May 8 Writer Birthdays

1492 – Andrea Alciato (commonly known as Alciati, or Andreas Alciatus), Italian writer, historian, jurist, and university teacher who is regarded as the founder of the French school of legal humanists. He is most famous for his Emblemata, published in dozens of editions; this collection of short Latin verse texts and accompanying woodcuts created a new genre, the emblem book, which attained enormous popularity throughout Europe.

1570 – Tamás Esterházy, Hungarian writer, translator, linguist, and composer.

1736 – Caterina Dolfin, Italian (Venetian) poet and salonnière who was best known both for her sonnets and for her scandalous divorce and love affairs.

1737 – Edward Gibbon, English historian and politician, known for his major work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

1753 – Phyllis Wheatley, U.S. poet who was the first African-American woman to be published, she wrote poetry while a slave, with her owners’ encouragement; George Washington was a fan of her work.

1765 – Marianne Kraus (real name Maria Anna Walburga Lämmerhirt, German diarist, travel writer, painter, drafter, and lady-in-waiting.

1835 – Augusta Jane Evans (also called Augusta Evans Wilson), U.S. novelist, writer, and screenwriter who is best known as an author of Southern literature.

1851 – Pyarimohan Acharya, Indian writer, historian, educationist, and newspaper editor who wrote his best-known book, Odisara Itihasa (History of Odisha) in response to an advertisement by the colonial government looking for a textbook for use in schools.

1858 – J. Meade Falkner, English novelist, poet, and arms manufacturer executive.

1867 – Margarete Böhme, bestselling German novelist, short-story writer, autobiographer, journalist, and screenwriter who was one of the most widely read German writers of the early 20th century.

1872 – Una Lucy Silberrad, British novelists whose books highlight conservative middle-class virtues, even as they focus on capable female protagonists.

1878 – Heruy Wolde Selassie, Ethiopian writer, historian, and politician whose “considerable and distinguished literary output” was written in Amharic.

1881 – Sibylle von Olfers, German art teacher and nun who worked as an author and illustrator of children’s books, including her most celebrated work, The Root Children (original title: Etwas von den Wurzelkindern, or Something About the Children From the Roots).

1884 – Emilia Bernal, Cuban poet, writer, essayist, translator, and autobiographical novelist.

1886 – Philippa Powys (full name Catharine Edith Philippa Powys), British writer, novelist, and poet, and a member of one of the most distinguished families in modern arts and literature; her brothers included novelists John Cowper Powys, Theodore Francis Powys, and Llewelyn Powys, and her sister Gertrude Powys was a painter of striking portraits and powerful landscapes.

1890 – Moyshe Altman, Moldovan-born Yiddish-language writer, author, and translator.

1912 – Joyce Lussu, Italian writer, poet, linguist, translator, and politician; she was especially noted for her translations of avant-garde literature from Asia and Africa.

1913 – Saima Harmaja, Finnish poet, writer, and diarist who is known for her four volumes of sensitive poetry and her tragic death from tuberculosis at the age of 23.

1915 – Milton Meltzer, U.S. author and historian, known for children’s nonfiction books.

1917 – Miguel Bernad, Filipino writer, journalist, editor, educator, linguist, historian, and Jesuit priest.

1918 – Mario Alicata, Italian writer, screenwriter, author, literary critic, and politician.

1918 – Alix Marrier d’Unienville, Mauritius-born French and British author and spy who was an agent in the Free French Section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II.

1920 – Sloan Wilson, U.S. magazine writer and author, best known for his classic novel, Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

1922 – Mary Q. Steele, Newbery Honor-winning U.S. author and naturalist.

1923 – Li Lienfung, Chinese-born Singaporean chemist, playwright, newspaper columnist, and short-story writer; she wrote in both English and Chinese.

1924 – Suppiramaniam Vithiananthan, Sri Lankan writer, professor, and the first vice-chancellor of the University of Jaffna; he specialized in Asian and African Studies.

1924 – Gerda Weissmann Klein, Polish-born writer, autobiographer, children’s author, and human-rights activist who was a Holocaust survivor; her autobiographical account of the Holocaust, All but My Life, was adapted for the 1995 short film, One Survivor Remembers, which received an Academy Award and an Emmy Award, and was selected for the U.S. National Film Registry.

1925 – Gururaja Shyamacharya Amur, Indian writer, critic, and professor who writes in the Kannada and English languages.

1928 – Ramesh Chandra Jha, Indian writer, poet, novelist, journalist, freedom fighter whose poems and stories evoke patriotism and human values.

1928 – Rose Zwi, Mexican-born South African and Australian writer best known for her work about the immigrants in South Africa.

1930 – Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet of the Beat Generation.

1932 – Julieta Campos, award-winning Cuban and Mexican novelist, writer, and translator.

1937 – Thomas Pynchon, National Book Award-winning U.S. author known for writing dense, complex novels, and for protecting his privacy.

1940 – Peter Benchley, U.S. author, editor, and screenwriter best known for his novel Jaws.

1942 – Park Taesun, award-winning South Korean novelist, short-story writer, and translator who was part of the “April 19 Generation,” the group of writers who came into prominence in the 1960s and whose writing reflects the values of the Korean April 19 Student Revolution; his primary themes revolve around his criticisms of the customs of modern urban life.

1943 – Pat Barker, English author of historical fiction.

1944 – Mongane Wally Serote, South African poet, political activist, and writer who became involved in political resistance to the apartheid government by joining the African National Congress (ANC) and was arrested and detained for several months without trial; he spent years in exile before returning to South Africa in 1990.

1947 – Dhruv Bhatt, Indian Gujarati-language novelist and poet.

1952 – Beth Henley, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oscar-nominated U.S. playwright and screenwriter; her works often deal with Southern women.

1953 – Sachithanantham Sri Kantha (also known as Sachi Sri Kantha), Sri Lanka-born Japanese Tamil scientist, historian, and author.

1957 – Ahmed Parker Yerima, Nigerian playwright, professor, and theater director who was director-general of the Nigerian National Theatre.

1958 – Roddy Doyle, Irish novelist, playwright, and screenwriter; most of his work is set in working-class Dublin.

1963 – Robin Jarvis, British author of young-adult and children’s dark fantasy & supernatural thrillers.

1964 – Nira Konjit Wickramasinghe, Sri Lankan writer, professor, and historian who specializes in Modern South Asian Studies; she is currently based in the Netherlands, where she is working on a history of the reception of the sewing machine in colonial Sri Lanka.

1970 – Naomi Klein, Canadian activist and nonfiction author known for criticisms of corporate globalization.

1972 – Jigme Gyatso (aka Golog Jigme), Tibetan journalist, filmmaker, and human rights activist.

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