August 31 Writer Birthdays

1685 – Samuel Urlsperger, German author, editor, and Lutheran theologian.

1775 – Agnes Bulmer (born Agnes Collinson), English poet, writer, children’s writer, and teacher who is believed to have written the longest epic poem ever written by a woman; the piece, Messiah’s Kingdom, had more than 14,000 lines and took more then nine years to complete.

1798 – Amable Tastu (born Sabine Casimire Amable Voïart), French poet, writer, literary critic, educational writer, travel writer, and librettist.

1811 – Théophile Gautier, influential French romantic poet, novelist, critic, journalist, essayist, painter, playwright, short-story writer, ballet writer, art and theatre columnist, and travel book writer.

1842 – Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, U.S. African-American publisher, journalist, civil rights leader, suffragist, free-born abolitionist, and editor of the Woman’s Era, the first national newspaper published by and for African-American women. During the Civil War she recruited African American men for the 54th and 55th Massachusetts infantry regiments.

1844 – Elizabeth Stuart Phelps Ward, U.S. feminist author, poet, essayist, lecturer, and intellectual who challenged traditional Christian beliefs of the afterlife and women’s traditional roles in marriage and family, and advocated clothing reform for women, including urging women to burn their corsets. In her 40s, she again broke convention by marrying a man 17 years her junior. She was also the first woman to present a lecture series at Boston University.

1845 – Amália dos Passos Figueiroa, Brazilian writer, poet, and journalist.

1864 – Ajjada Adibhatla Narayana Das (known as Andhra Pradesh), Indian poet, musician, dancer, linguist, and philosopher.

1866 – Elizabeth von Arnim, Australian-born British memoirist and semi-autobiographical novelist who was born Mary Annette Beauchamp, became Countess von Arnim-Schlagenthin with her first marriage, and was styled Elizabeth Russell, Countess Russell after her second marriage; she also wrote under the pen name Alice Cholmondeley. One of her cousins was the New Zealand-born Kathleen Beauchamp, who wrote under the pen name Katherine Mansfield.

1870 – Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori, Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, and for her writing on scientific pedagogy.

1875 – Alice Annie Kenny, New Zealand poet, short-story writer and novelist.

1879 – Alma Mahler, Austrian-born author, editor, biographer, composer, musician, and painter whose first husband was composer Gustav Mahler; she fled Austria in 1938 because it was unsafe for her as a Jew, and eventually settled in the U.S. The satirist Tom Lehrer wrote a song, “Alma,” about her fiery temperament and her relationships with some of the most accomplished men of her day.

1885 – DuBose Heyward, U.S. author best known for his 1935 novel Porgy, which was eventually adapted into plays, opera, and films as Porgy and Bess.

1886 – Conrad Buff, U.S. children’s illustrator, who, with his wife — author and illustrator Mary Buff, was a Caldecott Medal or Newbery Medal runner-up four times.

1887 – Zenobia Camprubí Aymar, Spanish writer, poet, linguist, and translator.

1890 – August Alle, Estonian writer, poet, journalist, editor, columnist, and literary critic; after the Soviet occupation of Estonia in 1940, Alle headed a Soviet commission that drew up lists of books to be banned and removed from libraries.

1903 – Vicente Barbieri, Argentine poet, writer, and journalist who was part of the Generation of ’40 literary movement.

1908 – William Saroyan, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. playwright, novelist, and short-story writer.

1913 – Zbigniew Bienkowski, Polish poet, literary critic, translator and essayist who participated in the Warsaw Uprising.

1916 – Alice Schwarz-Gardos, Austrian-born Israeli journalist, author, and editor.

1918 – Alan Jay Lerner, three-time Tony Award-winning and three-time Oscar-winning U.S. lyricist, librettist, songwriter, biographer, and film producer who created some of the world’s most popular and enduring works of musical theater for the stage and film, often in collaboration with Frederick Loewe, and later Burton Lane.

1918 – Shimizu Motoyoshi, Japanese novelist, poet, and literary critic who was director of the Kamakura Museum of Literature, which he had helped create; he is best known for his award-winning novel Karitachi (Wild Geese).

1919 – Amrita Pritam, award-winning Indian novelist, poet, essayist, journalist, biographer, collector of folk songs, and autobiographer who wrote in Punjabi and Hindi and is considered the first prominent female Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist, and the leading 20th century Punjabi poet; she is best remembered for her poignant poem, Ajj aakhaan Waris Shah nu (Today I invoke Waris Shah – “Ode to Waris Shah”), an elegy to the 18th-century Punjabi poet and an expression of her anguish over massacres during the partition of India.

1929 – Julio Ramón Ribeyro, award-winning Peruvian writer, journalist, novelist, playwright, diarist, essayist, and diplomat who was best known for his short stories; his work is often funny and is written in simple but ironic language, and much of his fiction includes autobiographical characters who end up with their hopes cruelly dashed.

1935 – Eldridge Cleaver, U.S. writer and political activist who was an early leader of the Black Panther Party.

1936 – Fabrizia Ramondino, Italian fiction author who body of work “includes and crosses the boundaries between poetry, novels, plays, travelogues, memoirs, confession, self-reflection, anthropological, cultural and linguistic comment.”

1938 – Elvania Namukwaya Zirimu, Ugandan writer, poet, and playwright; her best known work is the one-act play “Keeping Up with the Mukasas.|

1940 – Shivaji Sawant, award-winning Indian Marathi novelist.

1967 – Kenneth Oppel, award-winning Canadian writer of novels for children, young adults, and adults; some of his most popular works include the Silverwing and Airborn series.

1982 – G. Willow Wilson (Gwendolyn Willow Wilson), U.S. comics writer, prose author, music critic, essayist, historical novelist, magic realism author, fantasy writer, young-adult author, and journalist whose first graphic novel, Cairo, has been listed as a top graphic novel for teens. She is best known for relaunching the Ms. Marvel title for Marvel Comics, starring a 16-year-old Muslim superhero named Kamala Khan.

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