January 20 Writer Birthdays

1562 – Ottavio Rinuccini, Italian poet and librettist; in collaborating with Jacopo Peri to produce the first opera, Dafne, he became the first opera librettist.

1719 – Jean-Jacques Barthélemy, French writer best known for his work The Travels of Anarchis the Younger in Greece.

1804 – Eugène Sue, French author whose novel Mathilde contains the first recorded use of the phrase, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

1806 – Nathaniel Parker Willis (also known as N. P. Willis), U.S. author, poet, and editor who worked with iconic American writers including Poe and Longfellow.

1823 – Imre Madách, Hungarian writer, poet, politician, lawyer, and playwright whose major work is The Tragedy of Man (Az ember tragédiája), a dramatic poem about 4,000 lines long, which elaborates on ideas comparable to Goethe’s Faust.

1848 – Alexander Kazbegi, Georgian actor, writer, poet, playwright, journalist, translator, and author who was best known for his novel The Patricide, about a heroic Caucasian bandit named Koba, who, much like Robin Hood, is a defender of the poor. Kazbegi’s work was an inspiration to Joseph Stalin, who used Koba as a revolutionary pseudonym.

1866 – Euclides da Cunha, Brazilian novelist, naturalist, writer, military personnel, poet, engineer, physicist, historian, zoologist, geologist, geographer, university teacher, journalist, sociologist, botanist, and philosopher.

1873 – Hōmei Iwano, Japanese writer, poet, translator, literary critic, and novelist who was especially known for his poetical dramas and autobiographical novels.

1873 – Johannes Vilhelm Jensen, Nobel Prize-winning Danish author who is regarded as one of the great Danish writers of the first half of 20th century “for the rare strength and fertility of his poetic imagination with which is combined an intellectual curiosity of wide scope and a bold, freshly creative style.” He was the brother of controversial feminist author Maria “Thit” Jensen.

1877 – Ștefan Petică, Romanian Symbolist poet, prose writer, playwright, author, journalist, and socialist activist.

1883 – Forrest Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. journalist, author, and Harriet Beecher Stowe biographer.

1885 – Ozaki Hosai (pen name of Ozaki Hideo), Japanese poet who was part of the birth of the modern free-verse haiku movement; his verses are permeated with loneliness, most likely a result of the isolation, poverty, and poor health of his final years.

1894 – Junzaburō Nishiwaki, Japanese writer, poet, translator, university teacher, literary critic, and linguist who specialized in modernism, Dadaism, and surrealism and was a seven-time Nobel Prize nominee; he was also an accomplished watercolor artist.

1896 – Kim Myeong-sun, North Korean-born South Korean novelist, poet, journalist, film actress, and autobiographer whose work was praised for her keen psychological portraits.

1908 – Jean S. Macleid, prolific British romance novelist who also wrote as Catherine Airlie.

1909 – Olive Fraser, award-winning Scottish poet; most of her work was published posthumously.

1910 – Joy Adamson (full name Friederike Victoria Joy Adamson, née Gessner), Austrian naturalist, artist and author whose book, Born Free, describes her experiences raising a lion cub named Elsa; Born Free was printed in several languages and was made into an Academy Award-winning movie of the same name.

1919 – Silva Kaputikyan, Armenian poet, writer, and political activist who was one of the best-known Armenian writers of the twentieth century, recognized as “the grand lady of twentieth century Armenian poetry; she was a member of the Communist Party and an advocate for Armenian nationalist causes. She wrote in both Armenian and Russian.

1921 – Sibnarayan Ray, Indian writer, poet, author, literary critic, academic, and philosopher who wrote in the Bengali language.

1921 – Francisco José Tenreiro, São Toméan geographer, poet, and essayist; one of his primary themes explored Blacks suffering during colonial rule and the problems of the Black diaspora in Portugal and around the world.

1925 – Ernesto Cardenal, Nicaraguan poet, politician, and Catholic priest who founded a primitivistic art colony.

1930 – Blair Lent, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. children’s author and illustrator who sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Ernest Small; he was best known for his books with Chinese themes, such as Tikki Tikki Tembo.

1932 – Heberto Juan Padilla, Cuban writer, poet, and university professor who was the center of the so-called “Padilla affair,” in which he was imprisoned for criticizing the government.

1934 – Hennie Aucamp, South African poet, academic, and short-story writer who wrote in Afrikaans.

1937 – Curtis Earle Lang, Canadian poet, artist, photographer, seaman, inventor, and entrepreneur.

1944 – Caroline Mavis Caddy, award-winning Australian poet and dental nurse; it has been said that, “Caddy writes with equal verve about the rural southwest of WA and her time abroad, particularly in China (though also Canada and Antarctica).… Her relaxed, often conversational tone belies her sharp eye for detail which, combined with a knack for simile and metaphor, has remained acute throughout her career.”

1944 – William Henry Jackson Griffith, U.S. cartoonist who signs his work Bill Griffith or Griffy, and is best known for the comic strip “Zippy”; he is credited with originating the popular catchphrase, “Are we having fun yet?”

1945 – Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. short-story writer and novelist.

1948 – Nancy Kress, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning U.S. science-fiction author, short-story writer, columnist, and educator; she tends to write hard science fiction, or technically realistic stories, often set in a fairly near future.

1948 – Natan Sharansky, Soviet-born Israeli politician, author, autobiographer, and human-rights activist who was sent to prison in the Soviet Union for allegedly spying for the Defense Intelligence Agency.

1952 – Roo Borson (real name Ruth Elizabeth Borson), award-winning Canadian writer and poet who is a member of the collaborative performance poetry ensemble Pain Not Bread.

1952 – Khurshid Davron, Soviet writer, poet, historical fiction writer, translator, and playwright whose work presents historical and cultural perspectives from Uzbekistan and nearby Central Asia.

1952 – Nikos Sideris, Greek poet, novelist, nonfiction writer, translator, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst who wrote a bestselling nonfiction book, Children Do Not Need Psychologists. They Need Parents!

1953 – Sevda Mikayilova, Azerbaijani philologist, educator, researcher, and poet.

1956 – Pía Barros Bravo, Chilean writer who is associated with her country’s Generation of ’80 literary movement; she is best known for her short stories.

1956 – Stanka Gjuric, Croatian writer, poet, essayist, actress, filmmaker, opinion writer, and philosopher; most of her published work takes the form of poems and of philosophical and lyrical essays.

1956 – Bill Maher, controversial U.S. comedian, political commentator, television personality, and author.

1958 – Paola Tiziana Cruciani, Italian writer, screenwriter, playwright, and actress.

1959 – Tami Hoag, bestselling U.S. author of romance and thriller novels.

1959 – R.A. Salvatore, U.S. author of bestselling fantasy and science fiction books, known for his “Forgotten Realms” and “Star Wars” books.

1960 – Marcello Fois, prolific, award-winning Italian screenwriter, writer, playwright, children’s writer who is a leading proponent of the New Sardinian Literature movement.

1960 – Kij Johnson, (born Katherine Irenae Johnson) award-winning U.S. novelist, essayist, writer, professor, fantasy writer, and science-fiction writer.

1961 – Li Li, award-winning Chinese poet and literary translator who currently resides in Stockholm.

