May 18 Writer Birthdays

1048 – Omar Khayyám, Persian poet, philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician; known for his collection of poetry that translator Edward FitzGerald titled The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám.

1452 – Henry the Younger of Poděbrady, Czech poet, writer, and translator who was Prince of Bohemia and Duke of Münsterberg.

1711 – Roger Joseph Boscovich, Croat-Italian writer, poet, physicist, astronomer, priest, mathematician, diplomat, historian, polymath, geographer, theologian, university teacher, and philosopher; he is best known for his many contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet and computing a planet’s orbit from three observations of a surface feature, and the discovery of the absence of atmosphere on the Moon.

1787 – Konstantin Batyushkov, Russian writer, poet, essayist, and translator.

1809 – Harriett Low Hillard, U.S. writer and diarist who lived for several years in the Portuguese colony of Macau on the South China coast. She and her sickly aunt became the first American women to go to China; while there, she wrote a journal in the form of letters to her sister Molly.

1814 – Mikhail Bakunin, influential Russian revolutionary, writer, activist, philosopher, politician, and theorist of collectivist anarchism who is considered one of the most influential figures of anarchism and one of the principal founders of the social anarchist tradition; his book God and the State has been widely translated and remains in print.

1852 – I.L. Peretz, Polish author and playwright who wrote in Yiddish and is considered one of the three great classical Yiddish writers.

1853 – Behramji Malabari, Indian writer, poet, journalist, and social reformer who was best known for his ardent advocacy for women’s rights and for his activities against child marriage.

1858 – Inoue Enryo, Japanese philosopher, Buddhist reformer, university founder, and educator, who was a key figure in the reception of Western philosophy, the emergence of modern Buddhism, and the permeation of the imperial ideology; he was sometimes called Ghost Doc or Doctor Specter, because of his opposition to superstition.

1871 – Fanny “Franziska” zu Reventlow (real name Fanny Liane Wilhelmine Sophie Auguste Adrienne), German writer, artist, translator, and countess; she became famous as the “Bohemian Countess of Schwabing” in the years leading up to World War I.

1872 – Bertrand Russell, Nobel Prize-winning British writer, historian, essayist, philosopher, logician, social critic, mathematician, and political activist, famed for his “varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.”

1874 – Madeleine Pelletier, French writer, essayist, autobiographer, anthropologist, physician, psychiatrist, politician, activist, socialist, and suffragist.

1877 – Elena Genrikhovna Guro, Russian Futurist painter, playwright, poet, and fiction writer.

1879 – Henry James III, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. biographer who was the nephew of acclaimed novelist Henry James.

1889 – Gunnar Gunnarsson, prolific Icelandic novelist, dramatist, essayist, and poet who wrote mainly in Danish (to gain a wider audience) and whose work celebrated the courage and dignity of the common people of the North; his five-volume fictionalized autobiography Kirken paa bjerget (The Church on the Mountain) is considered his best work and a masterpiece of modern Icelandic literature.

1890 – Zora Cross, Australian writer, poet, novelist, journalist, children’s writer, teacher, and actress; one of her books of poetry, Songs of Love and Life, attracted widespread attention because of its erotic content and sold out in three days.

1895 – Zhang Henshui (pen name of Zhang Xinyuan), popular and prolific Chinese novelist.

1901 – Rafael Larco Hoyle, Peruvian writer, archaeologist, and anthropologist.

1904 – Margaret Pansy Felicia Lamb (known as Lady Pansy Lamb), English writer, novelist, translator, and biographer under her maiden name, Pansy Pakenham.

1904 – Shunryū Suzuki, Japanese writer, philosopher, and Buddhist missionary.

1907 – Irene Hunt, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author of books for children and teens, best known for her historical and coming-of-age novels; her most famous works are Across Five Aprils and Up a Road Slowly. According to one critic, “Brilliant characterization, a telling sense of story, an uncanny ability to balance fact and fiction, and compassionate, graceful writing mark Hunt’s small but distinguished body of work.”

1909 – Diosdado G. Alesna, award-winning Filipino writer and poet in the Cebuano language; he wrote under many pen names, including Diody Mangloy, Rigor Tancredo, Reynaldo Lap, Buntia, La Roca, Melendres, and Flordeliz Makaluluoy.

1910 – Ester Boserup, influential Danish writer and economist who wrote seminal books on agrarian change and the role of women in development; she is known for her theory of agricultural intensification, also known as Boserup’s theory, which posits that population change drives the intensity of agricultural production.

1913 – Nicolás Gómez Dávila, Colombian writer, philosopher, and radical critic of modernity.

1915 – Seo Jeong-ju, five-time Nobel Prize-nominated Korean poet and professor who wrote under the pen name Midang (“not yet fully grown”); he is widely regarded as one of the best poets in 20th-century Korean literature.

1915 – Isobel Lennart, U.S. screenwriter and playwright.

1925 – Lillian Hoban, U.S. children’s writer and illustrator who often collaborated with her husband, writer Russell Hoban.

1928 – José Gabriel Lopes da Silva (also known as Gabriel Mariano), Cape Verdean poet, novelist, and essayist.

1930 – Fred Saberhagen, U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author of novels and short stories.

1935 – Ahmed Baba Miské, Mauritanian writer, politician, and diplomat who is best known as the author of Lettre ouverte aux elites du Tiers-monde (Open Letters to the Elite of the Third World).

