January 22 Writer Birthdays

1561 – Francis Bacon (1st Viscount St Alban), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England; he is credited with developing the scientific method, arguing for scientific knowledge based on inductive reasoning, careful observation, and a methodical approach; he has been called the father of empiricism.

1751 – Amabel Hume-Campbell (1st Countess de Grey and 5th Baroness Lucas), diarist political writer, and author who was a Countess in her own right; she wrote particularly about the French Revolution.

1788 – Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron), influential English poet, politician, and peer, and an important figure in the Romantic movement; he traveled throughout Europe, and while living in Italy spent time with his friend, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; later he joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which the Greeks revere him as a national hero. His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is considered the founder of the field of computer programming.

1849 – August Strindberg, Swedish writer whose book The Red Room has been called the first modern Swedish novel.

1872 – Katai Tayama, Japanese author who established the Japanese literary genre of naturalistic novels that revolve around detailed self-examination; he also wrote about his experiences in the Russo-Japanese War.

1886 – Isabel Paterson, Canadian-American journalist, novelist, political philosopher, and leading literary and cultural critic; she is considered one of the three founding mothers of American libertarianism (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand).

1891 – Antonio Gramsci, Italian writer, politician, theorist, economist, sociologist, literary critic, journalist, and linguist.

1906 – Robert E. Howard, American author of pulp fiction novels, known primarily for creating the character Conan the Barbarian.

1911 – Mary Hayley Bell, Chinese-born English actress, screenwriter, playwright, and novelist; her husband was Sir John Mills and her daughter was actress Hayley Mills.

1920 – Ann Philippa Pearce, Carnegie Medal-winning English author of children’s books.

1922 – Howard Moss, National Book Award-winning American poet, editor, dramatist, and critic.

1925 – Katherine Anne MacLean, American science-fiction author best known for her short fiction of the 1950s, which explored the effects of technological advances on individuals and society.

1926 – Aurora de Albornoz, Spanish scholar, poet, professor, and literary critic whose work was inspired, in part, by her experiences in the Spanish Civil War.

1934 – Graham Kerr, Scottish chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host who was known as the Galloping Gourmet; after a religious conversion and his wife’s health problems, Kerr turned to healthier cuisine and later renounced his earlier shows, saying “What I did wasn’t art, it was a crime,” given high rates of obesity.

1937 – Sallie Bingham, American author, playwright, poet, novelist, short-story writer, teacher, memoirist, feminist activist, and philanthropist; she is part of the Bingham family, which dominated the news media of Louisiville and the state of Kentucky for most of the 20th century.

1937 – Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling American author whose police fiction draws on his 14 years of experience with the Los Angeles Police Department.

1943 – James Carroll, American author, historian, journalist, and Roman Catholic reformer whose fiction and nonfiction center on religion and history.

1963 – Denise Dresser (Denise Eugenia Dresser Guerra), Mexican writer, journalist, editor, columnist, and university professor who has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in Mexico and one of the 50 most influential women in Twitter.

January 21 Writer Birthdays

1895 – Davíð Stefánsson, Icelandic poet, novelist, playwright, and librarian.

1904 – Richard P. Blackmur, American poet and literary critic.

1905 – Wanda Wasilewska, Polish writer, screenwriter, politician, and journalist.

1908 – Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (commonly known as Beypore Sultan), award-winning Indian independence activist, freedom fighter, and writer of Malayalam novels and short stories; he was known for a down-to-earth style of writing that made him popular among literary critics as well as average readers.

1923 – Judith Merril (pen name for Judith Josephine Grossman) American/Canadian science-fiction writer, editor, and political activist.

1925 – Eva Ibbotson, award-winning Austrian-born British author who wrote for adults, young adults, and children. Some critics have charged that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling took “Platform 9 3/4” from “Platform 13” in Ibbotson’s book, The Secret of Platform 13 (both were located at King’s Cross station in London) but Ibbotson said she was flattered by the similarity, and that it was normal for writers to borrow from each other.

1927 – Robert Neil Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning American physician and nonfiction author.

1943 – Pratibha Ray, Indian academic, novelist, travel writer, and short-story writer.

1952 – Louis Menand, American writer, essayist, and academic, best known for his book The Metaphysical Club, an intellectual and cultural history of late 19th and early 20th century America.

1969 – M.K. Hobson, Nebula Award-nominated American author known for her historical fantasy, which she describes as “bustlepunk.”

