October 16 Writer Birthdays

1605 – Charles Coypeau, French burlesque poet and musician who sometimes used the pen name D’Assouci or Dassoucy.

1745 – Olaudah Equiano, African writer, autobiographer, abolitionist, sailor, and merchant who was born in what is now Nigeria, enslaved as a child, and brought to the British West Indies and later to London, where he bought his own freedom and became a leader in the movement to abolish slavery; his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which depicts the horrors of slavery, went through nine editions and helped gain passage of the British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the African slave trade in Britain.

1758 – Noah Webster, American lexicographer, textbook author, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author who has been called the Father of American Scholarship and Education, and whose name is synonymous with “dictionary.”

1783 – Jeanette Wohl, French writer and editor who was a longtime friend and correspondent of political writer and satirical poet Ludwig Börne; she inherited the rights to his literary works after his death and edited his works.

1803 – James Edward Alexander, Scottish naturalist, writer, memoirist, travel writer, soldier, geographer, and explorer.

1828 – Nikolay Strakhov, Russian writer, philosopher, journalist, translator, literary critic, and literary historian.

1831 – Lucy Stanton, African-American editor, short-story writer, librarian, lecturer, educator, and abolitionist and feminist writer and activist, notable for being the first African-American woman to complete a four-year course of a study at a college or university and the first African-American woman to publish a work of fiction.

1832 – Guðbergur Bergsson, award-winning Icelandic writer, poet, translator, and linguist.

1938 – Jorma Ojaharju, Finnish author who was described as a “boxer of rough prose” because of his background as a sailor and a boxer, but also because of his relaxed narrative; he is best known for his Vaasa-trilogy, which depicts history from the Finnish Civil War to the present day through the eyes of sailors; in his writing, he strove for a realistic narrative, but also left room for fantasy and myth, and has been compared with Columbian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.

1939 – Vera Feyder, award-winning Belgian writer, poet, and comedian living in France.

1942 – Flora Aurima-Devatine (born Flora Aurima), Tahitian writer and educator who publishes as Flora Devatine and has served as State Commissioner for Women’s Issues.

1843 – Arnold Dodel-Port, Swiss botanist, writer, socialist thinker, and professor who maintained correspondence with Charles Darwin and published works to further the cause of Darwinian evolution.

1943 – Paul Edwin Zimmer, American poet, fantasy author, and accomplished swordsman who was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism; his sister Marion Zimmer Bradley was a famed science-fiction and fantasy author.

1845 – Thomas Plantagenet Bigg-Wither, English engineer, author, and travel writer, best known for his works about Brazil.

1849 – George Washington Williams, American historian, political activist, newspaper editor, and clergyman who was the first African-American to graduate from the Newton Theological Institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the first African-American to serve in the Ohio State Legislature; his groundbreaking books include The History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880: Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens — which is considered to be the first overall history of African-Americans — and A History of Negro Troops in the War of Rebellion.

1854 – Oscar Wilde, Irish writer, playwright, and poet, well known for the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, for the play The Importance of Being Earnest, and for his witticisms.

1859 – Daisy Bates, Irish-Australian author, journalist, welfare worker, and anthropologist who wrote about Australian Aboriginal culture and society; some Aboriginal people referred to her by the courtesy name Kabbarli, or “grandmother.”

1864 – Vilhelm Rasmus Andreas Andersen, Danish author, literary historian, and intellectual who primarily focused on the study of Danish literature, and who was one of the first to use the term “Golden Age of Culture” to refer to the 1800s; his focus on bringing Danish literature to the public earned him great popularity.

1869 – Claude H. Van Tyne, American historian and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book The War of Independence.

1870 – Helge Rode, Danish writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and literary critic.

1885 – Isaac Dov Berkowitz, Belarusian-born Israeli author, journalist, and translator.

1885 – Mihail Sorbul (pen name of Mihail Smolsky), award-winning Romanian playwright, novelist, and magazine publisher.

1888 – Eugene O’Neill, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Nobel Prize-winning American playwright who is remembered “for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy.”

1895 – Guadalupe “Lupe” Marín (born María Guadalupe Marín Preciado), Mexican novelist and model; her semi-autobiographical novel La Única (The Unique Woman) was banned in Mexico for many years because it was considered too erotic.

1902 – Fani Popova-Mutafova, Bulgarian author and translator who was arguably the bestselling Bulgarian historical-fiction author ever.

1903 – Cecile de Brunhoff, French storyteller who created the character of Babar the elephant as a bedtime story for her children; the boys liked the story of the little elephant who left the jungle for a city resembling Paris so much that they took it to their father Jean de Brunhoff, a painter, and asked him to illustrate it, and a classic picture book was born. She had her own name taken off the credits out of modesty, because she felt his husband’s contribution of the drawings was more important. He went on to write and illustrate six more Babar books.

1906 – Dino Buzzati, award-winning Italian screenwriter, writer, poet, playwright, comics artist, painter, journalist, children’s writer, novelist, librettist, short-story writer, and science-fiction writer. The Tartar Steppe, his most famous novel, tells the story of a military outpost that awaits a Tartar invasion, and has been compared to existentialist works, notably Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus. His writing is sometimes described as magical realism, with themes of social alienation and the fate of the environment and of fantasy in the face of unbridled technological progress.

