May 25 Writer Birthdays

1461 – Zanobi Acciaioli, Florentian Italian writer, poet, translator, and Dominican friar who was Librarian of the Vatican under Pope Leo X.

1625 – John Davies, Welsh writer, translator, and historian.

1661 – Claude Buffier, Polish-born French writer, historian, theologian, cartographer, teacher, and philosopher.

1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, U.S. essayist, poet, lecturer, and philosopher who was a key figure in the Transcendentalist movement.

1803 – Edward Bulwer-Lytton, English novelist, poet, playwright, and Member of Parliament who coined several phrases that are still used today, including “the great unwashed,” “pursuit of the almighty dollar,” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” He is best known for the opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night”; it inspired the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which invites entrants to submit the opening sentence to the worst possible hypothetical novel.

1818 – Louise de Broglie (Countess d’Haussonville), Swiss-born French writer, biographer, essayist, and historian.

1832 – Marie-Louise Gagneur, French feminist writer, essayist, novelist, short-story writer, and activist whose works explored contemporary issues concerning the status of women in society.

1839 – Manuel Sánchez Mármol, Mexican writer, journalist, lawyer, and politician.

1842 – Helen Blackburn, Irish writer, editor, and campaigner for women’s rights, especially in the field of employment.

1843 – Frances Mary Peard, English writer, novelist, short-story writer, and children’s author; most of her books were short-story volumes and historical fiction, and many were set abroad.

1846 – Naim Frashëri, Albanian poet, civil servant, historian, journalist, and translator who was national poet of Albania, the pioneer of modern Albanian literature, and one of the most influential Albanian cultural icons of his century.

1861 – Julia Boynton Green, U.S. author and poet who is remembered as an anti-Modernist who railed against free verse.

1883 – Jehanne d’Orliac, French writer, playwright, poet, biographer, and lecturer.

1892 – Jeanne Coroller-Danio, French Breton nationalist, author, and children’s writer who was best known for her nationalistic book, History of our Brittany. She is also known by her original name Jeanne Coroller and by her married name Jeanne Chassin du Guerny; her best-known pen-name was Danio, but she also published her work under various pseudonyms, including J.C. Danio, Jeanne de Coatgourc’han, Gilles Gautrel, and Gilesse Penguilly.

1899 – Boris Artzybasheff, Newbery Medal-winning Russian-born U.S. illustrator and commercial artist known for his surrealistic style.

1902 – Jorge Vera-Cruz Barbosa, Cape Verdean poet and writer; the publication of his poetry anthology Arquipélago (Archipelago) in 1935 is regarded as the beginning of Cape Verdean poetry. He was one of the founders of the literary journal Claridade (Clarity) in 1936, which marked the beginning of modern Cape Verdean literature.

1902 – Helvi Leiviskä, award-winning Finnish writer, composer, music educator, critic, and librarian.

1903 – Dagny Tande Lid, Norwegian writer, poet, autobiographer, scientific illustrator, painter, and postage-stamp designer; she is most noted for her drawings of plants, for her own illustrated poetry collections, and for her botanical illustrations on Norwegian postage stamps.

1904 – Hariprasad Maniray Vyas, Indian Gujarati writer, humorist, and author of children’s literature.

1908 – Theodore Roethke, Nobel Prize-winning U.S. poet and educator who was one of the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation; his work is characterized by introspection, rhythm and natural imagery.

1920 – Maria Gomori, Hungarian-born Canadian writer and therapist who was a pioneer in the field of systems family therapy and a significant contributor to the fields of psychiatric and social-work training.

1923 – Simon Malley, prominent Egyptian writer and journalist who was a strong supporter of Third World independence movements; he was known for being “partisan, fearless and controversial.”

1925 – Haroldo Conti, Argentine writer, screenwriter, writer, journalist, and Latin professor.

1925 – Rosario Castellanos Figueroa, influential Mexican poet and author who was one of Mexico’s most important literary voices of the last century; her work dealt with cultural and gender oppression and has influenced Mexican feminist theory and cultural studies.

1926 – Phyllis Fay Gotlieb (née Bloom), award-winning Canadian poet and science-fiction novelist.

