February 15 Writer Birthdays

1564 – Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, mathematician, and writer who played a major role in the Renaissance’s scientific revolution; called the “father of observational astronomy,” the “father of modern physics,” and the “father of science,” he is known for confirming the phases of Venus, discovering the four largest satellites of Jupiter (the Galilean moons), and observing and analyzing sunspots; his insistence that the earth revolved around the sun, along with his views on science and the church, led to his conviction for heresy and his house arrest for the rest of his life. The Catholic Church pardoned him in 1992.

1566 – Giambattista Basile, Italian poet, author, courtier, children’s writer, and fairy tale collector; his collections include the oldest recorded forms of many well-known (and more obscure) European fairy tales.

1638 – Zeb-un-Nissa, Indian Mughal poet and princess who was the eldest child of Emperor Aurangzeb; imprisoned by her father for the last 20 years of her life, she wrote under the pseudonym Makhfi (Hidden One).

1764 – Jens Immanuel Baggesen, major Danish poet, librettist, critic, comic writer, and university teacher.

1795 – Rebecca Cox Jackson, U.S. freeborn African-American woman and feminist theologist, best known for her religious activism and for her autobiography, Gifts of Power: The Writings of Rebecca Cox Jackson, Black Visionary, Shaker Eldress.

1834 – Faustina Sáez de Melgar, Spanish writer, poet, translator, and journalist; she was also the mother of composer and painter Gloria Melgar Sáez.

1844 – Maria Pognon née Rengnet, French writer, journalist, editor, feminist, suffragist, pacifist who is remembered for her being a leading activist for women’s rights and one of the founders of a freemason lodge that was open to both men and women.

1850 – Sophie Willock Bryant, Irish mathematician, educator, editor, feminist, and activist for a woman’s right to an education; she edited three volumes of Euclid’s work on geometry, wrote books on Irish history and ancient Irish law, was the first women to receive a Doctor of Science degree in England, climbed the Matterhorn twice, and is believed to have been one of the first women to own a bicycle.

1869 – Henry Sylvester-Williams, Trinidadian politician, lawyer, writer, activist, and historian who is remembered most for his involvement in the Pan-African movement; he spent time in North America, Britain, and South Africa, where he became the first Black man to practice law in the Cape Colony.

1883 – Sax Rohmer, English novelist, best known for his Fu Manchu series.

1883 – Pearl Lenore Curran, U.S. writer, poet, novelist, and occult medium who claimed that her novels, poetry, and prose were not her own but were channeled through her by a spirit named Patience Worth.

1888 – Shuzo Kuki, prominent Japanese writer, poet, philosopher, and university professor.

1892 – Ján Valašťan Dolinský, Slovak composer, writer, teacher, science writer, journalist, linguist, Esperantist, and collector of folk songs.

1896 – James Phinney Baxter III, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, author, and professor.

1898 – Masuji Ibuse, award-winning Japanese novelist, poet, and short-story writer whose work is characterized by a blend of humor and bitterness, combined with keen powers of observation; his most notable work is the novel Black Rain.

1898 – Conrado Nalé Roxlo, award-winning Argentine writer, journalist, playwright, poet, screenwriter, children’s writer, editor, biographer, and humorist who was the director of two humor magazines, Don Goyo and Esculapión and is well known for winning the National Prize of Literature for his short-story collection Las puertas del purgatorio (The Purgatory Gates).

1906 – Petion Savain, prolific Haitian novelist, artist, columnist, teacher, and writer; as a painter, he was the first Haitian artist to gain international acclaim.

1909 – Miep Gies, (born Hermine Santruschitz), Austrian/Dutch activist who hid Anne Frank, Anne’s family, and four other Jews from the Nazis in an annex above Anne’s father’s business during World War II; Gies later wrote a book, Anne Frank Remembered, but her biggest contribution to literature was her gathering up the pages of Anne’s diary after the Nazis ransacked the hiding place and arrested the people hiding there, and saving the diary until after the war to give to Anne’s father, the only survivor; she died in 2010 at the age of 100.

1913 – Helen Oakley Dance, Canadian writer, author, biographer, jazz journalist, music historian, concert organizer, and record producer; her husband was British music critic Stanley Dance.

1913 – Anvar Mammadkhanli (full name Anvar Gafar oglu Mammadkhanli), prominent Azerbaijani writer, poet, playwright, screenwriter, translator, journalist, short-story writer, and artist who was known for his lyrical and psychological style and his blending of realism and Romanticism.

1914 – Ivan Bratko, Slovenian author, travel writer, short-story writer, publisher, lawyer, partisan, and officer. During World War II, he was interred at Gonars concentration camp but escaped and joined the Resistance; his escape became his inspiration for his best known book, the award-winning Teleskop (Telescope).

1916 – Lise London (born Élizabeth Ricol), French writer, author, memoirist, politician, and resistance fighter who was a member of the French Communist Party as a teenager, lived in the Soviet Union, and fought in the Spanish Civil War. Back in occupied France during World War II, she fought against the Nazis as a member of the French Resistance, and was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp, but survived the war.

1920 – Anne-Cath. Vestly (born Anne Catharina Schulerud), award-winning Norwegian radio broadcaster and author of juvenile literature who wrote a wide range of children’s books but was best known for her popular series, known as the “Eight Children” series in English, about a grandmother (Mormor) who looks after and shares adventures with a flock of eight children; she also worked as an actress, playing the role of the grandma in the television and film versions of the books.

1921 – Mary Ellen Morris (née Mulry), Irish nurse and writer who was best known for her war diaries, written during World War II and beginning with the arrival of survivors from the Dunkirk evacuation when she was working as a nurse.

