tinsley; much of her work dealt with the low status of women in her society and the need for women to be able to rely on their own abilities rather than depending on men.

1839 – Vladimir Meshchersky, Russian tsarist writer, journalist, novelist, memoirist, newspaper editor, and opinion journalist.

1842 – Salvador Brau y Asencio, Puerto Rican writer, journalist, poet, dramatist, novelist, historian, and sociologist who was designated the official historian of Puerto Rico by the first American-appointed governor of the island.

1853 – Susan Margaret St. Maur (Duchess of Somerset, née Richards Mackinnon), Scottish writer and philanthropist who also published as Mrs. Algernon St Maur.

1855 – Emília Freitas, Brazilian writer, poet, science-fiction author, fantasy author, and teacher; she wrote what is considered the first Brazilian fantasy novel, A Rainha do Ignoto, about an utopian society inhabited by women.

1859 – John Tengo Jabavu, South African Xhosa-language newspaper editor, writer, journalist, activist, and politician; his writings tended to focus on the threat of growing Afrikaner nationalism, his demands for equal rights for South Africa’s black population as well as women, and his advocacy for public education.

1870 – Evelyn Byng (full name, Marie Evelyn Byng, Viscountess Byng of Vimy, also known as Lady Byng), London-born English and Canadian writer, memoirist, and hockey fan who was the wife of Lord Byng, the 12th Governor General of Canada; she is best known today for donating the Lady Byng Trophy to the NHL in 1925.

1870 – Alice Hegan Rice, also known as Alice Caldwell Hegan, bestselling U.S. novelist.

1873 – Aleixo Clemente Messias Gomes (better known as Professor Messias Gomes), Indian-born Portuguese-Goan writer, journalist, and teacher who was the author of several works on historical themes and the co-founder of the first daily newspaper published in Portuguese India.

1876 – Hans Ormund Bringolf, Swiss adventurer, soldier, writer, and autobiographer who was jailed for fraud in both Germany and Peru; he is best known for his book, I Have No Regrets; The Strange Life of a Diplomat-Vagrant, Being the Memoirs of Lieutenant Bringolf.

1880 – Victoria Eleanor Louise Doorly, Jamaican-born British writer, biographer, historian, and children’s book author whose biography of Marie Curie, The Radium Woman, won the Carnegie Medal from the Library Association, recognizing the year’s best children’s book by a British subject.

1885 – Alice Paul, U.S. women’s rights activist, speaker, and writer who was head of the National Women’s Party, a leader in the women’s suffrage movement, and the author of the Equal Rights Amendment; she often suffered abuse and imprisonment for her outspokenness.

1886 – Johannes Lid, Norwegian botanist and author whose most important contributions were in the field of Scandinavian flora; he also wrote a widely used handbook on plants, Norsk flora, with illustrations by his wife, the illustraator Dagny Tande Lid. He also co-founded and chaired the Norwegian Botanical Association.

1887 – Aldo Leopold, U.S. author, ecologist, philosopher, and environmentalist, best known for his bestselling book A Sand County Almanac.

1890 – Oswald de Andrade, Brazilian writer, poet, playwright, journalist, novelist, non-fiction writer, and pamphleteer who was one of the founder of the Brazilian Modernist literary movement.

1897 – Henri Chabrol, French writer and editor who edited texts of classical antiquity, novels and plays (in French), and poems and collections of stories (in French and Provençal).

1897 – Bernard DeVoto, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian and author who specialized in the American West.

1901 – Sulamith Wülfing, German artist, illustrator, and author who at the age of four began drawing angels, fairies, gnomes, and nature spirits that she said she saw in visions, giving her paintings a fairy tale feel and an air of mystery; she continued exploring the same types of subject matter throughout her career, and described her work as “a visual representation of my deepest feelings—pleasure, fear, sorrow, happiness, humor.”

1903 – Alan Paton, South African author and anti-apartheid activist.

1903 – Ilse Weber (née Herlinger), Polish Jewish writer, composer, poet, playwright, songwriter, and children’s writer who wrote in German; she died in Auschwitz in 1944; her most popular book was Mendel Rosenbusch: Tales for Jewish Children.

1905 – Manfred Bennington Lee, U.S. mystery writer who — along with his cousin Frederic Dannay — created the character Ellery Queen, a mystery writer who helped the police solve crimes; Ellery Queen was also the pseudonym that the cousins (and, later, other writers) wrote the books under.

1908 – Gim Yu-jeong (or Kim Yu-jong), well known, award-winning Korean novelist and short-story writer whose work has been described as, “rich and earthy.”

1910 – Ahmad Shawqi Daif, Egyptian writer, literary critic, and historian who is considered one of the most influential Arab intellectuals of the 20th century.

1915 – Asunta Limpias de Parada, Bolivian composer, writer, and musician who contributed a wide and diverse body of content in folk music.

1917 – Marie Illarionovna Vassiltchikov, Russian princess who wrote Berlin Diaries, 1940-1945, which describe the bombing of Berlin and events leading to the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler.

1919 – Robert C. O’Brien, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author, children’s writer, and journalist who was best known for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.

1924 – Shahrokh Meskoob, Iranian writer, translator, scholar, and university professor.

1924 – Xelîlê Çaçan Mûradov, Kurdish Yazidi writer, journalist, broadcaster, author, and folklorist.

1930 – Selva Casal, award-winning Uruguayan poet, writer, and literary magazine founder.

1931 – Mary Rodgers, U.S. author of children’s books, notably Freaky Friday; she was the daughter of the composer Richard Rodgers and also wrote musicals.

1934 – Claire Etcherelli, award-winning French novelist who is best known for her debut novel, Elise, or the Real Life, which was also adapted into a film; her fiction is set in real-life cities such as Paris, with working-class women as her main characters She was influenced by writer Honoré de Balzac.

1943 – Jill Churchill, Agatha Award-winning U.S. mystery author.

1943 – Eduardo Mendoza Garriga, award-winning Spanish writer, novelist, science-fiction author, parodist, screenwriter, lawyer, playwright, translator, poet, and linguist who is considered one of the most important living Spanish writers.

1946 – Janet Campbell Hale, U.S. Native-American writer whose work explores Native American identity, poverty, and abuse, as well as the condition of women in society.

1952 – Diana Gabaldon, bestselling U.S. n author whose Outlander series contains elements of romance, historical fiction, mystery, adventure and fantasy and has been adapted into a hit television series.

1954 – Tahar Djaout, Algerian journalist, poet, and fiction writer who was assassinated in 1993 because of his support of secularism and opposition to what he considered fanaticism.

1956 – Philip Begho, award-winning and prolific Nigerian novelist, playwright, poet, journalist, short-story writer, screenwriter, songwriter, and children’s writer who has also written a law book.

1961 – Jasper Fforde, award-winning British novelist known for his Thursday Next mystery series; he also writes alternate history and comic fantasy, and most of his books contain literary allusions, wordplay, and elements of metafiction, parody, and fantasy.

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