April 12 Writer Birthdays

1573 – Jacques Bonfrère, Belgian professor, Jesuit priest, Biblical scholar, and leading commentator on the Old Testament.

1808 – Pauline Marie Armande Aglaé Craven (née Ferron de La Ferronnays), award-winning French novelist, essayist, memoirist, and biographer who spent time with many of the most influential people of her day; her style has been describing as having “all the limpid clearness and charm of the best French writers.”

1823 – Alexander Nikolayevich Ostrovsky, Russian realistic playwright said to have “almost single-handedly created a Russian national repertoire.” His dramas are among the most widely read and performed plays in Russia.

1851 – José Martín Antonio Gautier Benítez, Puerto Rican poet and writer of the Romantic Era.

1856 – Juliana Mary Louisa Probyn (known as May Probyn), English poet and novelist who was one of a group of lively and somewhat political British poets; several of her poems have been set to music.

1863 – Kshirode Prasad Vidyavinode (born Kshirode Chandra Bhattacharya), Indian Bengali poet, novelist, dramatist, short-story writer, actor, chemistry teacher, and Indian nationalist; the British regime banned some of his work because of its anti-colonial stance.

1866 – Vrtanes Papazian, Turkish-born Armenian writer, historian, translator, political and cultural activist, literary critic, editor, literature historian, and teacher.

1873 – N. Kumaran Asan, Indian Malayalam poet, writer, philosopher, and social reformer who initiated a revolution in Malayalam poetry in the first quarter of the 20th century, transforming it from the metaphysical to the lyrical; his poetry is known for its moral and spiritual content.

1904 – Francis Claud Cockburn, Chinese-born Anglo-Scots journalist who was a second cousin to novelists Alec Waugh and Evelyn Waugh.

1905 – Inger Hagerup, Norwegian author, playwright, and poet; she is considered one of the greatest Norwegian poets of the 20th century.

1907 – Hardie Gramatky, U.S. painter, author, and illustrator of children’s books; Andrew Wyeth called him one of America’s twenty greatest watercolorists.

1907 – Imogen Clare Holst, British writer, biographer, musicologist, composer, arranger, conductor, teacher, and festival administrator who was the only child of the composer Gustav Holst.

1907 – Zawgyi (born Thein Han), leading Burmese poet, author, playwright, literary historian, critic, scholar, and academic who was one of the leaders of the Hkit san (Testing the Times) movement, which searched for a new style and content in Burmese literature; the name, Zawgyi is a mythical wizard from Burmese folklore.

1908 – Ida Pollock (née Crowe), British writer and painter who, still active at age 105, was referred to as the “world’s oldest novelist.” She also wrote under the name Ida Crowe and various pseudonyms.

1913 – Shulamis Yelin, award-winning Canadian Jewish writer, poet, and educator who was among the founders of the Reconstructionist synagogue in Montreal. Her work reflected her experiences growing up in Montreal’s Jewish community; she also developed a syllabus, The Jew in Canada: 1760 – 1960, for use in Canadian schools.

1916 – Beverly Cleary, popular, prolific, and influential U.S. author of books for children and young adults, best known for Ramona the Pest and the other Ramona books; she passed away in March 2021.

1916 – Heera Pathak, Indian Gujarati poet, writer, and literary critic; she married writer Ramnarayan V. Pathak.

1920 – Anna Kamienska, Polish poet, writer, translator, and literary critic who was best known for her many books for children and adolescents.

1921 – Carol Emshwiller, Nebula Award-winning and World Fantasy Award-winning U.S. author of science-fiction novels, fantasy, westerns, magic realism, and short stories.

1928 – Hazel Townson, prolific English author of children’s picture books and novels.

1930 – Bryan Edgar Magee, British philosopher, broadcaster, politician, author, and poet; he is best known as a popularizer of philosophy.

1936 – Frankétienne (born Franck Étienne), Haitian writer, poet, playwright, painter, musician, activist, and intellectual who is known as the Father of Haitian Letters and recognized as one of Haiti’s leading writers and playwrights in both French and Haitian Creole; as a painter, he is known for his colorful abstract works, often emphasizing the colors blue and red.

1937 – Gerardo Cornejo Murrieta, Mexican novelist, essayist, poet, short-story writer and opera writer whose works reflect his love for his home state of Sonora.

1939 – Alan Ayckbourn, English playwright, author, and director.

1940 – Miriam Khamadi Were, award-winning Kenyan novelist, writer, public-health advocate, and academic.

1941 – Lee Mun Ku, South Korean novelist and short-story writer whose work explores agrarian Korean society in transition, shining a light on the harsh reality of Korean farming and fishing villages and the lives of rural people alienated by industrialization.

1942 – Kang Dae-ha, South Korean screenwriter, poet, and film director.

1945 – Kiyoko Murata, award-winning Japanese writer whose work has been adapted for film by Akira Kurosawa and Hideo Onchi.

1945 – Serge Schmemann, French-born writer, journalist, and editor.

1947 – Tom Clancy, bestselling U.S. author of intricate espionage and military thrillers; creator of the character Jack Ryan; he also coauthored screenplays and nonfiction books.

1947 – Sherali Jo‘rayev, Uzbek and Turkish screenwriter, author, poet, actor, singer, and songwriter who has been an influential figure in Uzbek cultural life.

1947 – Ana María Moix, award-winning Spanish poet, novelist, short-story writer, translator, editor, and children’s author who was part of the team that published the journal, Vindicación Feminista and was able to employ textual strategies “in order to counter the silencing of lesbianism while still managing to evade the Francoist censor.”

1949 – Scott Turow, bestselling U.S. author of legal fiction and nonfiction.

1950 – Isaad Younis, Egyptian screenwriter, author, actress, film producer, and television host.

1952 – Gary Soto, U.S. poet and young-adult fiction author.

1953 – Niklas Rådström, important and prolific Swedish novelist, poet, biographer, playwright, screenwriter, librettist, children’s writer, and professor; his work draws on history, folklore, and current events, as well as on his own life experiences.

1954 – Jon Krakauer, U.S. author and mountaineer who is known for his action-packed nonfiction books.

1957 – Tama Janowitz, U.S. novelist and satirist.

1961 – Yang Tongyan (pen name Yang Tianshui), Chinese novelist, essayist, and poet who was best known as dissident for his criticism of the Chinese government.

1963 – Lydia María Cacho Ribeiro, Mexican leftist journalist, feminist, and human rights activist, described by Amnesty International as “perhaps Mexico’s most famous investigative journalist and women’s rights advocate”; her reporting focuses on violence, including sexual violence, against women and children.

1965- Nino Abesadze, Soviet Georgian-born Israeli writer, journalist, and politician.

1965 – Tracey Corderoy, prolific, award-winning Welsh author of children’s picture books and young-adult fiction.

1974 – Antje Rávik Strubel, German writer, translator, and literary critic.

1975 – Elena Alexieva, Bulgarian writer, poet, playwright, translator, and novelist.

1986 – Elise Parsley, U.S. piano teacher who is also an author and illustrator of children’s picture books.

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