May 2 Writer Birthdays

1362 – Empress Xu, Chinese Ming dynasty empress and writer whose work focused on virtuous women.

1437 – Filippo Buonaccorsi, Italian humanist, writer, poet, biographer, and diplomat who fled to Poland in 1468 after taking part in a supposed assassination attempt upon Pope Paul II; in his writings, he argued for the strengthening of the king’s power at the expense of the aristocracy. He also went, at times, by the names Callimico, Caeculus, Bonacursius, and Philippus Callimachus Experiens.

1551 – William Camden, leading English author, historian, topographer, and herald, best known as the author of Britannia, the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Annales, the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.

1721 – Peter Pavel Glavar, Slovenian writer, school and library founder, businessman, and beekeeper who was also a Carniolan Roman Catholic priest,

1729 – Catherine the Great (Yekaterina Alexeevna, born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg), Prussian-born Empress of Russia who presided over Russia’s Golden Age; she also wrote memoirs, comedic plays, fiction, and a book about pedagogy.

1772 – Novalis (pseudonym for Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg), German Romantic poet, author, and philosopher.

1779 – John Galt, Scottish explorer, prolific novelist, entrepreneur, and political and social commentator; he has been called the first political novelist in the English language, because he was the first whose fiction dealt with issues of the Industrial Revolution.

1813 – Caroline Leigh Gascoigne, British novelist, poet, and short-story writer.

1823 – Emma Hardinge Britten, English author, orator, autobiographer, and speechwriter who was an advocate for the early Modern Spiritualist Movement; her books Modern American Spiritualism and Nineteenth Century Miracles are detailed accounts of the history of early Modern Spiritualism.

1837 – Henry Martyn Robert, U.S. Army Brigadier General who authored Robert’s Rules of Order, the widely used manual of parliamentary procedure that remains the most common parliamentary authority in the U.S. today.

1839 – Annie E. Ridley, British novelist who wrote books about women’s education and a science book for children, as well as being the governor of London’s Camden School for Girls.

1856 – Helene von Druskowitz (born Helena Maria Druschkovich), Austrian author, philosopher, literary critic, and music critic; she was only the second women to obtain a Doctorate in Philosophy, and usually published under a male alias because of predominant sexism.

1858 – Edith Somerville, Greek-born Irish author and artist who wrote stories and novels with her cousin Violet Martin, sometimes using the joint pen name “Somerville and Ross”; she was also a skilled sportswoman, an accomplished artist, and an activist for women’s rights and Irish nationalism.

1859 – Jerome K. Jerome, English playwright, journalist, editor, and author of humorous novels, best known for the travelogue Three Men in a Boat.

1860 – Theodor Herzl, Austro-Hungarian Jewish playwright, journalist, and activist; the father of modern Zionism.

1870 – Elisa Brătianu, Romanian writer, political figure, garden designer, cultural preservationist, and library founder; during the Second Balkan War, she established an ambulance service to assist cholera patients who had participated in the Bulgarian campaign, and converted rooms in her home into hospital barracks. She is remembered for her work to preserve traditional Romanian handicrafts by teaching needlework and by collecting and publishing traditional patterns.

1872 – Ichiyo Higuchi (Higuchi Natsu), Japanese novelist, short-story writer, poet, and diarist who was one of Japan’s first prominent women writers of modern times; she died at age 24 so did not leave a large body of work, but her stories greatly influenced Japanese literature.

1890 – Hedda Hopper, U.S. actress, journalist, and iconic gossip columnist.

1890 – E.E. Smith, U.S. food engineer and early science-fiction author; he was known as the father of space opera.

1891 – Lene Voigt (born Helene Wagner), German writer and poet; although some of her early work used standard “Hochdeutsch” German, she is better remembered today for her prose and poetry written in the Saxon dialect.

1895 – Larissa Reissner, Russian Bolshevik writer, soldier, poet, diplomat, journalist, and revolutionary leader.

1897 – Willemijn Posthumus-van der Goot (pen name Peggy Vlug), Dutch writer, economist, book author, feminist, radio broadcaster, and resistance fighter; as the first woman to attain a doctorate in economics in The Netherlands, her work focused on the impact of working women on the economy, refuting government claims that there was no benefit to women working outside the home. During World War II, she worked with the Dutch resistance to smuggle Jewish children out of Amsterdam and place them with foster families, work for which she and her husband and sister were in 2008 honored by the government of Israel as Righteous Among Nations.

1898 – Rodolfo Tálice, Uruguayan writer, mycologist, ecologist, politician, and professor of medicine.

1903 – Benjamin Spock, U.S. pediatrician whose baby-care book was a huge bestseller for decades.

1906 – Aileen Muriel Riggin (also known as Aileen Soule and Aileen Riggin Soule), U.S. competition swimmer, diver, journalist, columnist, author, coach, and actor. She was the Olympic champion in springboard diving in 1920 and U.S. national springboard diving champion from 1923 to 1925, and continued to swim into old age, breaking six world records for her age group in her 80s, and eleven national records and five world records in her 90s. She wrote books about swimming and became a successful sports journalist and newspaper columnist.

1921 – Satyajit Ray, Indian film director, screenwriter, fiction writer, film critic, and calligrapher.

1924 – Jamaluddin Abro (also known as Jamal Abro), Pakistani Sindhi short-story writer.

1928 – Foyez Ahmad, award-winning Bangladeshi journalist, poet, politician, and cultural activist.

1931 – Martha Grimes, U.S. author of detective fiction.

1936 – Norma Aleandro Robledo, award-winning Argentine actress, screenwriter, theater director, author, and cultural icon.

1936 – Kwon-taek Im (or Im Kwon Taek), Korean film director and screenwriter.

1948 – Bode Sowande, Nigerian writer and dramatist, known for the theatric aesthetic of his plays about humanism and social change; he is a member of the second generation of Nigerian playwrights, who favor a much more political tone in their writing and seek to promote an alliance to a change in the status quo and fate of the common people.

1949 – Alan Titchmarsh, English broadcaster, gardening journalist, and novelist.

1961 – Lisa Bellear, award-winning Indigenous Australian writer, poet, playwright, comedian, photographer, broadcaster, and activist whose work explored the experiences of Aboriginal people in contemporary society.

1971 – Maria Sole Tognazzi, Italian screenwriter and film director.

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