1908 – Olivia Coolidge, award-winning British-born American author of children’s history books and biographies.

1909 – Mohamed Fadhel Ben Achour, Tunisian theologian, writer, trade unionist, and intellectual.

1912 – Karl Ristikivi , Estonian writer, poet, and geographer who was one of the leading Estonian authors of historical novels.

1916 – George Turner, Australian science-fiction writer.

1919 – Kathleen Winsor, American romance author who is best known for her novel Forever Amber.

1927 – Günter Grass, Nobel Prize-winning German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor whose “frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten side of history.”

1928 – Mary Daly, controversial American radical feminist author, philosopher, theologian, and professor who is best known for her book Beyond God the Father, which is her attempt to explain and overcome androcentrism in Western religion; it is regarded as a foundational work in feminist theology. Like much of her work, it is notable for its playful writing style and its attempt to build on the writing of existentialist theologians.

1931- Kabita Sinha, influential Indian Bengali writer, poet, novelist, teacher, and radio director who is known for her modernist views and rejection of traditional housebound roles for Bengali women.

1932 – Guðbergur Bergsson, award-winning Icelandic writer, poet, children’s author, linguist, and translator.

1938 – Jorma Ojaharju, Finnish author who was described as a “boxer of rough prose” because of his background as a sailor and a boxer, but also because of his relaxed narrative; he best known for his Vaasa-trilogy, which depicts history from the Finnish Civil War to the present day, through the eyes of sailors. In his writing, he strove for a realistic narrative, but also left room for fantasy and myth; his writing is often compared with that of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.

1939 – Vera Feyder, award-winning Belgian writer, poet, and comedian living in France.

1941 – Borislav Jovanovic, Montenegrin writer, poet, author, essayist, columnist, and literary critic who is considered to be the leading interpreter of recent trends in Montenegrin literature.

1942 – Joseph Bruchac, American author of novels, poetry, and short stories relating to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a particular focus on northeastern Native American and Anglo-American lives and folklore; much of his work is for children and teens. He is of Abenaki, English, and Slovak descent.

1944 – Noëlle Châtelet, French novelist, nonfiction author, essayist, lecturer, and short-story writer.

1944 – Lakshmanayyar Rama Swamy, award-winning Indian author, translator, and short-story writer.

1945 – Paul Monette, American author and poet best known for his essays about gay relationships.

1946 – Suzanne Somers, American actress who also has written a line of diet and heath books.

1948 – Rachapalem Chandrasekhara Reddy, award-winning Indian writer and teacher.

1949 – Francine Allard, Canadian educator, novelist, young-adult writer, poet, short-story writer, and visual artist.

1949 – Frank Mkalawile Chipasula, Malawian writer, editor, and university professor who is one of the best known writers in Malawian literary study.

1950 – Elinor Lipman, American novelist, essayist, and short-story writer.

1951 – Ai Nagai, Japanese playwright, stage director, and the co-founder and leader of the theater company Nitosha; she is known for adopting realism as her primary writing style and is currently one of the most sought-after playwrights in Japan because of her well-crafted plays, in which social issues are treated from a critical perspective.

1954 – Lorenzo Carcaterra, American author whose book Sleepers was adapted into the film of the same name.

1960 – Pearl Abraham, Israeli novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and university teacher.

1968 – Olajumoke Adenowo, Nigerian author, architect, and radio host; she has lectured on the arts, architecture, gender issues, women’s empowerment, and entrepreneurialism in Africa.

1969 – Alafair Burke, American crime novelist, professor of law, and legal commentator who is the daughter of novelist James Lee Burke; she is the author of two series of crime novels, featuring Detective Ellie Hatcher and prosecutor Samantha Kincaid, as well as several stand-alone novels.

Photo Friday: Eating for a Good Cause

My neighborhood’s annual art festival, Art on the Avenue, is generally the busiest, most lucrative day of the year for local restaurants. After a year and a half of the pandemic, many of the businesses are operating on razor-thin margins. They needed a lot of sales during Art on the Avenue, held earlier this month. They didn’t get them. Early that morning, the power went out along much of the Avenue. Most of the businesses had no electricity for the entire festival, which meant managers had to send employees home and close up.

Since then, we’ve all been trying to give them as much business as we can, to help make up for the shortfall. I’m not eating inside restaurants, of course, but there is plenty of outdoor dining along the Avenue, and takeout is also an option. While sitting outdoors at Cheesetique last week, I took this shot of the storefront.

Cheesetique is the best cheese shop and cafe ever! The green sign in the window is for Art on the Avenue. And I love the way the trees reflected in the window.

October 15 Writer Birthdays

0070 BC – Virgil, influential Roman poet of the Augustan period, best known for his epic The Aeneid.

1801 – Rifa’a al-Tahtawi, Egyptian writer, economist, historian, translator, journalist, archaeologist, academic, teacher, and philosopher who was among the first Egyptian scholars to write about Western cultures in an attempt to bring about a reconciliation and an understanding between Islamic and Christian civilizations; he was influential in the development of science, law, literature, and Egyptology in 19th-century Egypt.

