Today, the fourth Wednesday in January, is Library Shelfie Day! I have bookshelves in every room of the house (except bathrooms) so it was hard to choose. But here are a few of the shelves in my home office.
1225 – Thomas Aquinas, influential Italian writer, professor, theologian, friar, and Dominican scholastic philosopher of the Catholic Church who tried to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity; he was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology; much of modern philosophy has either developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.
1746 – Stéphanie-Félicité (comtesse de Genlis), French author, children’s writer, entomologist, and harpist, known for her novels, her journals, and theories of children’s education.
1759 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet of the Romantic era; known as the national poet of Scotland.
1862 – Ramabai Ranade, Indian autobiographer, social worker, and women’s rights activists who at the age of 11 was married to Indian scholar and reformer Mahadev Govind Ranade, who encouraged her to learn to read and write, despite the fact that educating women was considered immoral; she went on to found an organization to improve women’s public-speaking skills, to advocate for women’s education, to help the poor and sick, and to offer classes to teach languages and other skills to women.
1874 – W. Somerset Maugham, British writer, one of the most popular novelists of his generation.
1882 – Virginia Woolf, English writer of the Modernist movement who was a member of the Bloomsbury group; her novels, through their nonlinear approaches to narrative, exerted a major influence on the genre.
1885 – Hakushu Kitahara, pen-name of Kitahara Ryukichi, Japanese writer who was one of the most popular and important poets in modern Japanese literature.
1889 – R. Narayana Panickar, prolific, award-winning Indian Malayalam writer, translator, academic, novelist, essayist, historian, playwright, and lexicographer; some of his best known books are the six-volume work, Kerala Bhasha Sahithya Charthram, a comprehensive history of Malayalam literature.
1890 – Sasha Siemel (Aleksandrs Ziemelis), Latvian-born U.S./Argentinian adventurer, writer, photographer, hunter, guide, actor, and lecturer who spoke seven languages; he boasted of having experienced more adventure in a single year than most men witnessed in a lifetime.
1905 – Margery Sharp, English author best known for her children’s story The Rescuers, which was later adapted into two Disney movies.
1905 – Julia Frances Smith, U.S. composer, pianist, biographer, and author on musicology; she is best known for her operas and orchestral works, which incorporate elements of jazz, folk music, and 20th-century French harmonies.
1914 – Chang Man-yong, South Korean poet, nonfiction author, journalist, editor, and translator whose poems often explored nostalgic themes of rural life.
1921 – Anh Thơ, (real name Vương Kiều Ân), award-winning Vietnamese poet and writer who published the first collection of Vietnamese poetry by women poets; her most notable literary achievement was a collection of her poetry entitled Buc tranh que (A rural portrait).
1926 – Youssef Chahine, award-winning Egyptian screenwriter and film director who has been credited with launching the career of actor Omar Sharif; despite winning international accolades, he was considered controversial for his liberal views, portrayal of sexuality, and political critiques.
1935 – J.G. Farrell, Irish author, two of whose Empire trilogy titles won the Booker Prize.
1946 – Catherine MacPhail, Scottish author, romance novelist, children’s and young-adult writer, and radio writer.
1950 – Gloria Naylor, National Book Award-winning U.S. African-American novelist, short-story writer, and professor; she is best known for her debut novel, The Women of Brewster Place.
1954 – David Grossman, award-winning Israeli novelist, nonfiction author, children’s book author, poet, broadcaster, and left-wing peace activist.
1969 – Ashwin Sanghi, Indian author of bestselling thriller novels with mythological themes.
1970 – Stephen Chbosky, U.S. novelist, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
1985 – Christina Ochoa (born Cristina Ochoa Lopez), Spanish science writer, film company executive, magazine writer, and book reviewer; while living in the Washington, D.C., area, she began acting, starting in theatrical plays at the Little Theatre of Alexandria; she has also studied marine biology, oceanographic engineering, and particle physics.
1287 – Richard de Bury (also known as Richard Aungerville or Aungervyle), English priest, teacher, bishop, writer, and bibliophile who was a patron of learning and one of the first English collectors of books. He is chiefly remembered for his Philobiblon, written to inculcate in the clergy the pursuit of learning and the love of books; it is considered one of the earliest books to discuss librarianship in-depth.
1664 – John Vanbrugh, English architect, dramatist, and radical. He was perhaps best known as the designer of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard and creator of the English Baroque style, but he was also the author of two controversial Restoration comedies, which are still popular today but were considered offensive in his time for their sexual explicitness and their defense of women’s rights in marriage. He also schemed to overthrow James II and put William III on the throne, and was imprisoned by the French as a political prisoner.
