February 23 Writer Birthdays

1633 – Samuel Pepys, English diarist and member of Parliament; the detailed diary he kept during the 1660s was first published in the 19th century and is one of the most important historical sources on the English Restoration period, including eyewitness accounts of such events as the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London.

1716 – Antoine-Joseph Pernety, French writer, librarian, naturalist, monk, abbot, translator, archivist, archaeologist, alchemist, and mythologist.

1787 – Emma Hart Willard, U.S. author, educator, and women’s rights activist.

1805 – Johan Jakob Nervander, Finnish poet, physicist, and meteorologist.

1823 – Nayden Gerov (born Nayden Gerov Hadzhidobrevich), Bulgarian and Russian writer, linguist, folklorist, lexicographer, and educator; his master work was a five-volume Bulgarian dictionary, now considered an invaluable source for the study of the Bulgarian language of the 19th century.

1841 – Kaliprasanna Singha, Indian Bengali author, playwright, satirist, translator, and philanthropist; his most famous work was the translation of the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata into Bengali.

1843 – Frances Murray, U.S.-born Scottish author, poet, travel writer, musicologist, university teacher, and women’s rights activist.

1850 – Julian Ochorowicz, Polish writer, poet, psychologist, philosopher, and inventor who was a leading exponent of Polish Positivism.

1853 – Ada Celeste Sweet, U.S. writer, journalist, editor, reformer, and humanitarian who was appointed U.S. agent for paying pensions in Chicago, the first position as a disbursing officer ever given to a woman by the US government; she established a strict system of civil service reform, which made her unpopular with politicians. She also founded the Chicago ambulance system and served as literary editor of the Chicago Tribune.

1857 – Margaret Deland, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, poet, university teacher, and autobiographer who was part of the literary realism movement.

1865 – Anna Ritter, German poet and writer whose work was lyric, saturated with symbolism, and influenced by folklore and a New Romanticism; several composers set her poems to music, including Max Reger, Jean Sibelius, and Kurt Weill.

1868 – W.E.B. duBois, U.S. African-American author, editor, autobiographer, professor, sociologist, historian, and civil-rights activist whose best known work is The Souls of Black Folk.

1873 – Liang Qichao, Chinese writer, historian, journalist, translator, philosopher, and reformist.

1876 – Antonino Russo Giusti, Italian dramatist who became artistic director of the communal theatre in Catania.

1877 – Frederic L. Paxson, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author, historian, and professor.

1879 – Charlotte Burgis DeForest, Japanese-born U.S. writer, translator, biographer, nonfiction author, missionary, educator, and college president; during World War II, because she was fluent in Japanese, she worked as a counselor to Japanese-American detainees at the Manzanar Relocation Camp in California.

1880 – Artur Fürst, popular German author of novels and short stories that center on innovations in science and technology, such as the telephone, railway, and aviation; he became famous for his characterization of Albert Einstein as “the Galileo of the 20th Century” in his Book of 1000 Miracles. Critics frequently noted the accuracy of historical and technical details in Fürst’s work and his refined and elegant style of writing.

1882 – Ida G. Athens (born Ida Bird Gerding), U.S. poet who came from a German-American family, yet was included in Who’s Who of African American Writers because of her candid comments about racial tension, perhaps inspired by her own low socio-economic background; she was also instrumental in choosing the geranium as Ohio’s state flower.

1887 – Henriqueta Galeno, Brazilian writer, poet, lawyer, and teacher who played an active role in gaining Brazilian women the right to vote.

1889 – Musidora (real name Jeanne Roques), French writer, journalist, screenwriter, actress, and film director.

1890 – Amoëne van Haersolte (born Ernestine Amoene Sophia van Holthe tot Echten), award-winning Dutch author of novels and novellas.

1891 – Hyakuzō Kurata, Japanese writer, playwright, essayist, literary critic, and philosopher who wrote on religious themes.

1892 – Cläre Jung (born Cläre Otto), German journalist, writer, novelist, memoirist, political activist, World War II resistance fighter, and ballet teacher.

1892 – Tudor Mainescu (born Constantin Mainescu), Romanian poet, prose writer, translator, lawyer, and judge who published books of poems, epigrams, short stories, fables, and satirical tales.

1899 – Erich Kästner, German author, poet, satirist, children’s writer, and screenwriter.

1899 – Elisabeth Langgässer, German novelist, short-story writer, lyric poet, lyricist, literary critic, and teacher; she became a writer when fired from her teaching position because she gave birth to an out-of-wedlock child. Her best known work is the short story Saisonbeginn, which provides a graphically human portrayal of a 1930s German Alpine village erecting a sign that forbids the entry of Jews.