1936 – Alena Wagnerová, Czech fiction author, nonfiction writer, and journalist who writes in both Czech and German.

1943 – So Young-en, award-winning South Korean novelist and short-story writer; her works feature a deep-seated nihilism and a sense of alienation, and are often about ordinary people who long for a spiritually elevated existence while struggling with the meaninglessness of their lives.

1948 – Yi Mun-yol, bestselling, award-winning South Korean writer; his works include novels, short stories, Korean adaptations of classic Chinese novels, and political and social commentaries.

1952 – Diane Duane, U.S. and Irish science-fiction and fantasy author who writes in the Star Trek universe, as well as in her own settings.

1954 – Min Lu (real name Nyan Paw), Burmese novelist and screenwriter who adapted several of his own novels into films.

1956 – Gisèle Pineau, French/Guadeloupean novelist, writer, and psychiatric nurse who has written books on the difficulties of her childhood as a person of color growing up in Parisian society; in particular, she focuses on racism and the effects it can have on a young girl trying to discover her own cultural identity.

1957 – Lionel Shriver, U.S. and British journalist and author who was born Margaret Ann Shriver.

1959 – Debbie Dadey, U.S. author of more than 125 children’s books, including the bestselling series, The Adventure of the Bailey School Kids.

1959 – Sophie Masson, Indonesian-born French-Australian fantasy and children’s author.

1967 – Nina Björk, Swedish feminist, author, journalist, and columnist.

1970 – Tina Fey, U.S. comedy writer, comedian, playwright, actress, and television personality.

1976 – Mamizu Arisawa, award-winning Japanese author of light novels.

1985 – Azalia Suhaimi, Malaysian poet, photographer, blogger, and creative writer; she is famous for combining photography and poetry.

1988 – Lưu Quang Minh, popular Vietnamese musician and book author.

May 17 Writer Birthdays

1155 – Jien, Japanese historian, poet, and Buddhist monk.

1723 – Bianca Laura Saibante, Italian poet and playwright who was one of the founders of the cultural institution, the Accademia Roveretana degli Agiati.

1792 – Isabella Noel Byron (11th Baroness Wentworth and Baroness Byron, née Milbanke), English writer, poet, memoirist, and mathematician who was married to the poet Lord Byron; her memoirs were published after her death by writer Harriet Beecher Stowe.

1807 – Sophie Amelia Prosser (born Sophia Amelia Dibdin, but often called by her pseudonym, Mrs. Prosser), British author who was known for her sentimental morality tales and fables.

1813 – Eliza Rennie (also known as Mrs. Eliza Walker), Scottish author who is best known for her Gothic and Romantic short stories, her two-volume autobiography, and her writing about her friendships with writer Mary Shelley, the Duke of Wellington, and other notables.

1836 – Virginie (Marie) Loveling, Flemish Belgian author of realistic and romantic poetry, novels, essays, and children’s stories; she also wrote under the pseudonym W.E.C. Walter. Some of her work was co-authored with her sister Rosalie Loveling and her nephew Cyriel Buysse.

1853 – Amy Clarke (pen name Mrs. Henry Clarke), English writer of historical fiction and children’s books.

1857 – Pascual H. Poblete, Filipino writer, journalist, translator, and feminist; he is best remembered as the first translator of José Rizal’s novel Noli Me Tangere into the Tagalog language.

1860 – Nataly von Eschstruth (pen name of Nataly von Knobelsdorff-Brenkenhoff), German novelist, poet, and short-story writer.

1873 – Dorothy Miller Richardson, British novelist who was a pioneer of the stream-of-consciousness style.

1877 – Juana Borrero, Cuban writer, poet, and artist who began painting when she was five, wrote her first poem at seven, spoke multiple languages by the age of ten, and had her work published in magazines from age 14. She died of tuberculosis at only 18 years old.

1887 – Violet May Cottrell, New Zealand writer, poet, and spiritualist.

1889 – Alfonso Reyes, influential Mexican poet, essayist, literary critic, and diplomat.

1893 – Winifred May de Kok, South Africa writer, television presenter, and physician who wrote about issues surrounding parenting and family health; she married Alfred Edgar Coppard, a British short-story writer who was a leading light of a literary group, the New Elizabethans.

1904 – Marie-Anne Desmarest (born Anne-Marie During), award-winning French romance novelist.

1906 – Dorothy Crisp, British writer, publisher, and political figure who was known for her right-wing views.

1906 – Frederic Prokosch, award-winning U.S. novelist, poet, and memoirist who is primarily remembered for his literary career but who also had a brief career as a forger.

1908 – Muhammad Ahmad Mahgoub, Sudanese writer, poet, author, politician, and diplomat who was Prime Minister of Sudan.

1908 – Alicia Porro (full name Alicia Porro Freire de Maciel), Uruguayan poet, artist, musician, and composer who used the pseudonym Tacón de Fierro for her musical compositions and Margarita Irigoyen for her artwork.

1914 – Chang Ch’ung-ho, Chinese writer, poet, calligrapher, professor, and opera singer.

1922 – Toek Blignaut, South African author, short-story writer, journalist, editor, and advice columnist; she wrote more than 80 books and 200 short stories.

1927 – Francesca Forrellad and Lluïsa Forrellad, Spanish Catalan novelists and playwrights who were twins.