January 20 Writer Birthdays

1719 – Jean-Jacques Barthélemy, French writer best known for his work The Travels of Anarchis the Younger in Greece.

1804 – Eugène Sue, French author whose novel Mathilde contains the first recorded use of the phrase, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

1806 – Nathaniel Parker Willis (also known as N. P. Willis), American author, poet, and editor who worked with iconic American writers including Poe and Longfellow.

1873 – Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, Nobel Prize-winning Danish author.

1883 – Forrest Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, author, and Harriet Beecher Stowe biographer.

1908 – Jean S. Macleid, prolific British romance novelist who also wrote as Catherine Airlie.

1925 – Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaraguan poet, politician, and Catholic priest who founded a primitivistic art colony.

1930 – Blair Lent, Caldecott Medal-winning American children’s author and illustrator.

1944 – William Henry Jackson Griffith, American cartoonist who signs his work Bill Griffith or Griffy, and is best known for the comic strip “Zippy”; he is credited with originating the popular catchphrase, “Are we having fun yet?”

1945 – Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning American short-story writer and novelist.

1948 – Nancy Kress, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American science-fiction author, columnist, and educator.

1948 – Natan Sharansky,Soviet-born Israeli politician, author, autobiographer, and human-rights activist who was sent to prison in the Soviet Union for allegedly spying for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

1956 – Bill Maher, controversial American comedian, political commentator, television personality, and author.

1959 – Tami Hoag, bestselling American author of romance and thriller novels.

1959 – R.A. Salvatore, American author of bestselling fantasy and science fiction books, known for his “Forgotten Realms” and “Star Wars” books.

1964 – Fareed Zakaria, Indian-American journalist and author.

1967 – Alexander Ahndoril, Swedish novelist and playwright who has also written crime novels with his wife, Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, under the joint pen name Lars Kepler.

January 19 Writer Birthdays

1803 – Sarah Helen Power Whitman, American poet, essayist, transcendentalist, and Spiritualist, and a romantic interest of Edgar Allan Poe.

1809 – Edgar Allen Poe, American author, poet, editor, and literary critic who was a central figure in the Romantic movement and in all of American literature and who is considered one of the country’s earliest practitioners of the short story, the inventor of detective fiction, and an early contributor to the emerging genre of science fiction; his work is characterized by mystery and the macabre.

1906 – Robin Hyde, South African-born New Zealand poet, journalist, short-story writer, and educator who is considered one of New Zealand’s major poets.

1921 – Patricia Highsmith, award-winning American author novels and short stories, best known for her psychological thrillers.

1924 – Jean-François Revel, French journalist and author of political nonfiction.

1925 – Nina Bawden, award-winning British novelist and author of children’s books.

1931 – Robin MacNeil (full name Robert Breckenridge Ware MacNeil), television news anchor, journalist, and novelist who paired with Jim Lehrer to create the television news program The MacNeil/Lehrer Report.

1941 – Breda Smolnikar, Slovenian fiction writer for adults and children who also writes under the pseudonym Gospa.

1946 – Julian Barnes, English author of literary fiction, recipient of the 2011 Man Booker Prize.

1947 – Paula Deen, American cooking personality, television host, restaurateur, and cookbook author.

1958 – Allen Steele Jr., American science-fiction writer of novels and short stories.

1969 – Casey Sherman, American journalist and true-crime author.

January 18 Writer Birthdays

1779 – Peter Mark Roget, British thesaurus developer and physician.

1867 – Rubén Darío, born Félix Rubén Garcia-Sarmiento, Nicaraguan poet and short-story writer.

1882 – A.A. Milne, British playwright, screenwriter, humor writer, and children’s author, best known for his Winnie the Pooh books and other children’s poetry.

1886 – Clara Nordström, maiden name and pseudonym of Clara Elisabet von Vegesack, Swedish-born German writer and translator.

1891 – Clare Winger Harris, early science-fiction writer whose short stories were published during the 1920s; she is credited as the first woman to publish stories under her own name in science-fiction magazines.

1893 – Jorge Guillén y Álvarez, Spanish poet, scholar, and literary critic.

1901 – Tomoyoshi Murayama, Japanese artist, playwright, and drama producer.

1911 – José María Arguedas Altamirano, Peruvian novelist, poet, short-story writer, and anthropologist; though of Spanish descent, he was fluent in the native Quechua language and wrote in both Spanish and Quechua. He is considered one of the key figures in 20th-century Peruvian literature.

