December 9 Writer Birthdays

1571 – Adriaan Metius (born Adriaan Adriaanszoon), Dutch astronomer, writer, mathematician, university teacher whose nickname, Metius, means something like “measurer” or “surveyor.”

1608 – John Milton, English epic poet, intellectual, and pamphleteer who penned Paradise Lost, which is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of English literature; he was also an ardent advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

1617 – Richard Lovelace, English “cavalier poet” who fought on behalf of the king during the English Civil War; his best known works are “To Althea, from Prison,” and “To Lucasta, Going to the Warres.”

1718 – Hedvig Charlotta Nordenflycht, Swedish poet, writer, translator, salonnière, and feminist who was unusual at the time in that she was a woman who was able to support herself writing poetry. Her work is known for describing the existential conflict between religion and science during the Age of Enlightenment, and for her depictions of the emotional symptoms of human love and sorrow, especially after the death of her husband only a few months after their marriage.

1755 – Adélaïde de la Briche, French travel writer, memoirist, and salonnière.

1823 – Rosalie Olivecrona, Swedish writer, journalist, and feminist activist who is regarded as one of the three great pioneers of the organized women’s rights movement in Sweden.

1834 – Krikor Odian, Ottoman Armenian jurist, politician, and writer who was a key figure in the establishment of the Armenian National Constitution and the Ottoman constitution of 1876; he was the uncle of the famed Armenian playwright and writer Yervant Odian.

1836 – George Burnett Barton, Australian writer, historian, journalist, and lawyer.

1848 – Joel Chandler Harris, U.S. journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist; collector and re-teller of the African-American folktales that became known as the Uncle Remus stories.

1858 – Nisthananda Bajracharya, Nepalese author who marked a turning point in Nepal Bhasa literature by breaking away from the classical style and writing prose in colloquial language; he was one of the leaders of the Nepal Bhasa renaissance, and a pioneer of printing with moveable type in Nepal.

1864 – João Carlos de Medeiros Pardal Mallet, Brazilian journalist, novelist, and short-story writer.

1867 – Gregorios Xenopoulos, Turkish-born Greek novelist, journalist, magazine editor, and playwright whose trademark signature translated to “yours faithfully, Phaedon,” which he used in letters ostensibly addressed to his magazine.

1876 – Mizuho Ota (pen name of Teiichi Ota), Japanese writer, poet, tanka poet, scholar of Japanese literature, and university teacher. He also wrote under the pen name Mizuhonoya.

1880 – Begum Rokeya, Indian Bengali feminist writer, science-fiction author, essayist, educator, and social reformer who was a pioneer of women’s liberation in South Asia and who established the first school aimed primarily at Bengali Muslim girls in Kolkata; in 2004, she ranked 6th in BBC’s poll of the Greatest Bengali of all time.

1881 – Richard Lionel Spittel, (commonly known as Dr. R.L. Spittel), Ceylonese author, poet, anthropologist, and physician who was one of the foremost experts on the Vedda community.

1890 – Laura Salverson, award-winning Canadian author whose works reflected her Icelandic heritage.

1892 – Lilias Margitson Rider Haggard, British author, biographer, columnist, politician, and World War I nurse who was the daughter of writer Henry Rider Haggard. Her best known book is a biography of her father, The Cloak That I Left.

1894 – Ofelia Domínguez Navarro, Cuban writer, journalist, editor, teacher, lawyer, and activist who was a proponent of the rights of women and illegitimate children. She was her country’s first woman newspaper director and was considered one of the leading intellectuals of her time.

1895 – Isidora Dolores Ibárruri Gómez, Spanish politician, communist activist, orator, writer, and autobiographer who was commonly known as la Pasionaria (the Passionflower); she is remembered for coining the famous slogan ¡No Pasarán! (“They shall not pass!”) during the 1936 Battle for Madrid.

1896 – Tomás Blanco, Puerto Rican writer, historian, and physician, best known for his essays analyzing Puerto Rican culture; his work focused on political and social issues, but he also wrote novels, short stories, and poetry.

1899 – Jean de Brunhoff, French author of children’s books, best known for creating Babar the Elephant.

1899 – Leonie Fuller, U.S. poet, writer, editor, and professor who was U.S. Poet Laureate and had connections to many of the leading intellectuals of her day; anthropologist Margaret Mead was her college roommate; friends included writer Gertrude Stein, literary critic Edmund Wilson, and another Poet Laureate, Louise Bogan.

1900 – José Garvida Flores, Filipino Ilocano poet, playwright, and newspaper editor.