1927 – Jacqueline Sturm, New Zealand writer, poet, librarian, and short-story writer; she is thought to be the first Maori woman writer to have her work published in the English language.

1928 – Francesca Sanvitale, Italian novelist and journalist who was called “one of Italy’s most renowned contemporary authors.”

1929 – Eloise Greenfield, U.S. African-American poet, biographer, and children’s author known for her descriptive, rhythmic style and positive portrayal of the African-American experience.

1934 – Leela Sarkar, award-winning Indian and Singaporean writer and translator who works in the Malayalam language.

1935 – Dennis Potter (full name Dennis Christopher George Potter, British dramatist, novelist, screenwriter, and nonfiction author.

1936 – Lars Gustafsson, Swedish playwright, novelist, and poet.

1939 – Gary Paulsen, U.S. author of popular young-adult coming-of-age novels set in the wilderness; he is particularly known for the Brian’s Saga series, beginning with the book Hatchet. He also wrote short stories, articles, and plays.

1944 – Priti Sengupta, Indian Gujarati poet, travel author, and writer.

1946 – Joan Barfoot, award-winning Canadian novelist and journalist.

1946 – F. Paul Wilson, U.S. author of science fiction, horror, and medical thrillers.

1947 – Janet Holmes, New Zealand sociolinguist, writer, and academic who studies language and gender, language in the workplace, and New Zealand English.

1947 – Halima Xudoyberdiyeva, Uzbek poet, writer, and journalist who wrote about Uzbek nationhood and history, liberation movements, and feminism; she was awarded the title People’s Poet of Uzbekistan.

1948 – Esmeralda Santiago, Puerto Rican author and actress known for her novels and memoirs.

1950 – Valeriya Novodvorskaya, Belarussian and Russian writer, teacher, poet, politician, librarian, translator, pedagogue, journalist, and liberal political activist who was the founder and chairwoman of the Democratic Union party and a member of the editorial board of The New Times.

1950 – Dian Curtis Regan, U.S. author of children’s and young-adult books.

1957 – Peter Høeg, Danish novelist and short-story writer, best known for the novel Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, which was made into the film Smilla’s Sense of Snow.

May 16 Writer Birthdays

1718 – Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Italian writer, essayist, mathematician, theologian, philosopher, philanthropist, and humanitarian who was the first woman to write a mathematics handbook and the first woman appointed as a mathematics professor at a university. She wrote the first book discussing both differential and integral calculus, and also wrote extensively on the marriage between intellectual pursuit and mystical contemplation. The composer Maria Teresa Agnesi Pinottini was her sister.

1788 – Friedrich Rückert, German poet, writer, translator, and professor of Oriental languages.

1803 – Constantina Carolina Amalia “Amelie” von Strussenfelt, Swedish writer, poet, novelist, educator, painter, and women’s rights activist whose sister was the writer Ulrika von Strussenfelt.

1819 – Johann Voldemar Jannsen, Estonian journalist and poet who wrote the words of the patriotic song “Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm” (“My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy”), which later became the national anthem of Estonia; As the leader of the choral society that organized the first nationwide Song Festival in Tartu in 1869, he played a crucial role in the Estonian National Awakening. His daughter was the poet Lydia Koidula.

1827 – Hedevig Rosing, Danish-born Norwegian author, educator, school founder, and suffragist who specialized in teaching deaf and mute students; she was the first woman to teach in Copenhagen’s public schools.

1884 – Eric P. Kelly, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. children’s author, journalist, and academic.

1885 – Aage Berntsen, Danish poet, writer, painter, doctor, and Olympic fencer.

1886 – Douglas Southall Freeman, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, author, newspaper editor, radio commentator, and biographer of Robert E. Lee and George Washington.

1887 – Jakob van Hoddis (pen name of Hans Davidsohn; van Hoddis is an anagram of his surname), influential German Jewish poet whose most famous poem, “Weltende” (“End of the World”), is considered the preliminary Expressionist poem which inspired other poets to write in a similarly grotesque style; he is also seen as perhaps the only German predecessor of Surrealism (which did not exist as a movement in Germany). When the Nazis came into power, mental illness prevented him from being accepted as an immigrant when the rest of his family fled Germany; in 1942, he was transported to the Sobibór extermination camp with about 500 other patients and staff of the sanitorium where he was living. None survived.

1888 – Berthe-Sultana Bénichou-Aboulker, Algerian poet and playwright who wrote in French; her play La Kahena, reine berbière was the first work published by a Jewish woman in Algeria.

1890 – Gertrude Chandler Warner, U.S. author of children’s books; best known as the first author of the beloved Boxcar Children series. The books were criticized for encouraging child rebellion by depicting children with little parental supervision; her response was that children liked them for that very reason.

1893 – Ronald de Carvalho, Brazilian poet, writer, politician, and diplomat.

1898 – Desanka Maksimovic, Serbian poet, writer, professor, children’s author, and translator.

1901 – Lars Kornelius Edvard Berg, Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and teacher who was influenced by ideas from Freud’s writings on psychoanalysis; his work was controversial for its candid treatment of sexual issues.

1905 – H.E. Bates, English novelist, journalist, essayist, and short-story writer.

1906 – Arturo Uslar Pietri, Venezuelan writer, poet, playwright, journalist, biographer, historian, literary critic, lawyer, politician, and diplomat.