1926 – Dhiruben Patel, Indian Gujarati novelist, playwright, poet, children’s writer, short-story writer, professor, publisher, humor writer, and translator; one of her plays was adapted into a film.

1927 – Robert Ludlum, bestselling U.S. author of thriller novels, best known for the Jason Bourne books.

1927 – Elio Pagliarani, Italian poet and literary critic, who belonged to the avant-garde Gruppo 63 movemement.

1928 – Harkisan Laldas Mehta, Indian Gujarati novelist, editor, and journalist.

1931 – Jiří Vacek, Czech writer, translator, mystic, and interpreter of spiritual literature.

1932 – John Gregory Dunne, U.S. novelist, screenwriter, and literary critic who was the younger brother of author Dominick Dunne and the husband of author Joan Didion.

1934 – Esther Regina Largman, award-winning Brazilian author whose works are part of the high-school curriculum in Brazilian schools.

1935 – W.P. Kinsella, Canadian novelist and short-story writer best known for his book Shoeless Joe, which was adapted into the film Field of Dreams.

1936 – David Levering Lewis, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, professor, and biographer.

1936 – Jacqueline Risset, French writer, poet, translator, and literary critic.

1938 – Raymond Carver, U.S. short-story writer, poet, and essayist, known for minimalism and “dirty realism,” a literary movement that used spare, unadorned language to depict the seamier or more mundane aspects of ordinary life.

1938 – Margaret Forster, British writer, screenwriter, novelist, historian, biographer, memoirist, journalist, and literary critic. She is best known for her novel Georgy Girl, which was made into a successful film of the same name and inspired a hit song by The Seekers; her biographies of Daphne du Maurier and Elizabeth Barrett Browning; and her memoirs Hidden Lives and Precious Lives.

1938 – Joyce Carol Thomas, National Book Award-winning U.S. African-American poet, playwright, and children’s author.

1939 – Tibor Várady, Yugoslavian/Serbian writer, editor, and legal scholar who was one of the founders of the Hungarian language avant-garde literary magazine Új Symposion.

1947 – Moon Chung-hee, award-winning South Korean poet and professor whose writing presents a complex interplay of vivid emotions and sensations.

1948 – Jojo Cobbinah, Ghanaian author, columnist, and literary reviewer who is especially noted for his travel guides but who has also written a cookbook of West African cuisine.

1949 – Jamaica Kincaid (born Elaine Cynthia Potter), Antiguan-born U.S. novelist, essayist, professor, gardener, and gardening writer whose work explores themes of colonialism and colonial legacy, gender and sexuality, mother-daughter relationships, racism, class, power, and adolescence.

1952 – Al Sarrantonio, prolific U.S. horror and science-fiction author, editor, publisher, and anthologist.

1953 – Eve Ensler (also known as simply V), U.S. feminist playwright and author, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues, which The New York Times called “probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade.”

1957 – Agata Tuszynska, Polish writer, poet, and journalist.

1959 – Ronit Matalon, Israeli writer, journalist, children’s writer, and essayist.

1960 – Eric Brown, award-winning British writer, science-fiction author, short-story writer, playwright, and children’s author; some of his works are set in India.

1961 – Núria Perpinyà Filella, Spanish novelist, playwright, essayist, and professor; her novels deal with unusual topics and are characterized by their intellectual irony, formal rigor, and experimentalism. Her fiction is written in Catalan, but most of her essays are in Spanish or English.

1967 – Poppy Z. Brite, pen name of U.S. author Billy Martin (born Melissa Ann Brite), known for gothic horror that features gay and bisexual characters.

1974 – Madeleine Thien, award-winning Canadian novelist and short-story writer whose work reflects the increasingly transcultural nature of Canadian literature, exploring art, expression, and politics inside Cambodia and China, as well as within diasporic Asian communities.

1986 – Mariatu Kamara, Sierra Leonean memoirist and UNICEF Special Representative who is a survivor of the civil war in Sierra Leone; she became pregnant at age 12 when she was raped, but shortly afterward her village was invaded by Revolutionary United Front rebels, who murdered most of her family and cut off both of her hands. Years later, after escaping and eventually emigrating to Canada, she wrote The Bite of the Mango, about her experiences during the war.

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