August 12 Writer Birthdays

1498 – Giambattista Gelli, Italian Florentine writer, philosopher, playwright, and historical writer who is best known for his works Capricci del bottaio and La Circe, which are ethical and philosophical dialogues.

1712 – Jonas Hanway, English writer, historian, shopkeeper, traveler, and philanthropist.

1774 – Robert Southey, English poet and biographer.

1831 – Helena Blavatsky, Russian-German occultist who founded the Theosophical Society.

1836 – Teresa González de Fanning, influential Peruvian writer and journalist who is known for her activism around educating women.

1859 – Katharine Lee Bates, prolific U.S. writer, poet, essayist, novelist, travel writer, children’s author, editor, college professor, scholar, and social activist; today she is primarily remembered as the author of the poem “America the Beautiful,” which became the lyrics to the popular patriotic song.

1866 – Jacinto Benavente, Nobel Prize-winning Spanish dramatist renowned “for the happy manner in which he has continued the illustrious traditions of the Spanish drama.”

1867 – Edith Hamilton, German-born U.S. author, essayist, educator, and Classics scholar; her book Mythology is still considered a standard introductory text on the subject.

1872 – Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein (full name Franziska Josepha Louise Augusta Marie Christina Helena) English memoirist who was a princess of the British royal family, as a granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

1876 – Mary Roberts Rinehart, U.S. mystery writer, sometimes called the American Agatha Christie; she is credited with originating the phrase, “The butler did it,” and was cited by Bob Kane as an inspiration for his “Batman.”

1880 – Radclyffe Hall, English novelist and poet who is best known for her novel The Well of Loneliness, a groundbreaking work in lesbian literature.

1885 – Magnhild Haalke, award-winning Norwegian novelist and children’s writer whose work was characterized by her deep psychological insight; great environmental descriptions; strong, colorful language; and lush figures of speech. Her novels often focused on adults’ insensitive treatment of defenseless young people.

1889 – Zerna Sharp, U.S. teacher, book editor, and children’s author; she created the “Dick and Jane” beginning readers that were widely used in schools in English-speaking countries for more than 40 years.

1905 – Hans Urs von Balthasar, Swiss writer, translator, and Catholic priest who is considered an important Roman Catholic theologian of the 20th century.

1913 – Raphael Ernest Grail Armattoe, Nobel Prize-nominated Ghanaian doctor, author, poet,and politician.

1914 – Enrique Campos Menéndez, award-winning Chilean writer, filmmaker, economist, politician, and diplomat.

1917 – Adolf Burger, Jewish Slovak typographer, memoir writer, journalist, screenwriter, and Holocaust survivor.

1917 – Ebba Margareta Haslund Halvorsen, U.S.-born Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, essayist, children’s writer, literary critic, editor, radio speaker, and politician.

1920 – P. Singaram, Indian Tamil writer who lived most of his adult life in Indonesia and Malaysia who is considered one of the greatest Tamil novelists of the modern era, despite having authored only two novels.

1924 – Hajo Meyer (born Hans Joachim Gustav Meyer), German-born Dutch author, physicist, musical instrument maker, Holocaust survivor, and anti-Zionist political activist.

1925 – Donald Justice, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet, essayist, editor, librettist, and teacher; one critic said of his poems, “They were great in the way that tells us what poetry used to be, and is, and will be.”

1925 – Kerstin Thorvall, influential Swedish novelist, young-adult author, and illustrator; some of her work was adapted for television.

1926 – Wallace Markfield, U.S. comic novelist best known for his first novel, To An Early Grave.

1928 – Fatima Meer, South African author, screenwriter, sociologist, academic, educator, politician, and prominent anti-apartheid activist.

1928 – Beni Virtzberg, German-born Israeli forester, writer, and Holocaust survivor who was among the first in Israel to write an autobiographical account of his experiences during and after the Holocaust.

1931 – William Goldman, U.S. novelist, screenwriter, and playwright who wrote the Oscar-winning scripts for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men.

1931 – Irfan Habib, Indian author and historian of ancient and medieval India.

