January 24 Writer Birthdays

1287 – Richard de Bury (also known as Richard Aungerville or Aungervyle), English priest, teacher, bishop, writer, and bibliophile who was a patron of learning and one of the first English collectors of books. He is chiefly remembered for his Philobiblon, written to inculcate in the clergy the pursuit of learning and the love of books; it is considered one of the earliest books to discuss librarianship in-depth.

1664 – John Vanbrugh, English architect, dramatist, and radical. He was perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard and creator of the English Baroque style, but he was also the author of two controversial Restoration comedies, which are still popular today but were considered offensive in his time for their sexual explicitness and their defense of women’s rights in marriage. He also schemed to overthrow James II and put William III on the throne, and was imprisoned by the French as a political prisoner.

1706 – Johannes Eusebius Voet, Dutch writer, poet, translator, illustrator, physician, zoologist, and entomologist.

1732 – Pierre Beaumarchais, French writer, poet, diplomat, playwright, author, musician, financier, publisher, opinion journalist, and businessperson.

1759 – Francesco Saverio Salfi, Italian writer, playwright, poet, librettist, historian, essayist, translator, teacher, lecturer, politician, and one-time priest whose writings angered leaders of the Catholic church. In 1788, when Ferdinand IV of Naples refused to pay the annual tribute to the Pope, Salfi wrote a satire against the Papal States and in praise of the Neapolitan government, but when the Neapolitan government turned ultra-conservative in reaction to the French Revolution, he joined a society that was planning a violent insurrection. He is best known today as the author of books on history.

1776 – Wilhelmine Halberstadt, German author and educator who wrote on religion, education, and the rights of women, and who founded several educational institutions.

1776 – E.T.A. Hoffmann, German Romantic author whose novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was adapted into the ballet The Nutcracker.

1804 – Delphine de Girardin (born Delphine Gay; pen names Vicomte Delaunay and Charles de Launay), French author, poet, playwright, journalist, and salonnière. She was an influential figure in literary society in her day, and often hosted such well-known writers as Théophile Gautier, Honoré de Balzac, and Victor Hugo.

1836 – Nikolay Alexandrovich Dobrolyubov, Russian literary critic, journalist, opinion journalist, poet, philosopher, and revolutionary.

1837 – Konstantin Konstantinovich Arsenyev, Russian writer, journalist, essayist, historian, lawyer, and liberal politician.

1846 – Cristina Farfán, Mexican writer, poet, journalist, and educator who promoted women’s education and was a key figure of Mexico’s early feminist movement and one of the founders of women’s literary journalism there.

1850 – Mary Noailles Murfree, U.S. novelist and short-story writer who wrote under the pen name Charles Egbert Craddock. She is considered by many to be Appalachia’s first significant female writer, favorably compared to Bret Harte and Sarah Orne Jewett; the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is named after Murfree’s great-grandfather Colonel Hardy Murfree, who fought in the Revolutionary War.

1862 – Edith Wharton, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and designer who drew upon her insider’s knowledge of the upper class New York “aristocracy” to realistically portray the lives and morals of the Gilded Age; she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

1864 – Marguerite Durand, French writer, journalist, editor, and actress who founded the first feminist newspaper, La Fronde (The Slingshot), organized the Congress For the Rights of Women, and owned a pet lion she named “Tiger”; the Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand is named for her.

1864 – Beatrice Harraden, British writer, novelist, lexicographer, and feminist who was a leader of the suffragette movement and a founding member of the Women’s Social and Political Union who published in the suffragette paper Votes for Women. She also worked on the Oxford English Dictionary. Her fiction, even when it does not directly reference women’s rights, includes themes of gender dynamics and strong, independent female characters.

1867 – Ingrid Jespersen, Danish writer, translator, pedagogue, and school principal who introduced groundbreaking reforms in girls’ education in Denmark.

1968 – Ada Bell Harper Maescher, U.S. writer and architect who, as president of the De Luxe Building Company, a home building and architecture design firm, was one of the country’s most successful women building contractors.

1870 – Muddana, Indian poet who wrote in the Kannada language; the name Muddana was a nickname that means “cute” in Kannada; he was also known as Mahakavi (“Great Poet”) or Mahakavi Muddana, but his real name was Lakshmi Naranappa. Despite all of those names, he chose to publish some of his works anonymously.

1872 – Ethel Turner, award-winning English-born Australian novelist, poet, and children’s literature writer. Her best-known work is her wildly popular first novel, Seven Little Australians, now a classic of Australian children’s literature, about a family of seven children growing up in Australia.

1874 – Tatiana Lvovna Shchepkina-Kupernik, Russian and Soviet writer, dramatist, poet, linguist, and translator.

1876 – Beulah Marie Dix, prolific U.S. screenwriter of the silent and sound film eras, as well as a novelist, playwright, and writer of children’s books.