1830 – Helen Hunt Jackson (born Helen Maria Fiske; pen name, H.H.), American poet, bestselling writer, novelist, nonfiction author, journalist, and activist for the rights of Native Americans.

1831 – Isabella Bird, British writer, photographer, geographer, explorer, and naturalist who was the first woman elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

1844 – Friedrich Nietzsche, German writer, philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, classical philologist, pedagogue, music critic, university teacher, and linguist whose work has exerted a profound influence on modern intellectual history.

1847 – Noémi-Noire Oursel, French writer, biographer, librarian, and lexicographer; she is best known for her Nouvelle Biographie normande.

1876 – Jean Price-Mars, Haitian teacher, diplomat, writer, historian, anthropologist, and ethnographer who served as Haitian ambassador at the United Nations and Haitian ambassador to France.

1880 – Marie Stopes, British writer, paleontologist, botanist, academic, curator, and newsletter editor whose important contributions to the field of plant paleontology are overshadowed by her work as an activist for women’s suffrage and access to birth control; her sex manual Married Love was controversial and influential, bringing the subject of birth control into public discourse, and much later was later mentioned in several episodes of the television series Downton Abbey.

1881 – P.G. Wodehouse, English humorist, best known for his Jeeves novels.

1916 – George Turner, Australian novelist who wrote mainstream fiction as well as science-fiction novels and stories.

1917 – Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, author, and social critic; much of his work explored the history of 20th-century American liberalism.

1920 – Mario Puzo, bestselling Italian-American author known for his books about the Mafia, notably The Godfather and its sequels.

1921 – Kalika Prasad Shukla, award-winning Indian Sanskrit scholar, poet, and academic.

1922 – Agustina Bessa-Luís, Portuguese novelist, screenwriter, playwright, biographer, and theater director.

1923 – Italo Calvino, award-winning Italian neorealist and post-modernist author who wrote short stories and novels and was also a journalist.

1925 – Jaymant Mishra, award-winning Indian Sanskrit scholar, Maithili-language poet, and academic; most of his works have a satirical literary tone, which he uses to ridicule human vice and weakness.

1926 – Narayan Gangaram Surve, award-winning Indian Marathi-language poet and teacher who was orphaned or abandoned soon after birth and grew up on the streets of Mumbai, sleeping on the pavement and earning a meager livelihood by doing odd jobs; he taught himself to read and write. He is still considered one of the best poets to ever write in Marathi.

1926 – Ed McBain (also known as Evan Hunter, but he was born Salvatore Albert Lombino), American author of bestselling crime fiction.

1934 – Wang Meng, Chinese author, translator, and politician who served as Minister of Culture.

1943 – Xi Murong, Taiwanese poet, writer, and painter.

1949 – Laurie McBain, American author of historical romance novels.

1950 – Nina Mikhailovna Sadur (born Nina Kolesnikova, and also known as Nína Mikháilovna Sadúr), Russian novelist, screenwriter, and playwright who was a leading proponent of the “new drama” of the 1980s, with an avant-garde vision that has been described as “dark, mystic, and absurdist.”

1953 – Walter Jon Williams, multiple Nebula Award-winning American science-fiction author, who has written in the Star Wars universe, as well as many of his own books; he also wrote nautical adventure fiction under the name Jon Williams.

1954 – Hans Lindahl, Swedish comic-book illustrator and author

1957 – Yumi Hotta, award-winning Japanese manga artist, writer, and animator; she is best known as the author of the bestselling manga and anime series Hikaru no Go.

1958 – Stephen Clarke, British author whose novels tend to focus on ex-pat life in France.

1959 – Sarah, Duchess of York (born Sarah Margaret Ferguson) British writer, children’s author, charity patron, public speaker, film producer, and television personality who was married to Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II.

1968 – Bergljót Arnalds, award-winning Icelandic writer, children’s author, lyricist, composer, singer, actress, and television producer; she is best known for her children’s books.

1970 – Biljana Srbljanović, award-winning Swedish/Serbian playwright, screenwriter, actress, and activist.

1972 – Linda Boström Knausgård, Swedish writer, poet, novelist, and short-story author.

1985 – Yousef Gamal El-Din, Egyptian-Swiss journalist, author, scriptwriter, and television news anchor.

A Musical Interlude

Two days ago, I learned from the father of my son’s college roommate that they had a concert planned for tonight! (They’re both violinists in the university’s Chamber Orchestra.) My son never mentioned it because he couldn’t imagine we would want to drive 2.5 hours just to attend an hour-long concert. Oh, he of little faith. Of course we would!

My husband would have liked to come, too. But by the time we found out about it, Bob had a roofing guy coming this afternoon. It had already been rescheduled once, and he didn’t want to reschedule again. So I decided to take a last-minute trip by myself. I also decided to treat myself to a room here for the night, so I wouldn’t be driving home late.

My first choice of where to stay was the on-campus hotel. It’s so close to his dorm and the music complex that I could have parked at the hotel and walked over, and not had to deal with parking on campus. Unfortunately, there were no rooms at the inn. So I booked instead at a quaint old inn I’d stayed at once last year. It’s only a mile or so from the concert, but I didn’t want to walk back alone in the dark, so I got a visitor parking pass (it didn’t turn out to be too much of a hassle).

