September 16 Writer Birthdays

0508 – Xiao Yi (Emperor Yuan of Liang), Chinese emperor of the Liang Dynasty who was a renowned writer and collector of ancient books.

1462 – Pietro Pomponazzi (also known by his Latin name, Petrus Pomponatius), Italian writer, philosopher, professor, and medical doctor; he has been called the Herald of the Renaissance.

1557 – Martin Behm, prolific German writer, poet, hymnwriter, and theologian.

1579 – Samuel Coster, Dutch writer, physician, poet, and playwright; as a playwright, he wrote some comic works, but is also credited with writing the first classical tragedy in Dutch. He was also one of the founders of the Duytsche Academy, which would not only practice poetry and theatre, but would also organize scientific research lectures in Dutch, unlike other universities at the time, who taught classes only in Latin.

1753 – Märta Helena Reenstierna (also von Schnell), Swedish writer and diarist whose writings are considered a valuable cultural historical document of the everyday life of the people at a Swedish manor of her epoch. She was known as Årstafrun (The Årsta lady).

1812 – Anna Louisa Geertruida Bosboom-Toussaint, Dutch writer and historical writer of the Romantic movement; she also wrote a modern society novel, but it did not reach the heights of popularity of her historic works.

1822 – Tserents (born Hovsep Shishmanian), prominent Turkish-born Armenian writer, historical novelist, teacher, scientist, and physician.

1846 – Anna Kingsford, English physician, writer, poet, philosopher, novelist, suffragist, and activist for the rights of women and animals; she was only the second English woman to obtain a degree in medicine, and, as a staunch anti-vivisectionist, the only medical student at the time to graduate without having experimented on a single animal; her thesis, written in Paris as L’Alimentation Végétale de l’Homme, was on the benefits of vegetarianism and was published in English as The Perfect Way in Diet.

1851 – Emilia Pardo Bazán, Spanish countess who was a novelist, journalist, literary critic, poet, playwright, translator, editor, and professor; she is known for introducing naturalism into Spanish literature, for her detailed descriptions of reality, and for her groundbreaking introduction of feminist ideas into the literature.

1867 – Sofija Pšibiliauskienė (née Ivanauskaitė), Lithuanian novelist and short-story writer of Polish origin; much of her work concerns the daily struggles and oppression faced by peasants at the hands of wealthy landowners. Her sister Marija Lastauskienė was also a writer; they shared the same pen name, Lazdynų Pelėda (Hazel Owl).

1880 – Alfred Noyes, English poet best known for ballads such as “The Highwayman.”

1887 – Juliette Nadia Boulanger, award-winning French conductor, composer, pianist, organist, lecturer, professor, music critic, musicologist, and music teacher who taught many of the leading composers and musicians of the 20th century in all genres and was the first woman to conduct the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Washington National Symphony Orchestra. Former student Aaron Copland said of her, “Nadia Boulanger knew everything there was to know about music; she knew the oldest and the latest music, pre-Bach and post-Stravinsky. All technical know-how was at her fingertips: harmonic transposition, the figured bass, score reading, organ registration, instrumental techniques, structural analyses, the school fugue and the free fugue, the Greek modes and Gregorian chant.”

1887 – Louise Arner Boyd, U.S. author and explorer of Greenland and the Arctic, who wrote extensively of her explorations, leading to the newspapers calling her, “the Girl Who Tamed the Arctic.” In 1928, she chartered the supply ship Hobby, which had been used by famous explorer Roald Amundsen, for one of her Arctic exploration trips; when she learned that Amundsen had recently disappeared while attempting to rescue Italian explorer Umberto Nobile, she offered the ship and her services to the Norwegian government to search for Amundsen. She found no trace of him, but for her extraordinary efforts, the Norwegian government awarded her the Chevalier Cross of the Order of Saint Olav; she was the first U.S. woman and only the third woman in the world to be so honored. In 1955, she became the first woman to fly over the North Pole.

1888 – Frans Eemil Sillanpää, Nobel Prize-winning Finnish writer praised “for his deep understanding of his country’s peasantry and the exquisite art with which he has portrayed their way of life and their relationship with Nature.”

