August 16 Writer Birthdays

0980 – Avicenna (also known as Ibn Sina), prolific Persian writer, poet, scientist, astronomer, physician, physicist, mathematician, chemist, theologian, philosopher, ethicist, and music theorist; he is regarded as the father of early modern medicine and one of the most significant thinkers of the Islamic Golden Age.

1567 – Francis de Sales, French writer, theologian, Catholic bishop, and saint who was noted for his deep faith and his gentle approach to the religious divisions in his land resulting from the Protestant Reformation.

1679 – Catharine Trotter Cockburn, English novelist, dramatist, letter-writer, and philosopher whose work addresses a range of issues but focuses most often on moral philosophy and theology.

1776 – Amalia von Helvig, German and Swedish artist, writer, poet, translator, artist, socialite, and salonnière who was an inspiration for many artists.

1780 – Zeynalabdin Shirvani (also known as Tamkin), Persian geographer, philosopher, historian, travel writer, and poet, born in what is now Azerbaijan.

1804 – Dora Wordsworth, English travel writer who was a daughter of poet William Wordsworth; she was a major influence on her father’s work, and he immortalized her in his literary works, “Address to My Infant Daughter” and “The Triad.”

1814 – José Jacinto Milanés, Cuban writer, poet, playwright, and linguist who has been acclaimed as one of the best exponents of Cuban literature.

1823 – Elise Justine Bayard Cutting, U.S. poet who usually signed her work with her maiden initials, E.J.B., or her married ones, E.B.C.

1860 – Jules Laforgue, Uruguayan-born French symbolist poet and short-story writer.

1864 – Elsie Maud Inglis, Scottish doctor, surgeon, teacher, suffragist, and novelist who was the founder of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals; after her death, a manuscript was found in her papers for an unpublished semi-autobiographical novel, The Story of a Modern Woman. Inglis has been described as one of the greatest-ever Scottish woman and someone young Scots can be proud of. For her work in World War I as a war-zone doctor in France and Serbia, Sir Winston Churchill later said that she and her staff would “shine in history.”

1865 – Dame Mary Jean Gilmore (née Cameron), prolific Australian author, poet, editor, teacher, journalist, columnist, and labor activist who wrote on many themes but is best known for her evocative views of country life; on her death at the age of 97, she was accorded a state funeral. Her image is featured on the Australian ten-dollar note.

1866 – Dora Maria Sigerson Shorter, Irish writer, poet, and sculptor who was a major figure of the Irish Literary Revival.

1873 – Marie Closset, Belgian poet who wrote under the name Jean Dominique, a name that came from a character in a novel by Eugène Fromentin.

1884 – Hugo Gernsback, Luxembourgian-U.S. writer, editor, and influential science-fiction magazine publisher; he has been called the “father of science fiction,” and one of science fiction’s most prestigious awards programs, the Hugos, is named after him.

1888 – Dora Petrova Gabe, Bulgarian Jewish writer, poet, children’s writer, essayist, travel writer, short-story writer, and translator.

1888 – T.E. Lawrence (Thomas Edward Lawrence), British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer who is best known as Lawrence of Arabia.

1896 – Alice Nahon, bestselling Belgian poet and librarian whose work centers around nature, admiration for simple things, grief for other people’s suffering, and religious inspiration.

1897 – Marjorie Faith Barnard, Australian novelist, critic, short-story writer, historian, and librarian.

1899 – Salvador Reyes Figueroa, award-winning Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet, magazine founder, and diplomat.

1899 – Andrei Platonov (pen name of Andrei Platonovich Klimentov), Russian writer, poet, playwright, science-fiction author, and philosopher whose works are considered a precursor to existentialism; in his lifetime, most of his works were banned for their skepticism toward collectivization and other Stalinist policies, and for their experimental, avant-garde form.

1902 – Georgette Heyer, British romance and mystery novelist who is credited with originating the Regency romance genre with her novel Regency Buck.

