October 16 Writer Birthdays

1745 – Olaudah Equiano, 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.

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.”

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.

1869 – Claude H. Van Tyne, American historian and winner of the 1930 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book The War of Independence.

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.”

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

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.”

1931- Kabita Sinha, influential Indian Bengali writer, poet, novelist, teacher, and radio director who is known for her modernist stance, rejecting the traditional housebound role for Bengali women.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

October 15 Writer Birthdays

70 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.

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 show 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.

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.

1926 – Ed McBain, the main pen name of Evan Hunter (who was born Salvatore Albert Lombino) and who was known for his bestselling crime fiction.

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

1943 – Xi Murong, Chinese 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.

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

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

October 14 Writer Birthdays

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.

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.

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

1893 – Lois Lenski, Newbery Medal-winning bestselling American author and illustrator of books for children and young adults.

1894 – E.E. Cummings, American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright; he is considered one of the most innovative poets of the 20th century.

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.

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

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.

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).

October 13 Writer Birthdays

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.

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.

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

1862 – Mary Kingsley, English ethnographer who wrote primarily about her travels in West Africa.

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.

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

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

1950 – Mollie Katzen, American chef and 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.

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.”

Still Negative

Here we are in the masks my sister-in-law made for us.

I got my Covid-19 test results today, and I’m still negative, thank goodness.

Mostly, people here are pretty good about wearing masks and social distancing, but I’m afraid some of them never got the word about the new city law requiring masks outdoors, too. I took a walk a few days ago and was surprised to see some neighbors, mostly dog walkers, unmasked. That’s OK on your own property, but if you’re anywhere where you might come near other people — and that’s pretty much everywhere in a city this densely populated, you’re supposed to have one on. I never know if it’s a good idea to say anything. I think I would if it were someone I know, but I’m hesitant to bring it up with a stranger, even if it is the law.

I wish people would just use some common sense. Or, if they have none, follow the rules. It’s not that hard.

October 12 Writer Birthdays

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.

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

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.

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 – 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.

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

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.

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.

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

October 11 Writer Birthdays

1727 – Elizabeth Griffith (sometimes credited as Elizabeth Griffiths), Welsh-born, Irish-based dramatist, fiction writer, essayist, and actress.

1782 – Steen Steensen Blicher, Danish poet, short-story writer, and failed clergyman.

1825 – Maria Firmina dos Reis, Brazilian writer, poet, novelist, teacher, and abolitionist; her novel Úrsula described life for Afro-Brazilians under slavery.

1854 – Adela Zamudio (full name Paz Juana Plácida Adela Rafaela Zamudio Rivero), Bolivian poet, feminist, and educator; she is considered the most famous Bolivian poet ever, and is credited as founding the country’s feminist movement. She also used the pen name Soledad.

1876 – Gertrud von Le Fort (full name Baroness Gertrud Auguste Lina Elsbeth Mathilde Petrea Freiin von Le Fort), German writer of novels, poems, and essays.

1885 – François Mauriac, Nobel Prize-winning French novelist, dramatist, critic, poet, and journalist, lauded “for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life.”

1922 – G.C. Edmondson (full name “José Mario Garry Ordoñez Edmondson y Cotton), Mexican author and translator who is best remembered for his science fiction but who also wrote westerns; some of his work was written under pseudonyms C.M. Kotlan, Kelly P. Gast, J. B. Masterson, and Jack Logan.

1925 – Elmore Leonard, American novelist who started out writing westerns but is better known for his suspense and mystery books, many of which have been made into movies.

1926 – Thích Nhất Hạnh (born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo), prolific Vietnamese author, Thiền Buddhist monk, peace activist, and founder of the Plum Village school of Buddhism.

1929 – Annette Baier, New Zealand writer and philosopher who focused on feminist philosophy and was a scholar of the works of Enlightenment philosopher David Hume.

1929 – Russell Freedman, Newbery Medal-winning American children’s author and biographer.

1932 – Saul Friedländer, Pulitzer Prize-winning Israeli historian and author of The Years of Extermination.

1935 – Daniel Quinn, award-winning American author, environmentalist, cultural critic, and publisher of educational texts; he is best known for his novel Ishmael.