1922 – Maria Chessa Lai, award-winning Italian-born poet who wrote both in Italian and in the Spanish Catalan Algherese dialect.

1922 – Naresh Mehta, prolific, award-winning Indian Hindi writer, poet, and playwright.

1923 – Yelena Bonner, award-winning Turkmenistan-born Soviet author, physician, dissident, and human rights activist who married physicist Andrei Sakharov

1928 – Norman Bridwell, U.S. children’s book author and illustrator, known for the “Clifford The Big Red Dog” books.

1928 – Eno Raud, award-winning Estonian children’s author and poet whose works are considered classics in Estonia as well as in the other former Soviet countries.

1932 – Jean-Baptiste Nguema Abessolo (also known as J.B. Abessolo-Nguema), Gabonese novelist, short-story writer, and educator.

1933 – Vladimir Ivanovich Savchenko, Soviet Ukrainian science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, science writer, and electronics engineer; his work included several texts about physics and engineering. He wrote in Russian as well as in his native Ukrainian language.

1935 – Bashir Badr (born Syed Muhammad Bashir), award-winning Indian poet, nonfiction author, and literary critic who writes in Urdu and whose work is frequently quoted.

1935 – Susan Brownmiller, influential U.S. feminist journalist, author, and activist best known for the book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, which the New York Public Library selected as one of 100 most important books of the 20th century.

1935 – Magdalena Ruiz Guiñazú, award-winning Argentine writer, journalist, and broadcaster.

1937 – Abbas Jirari (also known as Abbas al-Jarari or Abbès Jirari), Moroccan writer and professor who is an advisor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco; Jirari was one of the 138 signatories of the open letter for Christian-Muslim dialogue, “A Common Word Between Us and You.”

1937 – Gregory Mcdonald, U.S. mystery writer, author of the “Fletch” books.

1940 – İsmail Cem (born İsmail Cem İpekçi), Turkish journalist, columnist, author, intellectual, political theorist, and politician who served as Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs; his book Turkiye’de Geri Kalmışlığın Tarihi (A History of Underdevelopment in Turkey) is one of the most acclaimed books in the field of social sciences in Turkey, and his book Sosyal Demokrasi Nedir?, Ne Değildir? (What is and What is not Social Democracy?) was one of the first to introduce social democracy to Turkish politics.

1940 – Vaino Vahing, Estonian writer, prosaist, psychiatrist, and playwright who has written many articles about psychiatry, as well as novels, books, and plays with psychiatric and autobiographical influences; he has also acted in several films.

1940 – Selina Bahar Zaman (née Chaudhury), Bangladeshi author, mathematician, and academician.

1943 – Elke Heidenreich, award-winning German author, journalist, screenwriter, television presenter, radio personality, children’s author, librettist, columnist, and literary critic.

1943 – Mario Romero, Argentine poet, playwright, and translator.

1945 – Jack Dann, U.S. science-fiction and fantasy writer and anthologist.

1945 – Douglas Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. professor of cognitive science.

1946 – Kurt-Friedrich Gänzl, New Zealand writer, historian, actor, casting director, and singer best known for writing books about musical theatre.

1946 – Zeynep Birsel Oral, Turkish journalist, writer, theatre critic, book author, newspaper columnist, and cultural editor.

1947 – Ádám Nádasdy, Hungarian poet, linguistics scholar, translator, and professor.

1948 – Art Spiegelman, Swedish-born U.S. cartoonist, writer, artist, editor, and children’s book author who is best known for his autobiographical graphic novel Maus, which won a special Pulitzer Prize and is currently the subject of book-banning campaigns.

1949 – Ghazaleh Alizadeh, Iranian poet, novelist, and short-story writer; her major work was the novel Khaneye Edrisiha (The Edrissis’ House, or خانه ادریسیها).

1949 – Maria Tacu, award-winning Romanian poet and prose writer who also published under the pen name Maria Constantines; her work explores themes of love, loneliness, death, power, art, and femininity, and her last novel, Vlad and Katharina, about Vlad the Impaler, was published posthumously in 2011.

1951 – Linda Grant, British novelist, nonfiction author, memoirist, and journalist; her fiction draws heavily on her Jewish background, her family history, and the history of Liverpool.

1952 – Anna Nerkagi, Russian-language Nenets writer, novelist, educator, and social activist of the Nenets people in Siberia. She was born in Siberia and at the age of six was removed from her parents by Soviet authorities and forced to live in a boarding school, where her indigenous language and native culture were banned. In the 1980s she returned to her nomadic way of life; since then, she has dedicated the rest of her career to writing books and teaching about the Nenets culture, and has started a school to teach Nenets children.

1954 – Matthew Abram “Matt” Groening, U.S. cartoonist, writer, producer, animator, and voice actor, best known as creator of the animated television series, The Simpsons.

1957 – Shahriar Mandanipour, Iranian writer, journalist, editor, professor, and literary theorist; to experience war and to write about it, he volunteered to join the Irani army at the front during the Iran-Iraq war and served there as an officer for eighteen months.

1957 – Doina Ruști, award-winning Romanian novelist, screenwriter, short-story writer, professor, and film director; her novel Lizoanca la 11 ani (Lizoanca at Age 11), has been called “one of the most powerful contemporary Romanian novels.”

1957 – Dawid Johannes van Lill, Namibian writer, author, journalist, translator, encyclopedia contributor, and editor who specializes in the creation of quiz programs for radio, television, magazines, and the Internet.

1967 – Bronnie Ware, Australian author, blogger, memoirist, motivational speaker, and singer-songwriter best known for her writings about the top deathbed regrets she heard during her time as a palliative caregiver.

1972 – Maile Meloy, U.S. novelist and short-story writer who writes books for both adult and children.

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