1906 – Margret Rey, German and U.S. co-author and illustrator (with her husband H.A. Rey) of the Curious George children’s books.

1910 – Olga Berggolts, Russian poet and radio broadcaster

1910 – Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, U.S. educator, Transcendentalist writer, and translator who opened the first English-language kindergarten in the U.S.

1912 – Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author, historian, and broadcaster who is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans.

1917 – Juan Rulfo (full name Juan Nepomuceno Carlos Pérez Rulfo Vizcaíno), Mexican novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and photographer, who is considered one of Latin America’s most esteemed novelists and short-story writers; he strongly influenced author Gabriel García Márquez.

1922 – Bi Pu (Zhou Sunshan), Chinese novelist, essayist, translator, newspaper editor, short-story writer, and broadcaster.

1929 – Adrienne Rich, National Book Award-winning U.S. poet, essayist, and feminist who has been called “one of the most widely read and influential poets of the second half of the 20th century.”

1933 – Saifuddin Bohra, Pakistani author and political activist.

1934 – Robert Dallek, U.S. professor, historian, and biographer who specializes in American presidents.

1934 – Yusufali Kechery, Indian poet, film lyricist, film producer, and director who is considered one of the modern era’s leading writers of Malayalam poetry.

1934 – Leela Nambudiripad (pen name Sumangala), popular Indian writer and children’s author who writes in Malayalam.

1936 – Shirley Bear, Canadian Tobique First Nation author, artist, poet, herbalist, and activist for the rights of indigenous women; she is an original member of the Wabanaki language group of New Brunswick.

1938 – Monique Laederach, award-winning Swiss writer, poet, novelist, playwright, translator, and literary critic.

1944 – Ahmet Emin Atasoy, Bulgarian-born Turkish poet, author, teacher, and interpreter.

1946 – Laila Stien, Norwegian novelist, poet, children’s author, and translator.

1950 – Bruce Coville, prolific, award-winning U.S. author of children’s and young-adult novels.

1953 – Mitra Phukan, Indian author, children’s writer, biographer, short-story writer, columnist, reviewer, translator, and classical musician; she writes in English.

1953 – Fa Poonvoralak, award-winning Thai novelist, short-story writer, essayist, poet, and filmmaker.

1953 – Jónína Leósdóttir, Icelandic novelist, journalist, biographer, playwright, children’s author, and politician. She is married to the former Icelandic Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, who was the first openly lesbian head of government in modern history; they were one of the first same-sex couples in Iceland to get married, and until 2015, Jónína was the only modern person to have been the same-sex spouse of a sitting head of government.

1954 – Rajiva Wijesinha, Sri Lankan writer and professor who writes in English and is distinguished for his political analysis as well as his creative and critical work.

1960 – Dele Momodu (born Ayòbámidélé Àbáyòmí Ojútelégàn Àjàní Momodu), award-winning Nigerian journalist, writer, columnist, publisher, and motivational speaker.

1963 – Tiziano Scarpa, award-winning Italian novelist, playwright, comics writer, and poet.

1981 – Ánna Báttler (pen name of Ánna Vasílievna Levashóva), Russian poet, writer, actress, and philanthropist; her book Wild Russian Mother (Дикая русская мать) had to be re-edited after the original manuscript was banned by authorities for its descriptions of the public attitude toward children and education, the moral decay of Russian society, and the corruption of state officials.

May 15 Writer Birthdays

1689 – Mary Wortley Montagu (née Pierrepont), English poet, travel writer, letter writer, playwright, explorer, and aristocrat who is remembered for her works written during her travels to the Ottoman Empire; her writings address and challenge her society’s attitudes toward women’s intellectual growth. She is also known for introducing and advocating for smallpox inoculation in Britain after her return from Turkey.

1820 – Grímur Thomsen, Icelandic poet, writer, essayist, translator, and editor who is considered one of Iceland’s most important Romantic writers.

1833 – Sofie Podlipská (née Rottová), Czech writer of historical novels, juvenile works, and feminist literature.

1837 – Vanchinbalyn Injinash, Mongolian poet, novelist, short-story writer, and historian whose work is characterized by civic sentiments and strong social criticism.

1856 – L. Frank Baum, U.S. children’s author who created the classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels.

1857 – Williamina Paton Stevens Fleming. Scottish astronomer and writer who helped develop a common designation system for stars and cataloged thousands of stars and other astronomical phenomena; among several career achievements that advanced astronomy, Fleming is noted for her discovery of the Horsehead Nebula in 1888. Most of her career was spent in the U.S.

1869 – Concha Espina (full name María de la Concepción Jesusa Basilisa Rodríguez-Espina y García-Tagle), Spanish novelist, writer, and journalist who was nominated for a Nobel prize in Literature 25 times.

1886 – Douglas Southall Freeman, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, author, newspaper editor, and biographer who won Pulitzers for his four-volume biography of Robert E. Lee and his seven-volume biography of George Washington.

1890 – Katherine Ann Porter, Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning U.S. novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and political activist.

1891 – Mikhail Bulgakov, Ukrainian-born Russian writer and playwright, best known for his novel The Master and Margarita.

1891 – David Vogel, Ukrainian-born Jewish-Austrian poet, novelist, and diarist.

1900 – Fily Dabo Sissoko, Malian author, poet, and influential political leader who was a key writer of the Negritude Movement.

