February 11 Writer Birthdays

0975 – Elijah of Nisibis, writer, historian, and cleric of the Church of the East, born in what is now Iraq; he served as an archbishop and has been called the most important Christian writer in Arabic, best known for his Chronography, which is an important source for the history of Sassanid Persia.

1567 – Honoré d’Urfé, French writer, poet, playwright, and novelist.

1624 – Ivan Ancic, Croatian theological writer, translator, and priest.

1695 – Françoise de Graffigny (née Françoise d’Issembourg du Buisson d’Happoncourt; better known as Madame de Graffigny), French novelist, playwright, and salon hostess who was initially famous as the author of the novel Lettres d’une Péruvienne (Letters From a Peruvian) and was considered the world’s best-known living woman writer after the success of her sentimental comedy Cénie; her work eventually fell out of favor in her own lifetime, but she is now regarded as a significant French writer of the eighteenth century.

1760 – Juliane Marie Jessen, award-winning Danish author, poet, playwright, translator, and educator.

1780 – Karoline Friederike Louise Maximiliane von Günderrode, German Romantic poet and feminist who used the pseudonym Tian.

1783 – Jarena Lee – U.S. writer who was the first female African-American autobiographer as well as the first female African-American ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

1802 – Lydia Maria Child, U.S. novelist, poet, journalist, and lyricist who was a political-rights activist for the cause of women, slaves, and American Indians; her best known work is the lyric to the song, “Over the River and Through the Wood.”

1806 – Flora Elizabeth Rawdon-Hastings, British poet and lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent; she was the subject of a court scandal that gave the Queen a negative image, when Lady Flor was rumored to be pregnant out of wedlock, when she actually was suffering from a cancerous tumor that killed her.

1819 – Ottilie Davida Assing, German writer, biographer, feminist, freethinker, and abolitionist who is widely believed to have had an affair with U.S. abolitionist, orator, and former slave Frederick Douglass.

1860 – Marguerite Vallette-Eymery (pen name Rachilde), French Symbolist novelist and playwright of the Decadent movement; her work was noted for being frank, fantastical, and often autobiographical, and for exploring issues of gender, sexuality, and identity.

1869 – Else Lasker-Schüler, German Jewish writer, poet, playwright famous for her bohemian lifestyle in Berlin and one of the few well-known women affiliated with the Expressionist movement; in 1934 she fled Nazi Germany and lived out the rest of her life in Jerusalem.

1871 – John Langalibalele Dube, South African essayist, philosopher, educator, politician, publisher, editor, novelist, poet, and minister who was the first president of the organization that became the African National Congress; he was also the author of the first published novel written in the Zulu language.

1874 – Elsa Beskow, Swedish writer, illustrator, painter, cartoonist, and children’s writer.

1875 – Alexandru Toma, Romanian writer, poet, journalist, translator, children’s writer, and linguist, known for his Communist views and his role in introducing Socialist Realism to Romanian literature.

1886 – May Ziadeh, prolific Palestinian writer, poet, novelist, translator, feminist, and salonnière who wrote in Arabic and is particularly known for her correspondence with poet Kahlil Gibran.

1887 – Shinobu Orikuchi, Japanese writer, poet, theologian, university teacher, novelist, folklorist, ethnologist, and linguist.

1893 – Benigno Ramos, Filipino poet, author, and revolutionary.

1898 – Leo Szilard, Hungarian-born physicist, biologist, inventor, professor, and short-story writer who played key parts in the invention of the nuclear reactor, linear accelerator, and electron microscope, and was involved in the first cloning of a human cell.

1900 – Hans-Georg Gadamer, German philosopher and writer whose magnum opus was Truth and Method, on hermeneutics, a field that involves the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical and philosophical texts and wisdom literature.

1902 – Milka Hartman, Slovenian poet and home economics teacher; some of her poems have been set to music by herself and others.

