December 21 Writer Birthdays

1702 – Tommaso Crudeli, Florentine Italian poet, lawyer, and champion of free thought who was imprisoned by the Roman Inquisition.

1804 – Benjamin Disraeli (1st Earl of Beaconsfield, nicknamed “Dizzy”), British Tory statesman and pioneer of the political novel.

1829 – Laura Bridgman, U.S. writer, poet, and teacher who was the first deaf and blind American child to gain a significant education in the English language, fifty years before the more famous Helen Keller; she lost her sight and hearing at the age of two, due to scarlet fever, and learned to read and communicate using Braille and a manual alphabet, gaining celebrity status when Charles Dickens wrote about her accomplishments in his American Notes.

1840 – Namik Kemal, Turkish Ottoman writer, poet, politician, historian, journalist, playwright, and political activist who championed freedom; his works had a powerful impact on future reform movements in Turkey.

1853 – Isolde Kurz, German poet, author, short-story writer, and translator who is highly regarded among lyric poets in Germany; her short stories are distinguished by a fine sense of form and clear-cut style.

1854 – Hason Raja, Bengali Indian mystic poet, author, and songwriter from what is now Bangladesh; in his time, he was a key figure in Bengali culture.

1859 – Gustave Kahn, French symbolist poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, and art critic who claimed to have invented the term vers libre, or free verse.

1865 – Nina Boyle, British journalist, novelist, women’s rights activist, and welfare worker who was also one of the first women police officers in Britain.

1866 – Maud Gonne, Irish suffragist, autobiographer, and Irish nationalist revolutionary who was the longtime muse and love interest of poet W.B. Yeats.

1872 – Albert Payson Terhune, U.S. author and dog breeder, known for his books about dogs.

1892 – Amy Key Clarke, English mystical poet, nonfiction writer, memoirist, and teacher.

1892 – Rebecca West, pen name of Cicely Isabel Fairfield, British author, journalist, literary critic, and travel writer who said, “People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”

1900 – Oda Schaefer (also known as Oda Lange and Oda Krus), German writer, poet, playwright, and journalist; during World War II she wrote for officially sanctioned publications but was secretly an enemy of the Nazi regime and helped hide Jews.

1905 – Anthony Powell, English novelist best known for his twelve-volume work A Dance to the Music of Time.

1915 – Helle Busacca, Italian poet, painter, and writer whose work shows a profound originality and incisiveness and combines a deep knowledge of classicism with the influence of modern poetry from diverse origins and cultures.

1917 – Diana Athill, British literary editor, novelist, short-story writer, nonfiction writer, and memoirist who worked with some of the most important writers of the 20th century.

1917 – Heinrich Böll, Nobel Prize-winning German author whose is credited with renewing German literature through a “combination of a broad perspective on his time and a sensitive skill in characterization.”

1919 – Ivan Blatný, Czechoslovakian poet who was part of Group 42, an artistic movement influenced by civilism, cubism, futurism, constructivism, and surrealism; he lived in exile in the U.K. after the Communist seizure of power in his native land.

1932 – Udupi Rajagopalacharya Ananthamurthy, award-winning Indian writer and critic in the Kannada language who was a fervent critic of nationalistic political parties and is considered a pioneer of the Navya movement.

1932 – Edward Hoagland, U.S. essayist, travel writer, and nature writer who joined the circus for two summers as a teenager, helping to tend the big cats; as an undergraduate at Harvard, he wrote a novel, Cat Man, about his experiences with the circus.

1936 – Adam Small, South African writer of the Black Consciousness movement; his work, written in English and Afrikaans, dealt with racial discrimination and satirized the political situation.

1940 – Rolf Sagen, award-winning Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, poet, and children’s author.

1942 – Anthony Summers, Irish biographer, bestselling nonfiction author, and Pulitzer Prize finalist who is also known for his conspiracy theories surrounding the death of Marilyn Monroe.

1955 – Brahim Dargouthi, Tunisian novelist, short-story writer, and teacher who is 460th in Arabian Business‘s ranking of the 500 most influential Arabs.

1958 – Hwang In-suk, award-winning South Korean poet and prose writer.

1970 – Ryoko Sekiguchi, Japanese writer, poet, translator, and linguist; she writes books in both Japanes and French.

1975 – Jemele Juanita Hill, U.S. sports journalist and columnist.

1975 – Srijato Bandopadhyay (often called just Srijato), award-winning Indian poet, novelist, and lyricist in the Bengali language.

1978 – Julia Butschkow, award-winning Danish poet, novelist, short-story writer, and playwright.

1992 – Bisola Biya (born Abisola Esther Biya), Nigerian author best known for her book Life Lessons… My Path to Happiness, a work described as “a timely expression of Nigeria’s socio-economic reality, with viable advice on how to counter the demons of contemporary society and achieve all-round intelligence.”

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