1902 – Wallace Thurman, U.S. African-American novelist, essayist, editor, and newspaper publisher associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

1903 – Pantelimon M. Vizirescu, Romanian poet, editor, and essayist who sometimes used the pen name Dela Bârsa or Nicolae Ancuța Rădoi.

1904 – Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, influential Indian poet, author, and short-story writer; one of her most popular poems is “Jhansi ki Rani,” about the courageous Queen of Jhansi, and is one of the most recited poems in Hindi literature.

1904 – Ernst Wilhelm Eschmann (pseudonym Leopold Dingräve), German author, sociologist, playwright, and university teacher.

1908 – William Keepers Maxwell, Jr., National Book Award-winning U.S. novelist, New Yorker Magazine editor, short-story writer, essayist, children’s author, and memoirist.

1908 – Émile-Dostaler O’Leary, Canadian journalist, writer, and French-Canadian nationalist.

1909 – Ralph Barker Gustafson, award-winning Canadian poet, editor, and professor.

1914 – Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, prolific U.S. children’s author whose book May I Bring a Friend? won the Caldecott Medal; she once said of children’s literature: ”a book for young people that honestly has its roots in the author’s feelings as a child is not likely to seem old-fashioned or out of date.”

1917 – Matt Christopher, popular U.S. author of children’s books and short stories, mostly about sports.

1920 – Charles Bukowski, U.S. author who was part of the Dirty Realism movement; he was immortalized in lyrics by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

1920 – Virgil Ierunca, Romanian writer, poet, journalist, and literary critic.

1923 – Millôr Fernandes (born Milton Viola Fernandes), award-winning Brazilian cartoonist, humorist, playwright, screenwriter, poet, journalist, translator, linguist, and founder of a satirical newspaper.

1925 – Bakhtiyar Vahabzadeh, Azerbaijani poet, writer, playwright, lyricist, translator, professor, and politician; he is often regarded as the second greatest contemporary poet of Azerbaijan (after Samed Vurgun).

1932 – Jaya Vallabhdas Mehta, Indian Gujarati writer, poet, literary critic, teacher, and translator

1932 – Christopher Ifekandu Okigbo, Nigerian poet, teacher, and librarian who died fighting for the independence of Biafra; he is considered an outstanding postcolonial English-language African poet and one of the major modernist writers of the 20th century.

1934 – Diana Wynne Jones, influential, award-winning British fantasy novelist, poet, literary critic, academic, and short-story; much of her work was written for children and young adults.

1942 – Darmanto Jatman, Indonesian poet, writer, philosopher, and professor.

1943 – Bobbi Sykes, Australian writer, poet, and biographer; she was also a lifelong campaigner for indigenous land rights, human rights, and women’s rights.

1945 – Neelabh Ashk, Indian Hindi-language poet, journalist, screenwriter, editor, author, and translator who is best known for translating the works of notable authors including Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, William Shakespeare, Bertolt Brecht, and Mikhail Lermontov.

1949 – Marjan Strojan, award-winning Slovene poet, journalist, editor, essayist, film critic, and translator.

1954 – Benjamin Alire Sáenz, award-winning U.S. poet, novelist, and children’s book author.

1960 – Marine Petrossian (also written as Mariné Petrossian), award-winning Armenian poet, essayist, and columnist; she writes in Armenian and translates some of her own work into English.

1962 – Solvej Balle, Danish novelist, poet, editor, playwright, short-story writer, and translator.

1962 – Aime Hansen (born Philipa Nibspitter), Estonian poet, short-story writer, and artist who writes in both Estonian and English; she is noted for her works with religious themes and her exploration of psychology and the mysticism of life.

1963 – Jennifer Donnelly, U.S. writer of young-adult fiction; she is best known for the historical novel A Northern Light, which Time Magazine has named one of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time.

1972 – Shadab Zeest Hashmi, award-winning Pakistani-born poet, writer, essayist, columnist, and editor who writes in English; many of her poems explore feminism, history, and Islam.

1981 – Tumi Molekane, Tanzanian-born South African poet, songwriter, and rapper.

1983 – Valeria Luiselli, award-winning Mexican author of novels and essays.

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