1898 – H.A. Rey, German-born children’s book author and illustrator who worked with his wife Margret Rey; they are especially known for the beloved Curious George series.

1911 – Krishnalal Shridharani, Indian poet, playwright, author, and journalist.

1919 – Ku Sang, Korean poet, writer, essayist, and journalist; some of the themes of his poetry included health, spirituality, and pollution of the environment.

1926 – John Knowles, U.S. novelist best known for his book A Separate Peace; the plot is not autobiographical, but the setting is based on Knowles’s experiences as a student at Phillips Exeter Academy; The Devon School, the book’s setting, is a thinly veiled fictionalization of Exeter, with both campus and town easily recognizable.

1929 – Margarita Carrera, award-winning Guatemalan writer, poet, philosopher, professor, and journalist.

1934 – Yashwant Trivedi, Indian Gujarati poet, writer, translator, literary critic, and essayist.

1935 – Jules Bass, with his partner Arthur Rankin, Jr., U.S. screenwriter and animator responsible for the Rankin & Bass stop-motion films, including the classic Christmas television special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; he was also a composer, writer, and children’s author, notably of Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon.

1938 – Taru Valjakka, Finnish opera singer, actor, writer, musicologist, and choir director; she had a central role in the rise of the new Finnish opera in 1970s.

1939 – Breyten Breytenbach, South African writer and painter who was arrested as an opponent of apartheid and wrote The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist while in prison.

1943 – James Alan McPherson, U.S. essayist, short-story writer, and professor who was the first African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

1944 – Martine Blanc, French author and illustrator of books for children; she has also worked in film animation.

1948 – Julia Donaldson (born Julia Catherine Shields), English writer, playwright, lyricist, and performer who was the U.K. Children’s Laureate; she is best known for her popular rhyming stories for children, especially The Gruffalo.

1949 – Paolo Brera, Italian writer, journalist, poet, translator, linguist, economist, and science-fiction writer.

1949 – Motti Lerner, Israeli writer, playwright, screenwriter, pedagogue, and activist.

1950 – Henry Louis Gates, U.S. African-American author, historian, literary critic, professor, editor, and filmmaker who promotes the importance of African-American literature and hosts the PBS television Finding Your Roots, which combines the work of expert researchers in genealogy, history, and genetics with historic research to tell guests about the lives of their ancestors.

1953 – Nancy Louise Huston, Canadian-born French novelist and essayist who writes primarily in French and translates her own works into English.

1957 – Ángel Luis Arambilet Álvarez (known professionally simply as Arambilet), Dominican novelist, poet, screenwriter, painter, graphic artist, filmmaker, and systems engineer.

1959 – Asif Aslam Farrukhi, Pakistani writer, editor, journalist, anthologist, translator, and physician.

1963 – Rafael Reig, award-winning Spanish writer, philosopher, academic, literary critic, and science-fiction novelist; his PhD in literature examined 19th-century literary depictions of prostitution.

1964 – Molly Shannon, U.S. screenwriter, comedian, actress, author, and children’s book writer who came to prominence as a cast member at Saturday Night Live.

1966 – Ellah Wakatama Allfrey, award-winning Zimbabwean editor, writer, academic, and literary critic.

1966 – Wil McCarthy, U.S. science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, and science columnist.

1966 – Elizabeth McCracken, award-winning U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and editor.

1971 – Prasoon Joshi, Indian poet, screenwriter, and lyricist.

1972 – Peter Kerecman, Slovak lawyer and non-fiction author who has published books and articles on press freedom, the history of advocacy, and other areas of law.

1973 – Justin Haythe, London-born U.S. novelist whose debut novel The Honeymoon was nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

1974 – Tariq Saleh, award-winning Lebanese-born Brazilian journalist, editor, and BBC correspondent who covers the Middle East and Africa and is best known for reporting on conflicts, human rights, and refugees.

1980 – Aisha Sasha John, Canadian poet, writer, artist, and dancer.

1984 – Helga Flatland, award-winning Norwegian novelist and children’s writer.

1993 – Bian Jinyang (pen name Yang Yang), Chinese author who published his first books at the age of nine; his work has been compared to the Harry Potter series.

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