1962 – Ulrike Draesner, award-winning German writer, romance novelist, poet, translator, author, editor, short-story writer, and literary critic; she frequently collaborates on cross-media projects with other artists and merges literature with sculpting, performing arts, and music.

1962 – Laima Muktupavela Kota, award-winning Latvian author.

1964 – Kazushige Nojima, Japanese screenwriter, writer, lyricist, and videogame writer who is best known for writing several installments of Square Enix’s “Final Fantasy” videogame series.

1964 – Fareed Zakaria, U.S. Indian-American journalist and author.

1967 – Alexander Ahndoril, Swedish novelist and playwright who has also written crime novels with his wife, Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril, under the joint pen name Lars Kepler.

1971 – Uni Arge, Faroese journalist, writer, singer, and professional soccer player.

January 19 Writer Birthdays

1655 – Nalan Xingde (born Nalan Chengde; Manchu name Nara Singde), Qing dynasty Chinese poet, famous for his ci poetry.

1714 – Joseph de La Porte, French poet, playwright, and literary critic; he also wrote fictional travel books that were based on real voyages, though he never traveled himself.

1720 – Franciszek Bohomolec, Polish writer, poet, playwright, and linguist who satirized the ignorance and folly of the Polish aristocracy.

1803 – Sarah Helen Power Whitman, U.S. poet, essayist, transcendentalist, and Spiritualist, and a romantic interest of Edgar Allan Poe.

1809 – Nicole Craig, Trinidadian poet, short-story writer, advertising copywriter, curator, and artist.

1809 – Edgar Allen Poe, U.S. author, poet, editor, and literary critic who was a central figure in the Romantic movement and in all of American literature and who is considered one of the country’s earliest practitioners of the short story, the inventor of detective fiction, and an early contributor to the emerging genre of science fiction; his work is characterized by mystery and the macabre.

1810 – Talhaiarn (bardic name for John Jones), Welsh poet and architect who as an architect is best know for overseeing the building of the Crystal Palace; as a writer, he is known for collaborating with John Thomas and Thomas Oliphant on a series of four books called, “Welsh Melodies with Welsh and English Poetry.”

1826 – Juan José Cañas, Salvadoran writer, poet, politician, and diplomat.

1848 – Arturo Graf, Greek-born Italian poet, writer, critic, and lecturer of German ancestry; he was one of the founders of the Giornale della letteratura italiana and is considered one of Italy’s key lyrical writers.

1859 – Marie Nizet (also called Marie Mercier), Belgian writer and poet who developed an interest in Romania and wrote poems in support of Romania during the country’s war for independence; after her death, a collection of her love poems was published to critical acclaim.

1870 – Aniello Califano, Italian poet and writer who is best known as the author of numerous Neapolitan songs that are still popular today.

1872 – María Enriqueta Camarillo (also known as María Enriqueta Camarillo y Roa de Pereyra), award-winning Mexican poet, novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer, and translator.

1876 – Dragotin Kette, Slovene writer, children’s author, and impressionistic and neo-Romantic poet who is considered one of the founders of Modernism in Slovene literature.

1882 – Brij Narayan Chakbast (also spelled Brij Narain Chakbast), Indian Urdu poet, writer, playwright, and lawyer who was active in the Indian Home Rule movement; Indian patriotism was a major theme in his work.

1898 – Julia Montgomery Street, award-winning U.S. writer, poet, novelist, children’s writer, and child psychologist; many of her stories were based on carefully researched North Carolina historical subjects.

1899 – Juan José Morosoli, Uruguayan writer, poet, journalist, short-story writer, and playwright whose masterpiece is Perico, a collection of short stories for children.

1906 – Robin Hyde, South African-born New Zealand poet, journalist, short-story writer, and educator who is considered one of New Zealand’s major poets.

1908 – Paz M. Latorena, Filipina poet, editor, author, and teacher; she was one of the foremost writers of the first generation of English writers in the Philippines.

1921 – Patricia Highsmith, award-winning U.S. author novels and short stories, best known for her psychological thrillers.

1921 – Fodéba Keïta, Guinean writer, playwright, composer, poet, dancer, and politician who founded the first professional African theatrical troupe, Theatre Africain, and arranged Liberté, the national anthem of Guinea.

1924 – Jean-François Revel, French journalist and author of political nonfiction.

1925 – Nina Bawden, award-winning British novelist and author of children’s books.

1931 – Robin MacNeil (full name Robert Breckenridge Ware MacNeil), Canadian-born television news anchor, journalist, and novelist who paired with Jim Lehrer to create the television news program The MacNeil/Lehrer Report.

1931 – Mahananda Poudyal, award-winning Indian-born Nepali writer, poet, short-story writer, essayist, editor, teacher, travel writer, literary critic, social worker, translator, political thinker, and collector of folktales.

1937 – Appadurai Muttulingam, award-winning Sri Lankan author and essayist.

1937 – Mikhail Nozhkin, Russian writer, poet, actor, composer, musician, and songwriter.

1938 – Anne Karin Elstad, award-winning Norwegian author known for her book series featuring the character Julie.

1941 – Khosrow Sinai, award-winning Iranian screenwriter and film director who specializes in social documentaries.

1941 – Breda Smolnikar, Slovenian fiction writer for adults and children who also writes under the pseudonym Gospa.

1946 – Julian Barnes, English author of literary fiction, recipient of the 2011 Man Booker Prize.

1947 – Paula Deen, U.S. cooking personality, television host, restaurateur, and cookbook author.

1954 – Esther Shkalim, Israeli Mizrahi feminist poet and curator of Jewish art; her poetry explores the experience of the female, Jewish, and Mizrahi identities, in the family and public spheres.

1958 – Allen Steele, Jr., U.S. science-fiction writer of novels and short stories.

1969 – Casey Sherman, U.S. journalist and true-crime author.

January 18 Writer Birthdays

1779 – Peter Mark Roget, British thesaurus developer and physician.

1867 – Rubén Darío, born Félix Rubén Garcia-Sarmiento, Nicaraguan poet and short-story writer.

1882 – A.A. Milne, British playwright, screenwriter, humor writer, and children’s author, best known for his Winnie the Pooh books and other children’s poetry.

1884 – Elena Arizmendi Mejía, Mexican feminist leader, journalist, nurse, magazine founder, autobiographer, and music teacher who established the Neutral White Cross to care for casualties of the Mexican Revolution that the Red Cross would not aid; she also established two international women’s rights organizations: the “Mujeres de la Raza” (Women of the [Hispanic] Race) and the International League of Iberian and Latin American Women.

1886 – Clara Nordström, pseudonym and birth name of Clara Elisabet von Vegesack, Swedish-born German writer and translator.

1891 – Clare Winger Harris, U.S. science-fiction writer whose short stories were published during the 1920s; she is credited as the first woman to publish stories under her own name in science-fiction magazines. Many of her stories dealt with characters on the “borders of humanity,” such as cyborgs.

1893 – Jorge Guillén y Álvarez, Spanish poet, scholar, and literary critic.

1893 – Roziya Boimatovna Ghafurova (better known as Roziya Ozod), Tajikistani poet of the Soviet era; much of her poetry focuses on the lot of women, in verse that stylistically has a simplicity reminiscent of folk poetry, although it reflects classical models as well.