1912 – William Sansom, British writer of novels, short stories, and travel books.

1914 – Vitomil Zupan, Slovenian writer, poet, playwright, essayist and screenwriter who was one of the most important authors in the Slovene language of the second half of the 20th century; he also wrote under the pseudonym Langus.

1932 – Robert Anton Wilson, American novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, and self-described agnostic mystic, whose most well known work is his Illuminatus trilogy.

1934 – Raymond Briggs, English children’s author and illustrator whose wordless book The Snowman is a Christmas classic.

1951 – Sally Morgan, Australian aboriginal artist and author.

1971 – Carolyn Parkhurst, bestselling American author of novels and children’s books.

Photo Friday: 18 Years

Eighteen years ago yesterday, my husband was on the phone trying to get someone to fix a burst pipe when I hurried in from an ultrasound appointment, three weeks before my due date. “Cancel the plumber. We’re having a baby today.”

We rushed to the hospital, and Jonathan Morgan Petrini was born an hour and a half later. He’s a lot bigger than 6 pounds now; in fact, he’s at least 6-foot-3. But even though he’s a young man now, he’s still my baby. Happy 18th Birthday, Jon Morgan!

I wish he still loved having his picture taken as much as he did when he was three and I set up a photo session with him on the back porch. I hung a sheet as a backdrop and offered several costume changes. Then I encouraged him to ham it up while I shot dozens of photographs. I’m guessing this shirt would fit him quite well now!

January 17 Writer Birthdays

1600 – Pedro Calderón de la Barca (full name Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño!), a dramatist, poet, and writer of the Spanish Golden Age who was also a soldier and a Roman Catholic priest.

1814 – Ellen Wood, bestselling English novelist, better known as Mrs. Henry Wood and remembered especially for her novel East Lynne.

1820 – Anne Brontë, British author, poet, and governess, and the youngest and least well-known of the Brontë sisters; her 1848 book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is considered to be one of the first feminist novels. Her works was first published under the pen name Acton Bell.

1871 – Nicolae Iorga, Romanian historian, politician, literary critic, memoirist, poet and playwright who was also a founder of the Democratic Nationalist Party and a member of Parliament.

1883 – Compton Mackenzie (Sir Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie), Scottish writer of fiction, history, biography, and memoir, best known for his comic works, including Monarch of the Glen; he was also one of the founders of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

1886 – Ronald Firbank, British author of eight short novels, influenced by the London aesthetes of the 1890s, especially Oscar Wilde.

1891 – Leonard D. White, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian.

1899 – Neville Shute, prolific British novelist, pilot, and aeronautical engineer; his full name was Neville Shute Norway, but he used the shorter version in his writing to distance his engineering career from his fiction.

1900 – Kaitarō Hasegawa, Japanese novelist, mystery writer, short-story writer, travel writer, and memoirist who wrote under numerous pen names, each with a unique personality, and caused a sensation with what critics considered the sheer brilliance of his fiction, nonfiction, and translations.

1914 – William Stafford, American poet and essayist who was U.S. Poet Laureate and Oregon Poet Laureate; he was known for his pacifism, his unique method of composition, his soft-spoken voice, and his independence from social and literary expectations.

1925 – Robert Cormier, American journalist and author of young adult fiction, known for dark novels exploring themes including abuse, mental illness, violence, revenge, betrayal, and conspiracy; his book The Chocolate War, despite being considered by some critics as one of the best YA novels of all times, has been banned in some places for sexual content, violence, and strong language.

1938 – John Bellairs, American author best known for fantasy and gothic mystery novels for young adults.

1950 – Honey Irani, award-winning Indian screenwriter and short-story writer who was also a Bollywood child star; her son and daughter, Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar, are both critically acclaimed filmmakers.

1962 – Sebastian Junger, American author, filmmaker, and journalist, best known for creative nonfiction works like The Perfect Storm.

1967 – Wendy Mass, award-winning American author of children’s and young adult novels.

1969 – Cecilia May Gibbs, British-born Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist.

January 16 Writer Birthdays

Today is my teenage son’s birthday. It would be a bit of a stretch, but you could call him a published author. When he was 6, he entered a contest for Kids’ Letters to President Obama. He was one of the winners, and had his letter appear in the book of that name. If you ever come across the book, look for his letter on page 34. He’s the first-grader who offered to teach the President of the United States and leader of the free world how to bowl.