1706 – Johannes Eusebius Voet, Dutch writer, poet, translator, illustrator, physician, zoologist, and entomologist.
1732 – Pierre Beaumarchais, French writer, poet, diplomat, playwright, author, musician, financier, publisher, opinion journalist, and businessperson.
1759 – Francesco Saverio Salfi, Italian writer, playwright, poet, librettist, historian, essayist, translator, teacher, lecturer, politician, and one-time priest whose writings angered leaders of the Catholic church. In 1788, when Ferdinand IV of Naples refused to pay the annual tribute to the Pope, Salfi wrote a satire against the Papal States and in praise of the Neapolitan government, but when the Neapolitan government turned ultra-conservative in reaction to the French Revolution, he joined a society that was planning a violent insurrection. He is best known today as the author of books on history.
1776 – Wilhelmine Halberstadt, German author and educator who wrote on religion, education, and the rights of women, and who founded several educational institutions.
1776 – E.T.A. Hoffmann, German Romantic author whose novella The Nutcracker and the Mouse King was adapted into the ballet The Nutcracker.
1804 – Delphine de Girardin (born Delphine Gay; pen names Vicomte Delaunay and Charles de Launay), French author, poet, playwright, journalist, and salonnière. She was an influential figure in literary society in her day, and often hosted such well-known writers as Théophile Gautier, Honoré de Balzac, and Victor Hugo.
1836 – Nikolay Alexandrovich Dobrolyubov, Russian literary critic, journalist, opinion journalist, poet, philosopher, and revolutionary.
1837 – Konstantin Konstantinovich Arsenyev, Russian writer, journalist, essayist, historian, lawyer, and liberal politician.
1846 – Cristina Farfán, Mexican writer, poet, journalist, and educator who promoted women’s education and was a key figure of Mexico’s early feminist movement and one of the founders of women’s literary journalism there.
1850 – Mary Noailles Murfree, U.S. novelist and short-story writer who wrote under the pen name Charles Egbert Craddock. She is considered by many to be Appalachia’s first significant female writer, favorably compared to Bret Harte and Sarah Orne Jewett; the town of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is named after Murfree’s great-grandfather Colonel Hardy Murfree, who fought in the Revolutionary War.
1862 – Edith Wharton, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, playwright, and designer who drew upon her insider’s knowledge of the upper class New York “aristocracy” to realistically portray the lives and morals of the Gilded Age; she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
1864 – Marguerite Durand, French writer, journalist, editor, and actress who founded the first feminist newspaper, La Fronde (The Slingshot), organized the Congress For the Rights of Women, and owned a pet lion she named “Tiger”; the Bibliothèque Marguerite Durand is named for her.
1864 – Beatrice Harraden, British writer, novelist, lexicographer, and feminist who was a leader of the suffragette movement and a founding member of the Women’s Social and Political Union who published in the suffragette paper Votes for Women. She also worked on the Oxford English Dictionary. Her fiction, even when it does not directly reference women’s rights, includes themes of gender dynamics and strong, independent female characters.
1867 – Ingrid Jespersen, Danish writer, translator, pedagogue, and school principal who introduced groundbreaking reforms in girls’ education in Denmark.
1968 – Ada Bell Harper Maescher, U.S. writer and architect who, as president of the De Luxe Building Company, a home building and architecture design firm, was one of the country’s most successful women building contractors.
1870 – Muddana, Indian poet who wrote in the Kannada language; the name Muddana was a nickname that means “cute” in Kannada; he was also known as Mahakavi (“Great Poet”) or Mahakavi Muddana, but his real name was Lakshmi Naranappa. Despite all of those names, he chose to publish some of his works anonymously.
1872 – Ethel Turner, award-winning English-born Australian novelist, poet, and children’s literature writer. Her best-known work is her wildly popular first novel, Seven Little Australians, now a classic of Australian children’s literature, about a family of seven children growing up in Australia.
1874 – Tatiana Lvovna Shchepkina-Kupernik, Russian and Soviet writer, dramatist, poet, linguist, and translator.
1876 – Beulah Marie Dix, prolific U.S. screenwriter of the silent and sound film eras, as well as a novelist, playwright, and writer of children’s books.
1877 – Louise van den Plas, Belgian writer and suffragist who was the founder of the first Christian feminist movement in Belgium.
1886 – Kersti Bergroth, Finnish author, poet, journalist, memoirist, children’s author, and playwright who also wrote film screenplays under the pseudonym Tet. Late in Italy, she relocated to Italy.
1888 – Hedwig “Vicki” Baum, Austrian writer who is best known for her novel Menschen im Hotel (People at a Hotel, published in English as Grand Hotel), an international success that was made into a 1932 film and a 1989 Broadway musical.