1901 – Tomoyoshi Murayama, Japanese artist, playwright, and drama producer.

1911 – José María Arguedas Altamirano, Peruvian novelist, poet, short-story writer, and anthropologist; though of Spanish descent, he was fluent in the native Quechua language and wrote in both Spanish and Quechua. He is considered one of the key figures in 20th-century Peruvian literature.

1912 – William Sansom, British writer of novels, short stories, and travel books.

1914 – Vitomil Zupan, Slovenian writer, poet, playwright, essayist and screenwriter who was one of the most important authors in the Slovene language of the second half of the 20th century; he also wrote under the pseudonym Langus.

1932 – Samuel Asare Konadu, Ghanaian journalist, novelist, and publisher who also wrote under the pseudonym Kwabena Asare Bediako.

1932 – Robert Anton Wilson, U.S. novelist, essayist, editor, playwright, and self-described agnostic mystic, whose most well known work is his Illuminatus trilogy.

1934 – Raymond Briggs, English children’s author and illustrator whose wordless book The Snowman is a Christmas classic.

1951 – Sally Morgan, Australian aboriginal artist and author.

1971 – Carolyn Parkhurst, bestselling U.S. author of novels and children’s books.

1971 – Kenneth Binyavanga Wainaina, award-winning Kenyan author and journalist whom Time magazine called one of the most influential people in the world.


52 Ancestors, Week 3: Out of Place

It’s time once again for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks project! This is a challenge started by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow, who sets a different theme for each week of the year. For Week 3, the theme is Out of Place.

The ancestor I’ve chosen to highlight for this one is Giovanni DeRiggi, my mother’s paternal grandfather. My grandfather didn’t talk much about him. Most of his family reminiscences involved his mother, who apparently had a much larger personality and a much more problematic relationship with my grandfather. But he told one story about my great-grandfather that fits the theme and was fascinating — though a bit suspect. I have not been able to corroborate this anywhere. While I believe it may have been based on some kernel of truth, I know who would have heard it as a small child, and I suspect he may have misheard, misinterpreted, or exaggerated it.

The first part of the story is true. My great-grandfather was a Bird of Passage, an immigrant who left his family behind in Italy while he crossed the ocean to the United States to do seasonal work. In Pennsylvania, he worked for the railroad, helping to lay track when the weather was warm enough. He traveled back home in the colder months to see his family, eventually saving up enough for the whole family to emigrate. My grandfather always said his father crossed the ocean nine times. He must have felt out of place in the U.S., at first. After repeated trips, he probably felt just as out of place in Italy.

One year, according to my grandfather, the journey did not go as planned. This happened before Papa was born. On the ocean, the ship his father Giovanni was on ran into some trouble. Something in the engine broke, and the crew managed to limp along and anchor off the shore of an island. They were there for weeks, living both on the ship and onshore, foraging for food while the crew tried to get the ship running again. Then another ship came along, also partially disabled. Between the two broken ships, the crews managed to cobble together enough working parts to get one of them running, and some of them took the operable ship and continued on their journey — or maybe backtracked to their port of departure — to send transport back for the others.

My great-grandfather’s family were told the ship had sunk, and were overjoyed to see Giovanni alive. They had thought he was dead, but really, he was just out of place.

I wish I knew more about this incident, if it happened at all. Until recently, I’d been concentrating my research on my father’s side of the family. I’m now exploring more about my mother’s family. I think it’s time to look into this story, and see what I can find.

January 17 Writer Birthdays

1600 – Pedro Calderón de la Barca (full name Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño), a dramatist, poet, and writer of the Spanish Golden Age who was also a soldier and a Roman Catholic priest.

1706 – Benjamin Franklin, American philosopher, writer, newspaper editor, printer, statesman, scientist, inventor, and historian who was one of the founding fathers of the United States; he is also well known as the inventor of the lightning rod, bifocals, and the flexible urinary catheter; the writer of Poor Richard’s Almanack (under the pseudonym Richard Saunders); and a member of the Constitutional Congress.

1714 – Natalia Borisovna Dolgorukova (née Sheremeteva), Russian princess and writer who has been called the most accomplished Russian memoirist of the 18th century.

1776 – Jane Porter, English historical novelist, dramatist, and literary figure; her book The Scottish Chiefs, about Scottish hero William Wallace, is one of the earliest historical novels and remains popular among children in Scotland.

1800 – Frances Vane (Marchioness of Londonderry), English noblewoman and travel writer who is best known for her books A Journal of a Three Months’ Tour in Portugal, Spain, Africa, & c and A Narrative of Travels to Vienna, Constantinople, Athens, Naples, &c, and also for being the great-grandmother of Winston Churchill.

1814 – Ellen Wood, bestselling English novelist, better known as Mrs. Henry Wood and remembered especially for her novel East Lynne.

1820 – Anne Brontë, British author, poet, and governess, and the youngest and least well-known of the literary Brontë sisters; her 1848 book The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is considered to be one of the first feminist novels. Her works was first published under the pen name Acton Bell.

1821 – Laura Beatrice Mancini (born Laura Beatrice Oliva), Italian poet who wrote a variety of poetry and ran a literary salon for liberal-minded Neapolitans; many of her own poems focused on contemporary political events such as the unification of Italy.

1846 – Elsbeth von Nathusius, German short-story writer, author, and biographer; she sometimes wrote under the name F.L. Born.

1858 – Tomás Carrasquilla Naranjo, influential, award-winning Colombian writer who is considered one of his country’s most original literary figures.

1870 – Kazimiera Zawistowska (pseudonym Ira), Polish poet, writer, and translator; she wrote Modernist erotic and landscape poems characterized by the use of mysticism, symbolism, and Parnassianism.

1871 – Nicolae Iorga, Romanian historian, politician, literary critic, memoirist, poet and playwright who was also a founder of the Democratic Nationalist Party and a member of Parliament.

1875 – Florencio Sánchez, Uruguayan playwright, journalist, and political figure who is considered one of the founding fathers of theater in the River Plate region of Argentina and Uruguay.

1877 – Cecilia May Gibbs (better known as May Gibbs), Australian children’s author, illustrator, children’s writer, and cartoonist; she is best known for her gumnut babies (also known as “bush babies” or “bush fairies”), and for the book Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.

1879 – Máire Ní Chinnéide (also known as English Mary or Molly O’Kennedy), Irish language activist, writer, and playwright.

1883 – Compton Mackenzie (Sir Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie), Scottish writer of fiction, history, biography, and memoir, best known for his comic works, including Monarch of the Glen; he was also one of the founders of the Scottish Nationalist Party.

1885 – Emmy Hennings (born Emma Maria Cordsen), German poet and performer who married celebrated Dadaist Hugo Ball.

1885 – Osugi Sakae, radical Japanese writer, journalist, Esperantist, translator, and anarchist; he published numerous anarchist periodicals, helped translate western anarchist essays into Japanese for the first time, and created Japan’s first Esperanto school in 1906.

1886 – Ronald Firbank, British author of eight short novels, influenced by the London aesthetes of the 1890s, especially Oscar Wilde.

1891 – Leonard D. White, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian who specialized in administrative history of the U.S.

1898 – Sulpicio Osório, Filipino Visayan editor, poet, novelist, essayist, and short-story writer of.

