May 5 Writer Birthdays

1588 – Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher whose work Leviathan set the foundations of western political philosophy.

1813 – Søren Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, and social critic widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.

1818 – Karl Marx, German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist, and socialist revolutionary who was the founder of modern Communism and coauthor of Das Kapital and The Communist Manifesto.

1837 – Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet, novelist, playwright, critic, and encyclopedia writer.

1864 – Nellie Bly (real name Elizabeth Cochrane), pioneering U.S. investigative journalist, industrialist, inventor, and social reformer who was widely known for her record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of the Jules Verne novel, and an exposé in which she worked undercover, pretending to be a mental patient to report from within on conditions at a mental institution.

1898 – Lise Deharme, influential French writer, poet, and novelist of the Surrealist movement; she also used the pen name Lisa Hirtz.

1901 – Madeleine Ley, Belgian poet, writer, and children’s author.

1904 – Richard Eberhart, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning American poet who was called “a modern stylist with romantic sensibilities.”

1906 – Louise Aslanian, Iranian/Armenian/French writer, poet, novelist, short-story writer, and French Resistance fighter who died in a Nazi concentration camp.

1906 – Iasyr Shivaza, Kyrgyzstani writer, poet, translator, editor, linguist, textbook author, scholar, and social activist who wrote under the pseudonym Xianma; he founded Soviet Dungan literature and made significant contributions to Dungan art and culture; his first book, The Morning Star, is the first printed book in the history of the Dungan people, a group of Muslim people of Hui origin.

1917 – Robert Bloch, American writer of horror, fantasy, and science fiction; he is best for his book Psycho, which was the basis for the Hitchcock film.

1919 – Richard Scarry, bestselling American children’s author and illustrator whose characters are anthropomorphic animals.

1920 – Arthur Hailey, British/Canadian author of meticulously researched novels, each set inside a single industry.

1937 – Joseph Lelyveld, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, newspaper editor, nonfiction author, biographer, and critic; much of his work centers on South Africa.

1943 – Michael Palin, British screenwriter, actor, singer, comedian, television presenter, children’s writer, television actor, film actor, diarist, and travel writer who was also president of the Royal Geographical Society; he came to international prominence as a member of the Monty Python comedy group.

1945 – Teresa Porzecanski, award-winning Uruguayan anthropologist, author, poet, and professor whose work focuses on the Jewish communities of Uruguay, African-descended minorities, prejudice, and ethnic issues.

1947 – Linda Fairstein, American author, attorney, and former New York City prosecutor whose work focuses on violent crimes against women and children.

1956 – Anthony Horowitz, English novelist and screenwriter, known for his suspense novels and children’s books.

1957 – Anu Garg, Indian author, columnist, and website founder whose works explore the intricacies of the English language; his website Wordsmith.org, for word lovers, has subscribers from nearly 200 countries.

1964 – Efrat Mishori, Israeli poet, author, essayist, filmmaker, and performance artist.

1976 – Déborah Heissler, award-winning French poet, writer, researcher, and literary critic.

1979 – Catherynne M. Valente (born Bethany Thomas), award-winning American science-fiction and fantasy novelist, poet, essayist, short-story writer, and literary critic.

May 4 Writer Birthdays

1006 – Khwaja Abdullah Ansari, Persian Sufi poet known as the “Sage of Herat” for his oratory and poetic talents.

1825 – Thomas Henry Huxley, English biologist and essayist who advocated for evolutionary theory; he was the grandfather of biologist Julian Huxley and novelist Aldous Huxley.

1905 – Boris J. Kochanowsky, Russian-American memoirist.

1916 – Jane Jacobs, American/Canadian journalist, author, urban planner, economist, sociologist, activist, and writer on urbanism; her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities argued that urban renewal did not respect the needs of city-dwellers, and organized grassroots efforts to protect neighborhoods from “slum clearance.”

1925 – Ruth First, South African writer, politician, author, university teacher, journalist, and anti-apartheid political activist who moved to Mozambique in exile from South Africa, and was assassinated there.

1928 – Thomas Kinsella, Irish poet, translator, and anthologist.