The last time I stayed here, it was the Stonewall Jackson Inn, with a Civil War theme throughout. Jackson freed the Shenandoah Valley from those dastardly Northern Aggressors, so he’s quite the local hero. Last year, I balanced out that lack of political correctness by choosing the William T. Sherman room.

This year, like so many other Confederate-named places, the place has been revamped and the name changed. And, frankly, it’s much, much better decorated! No more Civil War artwork and portraits of generals (from both sides) on the walls. And the inn is full of fascinating nooks, carved fireplaces, stained glass windows, lovely old woodwork, and so forth, but with a vibe that’s pretty casual.

As I sit here at an antique desk, rubbing my toes against the wood-pegged floors and admiring the pretty quilts on the beds, I’m liking it so much that I’m sorry it’s only one night — and much of that time spent going to the concert and taking my violinist to dinner. I was seriously toying with the idea of staying another night, so I’d have time to relax a bit, but the place is totally booked tomorrow, so I guess I’ll have to brave Friday traffic and go home as planned.

The Chamber Orchestra concert, by the way, was excellent, in its first in-person concert since February 2020. (And I was pleased to see that masks were required, and that I was able to stay distanced from other audience members.) The orchestra played works by Hayden, Abel, and Mozart. And my son is second chair in the first violin section! He says he’s actually the only violinist in the group who isn’t studying violin as his primary instrument. He and his roommate are both Music Composition majors and violinists, but every music major has to pick a primary instrument (or voice). His is piano.

The roofing guy, by the way, turned out to have no experience with cedar-shake roofs, so he couldn’t do the job. So Bob paid him to use his pressure washer to do a quick job on the front stoop, but now we still need a roofing guy. That’s the last time we use Angi’s list! Bob might have come with me to campus, if he’d known he wouldn’t be supervising roof maintenance all afternoon.

I think the concert will be posted online; he’ll have to see it there.

October 14 Writer Birthdays

1617 – Yun Hyu, South Korean writer, poet, politician, painter, philosopher, and autobiographer.

1644 – William Penn, English real-estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of Pennsylvania; he wrote in favor of democracy and religious freedom and was noted for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Indians; he was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his controversial religious pamphlets.

1797 – Ida Laura Pfeiffer (née Reyer), Austrian explorer, travel writer, and ethnographer whose travel journals were bestsellers; she journeyed an estimated 32,000 kilometers by land and 240,000 kilometers by sea through Southeast Asia, the Americas, Middle East, and Africa, including two trips around the world, but was denied membership by the Royal Geographical Society in London, which barred women until 1913.

1867 – Masaoka Shiki (pen-name of Masaoka Noboru), Japanese poet, author, and literary critic.

1879 – Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin (known as Miles Franklin), award-winning and influential Australian writer, novelist, nonfiction author, and feminist who is best known for her novel My Brilliant Career, which was made into a film; she was committed to the development of a uniquely Australian form of literature and actively pursued that goal by supporting writers, literary journals, and writers’ organizations. The prestigious Stella Prize, awarded annually for the best work of literature by an Australian woman, is named after her.

1880 – Andrei Bely (pen name for Boris Nikolaevich Bugaev), Russian poet, writer, playwright, literary critic, philosopher, autobiographer, and science-fiction writer; author Vladimir Nabokov called Bely’s novel Petersburg one of the four greatest novels of the 20th century.

1888 – Katherine Mansfield, New Zealand-born British Modernist short-story writer and poet.

1893 – Lois Lenski, prolific, Newbery Medal-winning American author and illustrator of bestselling books for children and young adults; her work includes novels, children’s picture books, illustrated chapter books, songbooks, poetry, short stories, an autobiography, and essays about books and children’s literature

1894 – E.E. Cummings, award-winning American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright who was influenced by Modernism, Dadaism, and Surrealism; he is considered one of the most innovative poets of the 20th century.

1900 – Chu Yo-han, North Korean writer, poet, politician, and journalist; he was the editor of The Creation, the first literary magazine in Korea, and was a leading figure of the New Poetry movement.

1906 – Hannah Arendt, German-born political theorist whose works deal with the nature of power, politics, democracy, and totalitarianism; a Jew, she escaped Europe during the Holocaust and later became an American citizen.

1914 – Alexis Rannit (born Alexey Konstantinovich Dolgoshev), Estonian poet, writer, critic, and literature researcher.

1924 – Birendra Kumar Bhattacharya, award-winning Indian novelist who was one of the pioneers of modern Assamese literature.

1925 – Phillip V. Tobias, South African anthropologist, archeologist, paleontologist, prehistorian, author, physician, and professor who was also an activist for the eradication of apartheid and gave numerous anti-apartheid speeches at protest rallies and to academic audiences.

1938 – Vladislav Krapivin, prolific, award-winning Russian screenwriter, writer, teacher, poet, journalist, children’s writer, and science-fiction writer.

1942 – Sivasankari, popular Indian Tamil writer and activist; several of her novels have been adapted for film or television.

1949 – Katha Pollitt, American feminist poet, essayist, journalist, and critic.

1950 – Kate Grenville, award-winning Australian novelist, short-story writer, biographer, and teacher of creative writing; several of her novels have been adapted for film or stage.

1958 – Ada Zayas-Bazán, Cuban poet, writer, children’s author, and teacher.