1899 – Neville Shute, prolific British novelist, pilot, and aeronautical engineer; his full name was Neville Shute Norway, but he used the shorter version in his writing to distance his engineering career from his fiction.

1900 – Kaitarō Hasegawa, Japanese novelist, mystery writer, short-story writer, travel writer, and memoirist who wrote under numerous pen names, each with a unique personality, and caused a sensation with what critics considered the sheer brilliance of his fiction, nonfiction, and translations.

1914 – William Stafford, U.S. poet and essayist who was U.S. Poet Laureate and Oregon Poet Laureate; he was known for his pacifism, his unique method of composition, his soft-spoken voice, and his independence from social and literary expectations.

1915 – Roger Windle Pilkington, British author and biologist who came to public attention with his 20-volume Small Boat series, recounting trips along Europe’s inland waterways in an Admiral’s Barge, which he had converted into a seagoing cabin cruiser named “Commodore.”

1918 – Eva González Fernández, Spanish Leonese-language writer.

1918 – Elsa Grave, Swedish novelist, poet, and artist.

1918 – Fabián Dobles Rodríguez, Costa Rican writer, poet, essayist, novelist, journalist, short-story writer, and left-wing political activist who gained international recognition as an author dealing with the plight of the poor and with social protest.

1921 – Vasilij Melik, Slovenian historian, writer, journalist, and university teacher.

1925 – Robert Cormier, U.S. journalist and author of young-adult fiction, known for dark novels exploring themes including abuse, mental illness, violence, revenge, betrayal, and conspiracy; his book The Chocolate War, despite being considered by some critics as one of the best YA novels of all time, has been banned in some places for sexual content, violence, and strong language.

1926 – Madina Gulgun, Iranian-Azerbaijani writer and poet.

1930 – Hajra Masroor, Pakistani feminist short-story writer who made her place in the history of Urdu fiction with her bold imagination and nontraditional stories, told in a down-to-earth style.

1934 – Sydney Hillel Schanberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist who was best known for his coverage of the war in Cambodia; he was played by Sam Waterston in the award-winning film The Killing Fields, based on his experiences working in Cambodia with Cambodian journalist Dith Pran.

1938 – John Bellairs, U.S. author best known for fantasy and gothic mystery novels for young adults.

1939 – Mah Chonggi, Japanese-born South Korean poet, radiologist, and professor whose poems deal with his experiences as a doctor, his life abroad in Japan and the United States, and his conflicted feelings toward Korea.

1939 – Roger Leighton Hall, award-winning British-born New Zealand playwright and screenwriter who is one of New Zealand’s most successful playwrights, arguably best known for comedies that carry a vein of social criticism and feelings of pathos.

1940 – Oswald Mbuyiseni Mtshali, South African poet whose book Sounds of a Cowhide Drum was the bestselling poetry book in South African history.

1943 – Elsa López, Equatorial Guinean writer, poet, biographer, and anthropologist.

1950 – Honey Irani, award-winning Indian screenwriter and short-story writer who was also a Bollywood child star; her son and daughter, Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar, are both critically acclaimed filmmakers.

1961 – Suzanne Berne, award-winning U.S. novelist and professor whose work features dark character studies and unexpected domestic and psychological drama in bucolic suburban settings.

1962 – Sebastian Junger, U.S. author, filmmaker, and journalist, best known for creative nonfiction works like The Perfect Storm.

1964 – Michelle Obama (full name Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, née Robinson), U.S. lawyer, author, autobiographer, and former First Lady of the United States.

1964 – Raoul Schrott, award-winning Austrian poet, writer, literary critic, translator, professor, and broadcaster.

1967 – Wendy Mass, award-winning U.S. author of children’s and young adult novels.

1968 – Hideaki Sena, award-winning Japanese novelist, science-fiction writer, and pharmacologist.

1969 – Cecilia May Gibbs, British-born Australian children’s author, illustrator, and cartoonist.

1974 – Annemarie Jacir, award-winning Palestinian poet, short-story writer, filmmaker, and screenwriter.

A New Semester Begins

Winter break is over, and my son went back to campus today. It’s also his 21st birthday! So he’s out of that gray area between 17 and 21, when he was an adult for some things and not others. It shouldn’t be that hard to believe. He’s 6-foot-3 and wears a size 15 shoe. But it feels like 21 years have gone by so fast! I know, highly original. What parent doesn’t wonder where the years went?

We celebrated his birthday over the weekend, since we knew he’d be traveling today. And now, he and his dad are driving down to school. Normally, I would have gone, too. But we realized we couldn’t fit all three of us in the car, along with his piano, his violin, his clean laundry, and all of his other assorted belongings. So Bob is driving him down, and I’m at home, thinking of just how quiet the house is.

As a baby, and celebrating his 21st birthday this weekend.

January 16 Writer Birthdays

Today is my son’s birthday; he turns 21 today. It’s hard to believe it! It would be a bit of a stretch, but you could call him a published author. When he was 6, he entered a contest for Kids’ Letters to President Obama. He was one of the winners, and had his letter appear in the book of that name. If you ever come across the book, look for his missive on page 34. He’s the first-grader who offered to teach the President of the United States and leader of the free world how to bowl.

And now, I’ll move on to the list of writers who share his birthday.

January 16 Writer Birthdays

1634 – Dorothe Engelbretsdatter, Norwegian author, poet, hymn writer, and religious writer who was the first woman in Norway to publish books under her own name; when her hymns and poems proved to be wildly popular, she had to defend herself against allegations that a man must have written them. She became an hero to later Scandinavian women writers and was hailed as the ”Muse on the Parnassus.”

1675 – Louis de Rouvroy (Duke of Saint-Simon), French writer, memoirist, diplomat, and courtier whose enormous memoirs are a classic of French literature, giving the fullest and most lively account of the court at Versailles of Louis XIV and the Régence at the start of Louis XV’s reign.

1749 – Vittorio Alfieri, Italian Count who was a dramatist and poet; considered the founder of Italian tragedy.

1855 – Jenny Julia Eleanor Marx (sometimes called Eleanor Aveling, and known to her family as Tussy), English writer, social activist, and literary translator who was the daughter of political theorist Karl Marx.

1874 – Robert W. Service, British-Canadian poet known as the “Bard of the Yukon.”

1882 – Margaret Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist, nonfiction author, children’s author, and short-story writer who often wrote about the secondary status of women and the role of religion (but when her stories appeared in Harper’s Magazine, she signed them, “An Elderly Spinster”). Her work is of interest in part for its exploration of feminist issues in a domestic context and set against an unsympathetic judicial system. Two of her novels draw on her observations as a missionary in India, exploring the world of polygamy and the pressure on women to produce male heirs. Writer Graham Greene wrote: “She has an admirable gift for very simple direct narrative…. We are always aware of a writer of fine moral discrimination and a passionate awareness of individual suffering.”

1885 – Zhou Zuoren, Chinese writer, essayist, translator, and Esperantist who advocated for literary reform, calling for a humanist literature in which “any custom or rule that goes against human instincts and nature should be rejected or rectified”; as examples, he cited children sacrificing themselves for their parents and wives being buried alive with their dead husbands. His older brother was writer Lu Xun, a leading figure in modern Chinese literature.