1888 – Nalini Kanta Bhattasali, Bengali Indian writer, historian, archaeologist, numismatist, epigraphist, antiquarian, museum curator, schoolteacher, and headmaster.
1889 – Charles Hawes, U.S. author of sea stories and the first American-born winner of the Newbery Medal.
1898 – Milada Soucková, Czech writer, literary historian, and diplomat who is remembered most for introducing Modernist techniques to Czech literature.
1899 – Mitsuhashi Takajo (born Fumiko Matsuhashi), influential Japanese haiku poet and literary magazine founder; both her father and her husband were also poets.
1914 – Edith Hahn Beer, Austrian Jewish writer, lawyer, judge, housemaid, and corset designer; she survived the Holocaust by hiding her Jewish identity and marrying a Nazi officer.
1915 – Winifred Cawley, award-winning English novelist, teacher, and author of children’s books. According to Julia Eccleshare, Children’s Book Editor for The Guardian, Cawley’s books made “a significant contribution in the early days of social realism in children’s books.… Now so fashionable, stories about children from less affluent homes were almost non-existent until the late 1950s and 60s.”
1922 – Rajeshwari Chatterjee, Indian writer, physicist, scientist, engineer, and professor who was the first woman engineer from Karnataka.
1927 – Priyakant Premachand Maniyar, award-winning Indian Gujarati poet who published seven collections of symbolic and imagist poetry.
1931 – Leonard Baker, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author, journalist, and biographer.
1933 – Kadir Misiroglu, Turkish writer, poet, lawyer, journalist, and conspiracy theorist who was known for his Islamist, anti-secularist, and monarchist views.
1935 – Dariush Shayegan, influential Iranian writer, cultural theorist, and comparative philosopher who was considered one the most significant thinkers of contemporary Iran and the Near East.
1936 – Marilou Awiakta, U.S. Cherokee a poet, writer, and essayist who is a member of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee; her perspective fuses her Cherokee, Scots-Irish, and Appalachian heritage with experiences of growing up in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on the atomic frontier.
1938 – Lautaro Núñez Atencio, Chilean writer, historian, archeologist, and anthropologist who was a winner of the Chilean National History Award.
1941 – Yuri Pokalchuk, Ukrainian writer, translator, researcher, and academic who was head of the international department of the Union of Writers of Ukraine and a member of the literary group “The Dogs of Saint Yur.” He also led the musical group, Lights of a Big City, which performed songs set to his texts.
1943 – Takashi Hirose, Japanese nonfiction writer, translator, and opinion journalist, who is an outspoken activist against the use of nuclear power.
1944 – David Gerrold, U.S. science-fiction author and screenwriter best known for his “The Trouble With Tribbles” Star Trek episode.
1949 – John Belushi, U.S. actor, comedian, screenwriter, and singer who was one of the seven original cast members of the NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live. He died of a drug overdose at age 33 and was posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2004. His younger brother Jim Belushi is also an actor.
1950 – Judy Ongg, award-winning Taiwanese-born book author, television and film actor, singer, artist, and woodblock printmaker who became a naturalized Japanese citizen.
1950 – Germán Santa María Barragán, Columbian novelist, magazine editor, and award-winning journalist who is Columbia’s current Ambassador to Portugal.
1957 – Lawrence Hill, Canadian novelist, nonfiction author, essayist, memoirist, and lecturer who is best known for his novel The Book of Negroes — inspired by the Black Loyalists who were given freedom and resettled in Nova Scotia by the British after the American Revolutionary War — and for his memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada, which grew out of his experiences growing up with a Black father and a White mother. The Book of Negroes was adapted for a TV miniseries produced in 2015.
1958 – Giuseppe Ferrandino, renowned Italian novelist and comic-book author who began as a medical student but quit in order to follow his dream of working as a comic-strip scriptwriter. His first novel Pericle il nero (Pericles the Black Man) has been adapted for film.
1959 – Maria de Fátima (better known by her pen name Cho do Guri), award-winning Angolan poet, author, and columnist. Her acclaimed book A filha do Alemão (The German Daughter) is about the unwanted mulatto children in Angola; it drew on her own experiences as a child who was, at the age of four, left at a house for disadvantaged children, because her mother could not afford to feed her.
1964 – Miguel Herrero Uceda, Spanish writer, lecturer and natural scientist whose work involves the preservation of the environment and the conservation of traditional culture.
The Lunar New Year started yesterday. Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit! People born in the Year of the Rabbit are supposed to be tender, modest, charming, and lucky, if you believe that sort of thing. I don’t, but it’s a good excuse to post this:
1729 – Clara Reeve, English writer, translator, and novelist best known for the Gothic novel The Old English Baron and an innovative history of prose fiction The Progress of Romance; her first work was a translation from Latin, then an unusual language for a woman to learn.