1939 – Amoz Oz (born Amos Klausner), Israeli writer, novelist, journalist, and literature professor.

1940 – Robin Cook, American physician and novelist known for his medical thrillers.

1941 – George Will, American conservative writer, journalist, and columnist whose works focus on politics or baseball.

1949 – Graham Swift, award-winning English author of magical realism novels.

1956 – David Guterson, American author best known for the novel Snow Falling on Cedars, which was made into a feature film.

1967 – Dalia Ibelhauptaitė, Lithuanian playwright, writer, and theatre director whose work combines the traditions of Russian and Western theatre.

1979 – Kristin Harmel, American author of women’s fiction.


Irish poet, translator, and anthologist Thomas Kinsella (1928)
I(1939; d.2018)

May 3 Writer Birthdays

1469 – Niccolò Machiavelli, Italian historian, politician, philosopher, and writer who is widely considered the founder of modern political science and is best known for his handbook for unscrupulous politicians, The Prince.

1843 – Edward Dowden, Irish critic and poet.

1849 – Jacob Riis, Danish-born “muck-raking” journalist, photographer, and social reformer who shocked his readers by shining a spotlight on the squalid living conditions in New York City tenements.

1853 – Edgar Watson Howe, American novelist who was also a newspaper and magazine editor.

1859 – Andy Adams, American author of western fiction about cowboys.

1896 – Dorothy Gladys “Dodie” Smith, English children’s novelist and playwright, known best for the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians.

1907 – Harvey Earl Wilson, American journalist, gossip columnist, and author,

1912 – May Sarton, pen name of Belgian-born Eleanore Marie Sarton, an American poet, novelist, and memoirist.

1917 – Betty Comden, American screenwriter, songwriter, playwright, lyricist, and memoirist who began writing musicals with her working partner Adolph Green because they couldn’t find work as actors; their work includes some of the most celebrated musicals in history, including Singing in the Rain, Peter Pan, Auntie Mame, and On the Town.

1924 – Yehuda Amichai, German-born Israeli poet who is considered by many to be Israel’s greatest modern poet

1947 – Mavis Jukes, Newbery Medal-winning American author of children’s fiction and nonfiction books who often writes on health-related issues.

1948 – Leslie Marmon Silko, Native American novelist, poet, and essayist.

1951 – Tatyana Nikitichna Tolstaya, Russian writer, televisoion host, publicist, novelist, and essayist who is the granddaughter of famous writer Leo Tolstoy.

1959 – Ben Elton, English comedian, author, actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright, known for political satire; his work includes writing for television series such as Blackadder and a sequel to Phantom of the Opera.

1965 – Ninotchka “Nina” García, Colombian fashion journalist, editor, and critic

1972 – Reza Aslan, Iranian-born American author, commentator, and religious scholar.

May 2 Writer Birthdays

1362 – Empress Xu, Chinese Ming dynasty empress and writer whose work focused on virtuous women.

1551 – William Camden, leading English historian.

1729 – Catherine the Great (Yekaterina Alexeevna, born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg), Empress of Russia, presiding over Russia’s Golden Age; also wrote memoirs, comedic plays, fiction and a book about pedagogy.

1772 – Novalis (pseudonym for Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg), German Romantic poet, author, and philosopher.

1779 – John Galt, Scottish explorer and prolific novelist.

1837 – Henry Martyn Robert, U.S. Army Brigadier General who authored Robert’s Rules of Order, the widely used manual of parliamentary procedure that remains the most common parliamentary authority in the U.S. today.

1856 – Helene von Druskowitz (born Helena Maria Druschkovich), Austrian author, philosopher, literary critic, and music critic; she was only the second women to obtain a Doctorate in Philosophy, and usually published under a male alias because of predominant sexism.

1858 – Edith Somerville, Greek-born Irish author and artist who wrote stories and novels with her cousin Violet Martin, sometimes using the joint pen name “Somerville and Ross”; she was also a skilled sportswoman, an accomplished artist, and an activist for women’s rights and Irish nationalism.

