February 16 Writer Birthdays

1331 – Coluccio Salutati, Tuscan Italian humanist, writer, orator, and man of letters who was one of the most important political and cultural leaders of Renaissance Florence; he amassed a collection of 800 books, at the time the largest library in Florence.

1594 – Juliana Morell, Spanish Catalan writer, poet, translator, philosopher, Dominican nun, and intellectual child prodigy; at the age of four she began studying Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and at twelve she defended her thesis in ethics and dialectics, summa cum laude. Some sources say she received a doctorate in canon law in 1608, while others claim she refused the doctorate, regarding it as incompatible with her status as a nun. She also studied physics, metaphysics, and civil law.

1746 – Wilhelm Heinse (full name Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse), influential German novelist, editor, librarian, translator, and art critic.

1784 – Caroline Lucy Scott, English novelist, nonfiction author, religious writer, and landscape painter.

1829 – Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey, U.S. novelist and historian who wrote a groundbreaking biography of Henry Watkins Allen, the wartime governor of Louisiana; she used her study as a way to evaluate the role of women in the southern male-dominated society, and praised his innovation in offering emancipation for slaves as reward for Confederate service.

1831 – Nikolai Semyonovich Leskov (Никола́й Семёнович Леско́в), Russian novelist, short-story writer, and journalist who also wrote under the pseudonym M. Stebnitsky; he was praised for his unique writing style and innovative experiments in form and was admired by Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Gorky.

1834 – Ernst Haeckl, German natural philosopher and promoter of Darwin’s ideas in Germany.

1838 – Henry Adams, U.S. historian and novelist whose posthumously published autobiography won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize; he was descended from two U.S. presidents.

1848 – Octave Mirbeau, French novelist, art critic, literary critic, travel writer, pamphleteer, journalist, and playwright whose work was highly popular among the public, while also appealing to the literary and artistic avant-garde; he is best remembered for his unconventional novels that explored violence, abuse, and psychological detachment.

1861 – Andreas Paulson, Norwegian writer, journalist, literary critic, music critic, theatre critic, humor writer, labor unionist, and bank accountant.

1866 – Vyacheslav Ivanov, Russian Symbolist poet, writer, playwright, theatre theorist, teacher, translator, classical scholar, literary critic, philosopher, essayist, and philologist.

1867 – Václav Tille, Czech writer, translator, literary historian, university teacher, pedagogue, and theatre and literary theorist; he also wrote under the pseudonym Václav Ríha.

1872 – Mercedes Laura Aguiar, Dominican writer, poet, journalist, and educator; she promoted promoted the equality of men and women and fought for women’s suffrage, the right to vote, and employment protections, as well as being an activist for Dominican sovereignty, writing in opposition to the U.S. occupation.

1874 – Adelaida Gertsyk, Russian poet, writer, translator, and celebrated salonnière who was nearly forgotten after her lifetime but who is now deemed one of the significant poets of her age.

1875 – Valentine de Saint-Point, French writer, poet, playwright, painter, art critic, journalist, lecturer, and choreographer; she is primarily known for being the first woman to have written a futurist manifesto, but she was also active in Parisian salons and the associated literary and artistic movements of the Belle Epoque. Later in life she became involved in the politics of the Middle East and North Africa.

1876 – George Macaulay Trevelyan, prolific British historian, essayist, author, biographer, and professor.

1877 – Isidora Sekulic, Serbian writer, novelist, essayist, polyglot, and art critic who is considered to be Serbia’s first woman academic.

1878 – Pamela Colman Smith (nicknamed Pixie), British artist, illustrator, writer, publisher, folklorist, and occultist; she is best known for illustrating the Rider–Waite tarot deck, which became the standard among tarot card readers, and remains the most widely used today, and also illustrated more than 20 books, wrote two collections of Jamaican folklore, edited two magazines, and ran the Green Sheaf Press, a publishing house focused on women writers.

1883 – Elizabeth Craig, Scottish journalist, home economist, and cookbook author.

1884 – V.S. Wakaskar (full name Vinayak Sadashiv Wakaskar), noted Indian Maratha historian and writer.

1886 – Van Wyck Brooks, U.S. historian and biographer who was winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award for The Flowering of New England.

1888 – Adelmar Tavares da Silva, Brazilian writer, poet, lawyer, magistrate, and professor; several of his poems have been set to music.

1890 – Ras Betwoded Mekonnen Endelkachew, Ethiopian novelist and history writer who was Prime Minister under Emperor Haile Selassie.

1904 – George F. Kennan, U.S. diplomat and Cold War figure, ambassador to the Soviet Union, author of seventeen books, and two-time winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award; he was best known as an advocate for the containment of Soviet expansion during the Cold War. He lectured widely and wrote scholarly histories of relations between the USSR and the United States. Some of his views were published under the pseudonym “X.”

