February 7 Writer Birthdays

1478 – Thomas More, English Renaissance writer and humanist who coined the term “utopia.”

1812 – Charles Dickens, English writer and social critic; one of the major novelists of the Victorian age, his works are still widely read today.

1837 – James Murray, Scottish lexicographer, philologist, and primary editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

1867 – Laura Ingalls Wilder, writer and journalist whose “Little House” book series for children was based on her childhood as a pioneer on the American frontier.

1885 – Sinclair Lewis, Nobel Prize-winning American novelist, playwright, and magazine writer lauded for his “vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters”; he was offered the Pulitzer Prize for his book Arrowsmith, but he turned it down.

1908 – Fred Gipson, American author best known for his 1956 novel Old Yeller.

1922 – Marion Cunningham, American food writer best known for her work on editions of The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.

1932 – Gay Talese, American author, memoirist, and literary journalist.

1943 – Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian.

1950 – Karen Joy Fowler, American author of science fiction, fantasy, and literary fiction, best known for The Jane Austen Book Club.

1974 – Emma McLaughlin, American novelist who wrote The Nanny Diaries with Nicola Krau.

Month of Letters, Days 4, 5, and 6

I’ve been continuing to write and snail mail at least one letter a day in the Month of Letters challenge. Here is what I’ve sent in the last few days:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 4 — I wrote a long, newsy letter to a Month of Letters participant in Huntsville, Alabama.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 5 — Just one Postcrossing card today, one with a picture of a dragonfly-patterned Tiffany lamp. This card, strangely enough, also went to Alabama, but to Birmingham.
  • Thursday, Feb. 6 — Today I wrote a long letter to a penpal in San Antonio, a penpal I don’t manage to write to nearly as often as I should.
Hanging Head Dragonfly Shade on Mosaic and Turtleback Base, 1906, by Clara Driscoll, Tiffany

February 6 Writer Birthdays

1564 – Christopher Marlowe, English playwright, poet, translator, and (probably) government spy of the Elizabethan era; he is sometimes credited with authorship of plays attributed to Shakespeare, but most scholars refute this.

1753 – Évariste Desiré de Forges, vicomte de Parny, French poet who was extremely popular during his lifetime; Pushkin once called him, “My master.”

1778 – Ugo Foscolo (born Niccolò Foscolo), Italian writer, revolutionary, and poet.

1833 – José María de Pereda, Spanish journalist and novelist of the native realism school.

1860 – Johan (Eliza) de Meester, Dutch writer, publicist, and editor.

1864 – John Henry Mackay, Scottish-born writer and philosopher, known for his anarchist views.

1879 – Carl Wilhelm Ramsauer, internationally known German physicist, professor, writer, and editor; he pioneered the field of electron and proton collisions with gas molecules and is best known for discovery of the Ramsauer–Townsend effect.

1882 – Anne Spencer, African-American poet, teacher, civil rights activist, librarian, and gardener who was an important member of the Harlem Renaissance group of intellectuals.

1888 – Ljudmil Stojanow, Bulgarian poet, short-story writer, and novelist.

1898 – Melvin Beaunorus Tolson, American Modernist poet, educator, columnist, and politician whose work concentrated on the experience of African Americans and includes several long historical poems; he spent most of his career in Texas and Oklahoma, but was named Poet Laureate of Liberia.

1900 – Rudolf Värnlund, proletarian Swedish novelist, playwright, critic, and social commentator.

1903 – Peter G. Buckinx, Flemish poet, essayist, playwright, and magazine editor.

1905 – Irmgard Keun, German author noted for her portrayals of life in both the Weimar Republic and the early years of Nazi Germany.

1913 – Mary Leakey, British paleoanthropologist and writer who made several important discovers that advanced understanding of human evolution; she is best known for her discovery of the first fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape believed to be ancestral to humans.

1919 – Louis Philip Heren, British journalist and author of political theory and autobiography; he is considered one of the great foreign correspondents of the 20th century.

1921 – Carl Neumann Degler, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and author.

1924 – Paolo Volponi, Italian writer, poet, and politician.

1925 – Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesian novelist, journalist, and human rights activist.

1929 – Keith Spencer Waterhouse, British novelist, newspaper columnist, and television writer

1940 – Tom Brokaw, American television journalist and nonfiction author.

1947 – Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and economic researcher.

1955 – Michael Pollan, American author and professor whose work centers on food and culture; he is best known for his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Book Challenge, Day 7

I have accepted a challenge from Lisa Mills Walters to post seven books that I love, one book per day, no exceptions, no reviews, just covers. (This is a Facebook thing, and I’m posting them there, but it couldn’t hurt to get the word out on this site too.)

Each day I will ask a friend to take up the challenge. Let’s promote literacy and a book list! Today, I nominated Kate McDevitt.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling , 1999

February 5 Writer Birthdays

1813 – Jermain Wesley Loguen, American writer and abolitionist, known for The Rev. J. W. Loguen, as a Slave and as a Freeman, a Narrative of Real Life.

1871 – Jovan Dučić, Bosnian Serb modernist poet, political writer, and diplomat.

1893 – William Earl Johns, English pilot and writer of adventure stories, usually under the name Captain W.E. Johns (though he was never actually a captain); he is best known as creator of pilot and adventurer Biggles.

1915 – Margaret Ellis Millar (née Sturm), American-Canadian mystery and suspense writer; married to Kenneth Millar (better known by his pen name Ross Macdonald); she often used Santa Barbara, California, as a setting in her novels, but fictionalized it as San Felice or Santa Felicia.