1783 – Stendahl (pen name for Marie-Henri Beyle), 19th-century French writer who is highly regarded for analysis of his characters’ psychology and considered one of the early and foremost practitioners of realism.
1813 – Camilla Collett (born Jacobine Camilla Collett), Norwegian writer and critic who is often referred to as the first Norwegian feminist; she was one of the first contributors to realism in Norwegian literature.
1859 – Katharine Tynan, Irish writer, known mainly for her novels and poetry; she usually wrote under the name Katharine Tynan Hinkson.
1897 – Ieva Simonaityte (also known as Ewa Simoneit), award-winning Lithuanian writer whose work described the culture of Lithuania Minor and the Klaipeda Region, territories of German East Prussia with large, but dwindling, Lithuanian populations.
1904 – Anya Seton (born Ann Seton), American author of historical romances,
1909 – Tatyana Avenirovna Proskuriakova, Russian-American Mayanist scholar and archaeologist who contributed significantly to the deciphering of Maya hieroglyphs, the writing system of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica.
1923 – Walter M., Jr. Miller, American science-fiction author known primarily for his only novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz.
1924 – Suriani Abdullah née Eng Ming Ching, Malaysian author, memoirist, historian, and Central Committee member of the Communist Party of Malaya; she wrote the official historical account of the 10th Regiment of the Malayan People’s National Liberation Army, and worked to mobilize and organize women workers.
1930 – Tatyana Nikolayevna Savicheva, Russian student and diarist who endured the Siege of Leningrad during World War II, during which she recorded in her diary the deaths of each member of her family; she died at the age of 14, but her diary became a symbol of the human cost of the Siege of Leningrad, and was used during the Nuremberg Trials as the evidence of the Nazis’ crimes.
1935 – Tom Reamy, Campbell Award- and Nebula Award-winning American science-fiction and fantasy author, known especially for his dark fantasy; he died before publication of his first novel.
1935 – Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize-winning Saint Lucian poet and playwright; the Nobel committee praised his “poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.”
1939 – Fred Wah, award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, scholar, and former Canadian Poet Laureate.
1953 – Cathy Hopkins, English novelist, best known for her books for teenagers.
1962 – Elvira Lindo, Spanish journalist, screenwriter, and author of novels for children and adults.
1963 – Su Tong, pen name of award-winning Chinese novelist and short-story writer Tong Zhonggui, best known in the West for his book Wives and Concubines, which was adapted into the film, Raise the Red Lantern.
For the fourth week of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, the theme set by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow is Education. This was a hard one for me. I like to post something visual, and the thing that came to mind first was yearbook photos of my mother and father. But those didn’t seem particularly interesting, except for what they represent: the first people I know of in my family to finish high school. And my father went on to get a college degree and a master’s degree. But the real story, I decided, is their parents, who were never able to get an education. All four of them left school early to contribute to their families’ finances.
The photo shows my paternal grandmother, Mary Piccioli. I have been told she left school in the ninth grade, the latest of all of my grandparents. By this time, her parents owned a grocery store. She worked in that store from a young age, eventually learning to cut hair and opening up a hairdressing station in the shop. As you can see in the photo, she even had a sign on the family car to advertise her services.
My other grandmother, Norma Tomassoni, left school after eighth grade. She worked in a clothing factory, making pants. In fact, she is one of several female relatives I’ve found from that time period, the 1920s and 1930s, who worked in the local pants factory in northeastern Pennsylvania. I guess it’s a familiar story: teenage girls, immigrants and the daughters of immigrants, working in a textile factory to contribute to their family finances.
My grandfathers left school even earlier. My maternal grandfather, Ralph DeRicci, could have stayed in school longer, but he didn’t see much use in it. He was thirteen and had finished sixth grade when he told his mother he was dropping out. She said that was fine, but only if he got a job and turned over all his wages to her. His first job was working in what he described as a nuts and bolts factory. He said his job involved sitting with a big pile of nuts and bolts, and sorting them into buckets for different types and sizes. He told me it was tedious, but to his mind, it was a lot better than sitting in school.
My paternal grandfather’s story is the most harrowing. He was eleven years old and in the fifth grade — a bright boy, a hard worker, and an excellent student. He must have loved school. Then came the flu epidemic of 1918. His parents died on the same day that October, and he saw no option but to leave school to support his younger sisters by working as a coalmine breaker boy. Despite his lack of formal schooling, he learned. He read widely, became fluent in three languages, and eventually, was elected to increasingly responsible public offices, including county sheriff and town mayor. He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known.