1963 – Uche Nduka, award-winning Nigerian-born poet, writer, lecturer, and songwriter.

1964 – Olu Oguibe, Nigerian-born artist, writer, art historian, author, curator, and professor who is a leading contributor to post-colonial theory.

1969 – Dou Wei, Chinese poet, singer-songwriter, composer, and musician.

1978 – Marlene Wayar, Argentine writer, social psychologist, and transgender rights activist who is best known for the book Travesti: una teoría lo suficientemente buena (Cross-dressing: A Good Enough Theory).

1982 – Danila Botha, South African and Canadian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer.

Birds of a Feather

Just saw this in my Facebook memories for today. I posted it October 13, 2012, when my son was ten years old. I get such a kick out of this. I love the fact that he is growing up at a time when this seems commonplace to him.

My son received a new Audobon plush bird, a roadrunner, and named it Roady. He decided the new bird would marry his rock dove, Rocky, so that Rocky’s name can be Rocky Roady. I pointed out that he had said they were both boys. And he said, “It’s a same-sex marriage.”

The Love Birds: Roady the Roadrunner and Rocky the Rock Dove

October 13 Writer Birthdays

1621 – Giovanni Antonio Cavazzi da Montecuccolo, Italian writer, historian, memoirist, explorer, and Capuchin missionary, noted for his travels in Portuguese Angola and his lengthy account of the local history and culture, as well as a history of the Capuchin mission there.

1747 – Ange-François Fariau, French poet, writer, journalist, teacher, linguist, and translator who gained fame for his translations of Ovid’s works, especially Metamorphoses.

1759 – Francisco Eduardo Tresguerras, Mexican writer, architect, poet, author, satirist, painter, and sculptor.

1788 – Isaac Baer Levinsohn, notable Ukrainian Hebrew scholar, satirist, writer, and Haskalah leader who was called “the Ukrainian Mendelssohn”; he is remembered for describing Jewish contributions to civilization in an effort to promote Judeo-Christian understanding.

1796 – Coralie Adèle van den Cruyce, Belgian writer, poet, playwright, and feminist who defended the right of women to express themselves.

1797 – Thomas Haynes Bayly, English poet, songwriter, and dramatist.

1835 – Agnes of Württemberg (full name Herzogin Pauline Louise Agnes von Württemberg), German writer and duchess who wrote under the pseudonym of Angela Hohenstein.

1862 – Mary Henrietta Kingsley, bestselling English author, ethnographer, scientific writer, travel writer, and explorer whose travels throughout West Africa, the work she did there, and her writings about what she saw and learned there helped shape European perceptions of African cultures and British imperialism. She was the focus of controversy for her criticism of missionaries for attempting to convert the people of Africa and corrupt their religions, and for her refusal to accept the notion, widely held in Britain, that Africans were a lesser race.

1867 – Guy Newell Boothby, prolific Australian novelist and writer who lived mainly in England and is noted for sensational fiction published in magazines; his best known creations are the Dr. Nikola series (about an occultist criminal mastermind who is a Victorian forerunner to Fu Manchu) and Pharos (a tale of Gothic Egypt, mummies’ curses, and supernatural revenge); Rudyard Kipling was his friend and mentor, and his books were remembered with affection by George Orwell.

1871 – Janis Poruks, Latvian poet and writer who is considered one of the founders of romantic Latvian literature.

1876 – Ivande Kaija (pen name of Antonija Lukina, née Antonija Meldere-Millere), Latvian writer and feminist who fought for the independence of Latvia.

1885 – Elise Johnson McDougald (also known as Gertrude Elise McDougald Ayer), African-American educator, writer, essayist, and activist who was the first African-American woman principal in New York City public schools.

1890 – Conrad Richter, Pulitzer Prize-winning American fiction writer, best known for his young-adult classic, The Light in the Forest.

1902 – Arnaud “Arna” Wendell Bontemps, African-American poet, novelist, and librarian who was a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance movement.

1903 – Takiji Kobayashi (小林 多喜二), Japanese author of proletarian literature, best known for his 1929 short novel Kanikōsen (Crab Cannery Ship) about the movement to unionize fishing workers; two years later, at the age of 29, he was arrested and allegedly tortured to death by police.

1904 – Daw Mya Sein, Burmese author, educator, and historian.

1906 – Aloha Wanderwell (real name: Idris Galcia Hall née Welsh), Canadian writer, photographer, adventurer, actress, cinematographer, documentary filmmaker, lecturer, and explorer.

1913 – Igor Torkar, pen name of Boris Fakin, a Slovenian writer, playwright, and poet, best known for literary descriptions of Communist repression in Yugoslavia after World War II.

1916 – Galina Shatalova (Галина Сергеевна Шаталова), Turkmenistan-born Russian neurosurgeon and author of many popular books on health, nutrition, and healthy lifestyles, best known for her Natural Health Improvement System, which incorporates a very low calorie diet; she was chief of the Astronauts Training Sector of the Institute of Space & Aviation Biology. She lived to be 95 years old.

1924 – Moturu Udayam, Indian writer, politician, and women’s rights activist.