1903 – Luz Elisa Borja Martínez, Ecuadorian writer, poet, pianist, painter, composer, and sculptor.

1903 – Maria Reiche (full name Maria Reiche Grosse-Neumann), German-born Peruvian mathematician, archaeologist, author, and technical translator who became known as the “Lady of the Lines” for her work on the Nazca Lines, a group of geoglyphs made in the soil of the Nazca Desert in southern Peru; she made the documentation, preservation, and public dissemination of knowledge about the Nazca Lines her life’s work.

1904 – Clifton “Kip” Fadiman, U.S. intellectual, author, editor, and broadcaster.

1904 – Annada Shankar Ray, Indian Bengali and Odia poet, essayist, and travel writer who wrote several poems criticizing the Partition of India; his best known work is Pathe Prabaase, a diary of his European travels.

1907 – Ursula Kuczynski (also known as Ruth Werner, Ursula Beurton, and Ursula Hamburger), German author, autobiographer, Communist activist, resistance fighter, and spy who published a series of books related to her spy work, including her bestselling autobiography, Sonjas Rapport (Sonya’s Report).

1907 – Chote Praepan (pen name Jacob) Thai writer and journalist whose most famous work is Phu Chana Sip Thit (The Man Who Gained Victory in Ten Directions).

1911 – Max Frisch, Swiss playwright, and novelist known for his ironic works.

1912 – Margaret Diesendorf (née Máté), Austrian-born Australian poet, editor, linguist, translator, and educator.

1912 – Margarita Madrigal, Costa Rican writer, children’s author, and linguist who wrote books in seven different languages.

1915 – Hilda Bernstein, British-born South African author, artist, and activist against apartheid and for women’s rights.

1922 – Jakucho Setouchi, award-winning Japanese novelist, activist, and Buddhist nun; she is noted for first-person narrative biographical novels.

1922 – Kala Keerthi Regi Siriwardena, Sri Lankan academic, journalist, poet, writer, playwright, and screenwriter.

1926 – Peter Shaffer and Anthony Joshua Shaffer, identical-twin English playwrights.

1927 – Assia Wevill, German-born poet and writer who escaped the Nazis to emigrate to Palestine and then the U.K., where she had a relationship with the English poet Ted Hughes; she killed herself and their four-year-old daughter Shura using a gas oven, similar to the suicide of Hughes’s first wife Sylvia Plath, six years earlier.

1930 – Grace Emily Ogot (née Akinyi), Kenyan author, nurse, journalist, politician, and diplomat.

1931 – Norma Fox Mazer, U.S. author and teacher who won a Newbery Honor and was nominated for the National Book Award.

1931 – Nechama Tec (born Nechama Bawnik), award-winning Polish-born writer, historian, sociologist, professor, and Holocaust survivor.

1933 – Santanu Kumar Acharya, Indian Odia novelist, children’s writer, and lecturer.

1934 – John Keegan, British military historian and writer.

1936 – Ruth Almog, Israeli novelist, journalist, and children’s writer

1936 – Paul Zindel, U.S. playwright and young-adult author best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, which was adapted into a film starring Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

1949 – Alice Major, Canadian poet, writer, and essayist who served as poet laureate of Edmonton, Alberta and founded the Edmonton Poetry Festival.

1949 – Lalsangzuali Sailo, Indian author, gospel singer, music composer, and social worker.

1951 – David Almond, British author of children’s and young-adult novels.

1957 – Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning U.K.-based U.S. crime writer.

1962 – Gro Dahle, Norwegian writer, poet, playwright, children’s author, novelist, and librettist.

1962 – Julie Otsuka, Japanese-U.S. author known for her historical fiction; she has been a winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and a finalist for the National Book Award.

1864 – Isabella Grinevskaya (pen name of Beyle Berta Friedberg), award-winning Russian writer, poet, playwright, translator, and novelist who frequented Jewish literary circles in Saint Petersburg; in her books, she depict the lives of the Jewish middle class, especially of enlightened Jewish young girls; Tolstoy praised her work.

1967 – Laura Hillenbrand, bestselling U.S. author of nonfiction books and magazine articles, best known for her book Seabiscuit, about the racehorse that became an unlikely champion.

1968 – Lene Rachel Andersen, Danish author, publisher, economist, futurist, and philosopher who writes in both Danish and English.

1969 – Lauren Myracle, U.S. author of young-adult fiction.

1970 – Judith Hermann, German novelist and short-story writer who is a leading figure of the Fräuleinwunder (“girl wonder”) literary movement of women writers.

1975 – S. Hareesh, award-winning Indian Malayalam novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and translator who is considered one of the major writers in the Malayalam language; his controversial debut novel, Meesha, was challenged because of its discussion of the caste system.

May 14 Writer Birthdays

1553 – Margaret of Valois, French princess of the Valois dynasty who became queen consort of Navarre and later of France and was a well-known writer and woman of letters; she was the first woman known to have written and published her memoirs. The daughter of King Henry II of France and Catherine de’Medici, she was also the sister of kings Francis II, Charles IX, and Henry III.

1607 – Alberte-Barbe d’Ernécourt (Madame de Saint-Baslemont), French writer and soldier who was a heroine of the Thirty Years’ War.

1851 – Anna Laurens Dawes, U.S. author, biographer, suffragist, and trustee of Smith College who served on the board of the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1892-94 and the St. Louis Exposition of 1902-04 and was the daughter of a U.S. Senator. Her written works covered topics including U.S. history, government, and sociology.

