February 5 Writer Birthdays

1626 – Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné (widely known as Madame de Sévigné), French writer who is revered as one of the great icons of French 17th-century literature for her letters, which were celebrated for their wit and vividness; most were addressed to her daughter, Françoise-Marguerite de Sévigné.

1634 – Maria Antonia Scalera Stellini, Italian writer, poet, and playwright.

1737 – Bak Jiwon, Korean philosopher and novelist who is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of the Silhak (“Practical Learning’) movement; he belonged to the “School of Profitable Usage and Benefiting the People.” He wrote in classical Chinese.

1804 – Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Finnish lyric and epic poet, lyricist, and Lutheran priest who is the national poet of Finland and the author of the lyrics to the National Anthem; he was also a key figure in the modernization of the Finnish Lutheran hymnal and produced many texts for the new edition. Despite his literary accomplishments, his name is best known because of the quintessential Finnish dessert, the raspberry-topped Runeberg cake, which was invented by the poet’s wife, Fredrika Runeberg, and named after him.

1813 – Jermain Wesley Loguen (born into slavery as Jarm Logue), U.S. African-American writer and abolitionist, known for The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman, a Narrative of Real Life.

1844 – José Simões Dias, Portuguese poet, short-story writer, literary critic, pedagogue, and politician; his poetry is generally affiliated with the later Romantic tradition, sometimes termed Ultra-Romanticism, although some of his poems betray an affinity for Realist aesthetics.

1848 – Joris Karl Huysmans (born Charles Marie Georges Huysmans), French novelist and art critic whose work is considered remarkable for its idiosyncratic use of the French language, large vocabulary, satirical wit, and far-ranging erudition.

1855 – Katharine Bushnell, U.S. medical doctor, author, Christian writer, Bible scholar, social activist, lecturer, and forerunner of feminist theology; with a lifelong quest of showing biblical affirmation of the integrity and equality of women, she published God’s Word to Women, a correction of mistranslation and misinterpretation of the Bible, and several other books. She also traveled in China, India, Australia, and New Zealand, practicing medicine or speaking out against sexual discrimination, female trafficking, and other injustices.

1871 – Jovan Dučić, Bosnian Serb modernist poet, political writer, and diplomat.

1877 – Gertrude Elizabeth Heron Shane (née Hine), Irish writer, poet, playwright, and violinist; among her best-known works is “Wee Hughie,” a poem about a boy’s first day at school.

1880 – Liu Yizheng, Chinese writer, historian, librarian, academic, calligrapher, cultural scholar, and educator.

1884 – Paramananda (born Suresh Chandra Guhathakurta), progressive Indian swami, Hindu monk, mystic, teacher, book author, writer, and poet who was an innovator in spiritual community living; he established four nonsectarian ashramas where the residents are primarily women, and founded the Message of the East, a magazine published in the United States, which offered articles, poetry, and commentary on all religions.

1893 – William Earl Johns, English pilot and writer of adventure stories, usually under the name Captain W.E. Johns (though he was never actually a captain); he is best known as creator of pilot and adventurer Biggles.

1894 – Henriette Hardenberg (born Margarete Rosenberg), German-born Jewish poet who emigrated to Britain in the late 1930s; in Germany, she was part of the circle of writers around the magazine Die Aktion, which championed literary Expressionism. Her poems examined the relationship between people and their bodies, especially the skin as both an interface between self and world and a limiting factor, and she expressed a desire to transcend the limits of the body. She was one of the few women among the German Expressionist writers, and is now considered to have been one of the best of all the Expressionists.

1903 – Émile Roumer, Haitian poet who wrote both satirical poems, and poems about love and nature.

1911 – Galina Nikolaeva (born Galina Volyanskaya), award-winning Russian novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter, and physician whose written works are characterized by an interest in the inner world of contemporary men and women, and a direct confrontation of the social and moral issues of her time.

1914 – William S. Burroughs, U.S. experimental novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and visual artist who was a primary figure of the Beat Generation and a major postmodern author whose influence affected popular culture as well as literature.

1915 – Margaret Ellis Millar (née Sturm), U.S.-Canadian mystery and suspense writer; married to Kenneth Millar (better known by his pen name Ross Macdonald); she often used Santa Barbara, California, as a setting in her novels, but fictionalized it as San Felice or Santa Felicia.

1916 – Janki Ballabh Shastri, award-winning Indian Hindi poet, writer, biographer, novelist, playwright, essayist, short-story writer, songwriter, and literary critic.

1920 – Leda Mileva, Bulgarian poet, writer, teacher, translator, journalist, linguist, politician, and diplomat.

1922 – Kim Gu-yong, Korean poet, calligrapher, and professor whose work showed the spirit of Taoism but also reflected Buddhist thought and revealed the influence of Western surrealism.

1924 – Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger, Romanian-born German-language writer, poet, lyricist, translator, and Holocaust victim who died in a labor camp at the age of 18.

1928 – Andrew Greeley, prolific U.S. novelist, journalist, columnist, sociologist, and Catholic priest; his novels were controversial because of his explicit treatment of sexuality, leading the National Catholic Register to accuse him of having “the dirtiest mind ever ordained.”

1928 – Edmund Leroy “Mike” Keeley, Syrian-born award-winning U.S. novelist, poet, essayist, and translator who is a noted expert on Greek poets and modern Greek history.

1930 – Liliane Wouters, award-winning Belgian poet, writer, playwright, translator, anthologist, and essayist who wrote in French.

1936 – K.S. Nissar Ahmed, prominent Indian poet and writer in the Kannada language; he is also a geologist.

1939 – Gémino Henson Abad, award-winning Filipino poet, writer, essayist, editor, anthologist, professor, and literary critic.

1941 – Stephen Joseph Cannell, U.S. mystery novelist and television screenwriter and producer who created or co-created nearly 40 television series, many of them popular crime shows.

1946 – Oyewale Tomori, Nigerian scientist, author, professor of virology, public-health specialist, and university vice-chancellor; his written works include studies on ebola and yellow fever.

1950 – Sng Boh Khim (also known as Sunny), Singaporean poet and essayist.

1951 – Elizabeth Swados, U.S. novelist, nonfiction author, children’s book author, composer, and theatre director who often wrote humorous satire but also explored racism, murder, and mental illness; she collaborated on two musicals with cartoonist Gary Trudeau, writing the music to his lyrics.

1953 – Giannina Braschi, Puerto Rican novelist and poet who is considered an influential and revolutionary voice in contemporary Latin American literature.

1956 – David Wiesner, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. illustrator and author of children’s picture books.

1957 – Azouz Begag (عزوز بقاق ‎), French writer, politician, and researcher in economics and sociology.

1967 – Alexandre Najjar, award-winning Lebanese novelist, biographer, nonfiction writer, lawyer, columnist, artist, and literary critic.

1982 – Maria Markova, award-winning Russian poet and writer.

1986 – Yashica Dutt, Indian writer and journalist who has written on topics including fashion, gender, identity, culture, and caste.

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