1907 – Ana María Martínez Sagi, Spanish poet, writer, journalist, war correspondent, trade unionist, activist, feminist, athlete, interior designer, university teacher, and French Resistance fighter. She was a national champion in the javelin throw and the first female director of a professional men’s football club in Spain. Living in France as part of the Resistance during World War II, she was nearly captured when the Gestapo raided her apartment and only escaped by slipping out through a window.

1907 – Angelos Terzakis, Greek novelist, journalist, playwright, and short-story writer who was part of the “Generation of the ’30s” literary movement.

1911 – Harold Edward “Hal” Porter, Australian novelist, playwright, poet, journalist, short-story writer, memoirist, librarian, and teacher; his memoir, The Watcher on the Cast Iron Balcony, is regarded as an Australian masterpiece.

1915 – Elisabeth Eybers, award-winning South African poet and journalist who wrote mainly in Afrikaans and translated some of her own work into English.

1922 – Lilli Promet, Estonian author, journalist, and broadcaster.

1923 – Samuel Willenberg (pseudonym Igo), Polish-born Israeli writer, memoirist, painter, sculptor, and Holocaust survivor who participated in both the Treblinka extermination camp prisoner revolt and the Warsaw Uprising; he is best known for his memoir, Revolt in Treblinka.

1925 – L.S. Sheshagiri Rao (often referred to as LSS), award-winning Indian Kannada author, short-story writer, lexicographer, professor, translator, and literary critic who is revered for his contributions to Kannada literature; his English-Kannada dictionary is considered a standard text in the field.

1927 – Luísa Dacosta (born Marie Louise Pinto Saraiva dos Santos), Portuguese short-story writer, poet, and anthologist.

1927 – Huguette Daninthe (pen name Lucie Julia), award-winning Guadeloupean novelist, poet, women’s rights activist, and social worker; the first caseworker in Guadeloupe’s Health Department, for many years she was one of the few trained social workers on the island.

1927 – David Bryon Davis, U.S. historian and authority on slavery and abolition in the Western world.

1927 – Shahidullah Kaiser, award-winning Bangladeshi novelist, writer, and economist. At the end the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, the Pakistan Army initiated a plan for executing leading Bengali intellectuals; Kaiser was one of those who were rounded up and never seen again.

1928 – Dinesh Nandini Dalmia (also known as Dineshnandini Dalmia), award-winning Indian Hindi poet, short-story writer, novelist, literary magazine founder, and women’s rights activist.

1931 – Makoto Ōoka, Japanese poet, writer, university teacher, and literary critic; he is best known for pioneering the collaborative poetic form renshi.

1944 – Richard Ford, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author, best known for his book Independence Day.

1945 – L.H. Wiener (full name Lodewijk Willem Henri Wiener), award-winning Dutch novelist and short-story writer whose work is known for irony, self-mockery, and cynicism; one critic called him, “a great writer, both stylistically and thematically.” He has also written under the name Lodewijk-Henri Wiener.

1947 – Elias Sanbar, award-winning Israeli Palestinian writer, poet, essayist, politician, diplomat, historian, translator, journalist, and peace activist.

1948 – Uwe Reimer, German writer who wrote numerous books about history and social studies.

1953 – Roberta Williams, U.S. video game-designer, game writer, and historical novelist; she has been called The Queen of Adventure Games and is regarded as one of the most influential creators in the game industry.

1954 – Iain Banks, Scottish author of fiction and science fiction whose works have been adapted for theatre, radio, and television; The Times named him as one of The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945.

1956 – Paul Gilroy – British author, professor, and historian of Black culture.

1957 – Levar Burton (Levardis Robert Martyn Burton Jr.), U.S. actor, director, author, and TV host for the PBS children’s series about books, Reading Rainbow; he is also well known as an actor for his roles as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and the young Kunta Kinte in the seminal television miniseries Roots.

1957 – Bushra Farrukh, award-winning Pakistani Urdu poet who is also a radio and television personality; her broadcasts, which she performs in four different languages, are particularly popular among youths.

1958 – Natalie Angier, award-winning U.S. science journalist, technical writer, nonfiction author, editor, and professor.

1968 – Warren Ellis, English author of fiction and comic books.

1968 – Ceyda Aslı Kılıçkıran, Turkish writer, journalist, screenwriter, and film director; most of her work focuses on the identity, equality, and liberty of Muslim women and women worldwide.

1973 – Maureen Johnson, award-winning U.S. author of bestselling young-adult novels, game writer, mystery writer, editor, short-story writer, and activist.

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