April 4 Writer Birthdays

1661 – Uejima Onitsura, Japanese haiku poet who belonged to the Danrin school of Japanese poetry.

1785 – Bettina von Arnim (born Elisabeth Catharina Ludovica Magdalena Brentano), German countess, writer, novelist, publisher, composer, singer, illustrator, social activist, and salonnière; the archetype of the Romantic era’s zeitgeist, she was known for the company she kept, especially her close friends Goethe and Beethoven. As a composer, her style was unconventional, melding favorite folk melodies and historical themes with innovative harmonies, phrase lengths, and improvisations that became synonymous with the music of the era.

1802 – Dorothea Lynde Dix, U.S. writer, children’s author, religious writer, nonfiction author, and social reformer who was an advocate for the mentally ill; she also wrote two dictionaries of flowers.

1818 – Thomas Mayne Reid, Irish and U.S. adventure novelist whose work was a major influence on Arthur Conan Doyle.

1828 – Margaret Oliphant, prolific Scottish novelist and historical writer whose fictional works included domestic realism, historical novels, and tales of the supernatural.

1846 – Isidore Lucien Ducasse (pen name Comte de Lautréamont), Uruguayan-born French writer, poet, and author who died at the age of 24, yet had considerable influence on modern arts and literature, particularly on the Surrealists and the Situationists.

1848 – Josefina Pelliza de Sagasta, Argentinian writer, poet, novelist, social reformer, and opinion journalist who persistently advocated for women’s rights, while maintaining that women should be valued for their traditional roles in family and society.

1855 – Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai, Indian Tamil writer, playwright, songwriter, scholar, archeologist, teacher, and reformer.

1858 – Rémy de Gourmont, French novelist and critic who is best known as an apologist for the symbolists.

1865 – Edith Sophy Lyttelton (née Balfour), Russian-born British novelist, biographer, playwright, travel writer, memoirist, spiritualist, and World War I-era activist.

1867 – Laura Mestre Hevia, Cuban writer, translator, author, classicist, and humanist who translated into Spanish the works of Homer and other ancient Greek writers.

1868 – Felipe Calderón, Filipino author, lawyer, and politician who was known as the Father of the Malolos Constitution.

1872 – Maria Friederike “Frida” Cornelia Strindberg (née Uhl), Austrian writer, translator, and literary critic who associated with many important figures in 20th-century literature, including her husband, Swedish playwright August Strindberg, as well as writers Ezra Pound, Katherine Mansfield, and Ford Madox Ford.

1881 – Amalia Guglielminetti, Italian poet, writer, journalist, playwright, children’s author, and letter writer.

1886 – Frank Luther Mott, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian and journalist.

1892 – Edith Södergran, innovative, trailblazing Finnish poet who wrote in Swedish; her influences came from French Symbolism, German expressionism, and Russian futurism.

1896 – Robert Emmet Sherwood, U.S. writer who won Pulitzer Prizes in both drama and biography; he was also a member of the Algonquin round table and a speechwriter for U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

1901 – Arthur William Baden Powell, New Zealand scientist, paleontologist, malacologist (one who studies mollusks), and author; his writings and classifications of mollusks have been a major influence in his field, and several species have been named after him.

1902 – Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin, award-winning French writer, screenwriter, poet, journalist, novelist, food columnist, and salonnière who was best known as a writer of delicate but mordant tales, often set in aristocratic or artistic milieu; her most famous novel was Madame de…, which was adapted into the celebrated film The Earrings of Madame de…, starring Charles Boyer. Her letters to poet Jean Cocteau were published after the deaths of both correspondents.

1903 – Luis Amado-Blanco, Spanish-born Cuban writer, journalist, and ambassador.

1903 – Marvel Cooke, U.S. writer, journalist, and civil-rights activist who was the first African-American woman to work at a mainstream white-owned newspaper.

1904 – Soeman Hs (pen name for Soeman Hasibuan), Indonesian novelist, short-story writer, poet, teacher, and politician who wrote in Malay; his stories emphasized suspense and humor, drawing on Western detective and adventure fiction as well as classical Malay literature.

1908 – Ernestine Gilbreth Carey, U.S. author whose upbringing in a house of twelve children inspired her memoir, Cheaper by the Dozen; daughter of Lillian Moller Gilbreth and Frank Bunker Gilbreth, pioneers in the field of time and motion study, now called organizational behavior.

1909 – Mehdi Ali oglu Huseynov (pseudonym Mehdi Huseyn), award-winning Azerbaijani and Soviet writer, critic, playwright, and politician.

1913 – Sun Li, Chinese writer of novels and short stories; he is often associated with Lake Baiyangdian, the area around which many of his stories are set.

