January 23 Writer Birthdays

1729 – Clara Reeve, English writer, translator, and novelist best known for the Gothic novel The Old English Baron and an innovative history of prose fiction The Progress of Romance; her first work was a translation from Latin, then an unusual language for a woman to learn.

1783 – Stendahl (pen name for Marie-Henri Beyle), 19th-century French writer who is highly regarded for analysis of his characters’ psychology and considered one of the early and foremost practitioners of realism.

1790 – Tommaso Grossi, Italian poet, novelist, writer, lawyer, and notary who was one of the key Romantic poets in Lombardy.

1803 – Josefa Acevedo de Gomez, Colombian writer, poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, biographer, and short-story writer who was also the grandmother of politician and poet Adolfo Leon Gomez; some of her work was published anonymously.

1813 – Camilla Collett (born Jacobine Camilla Collett), Norwegian writer and critic who is often referred to as the first Norwegian feminist; she was one of the first contributors to realism in Norwegian literature.

1815 – Birgitte Dorothea Henriette Nielsen (pen name Theodora), Danish author, playwright, and composer. She is best known for her successful play Slægtningene (The Relatives), with its pre-vaudeville atmosphere, local costumes, and songs she had composed herself; and for her novel Esberhs Skolehistorier (Esberh’s School Stories), an early example of works calling for women’s emancipation.

1833 – Lewis Morris, popular English-language Welsh poet, academic, lawyer, and politician who was knighted by Queen Victoria.

1839 – Mary Lowe Dickinson (née Mary Caroline Underwood), U.S. fiction writer, poet, editor, and educator who also became an advocate for women’s rights and an anti-war activist.

1855 – César Nicolás Penson, Dominican author, poet, and lawyer.

1858 – Lisa Wenger (born Lisa Ruutz), Swiss painter and bestselling author of children’s books.

1859 – Katharine Tynan, Irish writer, known mainly for her novels and poetry; she usually wrote under the name Katharine Tynan Hinkson.

1863 – Vavilikolanu Subba Rao (also konwn as Andhra Valmiki or Vaasu Daasa Swami), Indian Sanskrit scholar, Telugu poet, teacher, magazine publisher, and translator who also wrote a book on Telugu grammar and several books about morality and ethics.

1890 – Rose Laure Allatini, Austrian novelist who is associated with the Bloomsbury Group and is best known for her novel Despised and Rejected, which drew a connection between the persecution of homosexuals and the rhetoric of imperialism, and was banned because its themes of pacifism and homosexuality were thought, “likely to prejudice the recruiting of persons to serve on His Majesty’s Forces”; she also wrote under the pseudonyms A.T. Fitzroy, Lucian Wainwright, Mrs. Cyril Scott, and Eunice Buckley.

1897 – Margarete “Grete” Schütte-Lihotzky, award-winning Austrian architect, memoirist, communist activist, and World War II resistance fighter; she is mostly remembered today for designing what is known as the Frankfurt kitchen, the forerunner of modern fitted kitchens. In 1941, she was captured by the Gestapo and imprisoned for her resistance activities; she survived the war, was liberated by U.S. troops in 1945, and died in 2000, a few days before her 103rd birthday.

1897 – Ieva Simonaityte (also known as Ewa Simoneit), award-winning Lithuanian writer whose work described the culture of Lithuania Minor and the Klaipeda Region, territories of German East Prussia with large, but dwindling, Lithuanian populations.

1902 – Dolarrai Rangildas Mankad, Indian Gujarati critic, researcher, essayist, and poet who was the first vice-chancellor of Saurashtra University.

1904 – Anya Seton (born Ann Seton), bestselling U.S. author of carefully researched historical novels and fictionalized biographies; several of her books were made into films.

1904 – Louis Zukofsky, U.S. poet who was one of the founders and the primary theorist of the Objectivist group of poets; though his work influenced future generations of poets, in his time it never achieved much recognition outside literary circles, because it was considered too obscure, experimental, and dryly intellectual. He also wrote prose, plays, and literary criticism.

1908 – Geneviève Gemayel, Lebanese writer, artist, aircraft pilot, and political figure; she is thought to be one of the first women in the Middle East to receive a driving license and the first Arab woman to fly an airplane.

1909 – Tatyana Avenirovna Proskuriakova, Russian-American Mayanist scholar and archaeologist who contributed significantly to the deciphering of Maya hieroglyphs, the writing system of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica.

1916 – Wahbi Ahmed El-Bouri, Egyptian-born Libyan essayist, short-story writer, translator, politician, and diplomat who was a Libyan cabinet officer and ambassador to the U.N., and who is considered by many to be the father of the short-story genre in Libya.

1918 – Gertrude “Trudy” Belle Elion, Nobel Prize-winning U.S. biochemist, pharmacologist, and author whose work led to the creation of the AIDS drug AZT; she also developed first immunosuppressive drug, azathioprine, and the first successful antiviral drug, acyclovir, as well as several other important drugs.

1922 – Taro Naka, award-winning Japanese poet and nō playwright whose work is characterized by its close attention to the interplay between the visual, phonetic, and semantic aspects of words.

1923 – Walter M. Miller, Jr., U.S. science-fiction author known primarily for his only novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz.

1924 – Suriani Abdullah née Eng Ming Ching, Malaysian author, memoirist, historian, and Central Committee member of the Communist Party of Malaya; she wrote the official historical account of the 10th Regiment of the Malayan People’s National Liberation Army, and worked to mobilize and organize women workers.

1930 – Tatyana Nikolayevna Savicheva, Russian student and diarist who endured the Siege of Leningrad during World War II, during which she recorded in her diary the deaths of each member of her family; she died at the age of 14, but her diary became a symbol of the human cost of the Siege of Leningrad, and was used during the Nuremberg Trials as the evidence of the Nazis’ crimes.

1930 – Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize-winning Saint Lucian poet and playwright; the Nobel committee praised his “poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.”

1935 – Tom Reamy, Campbell Award-winning and Nebula Award-winning U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author, known especially for his dark fantasy; he died before publication of his first novel.

1939 – Fred Wah, award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, scholar, and former Canadian Poet Laureate.

1953 – Cathy Hopkins, English novelist, best known for her books for teenagers.

1962 – Elvira Lindo, Spanish journalist, screenwriter, and author of novels for children and adults.

1963 – Su Tong, pen name of award-winning Chinese novelist and short-story writer Tong Zhonggui, best known in the West for his book Wives and Concubines, which was adapted into the film, Raise the Red Lantern.

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