May 15 Writer Birthdays

1689 – Mary Wortley Montagu (née Pierrepont), English poet, travel writer, letter writer, playwright, explorer, and aristocrat who is remembered for her works written during her travels to the Ottoman Empire; her writings address and challenge her society’s attitudes toward women’s intellectual growth. She is also known for introducing and advocating for smallpox inoculation in Britain after her return from Turkey.

1820 – Grímur Thomsen, Icelandic poet, writer, essayist, translator, and editor who is considered one of Iceland’s most important Romantic writers.

1833 – Sofie Podlipská (née Rottová), Czech writer of historical novels, juvenile works, and feminist literature.

1837 – Vanchinbalyn Injinash, Mongolian poet, novelist, short-story writer, and historian whose work is characterized by civic sentiments and strong social criticism.

1856 – L. Frank Baum, U.S. children’s author who created the classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels.

1857 – Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming. Scottish astronomer and writer who helped develop a common designation system for stars and cataloged thousands of stars and other astronomical phenomena; among several career achievements that advanced astronomy, Fleming is noted for her discovery of the Horsehead Nebula in 1888. Most of her career was spent in the U.S.

1869 – Concha Espina (full name María de la Concepción Jesusa Basilisa Rodríguez-Espina y García-Tagle), Spanish novelist, writer, and journalist who was nominated for a Nobel prize in Literature 25 times.

1886 – Douglas Southall Freeman, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, author, newspaper editor, and biographer who won Pulitzers for his four-volume biography of Robert E. Lee and his seven-volume biography of George Washington.

1890 – Katherine Ann Porter, Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning U.S. novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and political activist.

1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Ukrainian-born Russian writer and playwright, best known for his novel The Master and Margarita.

1891 – David Vogel, Ukrainian-born Jewish-Austrian poet, novelist, and diarist.

1900 – Fily Dabo Sissoko, Malian author, poet, and influential political leader who was a key writer of the Negritude Movement.

1903 – Luz Elisa Borja Martínez, Ecuadorian writer, poet, pianist, painter, composer, and sculptor.

1903 – Maria Reiche (full name Maria Reiche Grosse-Neumann), German-born Peruvian mathematician, archaeologist, author, and technical translator who became known as the “Lady of the Lines” for her work on the Nazca Lines, a group of geoglyphs made in the soil of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru; she made the documentation, preservation, and public dissemination of knowledge about the Nazca Lines her life’s work.

1904 – Clifton “Kip” Fadiman, U.S. intellectual, author, editor, and broadcaster.

1904 – Annada Shankar Ray, Indian Bengali and Odia poet, essayist, and travel writer who wrote several poems criticizing the Partition of India; his best known work is Pathe Prabaase, a diary of his European travels.

1907 – Ursula Kuczynski (also known as Ruth Werner, Ursula Beurton, and Ursula Hamburger), German author, autobiographer, Communist activist, resistance fighter, and spy who published a series of books related to her spy work, including her bestselling autobiography, Sonjas Rapport (Sonya’s Report).

1907 – Chote Praepan (pen name Jacob) Thai writer and journalist whose most famous work is Phu Chana Sip Thit (The Man Who Gained Victory in Ten Directions).

1911 – Max Frisch, Swiss playwright, and novelist known for his ironic works.

1912 – Margaret Diesendorf (née Máté), Austrian-born Australian poet, editor, linguist, translator, and educator.

1912 – Margarita Madrigal, Costa Rican writer, children’s author, and linguist who wrote books in seven different languages.

1915 – Hilda Bernstein, British-born South African author, artist, and activist against apartheid and for women’s rights.

1922 – Jakucho Setouchi, award-winning Japanese novelist, activist, and Buddhist nun; she is noted for first-person narrative biographical novels.

1922 – Kala Keerthi Regi Siriwardena, Sri Lankan academic, journalist, poet, writer, playwright, and screenwriter.

1926 – Peter Shaffer and Anthony Joshua Shaffer, identical-twin English playwrights.

1927 – Assia Wevill, German-born poet and writer who escaped the Nazis to emigrate to Palestine and then the U.K., where she had a relationship with the English poet Ted Hughes; she killed herself and their four-year-old daughter Shura using a gas oven, similar to the suicide of Hughes’s first wife Sylvia Plath, six years earlier.

1930 – Grace Emily Ogot (née Akinyi), Kenyan author, nurse, journalist, politician, and diplomat.

1931 – Norma Fox Mazer, U.S. author and teacher who won a Newbery Honor and was nominated for the National Book Award.

1931 – Nechama Tec (born Nechama Bawnik), award-winning Polish-born writer, historian, sociologist, professor, and Holocaust survivor.

1933 – Santanu Kumar Acharya, Indian Odia novelist, children’s writer, and lecturer.

1934 – John Keegan, British military historian and writer.

1936 – Ruth Almog, Israeli novelist, journalist, and children’s writer

1936 – Paul Zindel, U.S. playwright and young-adult author best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, which was adapted into a film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

1949 – Alice Major, Canadian poet, writer, and essayist who served as poet laureate of Edmonton, Alberta and founded the Edmonton Poetry Festival.

1949 – Lalsangzuali Sailo, Indian author, gospel singer, music composer, and social worker.

1951 – David Almond, British author of children’s and young-adult novels.

1957 – Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning U.K.-based U.S. crime writer.

1962 – Gro Dahle, Norwegian writer, poet, playwright, children’s author, novelist, and librettist.

1962 – Julie Otsuka, Japanese-U.S. author known for her historical fiction; she has been a winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and a finalist for the National Book Award.

1864 – Isabella Grinevskaya (pen name of Beyle Berta Friedberg), award-winning Russian writer, poet, playwright, translator, and novelist who frequented Jewish literary circles in Saint Petersburg; in her books, she depict the lives of the Jewish middle class, especially of enlightened Jewish young girls; Tolstoy praised her work.

1967 – Laura Hillenbrand, bestselling U.S. author of nonfiction books and magazine articles, best known for her book Seabiscuit, about the racehorse that became an unlikely champion.

1968 – Lene Rachel Andersen, Danish author, publisher, economist, futurist, and philosopher who writes in both Danish and English.

1969 – Lauren Myracle, U.S. author of young-adult fiction.

1970 – Judith Hermann, German novelist and short-story writer who is a leading figure of the Fräuleinwunder (“girl wonder”) literary movement of women writers.

1975 – S. Hareesh, award-winning Indian Malayalam novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and translator who is considered one of the major writers in the Malayalam language; his controversial debut novel, Meesha, was challenged because of its discussion of the caste system.

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