1926 – Dejazmatch Zewde Gebre-Sellassie, prominent Ethiopian writer, historian and politician who was the deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

1929 – Adalet Agaoglu (née Sümer), Turkish author, memoirist, essayist, playwright, and short-story writer; she is also considered one of the foremost novelists of 20th-century Turkish literature.

1929 – Richard Howard, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet, literary critic, essayist, teacher, and translator.

1931 – Dritëro Agolli, Albanian poet, novelist, essayist, writer, screenwriter, playwright, journalist, and politician.

1933 – Abburi Chayadevi, Indian Telugu author, short-story writer, folklore collector, translator, and children’s writer.

1938 – Dalene Matthee, bestselling South African author, known for her four Forest Novels, written in and around the Knysna Forest.

1939 – Han Seung-won, South Korean writer who writes mainly about people who struggle against their fate in Jangheung, a county situated off the southern coast of the Korean peninsula where Han himself was born; the setting and local dialect give his work a strong sense of place.

1945 – George Ayittey, Ghanaian economist, author, professor, and activist; in his work, he calls for democratic government, debt reexamination, modernized infrastructure, free market economics, and free trade to promote development.

1945- Selima Hill, award-winning British poet; one critic calls her, “arguably the most distinctive truth teller to emerge in British poetry since Sylvia Plath.”

1950 – Mollie Katzen, American chef, cookbook author, and children’s writer, best known as the author of the popular Moosewood series of vegetarian cookbooks.

1957 – Chris Carter, American television and film producer, director, and writer, best known as creator of The X-Files.

1957 – Chae Ho-ki, award-winning modernist South Korean poet who is considered to be one of the major voices in Korean literature.

1963 – Colin Channer, Jamaican author of novels, short stories, and poetry that focus on his home country; he is sometimes called “Bob Marley with a pen.”

1981 – Emily Gould, American novelist, short-story author, bookstore owner, and blogger.

Another Troll

Most people I speak with on Facebook are nice, reasonable people. Then there are the rest. I posted about some sexist jerks yesterday. As I was writing that blog entry, I was floored by a response I received at the same time to some comments I made on a Facebook page for owners of old houses.

The original post was from someone who’d found a disconnected old fire hydrant in his yard and was wondering if people thought he might be able to sell it, and could suggest how much to ask for it.

I responded, asking, “Don’t fire hydrants technically belong to the local jurisdiction, not to the homeowner? You might call your local fire department first to make sure it’s legal for you to sell it.”

That was my entire comment.

Someone else posted to say he had some old hydrants on his farm, but they were part of a private fire suppression system, and that it’s possible that the one that the post was about had also been put in by the homeowner or were no longer owned by the local jurisdiction.

I responded, “Probably, but why risk getting in trouble when a simple phone call or email could tell you for sure?”

Again, that was all I said. I just asked a question.

Then I received a response from a woman named Carla who had not been part of the conversation. She told me I had made my point and ordered me to stop commenting. She told me I was “beating a dead horse.”

I replied, “Beating a dead horse? I responded to the original poster, and then to one person who commented, making a different point. What right do you have to tell me what I can post?”

Carla said one time was enough, and that I was “spamming” and “repeating the same spew.”

I reported her to the page administrators for harassment. And I responded to her last comment, “How is it spam or spewing to ask ‘Probably, but why risk getting in trouble when a simple phone call or email could tell you for sure?’ That was the total of my second comment. Why does it bother you so much?”

After that, she was quiet for a while. Eventually she wrote again to say, “Have a blessed evening.”

I don’t know if she just didn’t know how to say why it bothered her so much, or if she was contacted by a page administrator in response to my reporting her. In any case, the conversation seems to have ended. I contemplated telling her to have a nice evening, too. On the other hand, I didn’t want to get her started again.

October 12 Writer Birthdays

1580 – Hortensio Félix Paravicino y Arteaga, Spanish writer, poet, playwright, and Catholic monk. He was also an art critic and connoisseur of painting, but argued for the destruction of all paintings of nudes, writing, “The finest paintings are the greatest threat: burn the best of them”; his views on art were considered extreme even for 17th century Spain, and his rant was not published.

1765 – José Eduardo de Cárdenas, Mexican writer, poet, theologist, priest, and politician of New Spain (now Mexico).

1786 – Roxandra Skarlatovna Edling-Sturdza (also called Roxana or Roksandra), Turkish-born writer, memoirist, activist, and philanthropist; after moving to St. Petersburg, Russia, she became the master of ceremonies at the court of Alexander I of Russia and his wife, the Empress Elizabeth Alexeievna and counselor to the empress. She is most remembered for founding schools and orphanages for young refugees during the wars and revolutions in the Balkans.

1795 – Janet Hamilton, Scottish poet, writer, memoirist, and essayist who wrote reminiscences of village and rural Scotland during her youth, writing in both English and Scots.

1810 – Dionísia Gonçalves Pinto (pen name Nísia Floresta Brasileira Augusta), Brazilian educator, translator, writer, and poet who is considered the “first Brazilian feminist”; she was one of the first women to publish her work in newspapers in Brazil, and also wrote a book defending the rights of women, Native Americans, and slaves.

1829 – Michel Maxwell Philip, Trinidadian novelist, lawyer, and civil servant.