1876 – Luis Llorens Torres, Puerto Rican poet, playwright, lawyer, and politician.

1899 – Charlotte Auerbach, German author, professor, geneticist, zoologist, and biologist who was one of the founders of the science of mutagenesis.

1900 – Hal Borland, U.S. author, editorial writer, and journalist who wrote about the nature.

1908 – Agnes Betty Jeffrey, Australian author and nurse who wrote about her World War II nursing experiences in the book White Coolies.

1921 – Fernanda Villeli, Mexican writer, screenwriter, actress, and activist who was one of her country’s major writers of telenovelas.

1929 – George Selden (real name George Thompson), U.S. children’s author who won a Newbery Honor for his novel, The Cricket in Times Square; he sometimes used pen name Terry Andrews.

1935 – June Beer, Afro-Nicaraguan poet, writer, and artist who gained international acclaim for her works depicting African and feminist themes.

1937 – Zehra Nigah, award-winning Pakistani Urdu poet and screenwriter who was one of only two female Pakistani poets to gain prominence in the 1950s when the field was dominated by men.

1939 – Colette Nys-Mazure, award-winning Belgian author, poet, essayist, children’s writer, playwright, and professor who writes in French.

1944 – George Lucas, wildly popular and influential U.S. film writer, director, and producer, best known for the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.

1946 – Sarah Hogg (Viscountess Hailsham), English economist, journalist, and life peer

1952 – Kathleen Ann Goonan, U.S. science-fiction novelist and short-story writer whose work was often set in New Orleans. Her writing is sometimes considered cyberpunk and often incorporates biotechnology, and jazz music; she was also an essayist, professor, literary critic, Campbell Award winner, and Nebula Award nominee.

1952 – Robert L. Zemeckis, U.S. screenwriter, director, and producer known for special-effects films.

1958 – Anna Höglund, Swedish author and artist, considered to be one of Sweden’s best illustrators.

1959 – Robert Greene, bestselling U.S. nonfiction author and speaker who writes about power, strategy, and seduction.

1965 – Eoin Colfer, (pronounced “Owen”) Irish author best known for the Artemis Fowl series of young-adult books, though he also writes for adults.

1971 – Sofia Carmina Coppola, Oscar-winning U.S. film director, and screenwriter; ex-wife of film director Spike Jonze, daughter of film director Francis Ford Coppola, niece of actress Talia Shire, and cousin of actor Nicolas Cage.

1974 – Jana Žitňanská, Slovak writer, journalist, and member of the European Parliament.

Sophomore Year: That’s a Wrap

On Thursday, he took his final exam. Then we packed up some of the stuff in his dorm room and moved it to a storage unit we rented near campus. It was that, or rent a van this week and again in August, who cart his dorm stuff back and forth — and find a place in our house to store it all summer. His dorm is set up in apartments, so in addition to the usual clothes and dorm things, he had kitchen stuff to pack up. As a music major, he also had a piano. In other words, he has way too much to fit into our little compact Prius.

Today, we cleared everything else out of the dorm room and loaded up the rest of his belongings — the stuff that is coming home for the summer — into the Prius. And his Sophomore year of college is over.

I guess I should clarify by saying that he has technically been a Junior all semester, because of extra credits he’s earned through AP testing and summer coursework. But this is the end of his second year on campus. I’m looking forward to having him home all summer! We have a few more days before we get there. We’ve rented a cabin on a riverbank a little outside of town, and have another two days to relax there before heading home.

Yes, those are Star Wars pajama bottoms he’s wearing. They are the only clean pants he has left! Much of what we squashed into the car is dirty laundry; the cabin where we are staying has a washer and dryer, so he will have clean clothes this weekend.

May 13 Writer Birthdays

1611 – Jacques Moisant de Brieux, French poet, writer, and historian.

1786 – Anna Ehrenström (née Gråberg), Swedish poet and writer who has been called the first female poet of Gotland, Sweden’s largest island.

1795 – Pavel Jozef Šafárik, Slovak poet, linguist, writer, science writer, literary historian, educator, publicist, journalist, and translator.

1809 – Giuseppe Giusti, Italian poet, writer, and satirist who is best known for his witty satires about public figures and for his light, playful verses.

1840 – Alphonse Daudet, French novelist of the naturalist movement.

1845 – Emily Matilda Manning (pen name Australie), Australian writer, journalist, poet, and essayist.

1869 – H. Isabel Graham, Canadian poet whose work was often religious or patriotic in theme, and which sometimes incorporated the vocabulary, spelling, and other features of her parents’ native Scottish dialect.

1885 – Hideo Nagata, Japanese Modernist poet, novelist, and playwright.

1901 – Murilo Monteiro Mendes, Brazilian Modernist poet who is considered a forerunner of the Surrealist movement in Brazil.

1904 – Gilberto Owen Estrada, Mexican writer, poet, journalist, translator, and diplomat.

1905 – Roestam Effendi, Indonesian writer, playwright, and poet who was also a member of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands; in his written work, he was known for experimenting with the Malay language.

1907 – Daphne du Maurier (Lady Browning), English author and playwright whose stories have been described as “moody and resonant,” with overtones of the paranormal; much of her work was set in Cornwall. Her book Rebecca won the U.S. National Book Award, and has never gone out of print.

