December 31 Writer Birthdays

1514 – Andreas Vesalius, Flemish physician and author of one of the most influential books on human anatomy; he is considered the founder of modern anatomy.

1779 – Horace Smith, English poet and novelist who once competed against Percy Shelley in a sonnet-writing contest.

1805 – Marie d’Agoult (Marie Catherine Sophie, Comtesse d’Agoult), French Romantic author, poet, essayist, diarist, historian, composer, and salonnière who was also known by her pen name, Daniel Stern.

1829 – Alexander Smith, Scottish poet of the Spasmodic school who also wrote essays, magazine articles, and a novel, and edited a volume of Burns.

1874 – Holbrook Jackson, British journalist, writer, and publisher who was one of the leading bibliophiles of his time. His works include The Anatomy of Bibliomania, The Reading of Books, and The Fear of Books.

1903 – Fumiko Hayashi, Japanese writer, poet, novelist, and screenwriter; many of her works revolve around themes of free-spirited women and troubled relationships, but her appeal is rooted in the clarity with which she conveys the humanity not just of women, but also others on the underside of Japanese society.

1905 – Frank Marshall Davis, U.S. African-American poet and journalist whose poetry protested racial inequality.

1908 – Isha Basant Joshi, Indian writer, poet, and civil servant who published books under the name Esha Joshi; she was also British India’s first woman Indian Administrative Services officer.

1925 – Irina Korschunow, German novelist, journalist, children’s writer, young-adult author, screenwriter, playwright, and short-story writer.

1931 – Bob Shaw, Hugo Award-winning science fiction novelist and short-story writer from Northern Ireland; he was noted for his originality and wit.

1933 – Edward Bunker, U.S. screenwriter and author of crime fiction.

1936 – Clarence Major, U.S. experimental fiction writer, editor, poet, and artist who has been described as a “polymorphous writer who has been iconoclast, Black esthetician, modernist, surrealist, postmodernist, and deconstructionist.”

1945 – Tatyana Nikitina, Tajikistani Russian bard, writer, poet, politician, composer, songwriter, singer, and physicist.

1945 – Issa Samb, Senegalese writer, poet, playwright, actor, painter, sculptor, philosopher, critic, and essayist; he is also known by his pseudonym, Joe Ouakam.

1945 – Connie Willis, U.S. writer, poet, novelist, short-story writer, and science-fiction author who is especially known for her time-travel books and for her multiple Hugo and Nebula awards; she has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

1946 – Roy Sydney Porter, award-winning British nonfiction writer and professor known for his important work on the history of medicine.

1946 – Elisabeth Møller Jensen, Danish feminist writer, lecturer, literary critic, and literary historian who was director of Kvinfo, the Danish Centre for Information on Women and Gender.

1949 – Ellen Datlow, award-winning U.S. writer, editor, and anthologist of science fiction, fantasy, and horror; she has won a Hugo Award, two Bram Stoker Awards, and many World Fantasy Awards, including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

1949 – Lyubov Holota, award-winning Ukrainian author, poet, prose writer, and journalist.

1949 – Susan Shwartz, U.S. author of science fiction, alternate history, and fantasy who is a multiple Hugo and Nebula winner.

1950 – Ali Imam, award-winning Bangladeshi author, children’s writer, and audiovisual organizer who is best known for his many scientific stories and travel stories for children.

1950 – Mithileswar, award-winning Indian Hindi novelist, short-story writer, and children’s writer noted for his keen observation and deep insight into the rural heartland of India; most of his stories focus on the common man in society, describing the mental state of poor, exploited people and those facing a rapidly industrializing modern-day India.

1951 – Susan Elaine Eisenhower, U.S. author and consultant who is an expert on international security, space policy, energy, and U.S.-Russian relations; she is the granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

1953 – Gabriela Matuszek, Polish writer, poet, essayist, translator, literary critic, and literary historian.

1954 – Pedro Zarraluki, award-winning Spanish novelist, short-story writer, and educator.

1956 – Helder Proença, Guinea-Bissauan writer, poet, author, and politician who served as Minister of Defense of Guinea-Bissau; in 2009, he was shot and killed by government security forces.

1956 – Lyonel Trouillot, Haitian novelist, poet, writer, professor, and journalist who writes in both French and Haitian Creole.

1957 – Necla Kelek, Turkish-born German feminist, writer, lecturer, sociologist, and social scientist whose research focuses on what she sees as the parallel society characterized by Islam in Germany.

1957 – Guðmundur Andri Thorsson, award-winning Icelandic writer, editor, novelist, and literary critic.

1958 – Steven Herrick, Australian poet, author, children’s writer, and young-adult author who is widely regarded as a pioneer of verse-novels for children and young adults.

1958 – Anne Vegter, Dutch writer, poet, playwright, author, and children’s writer; she is the first woman to hold the position of Dichter des Vaderlands (Dutch Poet Laureate).

1959 – Ronnie del Carmen, Oscar-nominated Filipino animation writer, screenwriter, film director, artist, and production designer of animated films, including Inside Out, Up, and Ratatouille.

1962 – Boubacar Diallo, Burkinabé (from Burkina Faso) filmmaker, novelist, satirist, journalist, short-story writer, television producer, and magazine founder.

1962 – Machi Tawara, Japanese poet, writer, and translator; she is credited with revitalizing the tanka poetic form for modern Japanese audiences.

1965 – Nicholas Sparks, bestselling U.S. novelist and screenwriter whose work often focuses on melodramatic romance; many of his books have been adapted for film.

1966 – Hiromi Goto, award-winning Japanese-born Canadian writer, novelist, editor, short-story writer, and instructor of creative writing; her stories are influenced by tales of life in Japan that she heard as a child from her father and grandmother, and often feature ghosts and folk creatures such as the kappa — a small creature with a frog’s body, a turtle’s shell and a bowl-shaped head that holds water. Her writing explores themes of race, gender, and culture, while moving among the realms of fantasy, horror, and reality.

1968 – Junot Díaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning Dominican-U.S. writer, editor, and professor whose works often explore themes of family, love, and infidelity, frequently set against the background of “the Dominican Dream,” a fiction that has led thousands of Dominicans to risk their lives each year in a perilous journey to Puerto Rico.

1969 – Siba Shakib, award-winning Iranian/German novelist, writer, filmmaker, and political activist.

1969 – Elettra Stamboulis, Italian writer, journalist, art magazine founder, curator, professor, and comic writer.

1970 – Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Mauritanian author, telecommunications engineer, and former Guantánamo detainee who wrote a memoir while imprisoned about his 14-year detention without any charges ever brought against him.

1971 – Iolanda Batallé, award-winning Spanish Catalan writer, novelist, short-story writer, journalist, editor, publisher, and professor.

1974 – Joe Abercrombie, Locus Award-winning British fantasy writer and film editor.

1974 – Tan Tolga Demirci, Turkish author, essayist, writer, and film director.

1977 – Dilman Dila, award-winning Ugandan author, filmmaker, short-story writer, and social activist.

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