So at first glance, this post seems to be not as much about education as it is about the lack of an education. Formal education — and childhood — ended early for all four of my grandparents; nonetheless, they learned quickly. They learned the value of money and of hard work. They learned to place their families’ needs above their own. They learned that nobody would step in and make their lives easier for them, so it was up to them to do it themselves.
Their own children all finished high school; some went to college and graduate school. And every one of their ten grandchildren is a college graduate, some of us with graduate degrees, including a doctor and a lawyer, among others.
Most of their parents — my great-grandparents — don’t seem to have emphasized formal education. That is not surprising. In Italy, children whose families did not have much money tended to leave school when they turned ten years old. Their social and economic system did not offer opportunities for poor kids to use an education, even if they could get one. And their families needed as many paid workers as possible, just to survive. But a generation later, my grandparents had seen enough in the U.S., and struggled enough as children, to understand that here, education was the key to a better life for their own children. That lesson is part of the legacy they left to my generation.
1561 – Francis Bacon (1st Viscount St Alban), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England; he is credited with developing the scientific method, arguing for scientific knowledge based on inductive reasoning, careful observation, and a methodical approach; he has been called the father of empiricism.
1572 – John Donne, influential English poet of the Metaphysical school who was also a cleric in the Church of England; his works include sonnets, sermons, love poems, religious poems, epigrams, songs, elegies, and satires. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially compared to that of his contemporaries, and he is considered by many to be the greatest love poet in the English language.
1751 – Amabel Hume-Campbell (1st Countess de Grey and 5th Baroness Lucas), diarist political writer, and author who was a Countess in her own right; she wrote particularly about the French Revolution.
1788 – Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron), influential English poet, politician, and peer, and an important figure in the Romantic movement; he traveled throughout Europe, and while living in Italy spent time with his friend, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; later he joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which the Greeks revere him as a national hero. His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is considered the founder of the field of computer programming.
1849 – August Strindberg, Swedish writer whose book The Red Room has been called the first modern Swedish novel.
1872 – Katai Tayama, Japanese author who established the Japanese literary genre of naturalistic novels that revolve around detailed self-examination; he also wrote about his experiences in the Russo-Japanese War.
1886 – Isabel Paterson, Canadian-American journalist, novelist, political philosopher, and leading literary and cultural critic; she is considered one of the three founding mothers of American libertarianism (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand).
1891 – Antonio Gramsci, Italian writer, politician, theorist, economist, sociologist, literary critic, journalist, and linguist.
1904 – Arkady Gaidar, Russian Bolshevik soldier who retired from the military after being wounded, and turned instead to writing children’s stories, most of which described front-line camaraderie and the romanticism of the revolutionary struggle; later he became a war correspondent and was killed in battle.
1906 – Robert E. Howard, American author of pulp fiction novels, known primarily for creating the character Conan the Barbarian.
1909 – Abdilda Tazhibayevich Tazhibayev, Kazakh writer, poet, and playwright who was named a People’s Writer of Kazakhstan.
1911 – Mary Hayley Bell, Chinese-born English actress, screenwriter, playwright, and novelist; her husband was Sir John Mills and her daughter was actress Hayley Mills.
1920 – Ann Philippa Pearce, Carnegie Medal-winning English author of children’s books.
1922 – Howard Moss, National Book Award-winning American poet, editor, dramatist, and critic.
1924 – Mira Trailović, Serbian playwright, theatre director, and actress who was a pioneer of avant-garde theatre in Eastern Europe.
1925 – Katherine Anne MacLean, American science-fiction author best known for her short fiction of the 1950s, which explored the effects of technological advances on individuals and society.
1926 – Aurora de Albornoz, Spanish scholar, poet, professor, and literary critic whose work was inspired, in part, by her experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
1934 – Graham Kerr, Scottish chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host who was known as the Galloping Gourmet; after a religious conversion and his wife’s health problems, Kerr turned to healthier cuisine and later renounced his earlier shows, saying “What I did wasn’t art, it was a crime,” given high rates of obesity.
1937 – Sallie Bingham, American author, playwright, poet, novelist, short-story writer, teacher, memoirist, feminist activist, and philanthropist; she is part of the Bingham family, which dominated the news media of Louisiville and the state of Kentucky for most of the 20th century.
1937 – Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling American author whose police fiction draws on his 14 years of experience with the Los Angeles Police Department.
1943 – James Carroll, American author, historian, journalist, and Roman Catholic reformer whose fiction and nonfiction center on religion and history.
1949 – Cilla McQueen (full name Priscilla Muriel McQueen), New Zealand poet and painter who is a three-time winner of the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry; her poems explore themes of homeland and loss, indigeneity, colonization, and displacement, and also reflects her engagement with the history and present reality of the Maori people.