1842 – Alice Durand (pen name Henry Gréville), award-winning French writer and novelist who lived for years in St. Petersburg and often wrote about Russian society, even after returning to France.

1850 – Pellegrino Matteucci, Italian explorer known for his expeditions to Africa and the books he wrote about them.

1859 – Diana Abgar, Burmese-born Armenia writer, politician, opinion journalist, and diplomat who served as the Armenian Counsel to Japan; much of her writing focuses on the plight of oppressed people, international relations, and the impact of imperialism on world affairs and global peace.

1860 – Constanța Hodoș, award-winning Austrian-born Romanian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, children’s writer, and opinion journalist who sometimes used the pen name Th. Costan.

1864 – Monroe Alpheus Majors, African-American writer, biographer, journalist, editor, doctor, and civil rights activist who was one of the first black physicians in the American Southwest and established a medical association for black physicians who were not allowed entry into the American Medical Association; one of his most celebrated works is a book of biographies of African-American women, Noted Negro Women: Their Triumphs and Activities.

1864 – Kamini Roy, Indian poet, social worker, educator, and feminist, in 2019, Google honored Roy with a Doodle on her 155th birthday; the accompanying writeup started with her quote, “Why should a woman be confined to home and denied her rightful place in society?”

1875 – Aleister Crowley, an English occultist who wrote books on the subject; he was also a novelist, poet, painter, and magician.

1879 – Danica Markovic, Serbian writer who is considered the first modern Serbian woman lyric poet and is also important for her feminist writings; her pseudonym was Zvezdanka.

1883 – Mercedes Pinto Armas, Spanish writer, poet, playwright, and journalist; one of her novels was made into a film by Luis Buñuel.

1887 – Abolqasem Lahouti, Persian writer, poet, artist, journalist, and political activist.

1887- Paula Preradovic (known professionally as Paula von Preradovic or by her married name, Paula Molden), Austrian writer and poet who was the granddaughter of the poet, writer. and military general Petar Preradovic. She is best known for writing the lyrics to the national anthem of Austria.

1889 – Pilar Barrios, important Uruguayan poet, author, and journalist who was one of the most notable Black intellectuals in Uruguay and wrote in his poetry about the class-based racism in his society; with his book Piel Negra, he became one of only two Black Uruguayan poets to be published in book form (the other was Virginia Brindis de Salas).

1891 – Edith Stein (religious name Teresia Benedicta a Cruce, also known as St.
Edith Stein or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross), German nun, writer, theologian, philosopher, university teacher, translator, linguist, nursing assistant, Catholic saint, and resistance fighter who began as a Jewish philosopher but later, along with her sister Rosa, converted to Catholicism and becoming a Discalced Carmelite nun. In 1942 both sisters were arrested by the Nazis and died in Auschwitz.

1894 – Agnes von Krusenstjerna, Swedish writer and artist whose books challenged the moral standards of the day and touched off a literary controversy about freedom of speech.

1896 – Eugenio Montale, Nobel Prize-winning Italian writer, poet, editor, and translator who is considered the greatest Italian lyric poet since Giacomo Leopardi.

1904 – Jiǎng Bīngzhī (pen name Ding Ling, formerly romanized as Ting Ling), award-winning Chinese short-story writer and novelist who is considered a major figure in 20th century Chinese literature.

1904 – Lester Dent, American pulp fiction author, best known as creator of the character Doc Savage.

1908 – Alfredo Pareja Diezcanseco, Ecuadorian novelist, essayist, journalist, historian, and diplomat; he was considered an innovator of the Latin American novel.

1908 – Paul Engle, American poet, editor, teacher, literary critic, novelist, and playwright who is best known as the director of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.

1908 – Anne Petry, American author who became the first black woman writer with sales topping a million copies; she is best known for her novel The Street.

1909 – Dorothy Livesay, award-winning Canadian poet, short-story writer, and memoir writer whose “well-crafted poems … not only showed skilled use of the imagist technique but prefigured Margaret Atwood’s condemnations of exploitative and fearful attitudes to the Canadian landscape.”

1910 – Robert Fitzgerald, British poet, educator, journalist, author, and translator whose translations of the Greek classics became the standard texts.

1912 – Alice Childress, American playwright, actor, and author of young-adult literature.

1912 – Rafael “Liling” R. Roces Jr., Filipino journalist, writer, and World War II spy who was captured by the Japanese and beheaded.

1912 – Isaiah Ghele Sakpo, Nigerian writer, Christian clergyman, and evangelist.

1921 – Logie Bruce-Lockhart, British writer, headmaster, Scottish rugby player, and author of books about fishing.

1923 – Armanda Guiducci, Italian writer, literary critic, and Marxist feminist who was a major player in the feminist debates of the 1970s.

1925 – Robin Skelton, British poet, professor, anthologist, professor, and editor who was a practicing Wiccan and often wrote on neopagan religions, but who was best known as an authority on Irish literature.

1928 – Domna Samiou, Greek music researcher, writer, and musician whose expertise was in Greek and Turkish folk music; she traveled from village to village collecting traditional songs and lyrics in order to preserve the countries’ musical heritage, and recorded them to compile an archive of traditional songs.

