May 17 Writer Birthdays

1155 – Jien, Japanese historian, poet, and Buddhist monk.

1723 – Bianca Laura Saibante, Italian poet and playwright who was one of the founders of the cultural institution, the Accademia Roveretana degli Agiati.

1792 – Isabella Noel Byron (11th Baroness Wentworth and Baroness Byron, née Milbanke), English writer, poet, memoirist, and mathematician who was married to the poet Lord Byron; her memoirs were published after her death by writer Harriet Beecher Stowe.

1807 – Sophie Amelia Prosser (born Sophia Amelia Dibdin, but often called by her pseudonym, Mrs. Prosser), British author who was known for her sentimental morality tales and fables.

1813 – Eliza Rennie (also known as Mrs. Eliza Walker), Scottish author who is best known for her Gothic and Romantic short stories, her two-volume autobiography, and her writing about her friendships with writer Mary Shelley, the Duke of Wellington, and other notables.

1836 – Virginie (Marie) Loveling, Flemish Belgian author of realistic and romantic poetry, novels, essays, and children’s stories; she also wrote under the pseudonym W.E.C. Walter. Some of her work was co-authored with her sister Rosalie Loveling and her nephew Cyriel Buysse.

1853 – Amy Clarke (pen name Mrs. Henry Clarke), English writer of historical fiction and children’s books.

1857 – Pascual H. Poblete, Filipino writer, journalist, translator, and feminist; he is best remembered as the first translator of José Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere into the Tagalog language.

1860 – Nataly von Eschstruth (pen name of Nataly von Knobelsdorff-Brenkenhoff), German novelist, poet, and short-story writer.

1873 – Dorothy Miller Richardson, British novelist who was a pioneer of the stream-of-consciousness style.

1877 – Juana Borrero, Cuban writer, poet, and artist who began painting when she was five, wrote her first poem at seven, spoke multiple languages by the age of ten, and had her work published in magazines from age 14. She died of tuberculosis at only 18 years old.

1887 – Violet May Cottrell, New Zealand writer, poet, and spiritualist.

1889 – Alfonso Reyes, influential Mexican poet, essayist, literary critic, and diplomat.

1893 – Winifred May de Kok, South Africa writer, television presenter, and physician who wrote about issues surrounding parenting and family health; she married Alfred Edgar Coppard, a British short-story writer who was a leading light of a literary group, the New Elizabethans.

1904 – Marie-Anne Desmarest (born Anne-Marie During), award-winning French romance novelist.

1906 – Dorothy Crisp, British writer, publisher, and political figure who was known for her right-wing views.

1906 – Frederic Prokosch, award-winning U.S. novelist, poet, and memoirist who is primarily remembered for his literary career but who also had a brief career as a forger.

1908 – Muhammad Ahmad Mahgoub, Sudanese writer, poet, author, politician, and diplomat who was Prime Minister of Sudan.

1908 – Alicia Porro (full name Alicia Porro Freire de Maciel), Uruguayan poet, artist, musician, and composer who used the pseudonym Tacón de Fierro for her musical compositions and Margarita Irigoyen for her artwork.

1914 – Chang Ch’ung-ho, Chinese writer, poet, calligrapher, professor, and opera singer.

1922 – Toek Blignaut, South African author, short-story writer, journalist, editor, and advice columnist; she wrote more than 80 books and 200 short stories.

1927 – Francesca Forrellad and Lluïsa Forrellad, Spanish Catalan novelists and playwrights who were twins.

1927 – Jacqueline Sturm, New Zealand writer, poet, librarian, and short-story writer; she is thought to be the first Maori woman writer to have her work published in the English language.

1928 – Francesca Sanvitale, Italian novelist and journalist who was called “one of Italy’s most renowned contemporary authors.”

1929 – Eloise Greenfield, U.S. African-American poet, biographer, and children’s author known for her descriptive, rhythmic style and positive portrayal of the African-American experience.

1934 – Leela Sarkar, award-winning Indian and Singaporean writer and translator who works in the Malayalam language.

1935 – Dennis Potter (full name Dennis Christopher George Potter, British dramatist, novelist, screenwriter, and nonfiction author.

1936 – Lars Gustafsson, Swedish playwright, novelist, and poet.

1939 – Gary Paulsen, U.S. author of popular young-adult coming-of-age novels set in the wilderness; he is particularly known for the Brian’s Saga series, beginning with the book Hatchet. He also wrote short stories, articles, and plays.

1944 – Priti Sengupta, Indian Gujarati poet, travel author, and writer.

1946 – Joan Barfoot, award-winning Canadian novelist and journalist.

1946 – F. Paul Wilson, U.S. author of science fiction, horror, and medical thrillers.

1947 – Janet Holmes, New Zealand sociolinguist, writer, and academic who studies language and gender, language in the workplace, and New Zealand English.

1947 – Halima Xudoyberdiyeva, Uzbek poet, writer, and journalist who wrote about Uzbek nationhood and history, liberation movements, and feminism; she was awarded the title People’s Poet of Uzbekistan.

1948 – Esmeralda Santiago, Puerto Rican author and actress known for her novels and memoirs.

1950 – Valeriya Novodvorskaya, Belarussian and Russian writer, teacher, poet, politician, librarian, translator, pedagogue, journalist, and liberal political activist who was the founder and chairwoman of the Democratic Union party and a member of the editorial board of The New Times.

1950 – Dian Curtis Regan, U.S. author of children’s and young-adult books.

1957 – Peter Høeg, Danish novelist and short-story writer, best known for the novel Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, which was made into the film Smilla’s Sense of Snow.

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