1963 – Denise Dresser (Denise Eugenia Dresser Guerra), Mexican writer, journalist, editor, columnist, and university professor who has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in Mexico and one of the 50 most influential women in Twitter.
1978 – Delphine Lecompte, award-winning Belgian poet.
1980 – Subhash Ram Prajapati, Nepalese author, ethnomusicologist, and documentary filmmaker.
Earlier in the month, I posted about the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, encouraging participants to explore something in our family tree each week, based on a weekly theme set by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow. At the time, I listed the themes for the month of January, but I realize I have not yet listed the themes for the entire year. So here are the weekly prompts, with links to the ones I’ve already covered. I’ll edit this to add links as more are posted.
Week 5 (Jan. 29-Feb. 4): Oops
Week 6 (Feb. 5-11): Social Media
Week 7 (Feb. 12-18): Outcast
Week 8 (Feb. 19-25): I Can Identify
Week 9 (Feb. 26-Mar. 4): Gone Too Soon
Week 10 (Mar. 5-11): Translation
Week 11 (Mar. 12-18): Lucky
Week 12 (Mar. 19-25): Membership
Week 13 (Mar. 26-Apr. 1): Light a Candle
Week 14 (Apr. 2-8): Begins With a Vowel
Week 15 (Apr. 9-15): Solitude
Week 16 (Apr. 16-22): Should Be a Movie
Week 17 (Apr. 23-29): DNA
Week 18 (Apr. 30-May 6): Pets
Week 19 (May 7-13): Bald
Week 20 (May 14-20): Bearded
Week 21 (May 21-27): Brick Wall
Week 22 (May 28-June 3): At the Cemetery
Week 23 (June 4-10): So Many Descendants
Week 24 (June 11-17): Last One Standing
Week 25 (June 18-24): Fast
Week 26 (June 25-July 1): Slow
Week 27 (July 2-8): The Great Outdoors
Week 28 (July 9-15): Random
Week 29 (July 16-22): Birthdays
Week 30 (July 23-29): In the News
Week 31 (July 30-Aug. 5): Flew the Coop
Week 32 (Aug. 6-12): Reunion
Week 33 (Aug. 13-19): Strength
Week 34 (Aug. 20-26): Newest Discovery
Week 35 (Aug. 27-Sept. 2): Disaster
Week 36 (Sept. 3-9): Tradesman
Week 37 (Sept. 10-16): Prosperity
Week 38 (Sept. 17-23): Adversity
Week 39 (Sept. 24-30): Surprise
Week 40 (Oct. 1-7): Longevity
Week 41 (Oct. 8-14): Travel
Week 42 (Oct. 15-21): Friends
Week 43 (Oct. 22-28): Dig a Little Deeper
Week 44 (Oct 29-Nov. 4): Spirits
Week 45 (Nov. 5-11): War and Peace
Week 46 (Nov. 12-18): “This Ancestor Went to Market…”
Week 47 (Nov. 19-25): “This Ancestor Stayed Home…”
Week 48 (Nov. 26-Dec. 2): Troublemaker
Week 49 (Dec. 3-9): Family Recipe
Week 50 (Dec. 10-16): “You Wouldn’t Believe It”
Week 51 (Dec. 17-23): Cousins
Week 52 (Dec. 24-31): Me, Myself, and I
1571 – Johannes Isacius Pontanus, Dutch historian, writer, and professor who is best known for writing histories of places.
1619 – Anders Christensen Bording, Danish poet, author, and journalist who is notable for his epigrams, ballads, and poems, as well as for writing and publishing the first Danish newspaper, the monthly Den Danske Mercurius, written in verse.
1638 – Beata Rosenhane, Swedish writer, poet, and baroness.
1733 – Antonio Francesco Frisi, Italian historian and author who wrote about the history of Monza, a city in Lombardy; he is considered the first historian of Monza.
1737 – Giustiniana Wynne (Countess Rosenberg-Orsini), Anglo-Venetian author of Italy who is best known for her love affair with aristocrat and Venetian statesman Andrea Memmo — who was not allowed to marry her because of the difference in their classes — and her friendship with Casanova, who convinced her that having sex with him would abort her unwanted pregnancy. It did not. The baby was adopted, and she eventually married an ambassador, after his death becoming a successful author of short stories and novels. She wrote in both Italian and French.
1739 – Andrés Cavo, Mexican Jesuit, author, and historian; his Historia de México, the first general history of the period of Spanish domination in Mexico, provided information for future historians of Mexico.