1859 – Jerome K. Jerome, English playwright, journalist, editor, and author of humorous novels, best known for the travelogue Three Men in a Boat.

1860 – Theodor Herzl, Austro-Hungarian Jewish playwright, journalist, and activist; the father of modern Zionism.

1872 – Ichiyo Higuchi (Higuchi Natsu), Japanese novelist, short-story writer, poet, and diarist who was one of Japan’s first prominent women writers of modern times; she died at age 24 so did not leave a large body of work, but her stories greatly influenced Japanese literature.

1890 – Hedda Hopper, American actress, journalist, and iconic gossip columnist.

1890 – E.E. Smith, American food engineer and early science fiction author; known as the father of space opera.

1895 – Larissa Reissner, Russian Bolshevik writer, soldier, poet, diplomat, journalist, and revolutionary leader.

1903 – Benjamin Spock, American pediatrician whose baby-care book was a huge bestseller for decades.

1921 – Satyajit Ray, Indian film director, screenwriter, fiction writer, film critic, and calligrapher.

1931 – Martha Grimes, American author of detective fiction.

1936 – Norma Aleandro Robledo, award-winning Argentine actress, screenwriter, theater director, author, and cultural icon.

1936 – Kwon-taek Im (or Im Kwon Taek), Korean film director and screenwriter.

1949 – Alan Titchmarsh, English broadcaster, gardening journalist, and novelist.

1971 – Maria Sole Tognazzi, Italian screenwriter and film director.

Photo Friday: 30 Years

My 30th wedding anniversary is in a few days, though it sure doesn’t seem as long as 30 years. Bob and I were married at historic St. Mary’s church in Fairfax Station, the same church where Clara Barton nursed Civil War soldiers — and where, quite a few years later, my sister Karen and I received First Holy Communion in white drop-waist dresses with satin sashes. My mother sewed the dresses.

The church is still there, and as cute as ever, a traditional white clapboard building with a red steeple. Here are two views of St. Mary’s

My family had a lot of history with the church when I was a child. My dad ran the Labor Day picnic; Karen, Maria, and I played guitars in the folk group; and we often had the priests over at our house for Sunday dinner. Then we moved away when I was 11.
I like the new vs. old contrast in this photo, with the 1850s church topped by the jet stream that almost exactly matches the slope of the steeple.

May 1 Writer Birthdays

1672 – Joseph Addison, English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician.

1751 – Judith Sargent Murray, American essay writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, and influential advocate for women’s rights.

1848 – James Ford Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning American industrialist, historian, and author whose work includes a seven-volume history of the United States.

1855 – Mary Mackay (also known by her pseudonym Marie Corelli), popular English novelist and poet whose novels sold more than those of her contemporaries Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wills, and Rudyard Kipling combined.

1881 – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French idealist philosopher, writer, Jesuit priest, paleontologist, and geologist.

1900 – Ignazio Silone (pen name for Secondino Tranquilli), Italian novelist, essayist, and political activist.

1913 – Victor Stafford Reid, influential Jamaican author who is credited with writing the first West Indies novel to be written throughout in a dialect; his work is an attempt to break away from Victorianism and to embrace the Jamaican independence movement

1917 – Elizabeth Marie Pope, Newbery Honor-winning American author and young-adult writer who wrote both fiction and nonfiction, most of it based in the Elizabethan age.

1923 – Joseph Heller, American novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and playwright whose satirical novel Catch-22 is a classic of war fiction; its title has become synonymous with an absurd or contradictory choice.

1927 – Akira Yoshimura, Japanese writer, screenwriter, and novelist.

1940 – Bobbie Ann Mason, American novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and literary critic whose memoir was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

1945 – Yoko Aki, Japanese novelist, essayist, lyricist, songwriter, and actress.

1948 – Terry Goodkind, American writer known for the epic fantasy series The Sword of Truth as well as the contemporary suspense novel The Law of Nines.

1949 – Vishakha N. Desai, Indian-born American scholar of Asian studies whose work focuses on art, culture, policy, and women’s rights.

1951 – Omar Abdul-Kafi, egyptian islamic scholar, writer, and biologist.

