April 11 Writer Birthdays

1492 – Marguerite de Navarre, French writer, poet, playwright, and salonnière who was a princess of France, and Queen consort of Navarre; as an author and patron of humanists and reformers, she was a key figure of the French Renaissance and was once called “the first modern woman.”

1582 – Justus de Harduwijn (also written Hardwijn, Herdewijn, Harduyn or Harduijn), Flemish poet and Roman Catholic priest whose work is regarded as the poetic link between the Renaissance and the Counter-Reformation in the Netherlands.

1645 – Juan del Valle y Caviedes (often referred to simply as Caviedes), Spanish and Peruvian writer, poet, satirist, and social critic of the Spanish American Baroque Colonial period.

1713 – Luise Gottsched, German poet, playwright, essayist, and translator; she was regarded as one of Europe’s leading intellects of her day and is considered one of the founders of modern German theatrical comedy.

1722 – Christopher Smart, popular English poet who was a friend to such influential cultural icons as Samuel Johnson and Henry Fielding; he was also infamous under his pseudonym, the midwife “Mrs. Mary Midnight,” though under his own name, he was best known for religious poetry.

1725 – Juan Bautista Aguirre y Carbo, notable Ecuadorian poet, writer, educator, and Jesuit priest who wrote religious, moral, and love poems; in 1767 he emigrated to Italy when the Jesuits were expelled from Spanish America.

1744 – Jurij Japelj (known in German as Georg Japel), Slovene writer, poet, translator, philologist, linguist, translator, and philologist, and Jesuit priest who was part of the Zois circle, a group of intellectuals who were instrumental in spreading Enlightenment ideas in the Slovene lands; his translations of the Bible set the basis for the development of modern standard Slovene.

1857 – John Davidson, Scottish poet, playwright, novelist, and translator who was best known for his ballads.

1858 – Barbu Ștefănescu Delavrancea (pen name of Barbu Ștefan), Romanian writer, poet, playwright, journalist, novelist, and lawyer who is considered one of the greatest figures in the National Awakening of Romania.

1862 – Lurana W. Sheldon, prolific U.S. poet, novelist, short-story writer, newspaper editor, and activist for women’s suffrage and birth control; she also wrote under the pen names Richard Hackstaff, Stanley Norris, and Grace Shirley.

1864 – Johanna Elberskirchen, groundbreaking German feminist writer, essayist, author, editor, speaker, and activist for the rights of women, gays, and lesbians as well as blue-collar workers; she wrote books, articles, and essays on women’s sexuality and health, motherhood, women’s education, violence against women, suffrage, and workplace safety, sometimes under the pen name Hans Carolan. Unusually for the time, she was open about her own homosexuality.

1866 – Bernard Patrick O’Dowd, Australian poet, journalist, librarian, activist, and lawyer.

1883 – Camille Marbo (real name Marguerite Appell Borel), French writer who was president and laureate of the Prix Femina and president of the Société des gens de lettres.

1893 – Dean Acheson, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. memoirist, lawyer, and U.S. Secretary of State.

1898 – Conny Méndez, Venezuelan writer, caricaturist, composer, singer, and actress who wrote about metaphysics.

1903 – Misuzu Kaneko, Japanese poet, writer, and songwriter who has been compared to Christina Rossetti; she was born in a fishing village, and often included images of fishing and the sea in her work.

1905 – Attila József, Hungarian poet who was largely unknown during his lifetime but who was hailed during the 1950s as Hungary’s great “proletarian poet”; today, he is considered the best known internationally of all modern Hungarian poets.

1908 – Fania Bergstein, Polish and Russian poet, author, and lyricist who wrote and published books in Hebrew, for both adults and children; perhaps her greatest contribution was in the development of Modern Hebrew poetry for children. Some of her poems for both children and adults have become Israeli classics and are recognized as touchstones of Israel’s literary and cultural heritage.

1909 – Isaac Felipe Azofeifa, Costa Rican poet, politician, and educator who is considered one of the most important Costa Rican poets of the 20th century.

1911 – David Westheimer, U.S. novelist, screenwriter, and editor. He is most remembered for writing the novel Von Ryan’s Express, which was adapted as a film starring Frank Sinatra, but his connection to his most enduring novel, Days of Wine and Roses, has been largely forgotten; his name was removed from the book after its initial printing, because it was the novelization of a screenplay by his friend J.P. Miller, and the publisher reprinted it under only Miller’s name when it became hugely popular.

1920 – Peter O’Donnell, British writer of mysteries and comic strips who also wrote gothic romances under the pseudonym Madeline Brent.

1928 – Lionel Abrahams, South African novelist, poet, editor, critic, essayist, and publisher who was born with cerebral palsy and became one of the most influential figures in South African literature; through his publishing company, Renoster Books, he published works by Oswald Mtshali and Mongane Wally Serote, heralding the emergence of black poetry during the apartheid era.

1930 – Clive Exton, British television screenwriter and playwright, best known for writing scripts for the television series Jeeves and Wooster, Rosemary & Thyme, and Poirot.

1931 – Nelly Kaplan, French filmmaker, screenwriter, author, essayist, and journalist.

1932 – Bienvenido Lumbera, award-winning Filipino poet, dramatist, essayist, editor, literary critic, literary historian, librettist, textbook author, and professor who is widely acknowledged as one of the pillars of contemporary Philippine literature, cultural studies and film.

1934 – Mark Strand, Canadian-born U.S. poet, essayist, professor, and translator who was U.S. Poet Laureate.

1936 – Dmitry Vasilyevich Bobyshev, Ukrainian-born poet, translator and literary critic.

1937 – Shinmon Aoki, Japanese novelist, writer, poet, and memoirist. He is best known for his memoirs Coffinman: The Journal of a Buddhist Mortician, based on his diaries from the 1970s, when he worked as a mortician, a profession that is traditionally regarded as taboo in Japan; his memoirs were adapted into an Academy Award-winning feature film, Departures.

1940 – Thomas Harris, U.S. author, journalist, and screenwriter best known for his series of novels about his fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter.

1942 – Virgil Mazilescu, award-winning Romanian poet, essayist, editor, translator, teacher, and librarian.

1946 – Banira Giri, award-winning Nepalese writer, poet, and literary critic who was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. by Tribhuvan University; she passed away of Covid-19 in 2021.

1951 – James Patrick Kelly, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning U.S. author of science fiction and cyberpunk novels and short stories.

1951 – Sapa’u Ruperake Petaia, Samoan poet and writer whose work explores themes about the effects of colonialism and Western influences on Samoan culture and society.

1959 – Barbara Köhler, award-winning German poet, writer, and translator who was born in East Germany and was able to publish her first poetry collection after the fall of the Berlin Wall; her best known work, Niemands Frau (Nobody’s Wife) is a poem cycle that tells the story of The Odyssey from the perspective of its female characters.

1968 – Cecilia Eudave, Mexican writer, poet, novelist, short-story author, and professor.

1977 – Lee Young-you, Korean writer and comic-book artist; she is the author of popular serials including “Kill Me, Kiss Me,” “Moon Boy,” “Priceless,” “Pastel Green Spell,” and “Spring Spring.”

1984 – Silvia Avallone, award-winning Italian writer, poet, novelist, screenwriter, and short-story writer; her first novel, the bestselling Acciaio, drew heavily on her childhood experiences; it was adapted into a film of the same name.

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