1929 – Toto Sudarto Bachtiar, Indonesian poet and translator whose poetry has been described as having “a haunting lyric grace”, but is notoriously difficult to understand because he used words in symbolic rather than literal ways, his verses did not correspond to syntactic units, and he seldom used punctuation.

1929 – Ella Holm Bull, award-winning Norwegian author and teacher who was dedicated to promoting the Southern Sami language for many years; she is especially known for helping to create an orthography for Southern Sámi.

1934 – Oğuz Atay, Turkish bestselling novelist, playwright, engineer, and university teacher.

1936 – Frederick Nnabuenyi Ugonna, Nigerian ethnologist, linguist, and writer who is remembered for his studies of the Igbo language and other African languages as well as of African literature.

1938 – Nida Fazli, award-winning Indian Hindi and Urdu poet, screenwriter, author, and lyricist.

1942 – Rosaura Barahona, Mexican writer, journalist, columnist, and educator.

1946 – Marina Lewycka, award-winning British novelist of Ukrainian origin and German birth; she is best known for her debut novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Lewycka was born in a World War II refugee camp in Germany.

1948 – Soji Shimada, award-winning Japanese mystery writer, some of whose works are humorous; he also writes manga and is a columnist.

1951 – Coralie Frei, Comorian nurse and writer currently living in Switzerland; she is the first Comorian woman to write a novel, and has also written poetry.

1956 – Rafael Ábalos, Spanish author of young-adult fantasy.

1959 – Catherine Anne Merridale, British writer, historian, and university teacher with a special interest in Russian history.

1962 – Amanda Castro, award-winning Honduran poet.

1963 – Donna Williams, Australian writer, screenwriter, autobiographer, sculptor, artist, and singer-songwriter. At age two, she was assessed as “psychotic,” but as an adult, she was diagnosed as autistic; she became a consultant about autism and wrote textbooks on the subject.

1981 – NoViolet Bulawayo (pen name of Elizabeth Zandile Tshele), award-winning Zimbabwean novelist and short-story writer; she has been named a “5 Under 35” honoree by the National Book Foundation and was cited as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Africans by New African magazine.

1982 – Julie Kagawa, American novelist and young-adult author who writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and magic realism; she is best known for writing the 15-book Iron Fey series, which begins with The Iron King.

Sexist A**holes

I guess I’ve spent too much time on Facebook today. The sexism I’m seeing today is disturbing because it is so prevalent and so persistent.

If you follow George Takei’s page, you may recall the “Am I the A**Hole?” questions from Reddit that he sometimes reposts for his own followers to answer. I read two of them today that seemed to me like no-brainers.

In one, a man posted that his girlfriend had lost her home in a fire. (First red flag: he called her his “new” girlfriend, but then said they’d been dating for a year.) She and her two kids had nowhere else to go. Their landlord has other properties, but can’t get her into one until January. She asked the boyfriend if they could temporarily move in with him. He upset her by saying no, because they had been dating only been a year, and he didn’t think their relationship had progressed to the stage of living together. He was also ticked off at her for cancelling a date with him right after the fire, because, believe it or not, she had other things to deal with.

My thought was that yes, he is the AH. The girlfriend is not asking for a lifetime commitment, just a roof over her head. If he doesn’t step up, she and her kids will be homeless for three months. How can he not want to help?

Most of the people who commented seemed to agree with me. But a sizable minority did not, saying that women might claim they want to move in only temporary, but that when it comes time to leave, they refuse to move out. Most of these responders, not surprisingly, were men, but a few were women. What is wrong with them? She has nowhere to go! Presumably, this man cares about her. If he doesn’t trust her to keep her word, and thinks she’s someone who would trick him so she could move in permanently, why would he still be dating her after a year? In fact, the AH boyfriend did not actually say he was worried she would refuse to leave in January, yet many of the readers made that assumption. That’s even worse. The old stereotype of women as gold diggers who try to trick men into commitment is, apparently, still alive and well.

The other post was kind of creepy. A pregnant woman wrote to say that her husband is obsessed with her baby bump but is ignoring her completely. She says he walks into the room, goes straight to her abdomen, and will grope her baby bump and talk to the baby for a half-hour, without even greeting her. He says he’s bonding with the baby. And this happens almost every time he sees her. She’s hurt that he seldom even talks to her anymore, and she’s fed up with the unwanted touching. She asked if she’s the AH for expecting him to pay some attention to her and not feel he has the right to grope her whenever he wants.

Of course, she’s not the AH. It’s her body. Ignoring the woman you supposedly love, except for the part of her that has a baby inside, is out of line. Touching people without their permission is out of line. Again, this is a no-brainer. But apparently a lot of Takei’s followers have no brain, and thought it was the wife who was out of line. It was mostly men, but as in the other post, there were some women who thought so, too. Some said it was his baby, so he had every right to fondle her and talk to the baby, They argued that she shouldn’t be bothered by his ignoring her, because what happens when the baby gets older and the father wants to have a conversation with his kid; will she object to that too? Some said if she wanted to have a right to her own body, she shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. And others chalked up her attitude to pregnancy hormones.

Will we ever move past the idea that women are overly emotionally needy, that getting pregnant warrants any punishment any man cares to inflict on us, and that women don’t have the right to control our own bodies, especially if we’re married?

Sometimes I am so discouraged for the human race.