1780 – Rai San’yo (real name Rai Noboru), Japanese Confucianist philosopher, writer, poet, historian, educator, and ink wash artist. His most important work, Nihon Gaishi, was modeled on the Records of the Grand Historian and was the first comprehensive study of its find; in 22 volumes, it covered Japanese history from the emergence of the Minamoto clan through the reign of Tokugawa Iemitsu.
1792 – Tsjalling Hiddes Halbertsma, Dutch Frisian writer, poet, short-story writer, and merchant; he was the middle brother of the three Brothers Halbertsma, who played a role of crucial importance for the development of a written literature in the Western Frisian language.
1797 – Joseph Méry, French novelist, alternate-history writer, short-story writer, journalist, poet, playwright, librettist, and theatrical producer who was known for his wit; an ardent Romanticist, he collaborated with Auguste Barthélemy on many of his satires.
1804 – Eliza Roxcy Snow, renowned U.S. writer, poet, lyricist, hymnwriter, and Mormon Bishop who chronicled history, celebrated nature and relationships, and expounded scripture and doctrine; she was one of Mormon church founder Joseph Smith’s plural wives, and after his death, became one of Brigham Young’s wives. She has been called “Zion’s Poetess.”
1840 – Antoinette de Beaucaire, French Occitan-language writer whose works include Li Velugo (The Sparklets).
1840 – Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake, English physician, author, teacher, and feminist who led the campaign to secure women access to a University education; she was the first practicing female doctor in Scotland, a leading campaigner for medical education for women, and a cofounder of two medical schools for women. Her books deal with medical topics, as well as with the profession itself and with women in medicine.
1845 – Lepha Eliza Bailey, U.S. author, lecturer, writer, poet, editor, social activist, suffragist, and Prohibitionist.
1847 – Vicente Grez Yávar, Chilean writer, poet, novelist, journalist, newspaper editor and publisher, politician, and art critic; many of his fiction and nonfiction works explored the history of Chile, including the book, Las mujeres de la Independencia, a portrait of several important Chilean women of the early 19th century.
1852 – Emma Gad (born Emma Halkier), prolific, award-winning Danish writer who wrote plays and books that were often satirical, as well as a popular book on etiquette.
1853 – Helen Hamilton Gardener (born Alice Chenoweth), U.S. author, novelist, rationalist, writer, public intellectual, political activist, suffragist, editor, lecturer, essayist, short-story writer, and government functionary who is remembered for her role in the freethought and women’s suffrage movements and for her place as a pioneering woman in the top echelon of the U.S. civil service.
1864 – Israel Zangwill, British writer, playwright, comedian, journalist, novelist, and activist who was at the forefront of cultural Zionism during the 19th century.
1873 – Emilie Demant Hatt (born Emilie Demant Hansen), Danish artist, writer, ethnographer, and folklorist; her area of expertise was the culture and way of life of the Sámi people.
1877 – Francisco Contreras, Chilean writer and poet.
1882 – Vaman Malhar Joshi, Indian Marathi-language writer, editor, and teacher who was imprisoned at hard labor for three years for publishing articles suggesting the overthrow of English rule.
1887 – Anna Margolin (pen name of Rosa Harning Lebensboym), Belarusian-born Jewish Russian and American poet and journalist who wrote in Yiddish; one reviewer described her work as “sensual, jarring, plainspoken, and hard, the record of a soul in direct contact with the streets of 1920s New York.”
1894 – Teresa Deevy, award-winning Irish dramatist and short-story writer who went deaf at the age of 19 known for her works for theatre, she was also a short story writer, and a writer for radio, an impressive achievement, in that she had already become deaf before radio was popular in Ireland. Her work was heavily influenced by her feminism and her Irish Nationalism.
1895 – Concha Meléndez, award-winning Puerto Rican educator, poet, and writer who was the first woman to be accepted into the Puerto Rican Academy of Languages; she went to graduate school in Mexico, where she became the first woman in the history of Mexico to earn a Doctorate in Philosophy and Letters.
1895 – Ito Noe, Japanese author, social critic, feminist, and anarchist who was the editor-in-chief of the feminist magazine Seito; she drew praise from critics by being able to weave her personal and political ideas into her writings, but her criticism of the government made her a target, and in the chaos immediately following the Great Kantō earthquake of 1923, military police arrested her, strangled her to death, and threw her body into an abandoned well. She was 28 years old.
1895 – Davíð Stefánsson, Icelandic poet, novelist, playwright, and librarian.
1904 – R.P. Blackmur (Richard Palmer Blackmur), influential U.S. poet, editor, literary critic, and university teacher.
1905 – Wanda Wasilewska, Polish writer, screenwriter, politician, and journalist.
1907 – Allah Baksh Sarshar ‘Uqaili, Pakistani Sufi poet, writer, and editor who also served as mayor of the city of Karachi.