1888 – Osip Brik, Russian avant garde writer, screenwriter, poet, literary critic, literary historian, and lawyer; he was one of the most important members of the Russian formalist school, but he also identified himself as a Futurist.

1896 – Ruth Rose, U.S. screenwriter who worked on several well-known films in the 1930s and 1940s, most famously the original classic King Kong.

1900 – Sukumar Sen, Indian Bengali linguist, author, and literary historian of Bengali literature; he was also well versed in Pali, Prakrit, and Sanskrit.

1901 – Laura Riding, U.S. poet, critic, novelist, and essayist who lived with poet Robert Graves.

1905 – Anna Sakse, award-winning Latvian writer, editor, and translator who also wrote under the names Austra Seja, Smins, Trine Grecina, and Zane Mežaduja.

1913 – Hizgil Davidovich Avshalumov, award-winning Russian Soviet novelist, historical novelist, poet, short-story writer, children’s writer, and playwright who wrote in Russian and in languages of the Juhuri (Caucasus Jews).

1917 – Gilda Galán, popular Puerto Rican actress, poet, comedian, writer, composer, and scriptwriter.

1918 – Nel Benschop (full name Nelly Anna Benschop), bestselling Dutch poet and teacher who said of her own work, “I write meditations in rhyme.”

1918 – Stirling Silliphant, U.S. screenwriter who is best remembered for his Oscar-winning screenplay for In the Heat of the Night, and for creating television series including Perry Mason and Route 66 and blockbuster disaster movies The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure.

1920 – Wei Wei (originally known as Hong Jie), Chinese poet, prose writer, literary reporter, editor, and journalist whose works are noted for their themes of patriotism, communism, and nationalism.

1923 – Christine Brooke-Rose, British writer, poet, novelist, translator, university teacher, journalist, and literary critic who is known primarily for her later experimental novels.

1923 – Anthony Hecht, U.S. poet whose work often focused on World War II and the Holocaust.

1924 – Aleksandar Tišma, Serbian novelist, screenwriter, poet, translator, journalist, short-story writer, and literary editor whose works were concerned with themes of humanity’s search for freedom, and the suffering, violence, horror, and guilt people encounter along the way.

1928 – William Joseph Kennedy, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist and journalist who often wrote about a fictional Irish-American family.

1930 – Ustad Bukhari (born Syed Ahmed Shah Bukhari), prominent and progressive Pakistani poet who wrote in the Sindhi language.

1930 – Tekkatho Phone Naing (pen name of Khin Maung Tint), Burmese writer and university chancellor who was primarily known for his lovelorn novels, most of them about a man and a woman of different social station and wealth whose love affair ends in separation and sorrow; his books are considered to represent some of the best popular Burmese story writing in the postwar era.

1932 – Dian Fossey, groundbreaking U.S. zoologist who studied and wrote about gorillas in Rwanda.

1933 – Susan Sontag, controversial U.S. writer, essayist, novelist, filmmaker, activist, social critic, and literary icon who wrote extensively about photography, culture and media, war, AIDS, human rights, and leftist ideology; she has been described as “one of the most influential critics of her generation.”

1935 – Inger Christensen, Danish poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, children’s writer, and editor who is considered the foremost Danish poetic experimentalist of her generation.

1941 – Hyun Ki Young, South Korean author who specializes in the modern history of Jeju island; he was arrested and tortured for three days for writing about the Jeju Massacre of 1948, in which islanders were killed en masse by the Korean police in an attempt to exterminate communist sympathizers.

1942 – Sigrid Combüchen, Swedish novelist, writer, biographer, journalist, literary critic, and essayist.

1946 – Peter Fatomilola, prolific Nigerian playwright, actor, and poet.

1947 – Kate McMullan, prolific U.S. author of children’s picture books, nonfiction books, and young-adult books who often collaborates with her husband, illustrator Jim McMullan. She has also written joke books under the name Katy Hall, and the “Dragon Slayers’ Academy” series under the name K.H. McMullan.

1947 – Magdalen Nabb, British author, children’s writer, journalist, and potter who is best known for her Marshal Guarnaccia detective novels, set in her adopted hometown of Florence, Italy.

1948 – Ruth Reichl, U.S. food writer, editor, memoirist, and TV food-show producer.

1951 – Bibhu Padhi, Indian poet, writer, author, literary critic, and translator who writes in both English and Oriya.

1952 – Julie Anne Peters, award-winning U.S. author of young-adult fiction; many of her books feature LGBT characters .

1955 – Mary Karr, U.S. poet, essayist, and bestselling memoirist.

1957 – Stella Tillyard, English novelist, nonfiction author, and historian best known for her popular award-winning work, Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832, which was made into a BBC mini-series.

1958 – Anatoli Boukreev, Kazakhstani writer, mountaineer, and explorer who climbed 10 of the 14 “eight-thousander” peaks—those above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet)—without supplemental oxygen, including K2 and Everest; he became even more widely known for saving the lives of climbers during a 1996 Mount Everest disaster. His memoir, Above the Clouds: The Diaries of a High-Altitude Mountaineer, was published posthumously after he was killed on Annapurna in Nepal in a Christmas Day 1997 avalanche.

1958 – Marla Frazee, two-time Caldecott Honor-winning U.S. children’s book author and illustrator.

1958 – Ayşenur İslam (born Ayşenur Külahlıoğlu), Turkish writer, professor, and government cabinet minister who wrote ten books an 40 other publications.

1959 – Irina Bjørnø, Russian writer, poet, novelist, professor, and physicist who founded a health clinic and a publishing company.

1964 – Viviane Mosé, Brazilian writer, poet, philosopher, and psychologist.

1966 – Alek Popov, Bulgarian novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and scriptwriter whose best known work is his first novel, Mission London, which was made into a film.

1968 – Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author of children’s and young-adult books.

1970 – Garth Ennis, award-winning Northern Irish comic book writer.

January 15 Writer Birthdays

1622 – Molière (real name Jean-Baptiste Polian), French playwright who is considered one of the masters of comedy in Western literature.

1711 – Sidonia Hedwig Zäunemann (known as die Zäunemännin), German poet who became Poet Laureate of Göttingen at the age of 24.

1781 – Pablo de Jérica, Spanish writer, poet, short-story writer, and journalist known for irony, satire, and caricature.

1791 – Franz Grillparzer, Austrian dramatist who perpetuated the German classic and Romantic traditions and was considered the leading playwright of his day; he also influenced later playwrights Hauptmann and Maeterlinck.

1803 – Marjorie Fleming (also spelt Marjory), Scottish child writer, diarist, and poet who died at the age of eight, but whose work was praised by Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott and became hugely popular with Victorian readers. Her manuscripts are now housed at the National Library of Scotland.

1805 – Louise-Angélique Bertin, award-winning French poet, poet, librettist, and composer; she was the only composer to collaborate with writer Victor Hugo on an operatic version of his work, writing the music to his libretto for the opera La Esmeralda, based on his book Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame).

1812 – Peter Christen Asbjørnsen, Norwegian writer, scholar, marine biologist, forester, children’s writer, and collector of fairy tales.

1826 – Clementine Abel (née Clementine Hofmeister, and also known as Clelie Betemann), German author who wrote poems and tales especially for children and teenagers, as well as articles for newspapers.

