December 19 Writer Birthdays

1036 – Su Tung-p’o, Chinese writer who was considered the greatest poet of the Chinese Sung Dynasty, and who was often under fire for satirizing government policies.

1723 – Susanne Katharina Seiffart von Klettenberg, German abbess, writer, poet, artist, and philosopher who was a friend of the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his mother; he shaped a character, “Beautiful Soul,” after Klettenberg in his novel Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship.

1753 – John Taylor of Caroline, U.S. writer and politician who authored books on agriculture and politics and served as a Virginia State Delegate and U.S. Senator.

1796 – Manuel Breton de los Herreros, prolific Spanish playwright and librarian.

1820 – Mary Ashton Livermore, U.S. journalist, nonfiction author, lecturer, abolitionist, and advocate for women’s rights, including reproductive rights.

1852 – Flora Shaw (Lady Lugard), English journalist, writer, and novelist for children and young adults. As a journalist she traveled around the world covering politics and economics and was widely regarded as one of the greatest journalists of her time; she is credited with coining the name, “Nigeria.”

1861 – Italo Svevo, Italian novelist best known for The Confessions of Zeno.

1875 – Carter Woodson, U.S. African-American author, historian, and journalist who was born to parents who were former slaves and grew up to earn a PhD and become a pioneering writer of Black history.

1895 – Ingeborg Refling-Hagen, Norwegian novelist and poet who was arrested for her work with the Resistance during World War II; her writings and activities in support of the arts made her a significant cultural figure in Norway during much of the 20th century.

1900 – Thelma L. Strabel, U.S. novelist who specialized in tales of the American South and sea adventures; she is best known for her novel Reap the Wild Wind, which was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post and became a successful film.

1901 – Oliver La Farge, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author and anthropologist whose work focused on Native American culture.

1908 – Gisèle Freund, German-born French photographer and photojournalist, famous for her documentary photography and portraits of writers and artists; her best-known book, Photographie et société, is about the uses and abuses of the photographic medium in the age of technological reproduction.

1910 – Jean Genet, French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, autobiographer, and political activist.

1910 – Jose Lezama Lima, Cuban poet and lawyer who was one of the most influential figures in Latin American literature.

1911 – Leela Row Dayal, Indian author and professional tennis player who was the first female Indian tennis player to win a match at Wimbledon; she wrote several books on Indian classical dance, in both English and Sanskrit.

1916 – Manoel Wenceslau Leite de Barros, award-winning Brazilian poet who is regarded by critics as one of the great names of contemporary Brazilian poetry.

1916 – Ann Mari Falk, award-winning Swedish writer, children’s author, and translator.

1922 – Hanny Michaelis, award-winning Jewish Dutch poet and translator who lived in hiding during World War II; h er parents were sent to Sobibór in 1943 and never returned; much of her work has a prevailing tone of loneliness and despair, although her last collection of poems also has moments of hope and humor.

1923 – Robert V. Bruce, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author and historian who specialized in the history of the American Civil War period; he is best known for the book The Launching of Modern American Science, 1846–1876.

1928 – Eve Bunting, prolific Irish author of children’s and young-adult books.

1929 – Barbara Kimenye, prolific British-born Ugandan writer who was one of East Africa’s most popular and bestselling children’s authors; she is best remembered for her Moses series, about a mischievous student at a boarding school for troublesome boys.

1942 – Jean-Patric Manchette, French crime novelist and screenwriting credited with reinventing and reinvigorating the crime novel genre; his books are violent explorations of the human condition and French society.

1944 – Richard Leakey, award-winning Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist, and politician who was the son of Louis and Mary Leakey, and who, like his parents, is a groundbreaking paleoanthropologist whose work has shed light on the origins of humanity.

1946 – Miguel Piñero, Puerto Rican poet, playwright, actor, and leading member of the Nuyorican literary movement; he co-founded the Nuyorican Poets Café.

1950 – Péter Tímár, Hungarian screenwriter and film director.

1952 – Sean O’Brien, award-winning British poet, critic, and playwright who is well known for his collection of poems The Drowned Book.

1954 – Tim Parks, award-winning British novelist, short-story writer, translator, and professor.

1960 – Daniel Silva, U.S. author of bestselling thrillers and spy novels; most of his books center around the character Gabriel Allon, an Israeli art restorer, spy, and assassin.

1965 – Tridip Suhrud, Indian writer, translator, cultural historian, and political scientist.

1967 – Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author and musician who considers himself a “self-taught modern New England transcendentalist.”

1970 – Nagaru Tanigawa, award-winning Japanese author, children’s writer, manga writer, and science-fiction writer.

1972 – Ena Lucía Portela, Cuban novelist, essayist, and short-story writer whose work focuses on lesbian subjects.

1974 – Samira Gutoc-Tomawis, Saudi Arabian-born Filipina writer, journalist, women’s advocate, environmentalist, and legislator.

1975 – Brandon Sanderson, Hugo Award-winning U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author who completed Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series as well as writing many of his own original works.

1979 – Robin Sloan, U.S. author who is best known for his bestselling debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore.

1980 – Victoria Koblenko, Ukrainian-born Dutch columnist, writer, actress, and television presenter.

1982 – Ndaba Thembekile Zweliyajika Mandela, South African author, spokesperson, AIDS activist, and political consultant who is the grandson of Nelson Mandela, the founder of the Mandela Project, and the co-founder and co-chair of Africa Rising Foundation.

1984 – Mariko Asabuki, award-winning Japanese novelist who was named one of Vogue Japan‘s 2011 Women of the Year.

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