1908 – Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (commonly known as Beypore Sultan), award-winning Indian independence activist, freedom fighter, and writer of Malayalam novels and short stories; he was known for a down-to-earth style of writing that made him popular among literary critics as well as average readers.
1909 – Carlos Luis Fallas Sibaja (also known as Calufa, from the initial syllables of his first, middle and last name), Costa Rican author, labor leader, and political activist; some of his best known novels are Mamita Yunai, which denounced the harsh condition endured by workers for the United Fruit Company, and Marcos Ramírez, a humorous bildungsroman about the life of a Costa Rican boy, taken largely from his own life.
1911 – Camilla Cederna, Italian writer, editor, columnist, journalist, author, biographer, and magazine founder who is said to have introduced investigative journalism to the Italian news media; some sources give her year of birth as 1921.
1917 – Jón úr Vör, Icelandic poet who brought a Modernist approach into Icelandic poetry.
1918 – Elisa Mújica Velásquez, award-winning Colombian writer, novelist, essayist, children’s writer, journalist, literary critic, columnist, autobiographer, and short-story writer.
1923 – Judith Merril (pen name for Judith Josephine Grossman), U.S./Canadian science-fiction writer, editor, and political activist.
1925 – Eva Ibbotson, award-winning Austrian-born British author who wrote for adults, young adults, and children. Some critics have charged that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling took “Platform 9 3/4” from “Platform 13” in Ibbotson’s book, The Secret of Platform 13 (both were located at King’s Cross station in London) but Ibbotson said she was flattered by the similarity, and that it was normal for writers to borrow from each other.
1927 – Robert Neil Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. physician and nonfiction author.
1930 – Mainza Chona, Zambian writer, lawyer, author, politician, and diplomat who was a two-time Prime Minister of Zambia.
1941 – Sue Williamson, award-winning British-born South African artist and writer whose work deals with themes of memory and identity.
1942 – Patricia Jean Rosier, New Zealand writer, editor, and feminist activist who came out as a lesbian and went on to play a leading role in the second wave of New Zealand’s Women’s Movement.
1942 – Osman Nuri Topbas, Turkish author and Sufi spiritual leader.
1942 – Cheon Yang-hee, award-winning South Korean poet, writer, and essayist; many of her early poems candidly reflect on the isolated self, while later poems focus on how the sorrows and frustrations of life influence the psyche.
1943 – Pratibha Ray, Indian academic, novelist, travel writer, and short-story writer.
1944 – Clémentine Faik Nzuji (also known as Clémentine Faïk-Nzuji Madiya), Congolese poet and writer who has been called “the first poet of real significance” among African writers who emerged in the late 1960s.
1946 – Gretel Ehrlich, U.S. travel writer, poet, novelist, and essayist.
1949 – Slamet Rahardjo Djarot, Academy Award-nominated Indonesian screenwriter, director, and actor.
1951 – Ljiljana Filipovic, award-winning Croatian author, essayist, translator, philosopher, and radio writer.
1952 – Louis Menand, U.S. writer, essayist, and academic, best known for his book The Metaphysical Club, an intellectual and cultural history of late 19th and early 20th century America.
1954 – Gergina Dvoretzka, award-winning Bulgarian journalist, writer, novelist, radio broadcaster, and poet who writes in Bulgarian and Polish.
1958 – Araceli Ardon, Mexican writer, editor, biographer, and columnist whose work focuses on cultural topics about the state of Querétaro.
1965 – Nauja Lynge, Greenlandic-Danish writer, lecturer, novelist, storyteller, and activist for Greenlandic rights.
1966 – Yesim Agaoglu, Turkish poet, photographer, and multidisciplinary artist; her themes include the relationship between language and art, gender and feminism issues, architectural elements, and politics.
1969 – M.K. Hobson, U.S. author known for her historical fantasy, which she describes as “bustlepunk”; she has been nominated for both the Nebula Award and the Pushcart Prize. She also writes under the pseudonym Mary Catherine Koroloff.
1980 – Raquel Ochoa, Portuguese author of novels, biographies, and travel literature.
1983 – Toni Stuart, South African poet, writer, nonfiction author, and workshop facilitator.
I have not posted a lot because I’ve been away for the past few days. My mother had a medical procedure on Thursday, some tests done as a follow-up to surgery she had done in October. I drove down to Williamsburg on Wednesday, drove her to an from the hospital on Thursday, and stayed until Friday to make sure she was OK. Everything went well, and she’s fine. She won’t know the details until she speaks to the surgeon in a few days, but the preliminary report of the procedure, posted on the patient portal that afternoon, looks great. Fingers crossed.
I enjoyed spending time with her, though I do wish it could be under happier circumstances.