April 21 Writer Birthdays

1488 – Ulrich von Hutten, German knight, scholar, poet, and satirist who became a follower of Martin Luther and a Protestant reformer.

1755 – Maria Johanna von Aachen (born Maria Johanna Katharina Erika Elisabeth von Amboten), German Westphalian writer and poet who published under pseudonyms.

1816 – Charlotte Brontë, English novelist who wrote under the pseudonym Currer Bell; her Gothic romance Jane Eyre is one of the most popular novels of all time and revolutionized fiction by focusing on the protagonist’s moral and spiritual development through an intimate first-person narrative, while also incorporating psychological intensity and social criticism and addressing issues of feminism, sexuality, class, and religion. Brontë has been called the “first historian of the private consciousness,” and the literary ancestor of writers like Proust and Joyce, and was also an artist who illustrated an edition of Jane Eyre; she was the oldest of three sisters who all wrote some of the key works of English literature.

1828 – Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, influential French writer, critic, historian, art historian, and philosopher who was the chief theoretical influence of French naturalism and the originator of the literary historicism movement; he is also remembered for his attempts to provide a scientific account of literature.

1829 – Anna Feodorovna Tiutcheva, German-born Russian courtier, slavophile, and memoirist who was the maid of honor and confidante of Empress Maria Alexandrovna (Marie of Hesse). Historians regard her memoirs depicting Russian life in the second half of the 19th century as a valuable historic source of the life of Russian aristocracy in her time.

1835 – Nandshankar Tuljashankar Mehta, Indian Gujarati-language author and social reformer who is best known for Karan Ghelo, the first original novel in Gujarati.

1838 – John Muir, influential Scottish-born U.S. naturalist, author, essayist, autobiographer, philosopher, engineer, inventor, geologist, botanist, mountaineer, explorer, glaciologist, ecologist, and activist who co-founded the Sierra Club. He was also known as “John of the Mountains” and “Father of the National Parks.”

1840 – Cora L.V. Scott, U.S. author and lecturer who was one of the best-known mediums of the Spiritualism movement of the last half of the 19th century; she did not take credit for authorship of her books, attributing them instead to the spirits who guided her.

1865 – Thomas Thackeray Swinburne, U.S. poet who has been called the “Poet Laureate of Rochester, New York.”

1885 – Mitsuko Shiga (四賀光子), Japanese tanka poet, anthologist, and magazine editor; she used the pen name Mitsu Ōta.

1910 – Pi Cheon-deuk, Korean essayist, poet, professor, and English literature scholar who wrote under the pen name Geuma.

1920 – T.R. Subba Rao (full name Taluku Ramaswami Subba Rao, and sometimes known as TaRaSu), Indian novelist and scholar in Kannada language; he is considered as a harbinger of the Navya movement of Kannada literature.

1922 – Meira Delmar (pseudonym for Olga Isabel Chams Eljach), Colombian poet of Lebanese descent; she is considered one of the leading Colombian poets of the 20th century.

1922 – Alistair MacLean, bestselling Scottish novelist who wrote thrillers and adventure stories, sometimes under the pen name Ian Stewart.

1923 – John Mortimer (Sir John Clifford Mortimer), English barrister, dramatist, poet, screenwriter, and novelist.

1924 – P. Bhaskaran (full name Pulloottupadathu Bhaskaran), prolific award-winning Indian Malayalam poet, screenwriter, author, journalist, actor, songwriter, lyricist, and film director; he was known for the simple use of language in his poetry and lyrics.

1930 – Hilda Hilst, Brazilian writer, poet, novelist and playwright who is one of the most important Portuguese-language authors of the twentieth century; her work touches on the themes of mysticism, insanity, the body, eroticism, and female sexual liberation, and draws on the influence of writers James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, incorporating such elements of their styles as stream of consciousness and fractured reality.

1932 – Elaine Iva May (née Elaine Berlin), award-winning U.S. comedian, screenwriter, playwright director, and actress who wrote Heaven Can Wait and adapted the script for The Birdcage, among others.

1939 – Helene Prejean, U.S. Roman Catholic nun and activist against the death penalty; she wrote the book Dead Man Walking based on her work as a spiritual adviser to death-row inmates in Louisiana; it was the basis for an a Oscar-winning film.

1942 – Mohammad Mokhtari, Iranian writer, poet, translator, and activist who was part of the Iranian Writers Association, a group that was banned in Iran due to its objections to censorship and encouragement of freedom of expression; his political activities led to his murder in 1998.

1943 – Thomas McMahon, U.S. scientist, professor of applied mechanics and biology, science writer, and novelist.

1943 – Kole Omotoso (born Bankole Ajibabi Omotoso), Nigerian playwright and novelist.

1946 – Patrick Rambaud, award-winning French author of satirical novels and magazine founder.

1947 – Barbara Park, bestselling U.S. author of children’s books, most widely known for her popular Junie B. Jones series.

1958 – Hélène Dorion, prolific, award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, essayist, memoirist, writer, and editor.

1960 – Jeannette Walls, U.S. author, journalist, gossip columnist, and memoirist who is best known for her book, The Glass Castle, a memoir of her chaotic childhood.

1971 – Selina Tusitala Marsh, New Zealand writer, poet, and academic who was the New Zealand Poet Laureate.

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