March 20 Writer Birthdays

0043 BC – Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid, Ancient Roman poet best known for the Metamorphoses; along with Virgil and Horace, he is regarded as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature.

1612 – Anne Bradstreet (née Dudley), the most prominent early English poet in North America and the first writer in England’s American colonies to be published.

1615 – Dara Shikoh, Persian writer, poet, and translator who was the eldest son of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

1770 – Friedrich Hölderlin (full name Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin), German schizophrenic lyric poet and philosopher who was a key figure in German Romanticism.

1786 – José de la Torre Ugarte y Alarcón, Peruvian writer and lyricist who is most notable for writing the lyrics of the national anthem of Peru.

1828 – Henrik Willem Ibsen, Norwegian playwright and poet, considered the “Father of Realism” and one of the founders of Modernism in theatre, and one of the most influential playwrights of all time.

1831 – Isabel Burton (born Arundell, later known as Lady Burton), English writer who was the wife and partner of explorer, adventurer, and writer Sir Richard Francis Burton.

1834 – Rosalie Loveling, Belgian author of poetry, novels and essays.

1845 – Lucy Myers Wright Mitchell, U.S. writer, classical historian, and archaeologist who was an expert on ancient art and one of the first women in the field of classical archaeology; her two-volume book, A History of Ancient Sculpture, is regarded as the first general American text on ancient art.

1850 – Jón Ólafsson, Icelandic author, poet, journalist, editor, writer, and politician who unsuccessfully petitioned U.S. President Ulysses Grant to make Alaska available for Icelandic immigrants.

1870 – Eluned Morgan, Welsh-language Argentine fiction writer, nonfiction writer, librarian, and journalist.

1876 – Winifred Lewellin James, bestselling Australian novelist, essayist, and travel writer.

1879 – Maud Leonora Menten, Canadian biomedical and medical researcher and writer who made significant contributions to enzyme kinetics and histochemistry.

1883 – Mariam Garikhuli (real name Mariam Lukas Tatishvili-Ratiani), Georgian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, journalist, children’s writer, and actress who also used the pseudonym Garikhuli, meaning “ostracized” or “outcast.”

1891 – Tcheng Yu-hsiu (also known as Soumay Tcheng and Madame Wei Tao-ming), Chinese writer and memoirist who was the first female lawyer and judge in Chinese history.

1893 – Salomón de la Selva, Nicaraguan poet, writer, journalist, diplomat, and trade unionist who was an honorary member of the Mexican Academy of Language.

1898 – Luis Palés Matos, Puerto Rican U.S. writer, poet, and screenwriter who is credited with creating the poetry genre known as Afro-Antillano; he is also known for writing the screenplay for the Romance Tropical, the first Puerto Rican film with sound.

1899 – Jafar Gafar oglu Jabbarli, Azerbaijani playwright, poet, screenwriter, and film director.

1904 – B.F. Skinner (full name Burrhus Frederic Skinner), prolific U.S. psychologist, author, and professor who developed behavior analysis; considering free will to be an illusion, he saw human action as dependent on consequences of previous actions, a theory he would articulate as the principle of reinforcement. He is arguably the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.

1905 – Vera Fyodorovna Panova, Russian Soviet novelist, playwright, screenwriter, short-story writer, and journalist.

1907 – Gamila El Alaily (also spelled Jamila), notable Egyptian poet and newsletter editor who was the first female member of the Apollo Poet Society; she was a pioneer in the literary scene of Egypt and an influential modernist.

1907 – Hugh MacLennan, award-winning Canadian Nova Scotian novelist, poet, nonfiction author, essayist, and educator.

1908 – Kathryn Anderson McLean (pen name Kathryn Forbes), U.S. memoirist, radio scriptwriter, and short-story writer; her book, Mama’s Bank Account, which revolved around the daily struggles and aspirations of a Norwegian family living in San Francisco in the 1910s, served as the inspiration for John Van Druten’s play I Remember Mama, which was made into a film.

1917 – Kalervo Hemming Hortamo (née Ruusunen), Finnish poet, teacher, and fairy-tale writer.

1917 – Anvar Khamei, Iranian writer, politician, economist, translator, journalist, sociologist, and activist.

1920 – Andrée Chedid (born Andrée Saab Khoury), award-winning Egyptian-French poet, novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and feminist author of Lebanese descent.

1920 – Sirkka Selja (real name Sirkka-Liisa Tulonen), award-winning Finnish poet, writer, and playwright.

1922 – Vasant Shankar Kanetkar, award-winning Indian Marathi playwright and novelist.

1922 – Carl Reiner, popular U.S. comedian, actor, director, screenwriter, novelist, memoirist, nonfiction author, and children’s writer; he was best known as the creator and producer of The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961–1965), and one of its writers and actors.

1923 – Marc Saporta, Istanbul-born French journalist, novelist, and literary critic.