1901 – Lauro Adolfo De Bosis, Italian poet, writer, translator, aviator, and anti-fascist.

1901 – Edmund Josef von Horváth, Austro-Hungarian-born playwright and novelist who wrote in German but preferred the Hungarian version of his first name and published as Ödön von Horváth.

1905 – Janet Buchanan Adam Smith, Scottish writer, editor, critic, literary journalist, professor, anthologist, mountaineer, and champion of Scottish literature. She was noted for her elegant prose, her penetrating judgement, her independence of mind – and her deep love of mountains. BBC broadcaster Leonard Miall wrote: “There seemed to be nothing at which Janet Adam Smith did not shine. And she shone with an intensity that made others glow in response.”

1905 – Dalton Trumbo, Oscar-winning U.S. screenwriter of Roman Holiday, Exodus, Spartacus, and many other films; he was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

1906 – Grace Hopper, U.S. computer scientist, computer language developer, technical writer, and author.

1907 – Virgínia de Bivar Robertes Rau, Portuguese archaeologist, historian, and writer who was an expert on Portuguese colonial history and the author of many history books.

1915 – Eloise Jarvis McGraw, three-time Newbery Honor-winning U.S. author of novels for children and young adults.

1916 – Wolfgang Hildesheimer, German artist, author, playwright, and Mozart biographer who worked as a translator and clerk at the Nuremberg Trials.

1917 – Jolan Chang, Chinese-Canadian sexologist and Taoist philosopher who wrote the luminary classics on Eastern sexuality, The Tao of Love and Sex, which interprets ancient Taoist sexual teachings into a modern model of sexuality; British author Lawrence Durrell wrote about Chang in his 1980 book A Smile in the Mind’s Eye.

1926 – Václav Jaroslav Karel Pinkava, award-winning Czech-British poet, novelist, science-fiction author, composer, painter, mathematician, translator, and psychologist who also wrote under many pen names, including Jan Křesadlo, Jake Rolands, J.K. Klement, Juraj Hron, Ferdinand Lucovický z Lucovic a na Suchým dole, and Kamil Troud.

1928 – Joan Blos, U.S. writer and children’s literacy advocate whose historical novel A Gathering of Days won a National Book Award and the Newbery Medal.

1929 – Michel Fano, French musician, composer, writer, filmmaker, and sound designer.

1929 – Raghuvir Sahay, award-winning Indian Hindi poet, short-story writer, editor, essayist, literary critic, translator, and journalist.

1930 – Buck Henry, U.S. humorous actor and screenwriter; he worked on The Graduate, Catch 22, Get Smart, Saturday Night Live, and more.

1930 – Felicia Langer, award-winning Israeli writer, lawyer, and human rights activist who was known for her defense of Palestinian political prisoners.

1930 – Edoardo Sanguineti, Italian poet, critic, and playwright.

1931 – Ladislav Smoljak, Czech screenwriter, humorist, journalist, educator, director, and actor, humorist, educator, director and scriptwriter.

1934 – Mahmoud Moshref Azad Tehrani (pen name M. Azad), Iranian poet and young-adult author.

1936 – A.B. Yehoshua, Israeli novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and playwright whom the New York Times has called the “Israeli Faulkner.”

1937 – Mary Downing Hahn, U.S. author of young-adult mysteries.

1941 – Mehmet Ali Birand, Turkish journalist, writer, and political commentator.

1942 – Joe McGinniss, U.S. author of nonfiction, novels, and true-crime stories.

1943 – Joanne Trollope, British writer of romantic and historical fiction who also wrote under the pen name Caroline Harvey.

1948 – Gioconda Belli, Nicaraguan author, poet, journalist, activist, and diarist.

1949- Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Bolivian sociologist, historian, oral history expert, and subaltern theorist whose work draws upon anarchist theory as well as Quechua and Aymara cosmologies; she is also an activist who works directly with indigenous movements. Some of her best known works include Oppressed But Not Defeated: Peasant Struggles Among the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia, 1900–1980, and Ch’ixinakax Utxiwa: A Reflection on the Practices and Discourses of Decolonization.

1956 – Ann Hood, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and author of books for middle-grade readers and young adults.

1969 – Ayse Arman, Turkish journalist, columnist, and author who is best known for her interviews.

1970 – Anna Gavalda, bestselling, award-winning French novelist, screenwriter, writer, translator, journalist, and children’s writer.

1975 – Tishani Doshi, Indian poet, journalist, and dancer.

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