1914 – Marguerite Duras, Saigon-born French novelist, playwright, short-story writer, essayist, screenwriter, and experimental film director whose work sometimes drew on her childhood in Asia; she was a French resistance fighter during World War 2; her most important work is the screenplay for the 1959 film Hiroshima Mon Amor.

1925 – Eusi Kwayana (formerly Sydney King), Guyanese writer, playwright, lyricist, politician, teacher, and high-school principal who wrote books about race, history, and social change.

1928 – Maya Angelou, influential, award-winning U.S. African-American author, poet, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, actress, and civil-rights activist, best known for her series of autobiographies and for reciting a poem for the inauguration of U.S. President Bill Clinton; much of her work centers on themes of racism, identity, family, and travel. She is one of the best known and most revered of all American poets.

1932 – Meisei Gotō (後藤 明生), award-winning Japanese novelist who was also known as Akio Gotō.

1932 – Johanna Reiss, Dutch-born Caldecott Medal-winning children’s writer and novelist whose books are based on her experiences as a Jewish girl in the Netherlands during the Holocaust; after the war, she moved to the U.S. and wrote her first book, The Upstairs Room, a memoir about hiding with her sister from the Nazis in the attic of a farmhouse.

1932 – Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky, Soviet Russian screenwriter, author, filmmaker, theatre director, and film theorist who was one of the most influential directors in the history of Russian and world cinema; his films explored spiritual and metaphysical themes, and are noted for slow pacing, long takes, dreamlike visual imagery, and preoccupation with nature and memory.

1938 – Erminia Dell’Oro, Eritrean writer, novelist, and bookseller who writes for children, teens, and adults; her work illuminates the dual perspective of colonial life seen through the eyes of colonists, with themes of racism, apartheid, immigration, integration, and cultural and religious coexistence.

1938 – Hermann Giliomee, South African writer, professor, political columnist, journal founder, and author of historical and political studies.

1938 – Kazuko Hosoki, prolific Japanese author, astrologer, and television personality who has written more than 100 books; she is well known as a proponent of ancestor worship as central to the Japanese identity.

1938 – P. Valsala, Indian Malayalam novelist, short story writer, social activist, and educator.

1940 – Frances Mayes, U.S. novelist, poet, memoirist, essayist, screenwriter, travel writer, and university professor; she is best known for her bestselling book, Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy, a memoir about buying, renovating, and living in a villa in the Tuscan hill town of Cortona.

1941 – Shane Connaughton, award-winning Irish novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, author, actor, and film producer who is best known as co-writer of the Academy Award-nominated screenplay for the film My Left Foot.

1941 – Helme Heine, German screenwriter, illustrator, satirist, and children’s author who currently lives in New Zealand.

1942 – Kitty Kelley, U.S. journalist and author of bestselling unauthorized biographies of celebrities.

1942 – Elizabeth Levy, prolific U.S. author of children’s books who has written a long-running series of mystery novels for young readers and the “Horrible Histories” spin-off series “America’s Funny but True History”; she is also known for her Star Wars novelizations.

1943 – Isabel-Clara Simó i Monllor, Spanish writer, columnist, and journalist who is considered one of the most important writers in the Catalan language.

1945 – B.T. Lalitha Naik, Indian writer, journalist, novelist, politician, and social activist; she wrote poems, short stories, books, articles, and radio programs, and was also known for leading important literary, social and language-rights movements such as Bandaya movement and Gokak agitation, and for her work as a government minister.

1946 – Kan Chun, prolific Burmese writer, satirist, journalist, novelist, cartoonist, film director, and painter.

1948 – Jila Mossaed Estakhri, Iranian-born Swedish writer and poet who writes in both Swedish and Persian.

1948 – Dan Simmons, U.S. science-fiction, fantasy, and horror novelist who has won the Hugo, Locus, and World Fantasy awards.

1948 – Linda Stratmann, British writer of biography, historical true crime, historical fiction, and crime fiction; she is also a psychologist.

1949 – Pau Faner Coll, award-winning Spanish novelist and painter whose literary works are usually centered on mythical themes.

1953 – Geir Pollen, Norwegian writer, poet, novelist, linguist, and translator.

1956 – David E. Kelley, Emmy Award-winning U.S. screenwriter and television producer who is best known as the creator of popular television shows including L.A. Law, Picket Fences, Ally McBeal, and more.

1957 – Andrew Haruna, Nigerian academic and author who is a professor of linguistics and the Nigerian language, as well as the vice chancellor of the Federal University of Gashua.

1959 – Rosária da Silva, Angolan writer, poet, journalist, playwright, linguist, and magazine director; she is considered one of the first novelists in the history of Angolan literature.

1983 – Tang Fei, pen name of Chinese science-fiction writer Wang Jing, who mainly writes speculative novellas and short stories.

1984 – Kiana Danial, award-winning Iranian finance expert, author, and journalist who has written about investment management and cryptocurrency.

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