1928 – Andrew Greeley, prolific American novelist, journalist, columnist, sociologist, and Catholic priest; his novels were controversial because of his explicit treatment of sexuality, leading the National Catholic Register to accuse him of having “the dirtiest mind ever ordained.”

1936 – K.S. Nissar Ahmed, prominent Indian poet and writer in the Kannada language; he is also a geologist.

1941 – Stephen Joseph Cannell, American mystery novelist and television screenwriter and producer who created or co-created nearly 40 television series, many of them popular crime shows.

1951 – Elizabeth Swados, American novelist, nonfiction author, children’s book author, composer, and theatre director who often wrote humorous satire, but also explored racism, murder, and mental illness; she collaborated on two musicals with cartoonist Gary Trudeau, writing the music to his lyrics.

1953 – Giannina Braschi, Puerto Rican novelist and poet who is considered an influential and revolutionary voice in contemporary Latin American literature.

1957 – Azouz Begag (عزوز بقاق ‎), French writer, politician, and researcher in economics and sociology.

Book Challenge, Day 6

I have accepted a challenge from Lisa Mills Walters to post seven books that I love, one book per day, no exceptions, no reviews, just covers. (This is a Facebook thing, and I’m posting them there, but it couldn’t hurt to get the word out on this site too.)

Each day I will ask a friend to take up the challenge. Let’s promote literacy and a book list! Today, I nominated Rachael Dickzen.

Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, 1603

February 4 Writer Birthdays

1820 – Božena Nemcová, Czech writer of the National Revival movement who wrote novels as well as books of fairy tales and legends; her image is featured on Czech banknotes.

1902 – Charles Lindbergh, American aviator, military officer, author, and environmental activist who wrote The Spirit of St. Louis about making the first solo transatlantic flight; he was controversial because of his extramarital affairs, racist views, and belief in eugenics.

1904 – Buell Gordon Gallagher, American professor, minister, professor, and college president who wrote about civil rights and race relations in higher education.

1904 – MacKinlay Kantor, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, many of whose works were set during the Civil War.

1906 – Agniya Lvovna Barto, Soviet poet, screenwriter, translator, children’s writer, and radio personality of Russian Jewish origin.

1917 – Abdul Rahman Badawi, Egyptian writer, philosopher, and professor who was drawn to classical Greek philosophy and studied the relationship between Islam and the western world.

1921 – Betty Friedan, influential American feminist writer and a key figure in the women’s movement in the U.S.; she is best known for her book The Feminine Mystique.

1925 – Russell Hoban, American expatriate author of books for children and adults; he wrote fantasy, science fiction, magic realism, mainstream fiction, and poetry.

1925 – Stanley Karnow, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and historian, best known for his writings on the Vietnam war.

1960 – Siobhan Dowd, British writer of children’s fiction.

1961 – Stewart O’Nan, American novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction author.

Month of Letters, Day 3

Today, I sent two pieces of mail:

  • A Postcrossing card to Germany, showing an old Disney still from Pinocchio. I was on my way home from Boston at the time, and mailed it from a mailbox somewhere in Connecticut.
  • I also sent a birthday card to a friend in Kansas City, mailing it from a mailbox in my neighborhood after I arrived home. The card showed a cat eating pizza in outer space. Because, well, why not?

And because I know you’ll want to see it, here is that pizza-eating space cat.

If you have no idea what LetterMo is, you may want to see my earlier posts on the subject:

Book Challenge, Day 5

I have accepted a challenge from Lisa Mills Walters to post seven books that I love, one book per day, no exceptions, no reviews, just covers. (This is a Facebook thing, and I’m posting them there, but it couldn’t hurt to get the word out on this site too.)

Each day I will ask a friend to take up the challenge. Let’s promote literacy and a book list! Today, I nominated Carolyn L. Cornish-Alers.

(Sorry I had to skip posting these for a few days while I was out of town.)

February 3 Writer Birthdays

1612 – Samuel Butler, English poet and satirist.

1763 – Caroline von Wolzogen (born Caroline von Lengefeld), German novelist and biographer of Friedrich Schiller, her brother-in-law.

1811 – Horace Greeley, influencial American editor who founded the New York Tribune.

1826 – Walter Bagehot, English economist and journalist whose father-in-law was the founder of the Economist, which Bagehot edited.

1842 – Sidney Lanier, American musician, poet, author, critic, and lawyer who served in the Confederate States Army, worked on a blockade-running ship for which he was imprisoned, was a church organist, and worked at a hotel where he gave musical performances.

1870 – Ada Negri, Italian poet and writer.

1874 – Gertrude Stein, quotable American expatriate writer, novelist, poet, and playwright whose memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas made her into a cult literary figure.

1883 – Clarence Mulford, writer of the American West who wrote the Hopalong Cassidy novels.

1893 – Xu Dishan, Chinese author, translator, educator, and folklorist who was best known for his novels that focus on the people of the southern provinces of China and Southeast Asia; he was also the first Chinese professor who taught Sanskrit at a Chinese university.

1907 – James Michener, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of meticulously researched historical sagas.

1909 – Simone Weil, French essayist, philosopher, and Resistance fighter.

1927 – Joan Lowery Nixon, popular, award-winning American author of historical fiction and mysteries for children and young adults; she was also a journalist.

1947 – Paul Auster, American author of genre-bending fiction.

1948 – Henning Mankell, Swedish mystery writer, crime author, children’s writer, and screenwriter best known for his popular Kurt Wallander series.

1957 – Marlon Riggs, American poet, documentary filmmaker, and activist.