1828 – Mary Jane Katzmann, award-winning Canadian author, editor, historian, poet, and bookseller; she signed her work M.J.K. before her marriage, and M.J.K.L, after her marriage to William Lawson. Her book History of the Townships of Dartmouth, Preston and Lawrencetown, Halifax County, N.S., is considered an enduring contribution to Canadian literature.

1839 – Eugenio María de Hostos, Puerto Rican educator, novelist, essayist, philosopher, intellectual, women’s rights activist, lawyer, and sociologist who was a Puerto Rican independence advocate; he was called “El Gran Ciudadano de las Américas” (“The Great Citizen of the Americas”).

1850 – Mihai Eminescu (born Mihail Eminovic), Romanian Romantic poet, novelist, editor, journalist, and translator; he is considered the most popular and influential Romanian poet.

1850 – Sophie Kowalevski (also spelled Sofya Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya; she was born Korvin-Krukovskaya), Russian mathematician, writer, memoirist, and playwright who made noteworthy contributions to analysis, partial differential equations, and mechanics. She was a pioneer for women in mathematics around the world – the first woman to obtain a doctorate (in the modern sense) in mathematics, the first woman appointed to a full professorship in northern Europe, and one of the first woman to work as editor for a scientific journal; according to historian of science Ann Hibner Koblitz, she was “the greatest known woman scientist before the twentieth century.”

1859 – Paulina Kuczalska-Reinschmit, Polish social reformer, women’s suffragist, publisher, writer, and feminist activist.

1860 – Eleanor Hull, English writer, journalist, literary critic, and scholar of Old Irish who wrote books on Irish history, culture, folklore, and literature.

1864 – Sabine Lepsius, German portrait painter, author, memoirist, lithographer, and salonnière; most of her approximately 280 portraits were of people in the Jewish community and were lost or destroyed during World War II.

1867 – Federico Gana, Chilean diplomat and short-story writer who is considered a pioneer in the use of the Chilean countryside as a literary theme.

1872 – José Lopes da Silva, Cape Verdean professor, journalist, and poet.

1872 – Ahmed Lutfi el-Sayed, prominent, influential Egyptian writer, politician, academic, and anti-colonial activist who was the first director of Cairo University and who was fondly known as the “Professor of the Generation.”

1875 – Clara Pollaczek, Austrian writer of light novels, stories, plays, and verse; some of her works appeared under the pseudonyms “Bob” or “Bob Béol.”

1879 – Mazo de la Roche, Canadian author of the Jalna novels, one of the most popular series of books of her time.

1882 – Jun Kawada, prolific Japanese tanka poet, Poet Laureate, and entrepreneur who was particularly known for his patriotic poetry during World War II. He also gained notoriety by eloping at the age of 68 with the young wife of one of his disciples; in a poem about the relationship, he wrote, “to an old man approaching his grave, love holds no fear.”

1887 – Carmen Lyra (pseudonym for Maria Isabel Carvajal Quesada), Costa Rican writer, novelist, folklorist, pedagogue, children’s writer, librettist, and politician who was the first prominent female Costa Rican writer, the founder of the country’s first Montessori school, and the co-founder of the Communist Party of Costa Rica.

1891 – Osip Mandelstam, Warsaw-born Soviet poet, essayist, literary critic, and memoirist who was one of the foremost members of the Acmeist school, or Guild of Poets, a movement characterized by compactness of form and clarity of expression; he was twice arrested and sent into exile for poems critical of Stalin, and died in a transit camp in 1938.

1897 – Xu Zhimo (also known as Changhsu Hamilton Hsu), Chinese poet, writer, and translator who loosened Chinese poetry from its traditional forms and reshaped it under the influences of Western poetry and the vernacular Chinese language; he is considered one of the key figures in modern Chinese poetry.

1898 – Rachel (Rokhl) Häring Korn, award-winning Polish and Canadian poet and author who wrote most of her works in Yiddish.

1902 – Nâzım Hikmet, Greek-born Turkish poet, memoirist, novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and author who was a leader in the Turkish avant-garde literary movement and was praised for the “lyrical flow of his statements,” but was repeatedly arrested for his revolutionary political beliefs and spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile.

1913 – Raymond Sarif Easmon, prominent Sierra Leonean doctor, playwright, novelist, and short-story writer who was known for his political activism and criticism of government corruption, which led to his arrest in 1970.

1913 – Miriam Beatrice Hyde, Australian poet, autobiographer, composer, pianist, and music educator.

1914 – Esther “Etty” Hillesum, Dutch Jewish writer whose letters and diaries describe life in Amsterdam during the German occupation; she died in Auschwitz in 1943.

1915 – Chaganti Somayajulu, Indian author who is considered one of the best short-story writers in 20th century Telugu-language literature, and who also wrote plays and poetry; he was popularly known by the pseudonym CHASO, which combines the first syllables of his name.

1916 – Mikki Doyle (Miriam Levental), U.S. journalist, women’s page editor, feminist, and liberal activist.

1916 – Henri Frans de Ziel, influential Surinamese writer, poet, editor, and librarian who primarily wrote about the beauty of his native country.

1921 – Kristian Ottosen, Norwegian nonfiction writer who was active in the resistance movement during World War II and spent several years in concentration camps; after the war he wrote a memoir of his experiences as well as a series of historical accounts.

1923 – Ivor Cutler, Scottish poet, humorist, writer, children’s author, singer, comedian, songwriter, painter, teacher, and radio personality who was well known through his work on the BBC.

1925 – Yevgeny Ivanovich Nosov, award-winning Soviet Russian novelist and short-story writer who was part of the village prose movement, known for writing that “highlighted the tragedy of the War and the immense consequences it had for the Russian village, revealed to the full extent the belated bitterness of forgotten and neglected war veterans.”

1929 – Martin Luther King Jr., U.S. Baptist minister, activist, writer, essayist, orator, and speechwriter who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the American civil rights movement from 1955 until his assassination in 1968; writings such as his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and his so-called I Have a Dream speech gave voice to the ideals of the civil rights movement and provided a blueprint for other nonviolent protests.

1931 – Jan Błoński, Polish writer, historian, literary critic, publicist, editor, translator, and university teacher; a leading representative of the Kraków school of literary criticism, he was regarded as one of the most influential critics of postwar Poland.

1931 – Alan Scholefield, South African novelist, short-story writer, nonfiction author, and journalist.

1932 – Alija Isakovic, Bosnian writer, essayist, publicist, playwright, and lexicographer of the Bosnian language; he was notable for his works on Bosnian literary history, asserting the special character and identity of Bosniaks.

1932 – Joan Lingard, Scottish author of bestselling novels for children, teens, and adults.

1933 – Ernest J. Gaines, U.S. African-American author, short-story writer, and professor, best known for his novels A Lesson Before Dying and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.

1934 – Lee O-young, award-winning South Korean literary critic, novelist, essayist, and professor.

1935 – Shamsur Rahman Faruqi, Indian poet and groundbreaking Urdu literary critic and theorist who ushered modernism into Urdu literary criticism by adapting western principles of criticism and applying them to Urdu literature. He has been described as, “the century’s most iconic figure in the realm of Urdu literature.” He died in 2020 of complications from covid-19.