1877 – Louise van den Plas, Belgian writer and suffragist who was the founder of the first Christian feminist movement in Belgium.

1886 – Kersti Bergroth, Finnish author, poet, journalist, memoirist, children’s author, and playwright who also wrote film screenplays under the pseudonym Tet. Late in Italy, she relocated to Italy.

1888 – Hedwig “Vicki” Baum, Austrian writer who is best known for her novel Menschen im Hotel (People at a Hotel, published in English as Grand Hotel), an international success that was made into a 1932 film and a 1989 Broadway musical.

1888 – Nalini Kanta Bhattasali, Bengali Indian writer, historian, archaeologist, numismatist, epigraphist, antiquarian, museum curator, schoolteacher, and headmaster.

1889 – Charles Hawes, U.S. author of sea stories and the first American-born winner of the Newbery Medal.

1898 – Milada Soucková, Czech writer, literary historian, and diplomat who is remembered most for introducing Modernist techniques to Czech literature.

1899 – Mitsuhashi Takajo (born Fumiko Matsuhashi), influential Japanese haiku poet and literary magazine founder; both her father and her husband were also poets.

1914 – Edith Hahn Beer, Austrian Jewish writer, lawyer, judge, housemaid, and corset designer; she survived the Holocaust by hiding her Jewish identity and marrying a Nazi officer.

1915 – Winifred Cawley, award-winning English novelist, teacher, and author of children’s books. According to Julia Eccleshare, Children’s Book Editor for The Guardian, Cawley’s books made “a significant contribution in the early days of social realism in children’s books.… Now so fashionable, stories about children from less affluent homes were almost non-existent until the late 1950s and 60s.”

1922 – Rajeshwari Chatterjee, Indian writer, physicist, scientist, engineer, and professor who was the first woman engineer from Karnataka.

1927 – Priyakant Premachand Maniyar, award-winning Indian Gujarati poet who published seven collections of symbolic and imagist poetry.

1931 – Leonard Baker, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author, journalist, and biographer.

1933 – Kadir Misiroglu, Turkish writer, poet, lawyer, journalist, and conspiracy theorist who was known for his Islamist, anti-secularist, and monarchist views.

1935 – Dariush Shayegan, influential Iranian writer, cultural theorist, and comparative philosopher who was considered one the most significant thinkers of contemporary Iran and the Near East.

1936 – Marilou Awiakta, U.S. Cherokee a poet, writer, and essayist who is a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee; her perspective fuses her Cherokee, Scots-Irish, and Appalachian heritage with experiences of growing up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on the atomic frontier.

1938 – Lautaro Núñez Atencio, Chilean writer, historian, archeologist, and anthropologist who was a winner of the Chilean National History Award.

1941 – Yuri Pokalchuk, Ukrainian writer, translator, researcher, and academic who was head of the international department of the Union of Writers of Ukraine and a member of the literary group “The Dogs of Saint Yur.” He also led the musical group, Lights of a Big City, which performed songs set to his texts.

1943 – Takashi Hirose, Japanese nonfiction writer, translator, and opinion journalist, who is an outspoken activist against the use of nuclear power.

1944 – David Gerrold, U.S. science-fiction author and screenwriter best known for his “The Trouble With Tribbles” Star Trek episode.

1949 – John Belushi, U.S. actor, comedian, screenwriter, and singer who was one of the seven original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. He died of a drug overdose at age 33 and was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. His younger brother Jim Belushi is also an actor.

1950 – Judy Ongg, award-winning Taiwanese-born book author, television and film actor, singer, artist, and woodblock printmaker who became a naturalized Japanese citizen.

1950 – Germán Santa María Barragán, Columbian novelist, magazine editor, and award-winning journalist who is Columbia’s current Ambassador to Portugal.

1957 – Lawrence Hill, Canadian novelist, nonfiction author, essayist, memoirist, and lecturer who is best known for his novel The Book of Negroes — inspired by the Black Loyalists who were given freedom and resettled in Nova Scotia by the British after the American Revolutionary War — and for his memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada, which grew out of his experiences growing up with a Black father and a White mother. The Book of Negroes was adapted for a TV miniseries produced in 2015.

1958 – Giuseppe Ferrandino, renowned Italian novelist and comic-book author who began as a medical student but quit in order to follow his dream of working as a comic-strip scriptwriter. His first novel Pericle il nero (Pericles the Black Man) has been adapted for film.

1959 – Maria de Fátima (better known by her pen name Cho do Guri), award-winning Angolan poet, author, and columnist. Her acclaimed book A filha do Alemão (The German Daughter) is about the unwanted mulatto children in Angola; it drew on her own experiences as a child who was, at the age of four, left at a house for disadvantaged children, because her mother could not afford to feed her.

1964 – Miguel Herrero Uceda, Spanish writer, lecturer and natural scientist whose work involves the preservation of the environment and the conservation of traditional culture.

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