1925 – Takeshi Umehara, Japanese writer, philosopher, essayist, playwright, and opinion journalist; he is most noted for his prolific essays on Japanese culture.

1926 – Mitsumasa Anno, award-winning Japanese illustrator and writer of children’s books; he is known best for picture books with few or no words.

1928 – Inés Arredondo, award-winning Mexican short-story author, literary critic, and essay writer whose work was a turning point for Mexican literature, especially that written by women; she is associated with the literary movement the Half Century Generation.

1930 – Clara Passafari, Argentine writer, poet, ethnologist, and anthropologist who studied folklore and oral tradition.

1928 – Fred Rogers, U.S. author, screenwriter, songwriter, pedagogist, and minister who was the iconic host of the classic children’s TV show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.

1933 – Otar Chiladze, Georgian writer, poet, screenwriter, playwright, translator, and opinion journalist who played a prominent role in the resurrection of Georgian prose in the post-Joseph Stalin era; his novels characteristically fuse Sumerian and Hellenic mythology with the predicaments of a modern Georgian intellectual.

1934 – David Malouf, award-winning Australian novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction author.

1937 – Lois Lowry, multiple Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author known for her children’s and young-adult books, many of which deal with difficult subject matter, dystopias, and complex themes in works for young audiences; some of her books have been challenged or banned in schools and libraries, in particular the novel The Giver, which is required reading in other schools.

1938 – Jona Oberski, Dutch poet, writer, and nuclear physicist whose parents, who were Jewish, escaped from Nazi Germany to the Netherlands; when the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, the family was transported to concentration camps, where both of Jona’s parents died but he survived.

1940 – Sapardi Djoko Damono, Indonesian poet and translator who is widely regarded as the pioneer of lyric poetry in Indonesia.

1943 – Alice Vieira, Portuguese writer, journalist, poet, children’s author, and romance novelist.

1945 – Ljubica Ostojic, Bosnian poet, writer, playwright, screenwriter, and professor who writes in Croatian language.

1946 – Bok Geo-il, South Korean novelist, poet, literary critic, and social commentator.

1948 – Pamela Sargent, Nebula Award-winning U.S. science-fiction author, editor, and feminist who has written, among other things, alternate-history stories and Star Trek novels, as well as editing anthologies that spotlight women’s contributions to science fiction.

1949 – Cho Byoung-se, South Korean writer, economist, professor, and government official.

1950 – Mohamed Latiff Mohamed, award-winning Singaporean Malay poet, novelist, and short-story writer whose work tackled social issues facing the Malay community in Singapore.

1951 – Shifra Horn (Hebrew: שפרה הורן), award-winning Israeli novelist, nonfiction author, children’s writer, broadcaster, and journalist.

1953 – Fernando Butazzoni, award-winning, bestselling Uruguayan novelist, screenwriter, essayist, and journalist whose fiction has been called, “A pretty f*ing powerful look at the relationship between life and death.”

1953 – Alicia Kozameh, Argentine novelist, short-story writer, poet, anthologist, and professor.

1954 – Louis Sachar, popular Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author of books for children and young adults; School Library Journal has ranked his novel Holes as sixth among all children’s novels.

1955 – Nina Kiriki Hoffman, U.S. fantasy, science-fiction, and horror author.

1956 – Minken Fosheim, Norwegian writer, children’s author, biographer, and actor; she is best known for writing children’s books about famous composers; her brother was the musician Lage Fosheim, from the band The Monroes.

1958 – Evelio Rosero Diago, award-winning Colombian novelist, short-story writer, and journalist whose stories, sometimes filled with fantastic characters, are metaphors of human fallibility.

1959 – Mary Roach, U.S. author of popular science books with a whimsical edge; she has been called “America’s funniest science writer.”

1964 – Yelena Trofimenko, Belarusian poet, screenwriter, actress, and film director

1966 – Irma Kurti, well-known award-winning Albanian poet, novelist, short-story writer, journalist, teacher, and lyricist; she writes in Albanian, Italian, and English.

1968 – A.J. Jacobs (full name Arnold Stephen Jacobs Jr.), bestselling U.S. author, journalist, editor, and lecturer best known for immersing himself in a project or lifestyle and then writing about what he learned, a genre that is often called immersion journalism or stunt journalism; for example, in one of his stunts, Jacobs read all 32 volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica and then wrote about the experience in his book, The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World.

1974 – Elo Viiding, Estonian poet and short-story writer who writes about oppressed people and about the deficiencies in the Estonian education system; some of her work was written under the pseudonym Elo Vee.

1985 – Polina Zherebtsova, award-winning Chechen Russian writer, poet, historian, human rights activist, journalist, philosopher, peace activist, and diarist whose memoir, Ant in a Glass Jar, covered her childhood, adolescence, and youth, when she witnessed three Chechen wars.

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