1935 – Robert Silverberg, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author and editor; he was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

1943 – Akbar Ahmed, award-winning Indian-born Pakistani anthropologist, author, poet, playwright, filmmaker, and professor; he has been called “the world’s leading authority on contemporary Islam.” He is currently based in the U.S.

1944 – Jenny Nimmo, British author of children’s fiction; she is best known for the “Children of the Red King” (Charlie Bone) series.

1946 – Nouréini Tidjani-Serpos, Beninese writer, poet, novelist, essayist, literary critic, professor, and UNESCO official.

1949 – Zsófia Balla, prominent Romanian-born Hungarian poet, writer, journalist, and essayist.

1954 – Jose Y. Dalisay, prolific, award-winning Filipino writer of novels, short stories, poetry, drama, nonfiction books, and screenplays; the Cultural Center of the Philippines included him on the Centennial Honors List as one of the 100 most accomplished Filipino artists of the century.

1965 – Katarina Kieri, award-winning Swedish writer, poet, young-adult novelist, teacher, broadcaster, and columnist.

1966 – Giles Milton, bestselling U.K. historical narrative writer, nonfiction author, novelist, journalist, children’s writer, and comic novelist.

1972 – Claudia Anne I. Winkleman, British journalist, television presenter, film critic, and radio personality.

1974 – Lili Mendoza (born Lilia Ester Mendoza Peregrina), award-winning Panamanian writer, poet, columnist, and short-story writer whose prose depicts the absurdity of contemporary Panamanian society.

January 14 Writer Birthdays

1551 – Abu’l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, Indian-born writer, poet, historian, translator, politician, and Grand Vizier of the Mughal emperor Akbar; he is best remembered as the author of the Akbarnama, the official history of Akbar’s reign in three volumes, and for his Persian translation of the Bible. He was one of the “Nine Jewels” of Akbar’s royal court and was the brother of Faizi, Akbar’s Poet Laureate.

1651 – Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville (also known as Baroness d’Aulnoy, Countess d’Aulnoy, or Madame d’Aulnoy), French writer, salonnière, novelist, and collector of fairy tales; she is credited with coining the word fairy tales (contes de fées).

1690 – Chrysostomus Hanthaler, Austrian writer, librarian, historian, author, archivist, numismatist.

1700 – Christian Friedrich Henrici (pen name Picander), German poet, writer, librettist, and civil servant who wrote lyrics for many of Bach’s cantatas.

1720 – Polixénia Daniel, Hungarian writer philanthropist, and baroness; she was known for her great learning, for her charitable projects, and as a protector of artists and scientists.

1751 – Corona Elisabeth Wilhelmine Schröter, German musician, singer, composer, writer, autobiographer, and artist who collaborated with Friedrich Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

1791 – Joseph Kupelwieser, Austrian playwright, librettist, dramaturge, and theatre director who wrote the libretto for Schubert’s opera Fierrabras.

1801 – Jane Welsh Carlyle, Scottish writer whose work was not published in her lifetime, though she was widely seen as an extraordinary letter writer; Virginia Woolf called her one of the “great letter writers.”

1807 – Hilario Ascasubi, Argentine poet, politician, diplomat, newspaper founder, and baker who was born in the back of a horse-drawn cart while his mother was on her way to a wedding in Buenos Aires; he is noted for introducing the use of vernacular language in his poetry and often explored political themes in his work. He used the pseudonym Santo Vega.

1811 – Avrom Ber Gotlober, Ukrainian writer, poet, playwright, translator, author, memoirist, and historian who wrote most of his works in Hebrew; he was widely known by his initials, ABG.

1814 – Luigi Dottesio, Italian patriot who was active in the writing and distribution of anti-Austrian pamphlets, until intercepted while trying to cross the Swiss border; he was executed by Austrians in 1851.

1818 – Zacharius Topelius, influential Finnish author, poet, journalist, historian, storyteller, historical novelist, and rector of the University of Helsinki; he is best known for his novels related to Finnish history, written in Swedish.

1834 – Choe Ik-hyeon, Korean writer, poet, philosopher, politician, and general who was a vocal Korean nationalist and a strong supporter of Neo-Confucianism.

1850 – Pierre Loti, French novelist and naval officer, known for his exotic novels and short stories.

1863 – Toshiko Kishida (also konwn as Toshiko Nakajima), Japanese writer, calligrapher, royal tutor, lecturer, and social reformer who was part of Japan’s first wave of feminist writers; she wrote under the name Shoen. She was arrested for her so-called Daughters in Boxes speech, which criticized the family system in Japan and the problems caused by restrictions placed on young Japanese girls.

1870 – Ida Dehmel (born Ida Coblenz), German lyric poet and muse who was an outspoken feminist and a supporter of the arts; after 1933 she was persecuted on account of being Jewish and was no longer allowed to publish; in 1942, when large-scale deportations of Jews began from her city, she committed suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills, rather than fall into the hands of the Nazis.

1871 – Pamela Adelaide Genevieve Wyndham Glenconner Grey (Lady Glenconner, Viscountess Grey of Fallodon), English writer, poet, children’s author, editor, and publisher who was a friend to many of the literary and artistic stars of the day, including Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and Ezra Pound; John Singer Sargent painted her and her sisters in the 1899 portrait, The Wyndham sisters, which was described by The Times as “the greatest picture of modern times.”

1874 – Thornton Waldo Burgess, prolific U.S. columnist, children’s writer, and conservationist who wrote about the beauty of nature and its living creatures in his books and his newspaper column, “Bedtime Stories”; he was sometimes known as the Bedtime Story Man.

1875 – Albert Schweitzer, Nobel Prize-winning French theologian, writer, organist, philosopher, and physician whose name has become synonymous with humanitarianism.

1877 – Hilja Haapala, (born Hilja Dagmar Janhonen), Finnish novelist and historical fiction writer; she wrote under both of her surnames.

1878 – Victor Segalen, French writer, poet, physician, naval doctor, ethnographer, archeologist, explorer, art-theorist, linguist, and literary critic; he traveled extensively and died in a forest in France under mysterious circumstances, reputedly with an open copy of Hamlet by his side.

1882 – Raghunath Dhondo Karve, Indian author, professor of mathematics, journal publisher, and social reformer; he was a pioneer in advocating for gender equality and initiating family planning and birth control for the masses in Mumbai.

1882 – Hendrik Willem Van Loon, Dutch and U.S. historian, journalist, and children’s book writer, known for his world history for children, The Story of Mankind, which in 1922 won the first Newbery Medal.

1885 – Zsófia Józsefné Szalatnyay Dénes, Hungarian writer, journalist, memoirist, peace activist, and advocate for women’s rights; her friends included psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud and poet Rainer Maria Rilke. When she died at the age of 102, she was considered the oldest author in Hungary.

1886 – Clara Beranger (née Strouse), U.S. screenwriter of the silent-film era who was a member of the original faculty of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She was also a journalist, book author, and magazine contributor; her guide for new screenwriters, Writing for the Screen, is a classic in the field. Some of her work appeared under the pseudonym Charles S. Beranger.

1886 – Hugh Lofting, English civil engineer and author who created the classic children’s character, Doctor Dolittle.

1893 – Kanstancyja Bujlo, Belarusian poet and playwright; the main themes of her poems, which often relied on folklore, were World War II heroism, and peasant life In Belarus before 1917.