1963 – Laura Mary Catherine Beatty (née Keen), award-winning British writer, novelist, and biographer.

1970 – Cylin Busby, American author, journalist, screenwriter, memoirist, and children’s writer.

1970 – Priscilla Gilman, American writer, professor, and advocate for autistic people; she has written about about literature, parenting, education, and autism and is best known for her book, The Anti-Romantic Child: A Story of Unexpected Joy, which was inspired by her autistic son Benjamin.

1973 – Susane Colasanti, bestselling author of realistic, contemporary teen novels.

April 30 Author Birthdays

1877 – Alice B. Toklas, American-born member of the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde literary scene and lifelong companion of Gertrude Stein; Stein wrote the mock-memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, which became her bestselling book, and thirty years later Toklas wrote her own autobiography, What Is Remembered, which ends abruptly with the death of Stein. She also wrote articles and several cookbooks.

1888 – John Crowe Ransom, National Book Award-winning American poet, educator, scholar, literary critic, essayist, and editor who is considered a founder of the New Criticism school of literary criticism

1910 – Sri Sri, Indian poet, author, and lyricist in the Telugu language.

1920 – Gerda Lerner, Austrian-born American women’s history scholar, writer, poet, screenwriter, playwright, professor, historian, and autobiographer who was one of the founders of the academic field of women’s history.

1938 – Larry Niven, American science-fiction and fantasy novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter, best known for his Ringworld novels, and – with Jerry Pournelle – The Mote in God’s Eye and Lucifer’s Hammer; his work features big science concepts, theoretical physics, and elements of detective fiction and adventure stories. He has been named a Damon Knight Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

1945 – Annie Dillard, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of novels, nonfiction, poetry, essays, prose, memoir, and literary criticism; she is best known for her book Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.

1949 – Nadia Wheatley, Australian writer of novels, children’s books, picture books, biography, and history.

1955 – Jacqueline Winspear, English author of mystery novels.

1961 – Eva Illouz, Moroccan-born Israeli author, sociologist, and professor.

1971 – John Boyne, Irish author of novels for both adults and younger readers.

1973 – Naomi Novik, Nebula Award-winning American science-fiction and fantasy writer best known for her Temeraire series, an alternate history of the Napoleonic Wars in which dragons are used for aerial combat.

April 29 Writer Birthdays

1764 – Ann Julia Hatton (née Kemble) popular British novelist and poet; she also published as Ann of Swansea.

1780 – Charles Nodier, influential French author, poet, librarian, translator, journalist, entomologist, literary critic, novelist, and lexicographer who introduced a younger generation of Romanticists to the conte fantastique, gothic literature, and vampire tales.

1815 – Antun Pasko Kazali, Croatian folk-writer, poet, and translator.

1863 – Constantine P. Cavafy, Egyptian/Greek poet, writer, and journalist.

1893 – Elisaveta Bagriana, Bulgarian poet, author, translator, and literary editor who was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1890 – Daisy Fellowes (née Marguerite Séverine Philippine Decazes de Glücksberg), French socialite, novelist, and poet, who was Paris editor of Harper’s Bazaar and an heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune.

1908 – Jack Williamson, pioneering American science-fiction writer who is often called the “Dean of Science Fiction” and is credited with one of the first uses of the term “Genetic Engineering.”

1910 – Elzbieta Szemplinska (née Sobolewska), Polish poet, novelist, short-story writer, editor, and diplomat.

1920 – Edward Blishen, English author best known for his children’s novels based on Greek mythology.

1924 – Shintaro Abe, Japanese politician, diplomat, and journalist who served as Japanese foreign minister.

1926 – Elmer Kelton, American journalist and author, best known for his western novels; he also wrote under the pseudonyms Tom Early, Alex Hawk, and Lee McElroy.

1933 – Rod McKuen, popular American poet, songwriter, composer, singer, and translator.

1937 – Jill Paton Walsh, English novelist and children’s book writer.

1947 – Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet.

1953 – Nicole Rubel, American author and illustrator of children’s books; best known for her Rotten Ralph books.

