February 4 Writer Birthdays

1447 – Ludovico Lazzarelli, Italian poet, philosopher, courtier, philosopher, translator, mystic, and reputed magician.

1688 – Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux (commonly referred to as simply Marivaux), French playwright, essayist, and novelist, he is best remembered for his comic plays, which are noted for their keen observations and literary excellence.

1691 – George Lillo, English playwright and tragedian; his play The London Merchant, or The History of George Barnwell, was one of the most popular and frequently produced plays in 18th century England.

1718 – Barbara Sanguszko, Lithuanian poet, writer, translator, philanthropist, and salonnière whose best known works included translations of religious works, a two-volume Voltaire novel, and a medical textbook, as well as poetry and a guidebook for mothers whose daughters were about to be married.

1731 – Mary Deverell, English writer, poet, and religious essayist whose work questioned the conventional belief that the female sphere was solely domestic.

1749 – Josefa Amar y Borbón, Spanish writer and pedagogue who belonged to a group of intellectuals who shared a concern for the decadent conditions of Spain and a desire to fix the situation through education; she is considered part of the first generation of Spanish feminists.

1808 – Vincent Dunin-Marcinkievic (also spelled Wincenty Dunin-Marcinkiewicz), Belarusian writer, poet, author, playwright, linguist, translator, and social activist who was one of the founders of the modern Belarusian literary tradition; he wrote in both contemporary Belarusian and Polish.

1820 – Božena Nemcová, Czech writer, poet, children’s author, and artist of the National Revival movement who wrote novels as well as books of fairy tales and legends; her image is featured on Czech banknotes.

1853 – Isa Asp, Finnish writer and poet who is considered her country’s first woman poet and first lesbian icon; she died of tuberculosis at the age of 19 but left behind about 100 poems, including her most popular one, “Lullaby to a Wave.”

1859 – Jacob Werber (also known as Ya’akov Verber), Galician Jewish journalist, editor, and writer.

1876 – Ma Fuxiang, Chinese warlord, military governor, mayor, author, and calligrapher.

1878 – Zabel Yesayan, Turkish-born Armenian author, short-story writer, poet, translator, university teacher, novelist, literary critic, opinion journalist, and professor who was inspired by the French Romantic movement and the nineteenth-century revival of Armenian Literature in the Western Armenian dialect. Her writings, nonfiction and fiction, about the massacres of Armenians led to her being targeted for arrest by the Ottoman Young Turk government, as the only woman on the list; she evaded capture and fled the country, eventually settling in Soviet Armenia.

1885 – Ahmad Hasan al-Zayyat, influential Egyptian political writer, journalist, university teacher, and intellectual who established the Egyptian literary magazine al-Risala, described as “the most important intellectual weekly in 1930s Egypt and the Arab world.”

1887 – Sheila Kaye-Smith, bestselling English writer and poet who is best known for her novels set in the borderlands of Sussex and Kent; her novel Joanna Godden was adapted as the film, The Loves of Joanna Godden.

1895 – Anna Helena Margaretha (Annie) Romein-Verschoor, popular, award-winning Dutch author, historian, journalist, autobiographer, and feminist writer.

1900 – Jacques Prévert, popular French poet and screenwriter of the Poetic Realist movement.

1902 – Charles Lindbergh, U.S. aviator, military officer, author, and environmental activist who wrote The Spirit of St. Louis about making the first solo transatlantic flight; he was controversial because of his extramarital affairs, racist views, and belief in eugenics.

1902 – Svetoslav Minkov, Bulgarian writer, translator, journalist, author, children’s writer, and science-fiction writer whose works primarily concern the loss of identity in the technocratic world, the uncertainty of morality and values, and the existential aspects of boredom; he vividly expressed his ideas through parody, diabolism, sarcasm and Absurdism, and is considered a pioneer of Bulgarian science fiction. He also wrote studies on Japanese culture and translated the tales of Scheherazade into Bulgarian.

1904 – Buell Gordon Gallagher, U.S. professor, minister, professor, and college president who wrote about civil rights and race relations in higher education.

1904 – MacKinlay Kantor, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist, many of whose works were set during the Civil War.

1906 – Agniya Lvovna Barto, Soviet poet, screenwriter, translator, children’s writer, and radio personality of Russian Jewish origin.

1908 – Ellisiv Steen, Norwegian writer, biographer, literary historian, and professor.

1909 – Jean Bolikango, award-winning Congolese novelist, writer, educator, and politician.

1910 – Mattheus Uys Krige, South African writer, poet, journalist, linguist, and translator who was unusual among Afrikaans writers for his hostility to apartheid, White supremacism, and Afrikaner nationalism.

1913 – Rosa Parks (full name Louise McCauley Parks), iconic U.S. African-American civil-rights leader and autobiographer; she is best known for her pivotal role in inspiring the Montgomery bus boycott by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a White person. The United States Congress has honored her as “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement.”

1917 – Abdul Rahman Badawi, Egyptian writer, philosopher, and professor who was drawn to classical Greek philosophy and studied the relationship between Islam and the western world.

1918 – Narayan Gongopadhyay (also known as Narayan Ganguly, and by his pen name, simply “Narayan”), award-winning Indian Bengali novelist, poet, essayist, children’s author, and short-story writer who was one of the leading figures in modern Bengali literature.

1918 – Ida Lupino, English actress, screenwriter, film director, producer, and singer; she is widely regarded as the most prominent female filmmaker working in 1950s Hollywood. Her immensely influential filmmaking career, which tackled themes of women trapped by social conventions, usually under melodramatic or noir coverings, is a pioneering example of proto-feminist filmmaking.

1919 – Marta Schumann, award-winning Norwegian poet, short-story writer, historical fiction writer, and science-fiction novelist.

1921 – Betty Friedan, influential U.S. feminist writer who was a key figure in the women’s movement in the U.S.; she is best known for her book The Feminine Mystique.

1924 – Sebastián Salazar Bondy, Peruvian playwright, essayist, poet, and journalist who was among the most important Peruvian intellectuals of his time.

1925 – Russell Hoban, U.S. expatriate author of books for children and adults; he wrote fantasy, science fiction, magic realism, mainstream fiction, and poetry, and spent most of his career living in the U.K.

1925 – Stanley Karnow, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. journalist and historian, best known for his writings on the Vietnam war.

1931 – Thomas Risley Odhiambo, Kenyan entomologist and environmental activist who directed research and scientific development in Africa; he founded the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology but also encouraged the younger generation of thinkers to go into the fine arts.

1947 – Uche Ewah Azikiwe, Nigerian author and professor who is the widow of Nigerian President Nnamdi Azikiwe.

1958 – Keigo Higashino, Japanese author, screenwriter, and engineer best known for his mystery novels.

1959 – Tsitsi Dangarembga, award-winning Zimbabwean novelist, poet, playwright, and filmmaker; her semi-autobiographical novel, Nervous Conditions, is on the list of Africa’s 100 Best Books of the Last Century and the BBC’s list of 100 Stories That Changed the World.

1960 – Siobhan Dowd, British writer of children’s fiction.

1961 – Stewart O’Nan, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction author.

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