1896 – John Dos Passos, U.S. novelist and artist, known for his “USA Trilogy,” together ranked by the Modern Library as number 23 on the list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

1897 – Wasif Jawhariyyeh, Jerusalem-born Arab writer, poet, historian, and composer best known for his memoirs, The Diaries of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, which span more than six decades, covering Jerusalem’s turbulent modern history, including four regimes and five wars.

1897 – Ivan Yulianovych Kulyk, Jewish Ukrainian poet, writer, translator, diplomat, and Communist Party activist; he also wrote under the names R. Rolinato and Vasyl Rolenko.

1900 – Abu Al-Asar Hafeez Jalandhari, Indian-born Pakistani Urdu-language poet who wrote the lyrics for the National Anthem of Pakistan.

1902 – Terence Lucy Greenidge, English-born Barbadian author, actor, and film director.

1902 – F.C. Terborgh, pseudonym of Reijnier Flaes, award-winning Dutch diplomat, prose writer, and poet.

1905 – Emily Hahn, prolific U.S. journalist and author; considered an early feminist and called “a forgotten American literary treasure” by The New Yorker magazine, she wrote 54 books and more than 200 articles and short stories.

1906 – Alejandro Galindo, Mexican screenwriter, actor, and film director.

1908 – Caridad Bravo Adams, prolific, award-winning Mexican novelist and actress who published her first book at the age of 16 and went on to become the most famous telenovela writer worldwide; many of her books have been adapted for film.

1913 – Tillie Olsen, U.S. novelist and nonfiction writer associated with the political turmoil of the 1930s and part of an early generation of American feminists.

1914 – László Ladány, Hungarian journalist, author, Jesuit, and editor of China News Analysis, an influential periodical on Chinese affairs.

1914 – Dudley (Felker) Randall, U.S. African-American poet, editor, and publisher who was the first Poet Laureate of Detroit; his Broadside Press provided a forum for unknown Black writers.

1915 – André Frossard, French writer, journalist, author, essayist, philosopher, and resistance fighter; raised as an atheist and converted to Catholicism, his ancestry was Jewish. After being captured by the Gestapo, he was one of only seven survivors of a massacre that took the lives of 65 people. He survived the war and was awarded the Legion of Honor and the Grand Cross of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre.

1916 – Toyo Suyemoto, U.S. Japanese-American poet, memoirist, and librarian who was incarcerated by the United States during World War II due to her Japanese ancestry; her memoir, I Call to Remembrance: Toyo Suyemoto’s Years of Internment, was published posthumously.

1916 – John Oliver Killens, U.S. African-American novelist, essayist, playwright, editor, and short-story writer who was a co-founder of the Harlem Writers Guild; his novels focused on African-American life.

1918 – Ilona Edelsheim-Gyulai de Marosnémethi et Nádaska, Hungarian countess and memoirist who worked as a nurse during World War II and helped Jews escape from the Nazis.

1919 – Sayyid Athar Hussein Rizvi (known as Kaifi Azmi), Indian Urdu poet, lyricist, and songwriter who brought Urdu literature to Indian motion pictures.

1919 – Andy Rooney, U.S. author, journalist, and television personality, best known for his “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney” segments on the CBS newsmagazine show 60 Minutes.

1920 – Jean Gwenaël Dutourd, award-winning French novelist, philosopher, and World War II resistance fighter who was arrested by the Nazis twice during the war and escaped both times.

1920 – Chế Lan Viên, prolific Vietnamese writer, poet, essayist, memoirist, and critic whose first collection of poems was published when he was only 17.

1921 – Kenneth Bulmer, prolific British author, best known for his science fiction, but who also wrote realistic fiction, military fiction, sea stories, and magazine articles; he wrote under many pseudonyms, including Alan Burt Akers, Ken Blake, Ernest Corley, Arthur Frazier, Adam Hardy, Philip Kent, Bruno Krauss, Neil Langholm, Manning Norvil, Charles R. Pike, Dray Prescot, Andrew Quiller, Richard Silver, Tully Zetford, and Rupert Clinton.

1925 – Yukio Mishima, pen name of Japanese author and poet Kimitake Hiraoka, who was known for his avant-garde writing as well as his ritual suicide.

1926 – Mahaswetah Devi, award-winning Indian Bengali novelist, short-story writer, educator, and human-rights activist who worked for the rights and empowerment of tribal people.

1926 – Thomas Tryon, U.S. actor and author of science-fiction, horror, and mystery novels and screenplays.

1928 – Lars Hans Carl Abraham Forssell, versatile Swedish writer, poet, playwright, songwriter, lyricist, librettist, children’s writer, and translator.

1928 – Enrique Osvaldo Sdrech, Argentine writer and journalist, best known for his true crime stories.

1929 – Zoya Alexandrovna Krakhmalnikova, award-winning Russian dissident writer and activist of Ukrainian origin; she was repeatedly arrested by Soviet authorities for her publications.

1937 – Yevhen Hutsalo, Ukrainian screenwriter, writer, poet, journalist, children’s writer, novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and opinion journalist.

1945 – Liv Køltzow, award-winning Norwegian novelist, playwright, biographer, and essayist who is regarded as one of the key Norwegian feminist writers of the 1970s.

1947 – Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author, historian, and Martin Luther King Jr. biographer who wrote about the Civil Rights movement.

1947 – Marianne Viermyr, award-winning Norwegian writer and children’s author.

1948 – John Lescroart, U.S. author of legal and crime thriller novels.

1949- Oliviero Beha, award-winning Italian author, poet, journalist, sports journalist, writer, essayist, television presenter, and radio host.

1949 – Mary Robison, U.S. novelist and short-story writer.

1950 – Arthur Byron Cover, U.S. book author and short-story writer whose work is in the science-fiction, fantasy, and horror genres.

1950 – Elfie Donnelly, British and Austrian author, crime writer, poet, children’s writer, travel writer, autobiographer, and screenwriter who has written numerous books and radio dramas for children; her best known works are Bibi Blocksberg (a radio drama about a girl who is a witch) and Benjamin Blümchen (an animated television series about a talking elephant).

1951 – Martin Auer, award-winning Austrian writer, children’s author, journalist, singer-songwriter, and magician.

1952 – Maureen Dowd, U.S. author and New York Times columnist.

1957 – David Bergen, award-winning Canadian novelist and short-story writer.

1957 – Anchee Min, U.S. Chinese-American author of fiction and memoirs.

1960 – Edward St. Aubyn, award-winning British author and journalist; his semi-autobiographical novels, some of which have been made into a television series, have been hailed as a powerful exploration of how emotional health can be carved out of childhood adversity.

1967 – Glenda Goertzen, Canadian author of children’s and young adult fantasy, including the best-selling children’s novel The Prairie Dogs.

1968 – Kulpreet Yadav, award-winning Indian writer of thriller novels, including, among others, The Girl Who Loved a Pirate and The Girl Who Loved a Spy; he is also a retired naval officer.

1970 – Nuala Ní Chonchúir, award-winning Irish poet, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and translator.

1973 – Djenar Maesa Ayu (also known as Nay), Indonesian novelist, short-story writer, actress, screenwriter, and filmmaker whose controversial work has been described both as provocative and lurid, and as unique and brave.