January 28 Writer Birthdays

1582 – John Barclay, French-born Scottish writer, satirist, and neo-Latin poet.

1608 – Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, Italian physiologist, physicist, mathematician, and author; Father of Biomechanics; and first person to design a self-contained underwater breathing apparatus; he became head of Mathematics at the University of Pisa, though Galileo recommended against hiring him.

1841 – Sir Henry Morton Stanley, Welsh journalist and explorer who found missing missionary David Livingstone and said, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

1853 – José Martí y Perez, Cuban poet, essayist, journalist, professor, and revolutionary philosopher who is considered a national hero for his role in liberating Cuba; his is sometimes called the “Apostle of Cuban Independence.”

1870 – Ada Nield Chew, British suffragist and activist for women’s rights in the workplace; while working in a factory in Crewe, Cheshire, she published pieces in a local newspaper about the unequitable treatment of women employees, and signed them, A Crewe Factory Girl; when he employer discovered her identity and fired her, she was hired by the Independent Labour Party and spent the rest of her career fighting for women’s rights, eventually also running a mail-order drapery business and a health-food store.

1873 – Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, French author, actress, journalist, and mime who wrote under the pen name “Colette”; she is best known for the novel Gigi and for her books’ sensory evocation of sounds, smells, tastes, textures, and colors.

1886 – Marthe Bibesco, Romanian writer, poet, biographer, novelist, essayist, style icon, and princess.

1897 – Valentin Petrovich Kataev, Russian and Soviet novelist and playwright who wrote penetrating works discussing post-revolutionary social conditions and was noted for his relentless imagination, sensitivity, and originality.

1901 – Shinkichi Takahashi, award-winning Japanese poet who was one of the pioneers of Dadaism in Japan and the only major Zen poet of modern Japanese literature.

1913 – Rajendra Shah, award-winning Indian Gujarati poet, writer, lyricist, translator, and publisher whose writing focused on the beauty of nature and the everyday lives of indigenous peoples and fishing communities.

1915 – Nien Cheng, Chinese author whose memoir recounts her experiences during the Cultural Revolution.

1927 – Vera Williams, U.S. peace activist and author and illustrator of children’s books.

1928 – Philip Levine, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet who has been called “a large, ironic Whitman of the industrial heartland.” While working at the Detroit auto factories, he experienced the way workers were treated and resolved “to find a voice for the voiceless” through literature. His themes often explored the poverty and drudgery of the assembly line, as well as the Spanish anarchist movement of the 1930s.

1929 – Richard Clement Charles “Clem” Thomas, Welsh rugby player who became a rugby journalist and author.

1930 – Camilla Carlson, Norwegian poet, novelist, and literary critic.

1930 – Margo Glantz Shapiro, award-winning Mexican writer, essayist, literary critic, and academic.

1931 – Sakyo Komatsu, Japanese writer, screenwriter, journalist, and novelist who was one of the most highly regarded science-fiction authors in Japan.

1935 – Manuel dos Santos Lima, Angolan poet, dramatist, novelist and revolutionary.

1935 – David John Lodge, English literature professor and satirical novelist.

1936 – Ismail Kadare, bestselling Albanian novelist and poet.

1941 – Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, noted New Zealand weaver and author who was a key figure in the Maori cultural renaissance and helped lift Maori weaving from a craft to an art.

1945 – John Perkins, controversial U.S. author and conspiracy theorist who also wrote about mysticism in indigenous cultures.

1958 – Maitê Proença Gallo, Brazilian writer, essayist, author, journalist, playwright, memoirist, actress, and television presenter.

1959 – Arthur Goldstuck, South African journalist, media analyst, and commentator.

1959 – Megan McDonald, U.S. author of children’s books, best known for the “Judy Moody” series.

1961 – Arnaldur Indriðason, award-winning Icelandic author of crime fiction; his most popular series features as its protagonist the Reykjavik detective Erlendur Sveinsson. He has also co-written a movie screenplay, Reykjavík-Rotterdam, which Hollywood remade as the film Contraband.

1967 – Jiro Ishii, Japanese writer, video game developer, and television and anime producer.

1969 – Susan Choi, award-winning U.S. novelist, children’s author, and professor.

1971 – Gleb Yuryevich Shulpyakov, Russian poet, essayist, novelist, and translator.

1972 – Ahronglong Sakinu (also known as Sakinu Yalonglong or Dai Zhiqiang), Taiwanese indigenous Paiwan writer, forest ranger, and hunter who has founded a hunter school to educate and introduce youngsters to Paiwan culture and traditional Paiwan skills.

1973 – Carrie Vaughn, U.S. short-story writer and novelist who is known for urban fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romance.

1978 – Ali Akbar (real name Alakbar Aliagha oglu Aliyev), controversial Azerbaijani journalist, novelist, writer, and translator who is now based in Switzerland; his works mainly deal with the taboos in Azerbaijani society.

1988 – Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, award-winning Zimbabwean novelist and short-story writer.

1994 – Pieretta Dawn (pen name of Praekarn Pier Nirandara), the youngest English-writing published author in Thailand, she received critical acclaim at age 15 with the publication of her debut young-adult novel The Mermaid Apprentices.

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