1931 – Jiří Stránský, Czech poet, playwright, author, scriptwriter, translator, linguist, and human-rights advocate who was twice arrested as a political prisoner.

1932 – Sirikit (born Mom Rajawongse Sirikit Kitiyakara), Queen mother of Thailand; she was queen consort of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, or Rama IX, and is mother of King Vajiralongkorn (or Rama X). Queen Sirikit is also a published author, memoirist, and music composer.

1936 – Ashwini Bhatt, Indian Gujarati-language writer, novelist, and translator.

1937 – Walter Dean Myers, prolific U.S. African-American author of young-adult fiction, picture books, and nonfiction who was the Library of Congress’s National Ambassador for Young People’s literature and a five-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award. His novel Fallen Angels is on the ALA’s list of frequently challenged books because of its language and depiction of the Vietnam War; he is especially known for writing about the challenges of urban life for young black men and the complicated moral minefield they must negotiate to stay alive. One of his goals in writing was to expand the face of publishing so that children of color could see themselves reflected in literature.

1939 – Abdul Rahman Majeed al-Rubaie, Iraqi author, short-story writer, and journalist who is one of the best known writers in modern Iraqi literature.

1940 – Gail Parent, U.S. novelist and Emmy-winning screenwriter, best known for her writing for television, most notably for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Golden Girls.

1942 – Bianca Pitzorno, Italian writer, children’s author, translator, playwright, screenwriter, television producer, lyricist, and politician who is best known as one of Italy’s most important authors of books for children and young adults; many of her children’s stories blend contemporary reality with elements of magic.

1944 – Sulayman S. Nyang, Gambian writer, diplomat, and professor who has written extensively on Islamic, African, and Middle Eastern affairs.

1945 – J.D. McClatchy, U.S. poet, literary critic, opera librettist, and essayist.

1946 – Deborah Howe, U.S. children’s author who, along with her husband James, wrote the book Bunnicula and its sequels, about a vampire bunny who sucks the life out of vegetables.

1946 – María Guadalupe Loaeza Tovar, influential and prolific Mexican writer who chronicles and criticizes the Mexican upper class.

1947 – Stefano Benni, bestselling Italian novelist, satirical writer, science-fiction writer, poet, screenwriter, filmmaker, and journalist.

1948 – Sue Monk Kidd, U.S. novelist, memoirist, essayist, editor, and nurse, best known for her bestselling novel The Secret Life of Bees.

1952 – Chen Kaige, Chinese screenwriter, film director and producer, and actor.

1955 – Ann Martin, U.S. children’s author who created the juvenile book series “The Baby-Sitters Club.”

1956 – Akimi Yoshida, award-winning Japanese manga author and illustrator, best known for her crime thriller series “Banana Fish.”

1957 – Ellen Marie Vars, award-winning Norwegian Saami novelist and young-adult author.

1958 – Fouad Laroui, Moroccan economist, writer, novelist, children’s author, poet, scientist, and university teacher.

1961 – Andrea Maria Dusl, award-winning Austrian and Swedish author, illustrator, columnist, screenwriter, and film director.

1964 – Katherine Boo, U.S. journalist and author whose first book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, won the National Book Award.

1968 – Teresia Teaiwa, Hawaiian-born Kiribati and African-American poet, scholar, and activist who is internationally known for her ground-breaking work in Pacific Studies, with research interests that include contemporary issues in Fiji, feminism and women’s activism in the Pacific, contemporary Pacific culture and arts, and pedagogy in Pacific Studies.

1970 – Anthony Swofford, U.S. writer and former U.S. Marine whose autobiography Jarhead recounts his experience during the first Gulf War.

1983 – Jakub Zulczyk, Polish magazine writer, journalist, and screenwriter.

1985 – Stefani Hidajat, Indonesian novelist, short-story writer, and columnist who is currently living in Germany; much of her fiction deals with existentialism, fatalism, and absurdity.

1991 – Kiki Mordi, award-winning Nigerian writer, investigative journalist, and documentary filmmaker.

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