1914 – Shareef Kunjahi, Pakistani writer, poet, translator, literary critic, and linguist.

1916 – Sachidananda Routray, award-winning Indian Odia poet, novelist, and short-story writer; he was popularly known as Sachi Routray.

1916 – N.V. Krishna Warrier, prolific, award-winning Indian poet, journalist, scholar, academic, and political thinker whose works spanned the genres of poetry, drama, travelogue, translation, children’s literature, and science.

1927 – Clive Barnes, British-born theater and dance critic.

1929 – Rigoberto López Pérez, Nicaraguan poet, journalist, and composer who was declared a national hero for his assassination of dictator Anastasio Somoza García.

1935 – Manuel José Leonardo Arce Leal, award-winning Guatemalan poet and dramatist who was considered one of the most relevant national writers of the second half of the 20th century.

1935 – Taku Miki (pen name for Tomita Miki), Japanese poet, novelist, translator, and literary critic.

1936 – Jemal Karchkhadze, award-winning Georgian novelist, short-story writer, poet, playwright, and essayist.

1937 – Roger Zelazny, U.S. poet and author of science-fiction and fantasy novels and short stories. He often portrayed characters from myth, set in the modern or future world, with tension between the ancient and the contemporary, and the surreal and the familiar; his style was also influenced by that of wisecracking hardboiled detective stories.

1938 – Norma Klein, U.S. author of popular young-adult novels, middle-grade books, and picture books; her work often deals with controversial subjects such as racism, homosexuality, teen sexuality, adoption, and death, leading to many of her books being challenged for exclusion in school libraries.

1938 – Francine Pascal, U.S. author of young-adult novels, best known as creator of the Sweet Valley High series.

1940 – Bruce Chatwin, English novelist, journalist, and travel writer, best known for his book, In Patagonia; he is ranked among The Times‘s list of “50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945.”

1940 – Rachel Holmes Ingalls, British-based U.S. author of short-stories, novellas, and novels.

1940 – Mircea Sandu, Romanian poet, writer, biographer, editor, translator, and essayist who is best remembered for his two volumes of interviews with King Michael I of Romania, which offers the most complete insight available into the King’s political and personal way of thinking.

1944 – Armistead Maupin, U.S. writer known for his series of novels set in San Francisco, Tales of the City.

1945 – Rajko Petrov Nogo, Serbian poet, children’s writer, literary critic, university teacher, and politician.

1946 – Anne Lee Tzu Pheng, award-winning Singaporean writer and poet.

1947 – Charles Baxter, U.S. author, essayist, and poet.

1947 – Stephen R. Donaldson, U.S. science-fiction and fantasy writer best known for his ten-novel series The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant.

1947 – Alexander Keyssar, U.S. author, professor, and historian whose work explores historical problems that have contemporary policy implications.

1948 – Natasha Lako, Albanian writer, poet, politician, translator, screenwriter, and journalist.

1950 – Manning Marable, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. professor, historian, author, and Malcom X biographer.

1957 – Koji Suzuki, Japanese author whose Ring books were adapted into a manga series and a feature film; he has also written books about fatherhood.

1960 – Jen Bryant, U.S. poet, novelist, biographer, and children’s author.

1964 – Stephen Colbert, U.S. comedian, television personality, and author.

1967 – Masha Gessen, National Book Award-winning Russian and U.S. journalist, author, and translator.

The End of a Mall

I was not there to see it, but Landmark Mall met the wrecking ball today.

I remember the OLD Landmark mall, the one that was an outdoor mall, decades before “town center” malls were a thing. It was the usual stopping point for a meal on school field trips heading in and out of DC. When I was a kid, my family ate hot open-faced turkey sandwiches with gravy at the cafeteria-style restaurant there. A few years later, its excellent art gallery fed my thirst for fine art by letting me buy paintings on layaway, a little bit each week, when I was in my early 20s and making a pittance. The nearby bakery made fanciful loaves of bread, shaped like alligators.

Later in the 1980s, I was working one exit away when the mall was enclosed and became shiny NEW Landmark Mall. My office mates and I used to drive there for lunch or errands. My eye doctor was there, next to the store where I bought my glasses.

When my son was a baby, the mall was a popular spot for stroller-walking in the winter; my Moms Club was one of the groups that campaigned for the new play space there.

Since then, poor old Landmark has been in decline, with stores leaving, one by one. What an incredible find for the location scout for Wonder Woman 1984: a photogenically intact but defunct multi-level 1980s mall atrium, just waiting to be decked out in 1980s shops as a backdrop for action sequences. It was a chance for the aging mall to momentary relive its glory days.

And now, Landmark Mall is no more. The hospital complex is a good use of the space, but I will miss the old Landmark and the 1980s version. RIP.

The wrecking ball slammed into the atrium of Landmark Mall, after its nearly 60-year history of serving our community and others in the Washington DC area. A new hospital complex will be built on the site.
Landmark’s central atrium experienced its last hurrah in 2018, when it relived its 1980s origins as a set for the film Wonder Woman 1984.

May 12 Writer Birthdays

1089 – Mahsati Ganjavi, eminent Persian poet who is remembered for her quatrains and for her association with both Omar Khayyam; her name Mahsati is a compound of two Persian words “Mah/Maah” (Moon) and “Sati” (Lady).

