May 19 Writer Birthdays

1771 – Rahel Antonie Friederike Varnhagen, German author, essayist, and letter writer who hosted one of the most prominent salons in Europe during the late 18th and early 19th centuries; in addition to her own writings, she is the subject of a celebrated biography, Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess, written by Hannah Arendt, who cherished Varnhagen as her “closest friend, though…dead for some hundred years.” The asteroid 100029 Varnhagen is named in her honor.

1794 – Anna Brownell Jameson, Irish-born English writer, author, and art historian who also wrote on such diverse topics as feminism, travel, Shakespeare, poets, and German culture.

1812 – Charlotte Guest (born Charlotte Elizabeth Bertie; later known as Lady Charlotte Schreiber), Welsh writer, linguist, translator, art collector, publisher, and businesswoman who is known as the first publisher in modern print format of The Mabinogion, which is the earliest prose literature of Britain; she was a leading figure in the study of literature and the wider Welsh Renaissance of the 19th century, and was renowned as an international industrialist, pioneering liberal educator, philanthropist, and society hostess.

1855 – Marie Musaeus Higgins, German writer and educationist, best known as the founder and principal of Musaeus College in Sri Lanka; she also authored publications based on Buddhist and Sinhala cultural themes and was an important figure in the pre-independence Buddhist revival in Sri Lanka and a pioneer in female education.

1870 – Kitaro Nishida, Japanese writer, professor, and philosopher who founded the Kyoto School of philosophy.

1886 – Bernadotte Everly Schmitt, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian and professor of European history.

1889 – Tản Đà (pen name for Nguyễn Khắc Hiếu), Vietnamese poet who used both traditional Sino-Vietnamese forms and European influences and was a transitional figure between the turn of the 1890s and the “New Poetry” movement of the 1930s.

1894 – Gudipati Venkata Chalam (popularly known as Chalam), Indian writer, novelist, and philosopher who was one of the most influential personalities in modern Telugu literature; most of his writings centered on women, especially the kind of difficulties women face—physical as well as psychological—in society.

1903 – Ernest Samuels, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. biographer and lawyer.

1908 – Manik Bandopadhyay, prolific Indian Bengali novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter who is widely regarded as one of the key figures of 20th century Bengali literature.

1909 – T. Harry Williams, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian and Huey P. Long biographer.

1914 – Sharif Hussain (pseudonym Nasim Hijazi), Indian Urdu novelist who used historic settings as the background for his novels and based most of his work on Islamic history.

1918 – Edward Wilmot Blyden III, Sierra Leonean diplomat, writer, political scientist, and educator who contributed to the post-colonial discourse on African self-government.

1926 – Nancy Adams (full name Jacqueline Nancy Mary Adams), New Zealand botanist, author, science writer, botanical artist, and museum curator.

1928 – Ana Daniel (pseudonym of Maria de Lourdes d’Oliveira Canellas da Assunção Sousa), Portuguese poet and writer.

1930 – Lorraine Vivian Hansberry, U.S. African-American playwright best known for Raisin in the Sun.

1932 – Elena Poniatowska, Polish-Mexican novelist and journalist who specializes in social and political issues focused on women and the poor.

1933 – Tom Feelings, U.S. children’s author and illustrator, cartoonist, teacher, and activist who focused on the African-American experience in his work; his most famous book is The Middle Passage: White Ships/Black Cargo.

1934 – Ruskin Bond, award-winning Indian author of British descent who writes for both children and adults.

1934 – Jim Lehrer, U.S. journalist and novelist best known as long-time host of the PBS News Hour.

1938 – Girish Karnad, Indian playwright, screenwriter, author, translator, film director, linguist, and actor.

1939 – Hasnat Abdul Hye, award-winning, prolific Bangladeshi writer and novelist who wrote in both Bengali and English.

1941 – Nora Ephron, acclaimed U.S. screenwriter, playwright, novelist, memoirist, journalist, columnist, essayist, and filmmaker; as a screenwriter and playwright, she was nominated for three Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, and a Tony Award; some of her most famous scripts were for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail, and Sleepless in Seattle; her book Heartburn was based on her marriage to Washington Post Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein; she also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation.

1941 – Furio Jesi, Italian writer, historian, archaeologist, mythographer, and university teacher.

1945 – Wera Sæther, Norwegian psychologist, poet, novelist, essayist, nonfiction writer, and author of books for teens.

1947 – Mercè Company i González, Spanish author and journalist who writes in Spanish, Catalan, and French.

1952 – Sarah Ellis, Canadian children’s writer, literary reviewer, librarian, and university teacher.

1958 – Maria Idolina Landolfi, Italian novelist, poet, journalist, translator, and literary critic.

1960 – Francesca Archibugi, Italian screenwriter, actor, writer, and film director.

1963 – Kristin Dimitrova, award-winning Bulgarian poet, writer, editor, essayist, and translator.

1964 – Tabassum Akhlaq (also known as Tabassum Afridi and Tabassum Akhlaq Malihabadi) Pakistani poet, writer, columnist, and event organizer; her poetry touches on themes of romance, religion, solitude, and peace.

1965 – Jacek Piekara, Polish fantasy novelist, short-story writer, and game writer who is best known for his stories about inquisitor Mordimer Madderdin; underthe pen name Jack de Craft he wrote also a novel about Conan the Barbarian.

1966 – Jodi Picoult, bestselling award-winning U.S. author, some of whose works have been made into films or TV movies; she also wrote for the DC Comics Wonder Woman series. Her books often center on families and relationships but also take inspiration from current events.

1967 – Muriel Diallo, award-winning Ivory Coast writer, children’s author and illustrator, painter, and teacher who writes in French.

1971 – Uwem Akpan, award-winning Nigerian novelist and short-story writer.

1972 – Süreyyya Evren, Turkish novelist, short-story writer, nonfiction writer, and cultural theorist.

1973 – Tuuve Aro, Finnish novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer, film critic, and film producer.

1973 – Alice Roberts, British author, physician, biologist, paleontologist, physical anthropologist, archaeologist, professor, and television presenter.

1974 – Ahmed Reda Benchemsi, Moroccan journalist, publisher, and editor.

1975 – Eva Polna, Russian writer, poet, librarian, composer, musician, and bibliographer.

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