1936 – James M. McPherson, Puliter Prize-winning American historian, author, essayist, and professor who specializes in American history of the Civil War and civil rights eras; he is best known for the book Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era.

1944 – Margaret Busby, Ghanaian-born publisher, editor, writer, and broadcaster who now lives in the UK, where she was Britain’s youngest and first black female book publisher in the 1960s when she co-founded the London-based publishing house Allison and Busby.

1946 – Silvia Molina, award-winning Mexican author, playwright, editor, and essayist.

1952 – B.M. Suhara, award-winning Indian Malayalam novelist and short-story writer.

1962 – Anne Enright, Irish novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction author whose novel The Gathering won the Man Booker Prize; much of her work deals with issues of family, love, identity, and motherhood.

1962 – Richard Paul Evans, American author best known for his novel The Christmas Box.

1963 – Juanita Phillips, Australian journalist, author, children’s writer, autobiographer, and television news presenter.

Postcards from the World: Japan

I haven’t posted lately about the postcards I’ve received from Postcrossers all over the world. In fact, October 1 was World Postcard Day, so this is a good month to think about all the wonderful slices of life my fellow Postcrossers have shared with me. This one arrived a couple days ago from Japan. The sender, Shiori, says she loves Harry Potter and wishes she could do magic. But no, the photo does not show Professor Snape’s doe patronus. This is one of the many tame deer that make their home in Nara Park, in the city of Nara, Japan.

The local legend in Nara, Japan, is that in the fall, the messengers of God, disguised as deer, walk on the fallen leaves.

October 10 Writer Birthdays

1834 – Aleksis Kivi, Finnish playwright, novelist, and poet.

1892 – Ivo Andric, Nobel Prize-winning Yugoslav novelist, poet, and short-story writer.

1906 – R.K. Narayan, Indian author who is best known for bringing Indian fiction to an English audience.

1913 – Claude Simon, Nobel Prize-winning Madagascar-born French novelist who “in his novel combines the poet’s and the painter’s creativeness with a deepened awareness of time in the depiction of the human condition.”

1924 – James Clavell, Australian-born British/American novelist and screenwriter, known for his Asian saga, which included the novels Tai-Pan and Shogun.

1928 – Sheila Walsh, award-winning British writer of romance novels who also wrote under the pen name Sophie Leyton.

1930 – Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize-winning English playwright who “in his plays uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression’s closed rooms”

1938 – Lily Tuck, National Book Award-winning French-born American novelist and short-story writer.

1941 – Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nigerian activist, dramatist, diarist, and poet.

1942 – James Marshall, American children’s author best known for his George and Martha books.

1943 – Frederick Barthelme, American novelist, short-story writer, memoirist, and screenwriter who is one of the seminal writers of minimalist fiction.

1950 – Nora Roberts, prolific American novelist, beloved for her bestselling romantic works, though she also writes mysteries; in addition to writing under her own name, she has published under the pseudonyms J.D. Robb, Jill March, and Sarah Hardesty.

1957 – Rumiko Takahashi, Japanese manga artist whose most famous works in the west are the InuYasha series.

1967 – Jonathan Littel, American/French author whose book The Kindly Ones won the Prix Goncourt in France.

1969 – Dilsa Demirbag Sten, award-winning Swedish/Kurdish author and journalist.

Tested Again

I was in the West End of Alexandria yesterday, near the public park where the city was holding another free Covid-19 testing event. I’m not having symptoms, but I still believe testing large numbers of the population regularly can help us get a handle on this pandemic, so I decided to stop by and get tested.

The city has offered mass testing only once before, on Memorial Day, and my family and I were tested then. All negative. My son was tested at his doctor’s office in August before leaving for college. And all three of us went to an Urgent Care for testing in Harrisonburg when we had to pick him up from college to bring him home for most of September when the university shut down much of the campus because of the high numbers of cases. We were all negative then too. So yesterday’s was my third Coronavirus test. The line wasn’t that long, but it moved more slowly than I expected and took a lot longer than the last time. But the people doing the testing seemed to know their stuff. Now I just have to wait for the results.