1665 – Albertus Seba, Dutch writer, ornithologist, pharmacist, zoologist, and pharmacologist who accumulated one of the largest cabinets of curiosities in the Netherlands during his time; his early work on taxonomy and natural history influenced Linnaeus.

1812 – Edward Lear, English author and illustrator, best known today for his nonsense poetry and his children’s books.

1820 – Florence Nightingale, English social reformer, statistician, and the founder of modern nursing who came to prominence while serving as a manager and trainer of nurses during the Crimean War and became an icon of Victorian culture. She was also a prodigious and versatile writer, especially on topics dealing with spreading medical knowledge and written in simple English; she was also a pioneer in data visualization with the use of infographics.

1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti (born Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti), pre-Raphaelite English poet, translator, illustrator, and painter; the renowned poet Christina Rossetti was his sister.

1835 – José María Cordovez Moure, Colombian writer and historian

1841 – Ricardo Rossel Sirot, Peruvian author, poet, politician, scholar, and entrepreneur who was the founder of the Club Literario de Lima.

1843 – Margaret Veley, English writer, poet, and novelist.

1868 – Ricardo Jaimes Freyre, Peruvian-born Bolivian poet whose Symbolist-influenced verse, which frequently took advantage of free-verse forms, was important in the development of Latin American modernism.

1869 – Albert Engström, Swedish writer, poet, historian, illustrator, comics artist, songwriter, painter, cartoonist, and journalist.

1875 – Minnie Louise Haskins, British poet and academic in the field of sociology, best known for being quoted by King George VI in his Royal Christmas Message of 1939.

1885 – Saneatsu Mushanokōji, Japanese artist, novelist, screenwriter, photographer, writer, poet, playwright, painter, and philosopher.

1892 – Ramanlal Vasantlal Desai, Indian Gujarati novelist and essayist who is considered a key figure in Gujarati literature.

1907 – Leslie Charteris (born Leslie Charles Bowyer-Yin), Singapore-born Chinese-English author of screenplays and adventure fiction; his character Simon Templar, “The Saint,” has appeared not only in Charteris’s books, but also in books by other authors as well as in television shows, movies, and radio plays.

1916 – Albert L. Murray, U.S. African-American author and essayist who incorporated a blues aesthetic into his novels.

1919 – Wu Wenjun, Chinese writer, historian, mathematician, and editor of the ten-volume Grand Series of Chinese Mathematics, covering the time from antiquity to late part of the Qin dynasty.

1921 – Farley Mowat, award-winning Canadian author, children’s writer, and environmentalist who wrote about the Canadian north; he has been praised for his poetic language, vivid descriptions, and advocacy for environmental causes, but has also been ridiculed for inaccuracies in his books.

1924 – Claribel Alegria, Nicaraguan poet, novelist, and documentary filmmaker.

1925 – John Simon (born Ivan Simmon), acerbic Yugoslavian culture critic who wrote literature, film, and art reviews for New York Magazine; his book Reverse Angle: A Decade of American Films recommended only 15 of the 245 films discussed.

1930 – Mazisi Kunene, South African poet best known for his poem “Emperor Shaka the Great”; he was part of the anti-apartheid movement and became the Poet Laureate of both South African and Africa, as well as being the author of Anthem of the Decades: A Zulu Epic.

1933 – Andrey Andreyevich Voznesensky, Soviet Russian poet and writer whom poet Robert Lowell called, “one of the greatest living poets in any language”; as part of the new wave of Russian intellectuals called the “Children of the ’60s,” he was counted among the most daring writers of the Soviet era, and was once threatened with expulsion by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

1934 – Elechi Amadi, Nigerian novelist and playwright who wrote about African village life, customs, beliefs, and religious practices prior to contact with the Western world.

1937 – George Carlin, U.S. comedic author, social critic, stand-up comedian, actor, and television personality who was called, “the dean of counterculture comedians”; his “seven dirty words” routine has become a classic, but he was caused controversy because of his use of language that was considered by many to be obscene.

1937 – Misha Defonseca (born Monique de Wael), Belgian-born author of a fictitious Holocaust memoir titled Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years, first published in 1997 and at that time professed to be a true memoir.

1938 – Andrei Amalrik, Russian writer, historian, journalist, dissident, human rights activist, and opinion journalist.

1939 – Rosellen Brown, award-winning U.S. novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist; the film Before and After was adapted from her novel of the same name.

1942 – Vittal Rao K., Indian Tamil short-story writer, novelist, and essayist.

1945 – Tormod Haugen, Norwegian children’s writer, author, translator, and linguist.

1946 – L. Neil Smith, U.S. science-fiction author and libertarian political activist; he also wrote in the “Star Wars” universe.

1947 – Penelope Shuttle, British poet, writer, playwright, and novelist.

1949 – Hans Leyendecker, German writer and author who is one of Germany’s best-known investigative journalists.

1949 – Paul Starr, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. professor and nonfiction author.

1955 – Blue Balliett, U.S. author and teacher who is best known for her award-winning, groundbreaking children’s novel, Chasing Vermeer; she was born Elizabeth Balliett, but her family started calling her Blue when she was still a baby.

1961 – Jennifer Armstrong, U.S. author of children’s adventure novels, historical fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction, and nonfiction; she has also edited an anthology.

1964 – Lijia Zhang, Chinese writer, journalist, and public speaker who describes herself as a communicator between China and the world.