And now, I’ll move on to the list of writers who share his birthday.

January 16 Writer Birthdays

1749 – Vittorio Alfieri, Italian Count who was a dramatist and poet; considered the founder of Italian tragedy.

1874 – Robert W. Service, British-Canadian poet known as the “Bard of the Yukon.”

1882 – Margaret Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist.

1901 – Laura Riding, American poet, critic, novelist, and essayist who lived with poet Robert Graves.

1918 – Stirling Silliphant, Oscar-winning screenwriter.

1923 – Anthony Hecht, American poet whose work often focused on WW2 & the Holocaust.

1928 – William Kennedy, novelist, and journalist who often wrote about a fictional Irish-American family.

1932 – Dian Fossey, American zoologist who studied & wrote about gorillas in Rwanda.

1933 – Susan Sontag, writer, filmmaker, activist, and literary icon.

1947 – Kate McMullan, prolific author of children’s picture books, nonfiction books, and young-adult books who often collaborates with her husband, illustrator Jim McMullan. She has also written joke books under the name Katy Hall, and the “Dragon Slayers’ Academy” series under the name K.H. McMullan.

1947 – Magdalen Nabb, British author of detective novels.

1948 – Ruth Reichl, American food writer, editor, memoirist, and TV food-show producer.

1952 – Julie Anne Peters, author of young-adult fiction.

1955 – Mary Karr, American poet, essayist, and bestselling memoirist.

1958 – Marla Frazee, children’s book author and illustrator; 2-time Caldecott Honoree.

1968 – Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of children’s and young-adult books.

1970 – Garth Ennis, Northern Irish comic book writer.

College Craziness, Part 3

Another college application has been submitted! This one went to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. I would like to say that my son is a well-organized and forward-thinking teen who planned ahead and sent this one off days or even weeks before the last possible moment. But no. He hit “submit” with 20 minutes to spare before the deadline — which is better than the last one, but still way too close for comfort.

JMU is Jon Morgan’s backup or “safety” school, the one he’s applying to with a high degree of confidence that he will be accepted; his test scores, GPA, and activities are at a considerably higher level than the average accepted student there. At the same time, it’s an excellent school with great music facilities as well as strong programs in various liberal arts areas. And it’s relatively affordable. Relatively. So he could do a lot worse.

His cousin, my sister Maria’s youngest daughter Annie, is a sophomore there and loves the place. In fact, everyone I’ve spoken with who is or has been a JMU student loves it.

Jon Morgan is applying as a music major, so he has to audition to get into the department, so we will still have to set that up.

Here he is on the campus of James Madison University last April, when we toured the school.

He also managed to get in an application over winter break, applying to Johns Hopkins University. That was the application he submitted a scant 10 minutes before the midnight January 2 deadline. And see my earlier post about Peabody Conservatory, which is part of Hopkins and where he also applied, for details on the program there.

He will still have several interviews and auditions for various schools. And then, in a few weeks, he should start hearing some results, probably from the University of Virginia first, since he applied Early Action there. But for now, it appears that the initial application process for all of his chosen schools has been completed. What a relief.

January 15 Writer Birthdays

1622 – Molière (real name Jean-Baptiste Polian), French playwright who is considered one of the masters of comedy in Western literature.

1711 – Sidonia Hedwig Zäunemann (known as die Zäunemännin), German poet who became Poet Laureate of Göttingen at the age of 24.

1850 – Mihai Eminescu (born Mihail Eminovic), Romantic poet, novelist, editor, journalist, and translator; he is considered the most popular and influential Romanian poet.

1879 – Mazo de la Roche, Canadian author of the Jalna novels, one of the most popular series of books of her time.

1914 – Esther “Etty” Hillesum, Dutch Jewish woman whose letters and diaries describe life in Amsterdam during the German occupation; she died in Auschwitz in 1943.

1932 – Joan Lingard, Scottish author of bestselling novels for children, teens, and adults.

1933 – Ernest J. Gaines, African-American author, short-story writer, and professor, best known for his novels A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

1935 – Robert Silverberg, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning American science-fiction and fantasy author and editor; he has been named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

1944 – Jenny Nimmo, British author of children’s fiction; she is best known for the “Children of the Red King” (Charlie Bone) series.

1972 – Claudia Anne I. Winkleman, British journalist, television presenter, film critic, and radio personality.