1904 – William M. Shirer, National Book Award-winning U.S. journalist, broadcaster, and historian whose best-known book was The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

1907 – Lee Hyo-seok, Korean writer, poet, and teacher who wrote under the name Gasan; his literary works reflected his socialist sympathies and frequently focused on the lives of unfortunate women forced into prostitution, often combining his political message with explorations of sexuality. His hometown, Bongpyeong-myeon, now holds the annual Lee Hyo-seok Cultural Festival in his honor.

1910 – Liang Tsai-Ping, Chinese musician, musicologist, composer, and author who is regarded as one of the 20th century’s most important players and scholars of the guzheng, a traditional Chinese zither. He wrote several books on Chinese music. (Some sources give his birth year as 1911.)

1913 – Sabine Sicaud, French poet who won her first poetry prize at age 11 and published a book of poems at age 13, expressing a child’s awakening to the wonders of nature. She died of osteomyelitis at age 15; the poems she wrote in her last year of life were published for the first time thirty years later.

1915 – Hiroshi Noma, award-winning Japanese novelist and poet; his novel Shinku chitai (Zone of Emptiness) has been called one of the best war novels produced after World War II. He is widely credited with having invented the Japanese style of sengo bungaku (postwar literature).

1923 – Eta Boeriu (born Margarita Caranica), Romanian poet, translator, and literary critic who was part of the Sibiu Literary Circle;, she was especially known for her translations of Italian-language Renaissance literature.

1924 – Parviz Shapour, Iranian artist, short-story writer, author, politician, and man of letters known for his witticisms and for his brief and troubled marriage to poet Forough Farrokhzad; his short, witty writings have been described as “cartoons expressed as words.”

1931 – Desmond Dudwa Phiri (often known as D. D. Phiri), Malawian author, playwright, columnist, economist, and historian who was recognized in 2011 by the Pan-African Writers’ Association (PAWA) as one of the top 23 authors in Africa.

1937 – Amina Haider al-Sadr (also known as Bint al-Huda al-Sadr, Iraqi writer, educator, and political activist who in 1980 was executed by Saddam Hussein, along with her brother, Ayatullah Sayyid Mohammad Baqir al-Sadr.

1937 – Claude Brown, U.S. African-American novelist, autobiographer, and sociologist whose best known book is Manchild in the Promised Land, which was a crucial document in awakening White readers to the conditions under which some urban African-Americans lived.

1938 – Jiří Menzel, award-winning Czech writer, film director, screenwriter, actor, director, and university educator.

1942 – Stanley Cohen, South African-born British writer, sociologist, criminologist, professor, and human-rights activist.

1942 – Haki R. Madhubuti (born Don Luther Lee), U.S. African-American poet, essayist, critic, and publisher who founded Third World Press and was a key member of the black arts movement.

1944 – John Sandford (pen name of John Roswell Camp), Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. journalist and bestselling author of thrillers.

1944 – Bernard Cornwell, British author of historical novels, contemporary thrillers, and history.

1945 – Robert Gray, Australian poet, author, and critic who has been described as, “an Imagist without a rival in the English-speaking world” and “one of the contemporary masters of poetry in English.”

1945 – Pierre Kipré, award-winning Ivorian author, historian, politician, and diplomat.

1946 – Allan Boesak, South African writer, theologian, politician, and anti-apartheid activist.

1949 – César Aira, prolific Argentine writer novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and translator who is a vocal exponent of Argentine contemporary literature.

1949 – Maya Bejerano, award-winning Israeli poet, playwright, short-story writer, children’s writer, and librarian; her work movingly explores her childhood experiences, her relationship with her parents, women’s issues, politics, nature, the joys and anguish of love, and the sights and moods of Tel Aviv.

1950 – Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, U.S. novelist, philosopher, writer, biographer, classical scholar, and philosopher, who writes both fiction and nonfiction, often centered around science and philosophical rationalism.

1952 – Miyuki Nakajima, bestselling Japanese singer, songwriter, writer, scriptwriter, actress, radio personality, and performance artist.

1953 – Walter Wick, U.S. artist and photographer known for his intricate photographs in the I Spy series of picture books for children.

1964 – Milly Jane Johnson, award-winning British author of bestselling romantic fiction; she is also a poet, short-story writer, and newspaper columnist.

1967 – Anupama Chopra, Indian author, journalist, film critic, and director of the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival.

1968 – Sonya Hartnett, Australian novelist, young-adult author and children’s writer who has been called, “the finest Australian writer of her generation.”

1970 – Heidi Marie Kriznik, award-winning Norwegian novelist.

1982 – Eileen Barbosa, award-winning Cape Verdean short-story writer, poet, and advisor to the Prime Minister.

1983 – Aziz Ismail Ansari, U.S. actor, screenwriter, comedian, director, and producer; he is best known for his role as Tom Haverford on the television series Parks and Recreation and as creator and star of the series Master of None.

1991 – Alanda Kariza, Indonesian writer and activist; she initiated the Indonesian Youth Conference as a tool for young people to speak up and address their aspirations.

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