1907 – Caio da Silva Prado Júnior, Brazilian writer, historian, geographer, philosopher, and politician whose works inaugurated a new historiographic tradition in Brazil, identified with Marxism.

1908 – Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana, Indonesian novelist, poet, writer, poet, politician, rector, university teacher, philosopher, and linguist who was one of Indonesian literature’s guiding lights in its formative years.

1909 – Joseph Leo Mankiewicz, U.S. film director, screenwriter, and producer.

1911 – Masaaki Tanaka – Japanese author notable for his book What Really Happened in Nanking: The Refutation of a Common Myth, which denies that the Nanking Massacre as traditionally understood took place.

1912 – Roy Broadbent Fuller, English writer known mostly as a poet; he also wrote crime novels and memoirs and was an Oxford University professor.

1913 – Surendranath Dwivedy, Indian Oriya-language journalist, politician, and social worker.

1913 – Chu Văn Tập (better known by his pen name Học Phi), award-winning Vietnamese novelist and playwright.

1915 – Mabel Esther Allan, British novelist and short-story writer who is best known as the author of about 170 children’s books, including adventure stories, mysteries, school stories, ballet stories, and stories about families and local communities.

1916 – Florynce Kennedy, U.S. attorney, civil-rights activist, feminist, and autobiographer.

1916 – Seweryna Szmaglewska, Polish writer who is known for books for children as wel as adults; some of her work is required reading in Polish schools.

1917 – Sidney Sheldon, U.S. writer who started out writing for TV, won an Oscar writing for the movies , but then moved on to become one of the bestselling U.S. novelists of all times; he is best known for creating such iconic television series as The Patty Duke Show and I Dream of Jeannie, and for such popular novels as The Other Side of Midnight.

1930 – Bruce Leonard Cathie, New Zealand airline pilot who wrote seven books related to flying saucers and a “world energy grid”; his central thesis was that he could use mathematics to describe a grid-like pattern on Earth that powers flying saucers and controls the dates and places where nuclear bombs can function.

1932 – Freda Ahenakew, Canadian author and academic of Cree descent who was a leader in the preservation of Indigenous language and literary heritage in Canada.

1932 – Sheila Keshav Khambadkone (real name Vijayalakshmi Keshav Khambadkone), Indian Konkani-language poet, writer, and playwright who was especially known for humorous writing.

1936 – Moncef Chelli, Tunisian philosopher, writer, mathematician, philosopher, and academic who was fluent in six languages.

1938 – Abdelkebir Khatibi, Moroccan literary critic, novelist, and playwright whose work challenged social and political norms.

1939 – Jane Yolen, wildly prolific, award-winning U.S. author of sci-fi, fantasy, and children’s books, as well as poetry; she has won two Nebula Awards, the Caldecott Medal, three World Fantasy Awards, a National Book Award nomination, and a Damon Knight Grand Master Award, and been named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. She has written more than 400 books and is best known for the novel The Devil’s Arithmetic, the picture book Owl Moon, and the picture book series that begins with the book How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?

1942 – Horacio Verbitsky, Argentine left-wing investigative journalist and bestelling author who was at one time a leftist guerrilla.

1957 – Pico Iyer, British-born essayist and novelist, many of whose works deal with the crossings of cultures.

1959 – Celeste O. Norfleet, award-winning U.S. African-American author of romance novels and young-adult books whose stories are realistic with some humor, depicting strong, sexy characters involved in unpredictable adventures; her young-adult books reflect current issues facing African-American teens. .

1962 – Sandra Tsing Loh, U.S. writer, actress, and radio personality.

1966 – Pamela Brooks, British writer of nonfiction books who also writes romance novels under the pseudonym Kate Hardy, and erotic novels under the names Lucinda Chester, Evelyn D’Arcy, Chelsea Miller, and Pamela Rochford.

1968 – Mo Willems, U.S. children’s book author and illustrator, best known for the picture book, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.

1972 – Noboru Yamaguchi, Japanese author of light novels, graphic novels, and game scenarios.

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