1958 – Ramachandra Guha, Indian historian, author, journalist, columnist, biographer, and teacher whose research interests include social, economic, and political history; the environment, and cricket. He is considered a significant figure in Indian historical studies, and one of the major historians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

1960 – Robert J. Sawyer, Canadian science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter who has won both a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award.

1962 – Polly Samson, British novelist, songwriter, lyricist, and journalist; she is married to musician David Gilmour and has written the lyrics to many of his works, both as a solo artist and with the group Pink Floyd.

April 28 Writer Birthdays

1402 – Nezahualcoyotl (meaning “Coyote who fasts”), poet, philosopher, warrior, and architect who ruled the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico. He is best remembered for his poetry.

1882 – L. Onerva (real name Hilja Onerva Lehtinen), Finnish poet, novelist, translatopr, critic, and short-story writer whose works often dealt with the tension in women’s lives concerning freedom and commitment.

1919 – Antonio Frasconi, Caldecott Honor-winning Uruguayan-American artist and author of children’s books.

1926 – Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author known for her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird; in 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature. The book was loosely based on events that happened in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, when she was 10. The character Dill is based on author Truman Capote, her childhood friend; she also helped him research his acclaimed true-crime novel In Cold Blood.

1934 – Lois Duncan, American writer, novelist, poet, and journalist, best known as a bestselling author of children’s and young-adult books and a pioneer in the development of the young-adult fiction genre.

1934 – Diane Johnson (born Diane Lain) American satirical novelist and essayist whose novels often feature American heroines living abroad in France; she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

1944 – Alice Waters, American chef, restaurateur, activist, and author who is a national public policy advocate for school lunch reform and universal access to healthy, organic foods.

1946 – Kit Williams, English author, artist, and illustrator best known for his treasure-hunt picture book Masquerade, with illustrations that included clues to the location of a real-life treasure, a golden, jeweled pendant hidden somewhere in the U.K.

1947 – Christian Jacq, French Egyptologist and author who has written novels set in ancient Egypt, as well as nonfiction.

1948 – Terry Pratchett (Sir Terence David John Pratchett), British author of satire and humorous fantasy, particularly the Discworld series and (with Neil Gaiman) Good Omens. The U.K.’s bestselling author of the 1990s, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.

1950 – Carolyn Forché, award-winning American poet, editor, professor, translator, and human-rights advocate.

1953 – Roberto Bolaño, Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist; The New York Times described him as “the most significant Latin American literary voice of his generation.”

1953 – Abena Busia, Ghanaian writer, poet, feminist, professor, and diplomat who is Ghana’s ambassador to Brazil, daughter of former Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia, and sister of actress Akosua Busia.
1960 – Ian Rankin, Scottish crime writer, television presenter, and singer.

1965 – Jennifer Rardin, American author of urban fantasy novels.

April 27 Writer Birthdays

1737 – Edward Gibbon, English historian and politician, known for his major work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

1759 – Mary Wollstonecraft, British writer and woman’s rights pioneer; mother of author Mary Shelley.

1898 – Ludwig Bemelmans, Austria-Hungary born American writer, known for the Madeline children’s books.

1904 – Cecil Day-Lewis, Anglo-Irish poet (pen name Nicholas Blake) who was U.K. Poet Laureate; father of actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

1913 – Irving Adler, American author of science books, primarily for children, some under the name Robert Irving.

1920 – Edwin Morgan, Scottish Renaissance poet and translator.

1927 – Coretta Scott King, author, activist, and civil rights leader; wife of Martin Luther King, Jr.

1934 – Jean Valentine, National Book Award-winning poet and New York Poet Laureate.

1937 – Adam Clymer, American journalist and political reporter.

1942 – Ruth Glick, American author of cookbooks, romances, and young-adult novels, some under the pseudonym Rebecca York.

1945 – August Wilson, American playwright who won two Pulitzer Prizes.

1959 – Nicholas D. Kristof, American journalist, columnist, and author who won two Pulitzer Prizes.

1963 – Russell T. Davies (real name Stephen Russell Davies), British screenwriter best known for his 2005 revival of Doctor Who.