May 10 Writer Birthdays

1911 – Bel Kaufman, American teacher and author best known for her 1965 bestseller Up the Down Staircase.

1915 – Monica Dickens, English author who wrote both adult and children’s books and was the great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens.

1919 – T. Berry Brazleton, American pediatrician and author of parenting books.

1927 – Nayantara Sahgal, Indian novelist who writes in English; her best-known book is Rich Like Us.

1933 – Barbara Taylor Bradford, bestselling English novelist who says she writes about “ordinary women who go on to achieve the extraordinary.”

1934 – Jayne Cortez, African-American jazz and performance poet whose poetry is concerned with racial injustice and political oppression.

1934 – Richard Peck, prolific Newbery Medal-winning American young-adult novelist.

1940 – Wayne Dyer, American self-help author and motivational speaker whose first book, Your Erroneous Zones, is one of the bestselling books of all time

1947 – Caroline B. Cooney, American author of books for children, teens, and adults, best known for her young-adult suspense, romance, horror, and mystery novels.

1953 – Christopher Paul Curtis, Newbery Award-winning American author of children’s books, best known for his novel, Bud, Not Buddy.

1955 – Rick Steves, American travel writer and television personality.

1967 – Jon Ronson, Welsh journalist and nonfiction author who is best known for his book The Men Who Stare at Goats, which explored the work of U.S. army officers who experimented with military applications of paranormal phenomenon; a movie based loosely on the book starred George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey.

1967 – John Scalzi, American science-fiction author best known for his Old Man’s War series.

1977 – Oliver Jeffers, Australian-born, Northern Ireland-raised, children’s book author and illustrator, now based in the U.S.


May 9 Writer Birthdays

1860 – J.M. Barrie, Scottish novelist and playwright who is best remembered as the creator of Peter Pan.

1895 – Lucian Blaga, Romanian philosopher, poet, and playwright.

1897 – Rudolph Fisher, African-American novelist, short-story writer, and physician who wrote the first black American detective novel, The Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery Tale of Dark Harlem.

1906 – Eleanor Estes, Newbery Medal-winning and three-time Newbery Honor-winning American children’s author and librarian.

1908 – A.N. Krishna Rao (full name Arakalagudu Narasingarao Krishna Rao, but popularly known as Anakru), Indian author who was one of the best-known writers in the Kannada language; he was popularly known as Kadambari Sarvabhouma or “King of Novels.”

1916 – William Pène du Bois, American children’s author and illustrator; Newbery winner and two-time Caldecott runner-up.

1920 – Richard Adams, English novelist, historian, and civil servant whose books were about animals; his most famous work is Watership Down.

1921 – Mona Van Duyn, American poet who was U.S. Poet Laureate.

1926 – John Middleton Murry Jr., English novelist who wrote under the pen names Colin Murry and Richard Cowper.

1935 – Roger Hargreaves, English children’s book author and illustrator.

1938 – Charles Simic, Pulitzer Prize-winning Serbian-American poet.

1950 – Jorie Graham, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet whom the Poetry Foundation has called “one of the most celebrated poets of the American post-war generation.”

1951- Joy Harjo, American screenwriter, writer, teacher, poet, musician, and children’s writer who is an important figure in the second wave of the literary Native American Renaissance of the late 20th century; she was also the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate.

1958 – Nada El-Hage, Lebanese poet and journalist.

Photo Friday: The Force Runs Strong in Our Family

Monday was Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You). In response to a request in an online group, I dug out this photo of my husband, son, and me in costume for the Del Ray Halloween Parade in 2011. So I’ve decided to re-post it here.

Nine years ago, we still lived in the old house (that’s it in the background) a few blocks from the new house. And my son was considerably shorter than me. Now he is 18 years old and at least 6’3″.

The photo makes me nostalgic because nobody thought twice about marching in a parade with hundreds of friends, neighbors, and strangers, most of us in costume. Of course, in our new reality of pandemic-related social distancing, this would be totally verboten. I miss being with people. I miss seeing people I know on the street and stopping to talk. I miss the shared excitement of a fun, silly, even joyous event like the Halloween Parade.

I’m not complaining about social-distancing. We need to keep our distance from others, to protect everyone. But it’s sad, thinking about everything we’re missing.

Bob as Emperor Palpatine, Jon Morgan as Darth Vader, and me as Princess Leia, with earmuff hair.

May 8 Writer Birthdays

1753 – Phyllis Wheatley, American poet who was the first African-American woman to be published, she wrote poetry while a slave, with her owners’ encouragement; George Washington was a fan of her work.

1858 – J. Meade Falkner, English novelist, poet, and arms manufacturer executive.

1915 – Milton Meltzer, American author and historian, known for children’s nonfiction books.

1920 – Sloan Wilson, American magazine writer and author, best known for his classic novel, Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

1922 – Mary Q. Steele, Newbery Honor-winning American author and naturalist.

1930 – Gary Snyder, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet of the Beat Generation.

1937 – Thomas Pynchon, National Book Award-winning American author known for writing dense, complex novels, and for protecting his privacy.

1940 – Peter Benchley, American author, editor, and screenwriter best known for his novel Jaws.

1943 – Pat Barker, English author of historical fiction.

1952 – Beth Henley, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Oscar-nominated American playwright and screenwriter; her works often deal with Southern women.

1958 – Roddy Doyle, Irish novelist, playwright, and screenwriter; most of his work is set in working-class Dublin.

1963 – Robin Jarvis, British author of young-adult and children’s dark fantasy & supernatural thrillers.

1970 – Naomi Klein, Canadian activist and nonfiction author known for criticisms of corporate globalization.

May 7 Writer Birthdays

1711 – David Hume, Scottish historian, economist, and essayist; a key figure in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment.

1748 – Olympe de Gouges, (born Marie Gouze),French playwright, politician, journalist, philosopher, abolitionist, author, and women’s rights activist whose political writings reached a large audience who was executed by guillotine during the Reign of Terror for attacking the regime of the Revolutionary government.

1754 – Joseph Joubert, French moralist and essayist, unpublished until after his death.

1812 – Robert Browning, English poet and playwright, married to poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

1861 – Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali author; first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1867 – Władysław Reymont, Nobel Prize-winning Polish epic novelist.

1892 – Archibald MacLeish, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet who also served as Librarian of Congress.

1927 – Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, two-time Academy Award-winning German-born British/American novelist and screenwriter who is the only person to have won a Booker Prize and an Oscar.

1931 – Gene Wolfe, American science-fiction and fantasy writer.

1932 – Nonny Hogrogrian, Armenian-American children’s author, two-time Caldecott Medal winner.

1939 – Volker Braun, German poet and playwright.

1939 – William Dempsey Valgardson, Canadian poet, novelist, and short story writer.

1940 – Angela Carter, English novelist.

1943 – Peter Carey, Australian novelist; two-time Booker Prize winner.

1946 – Michael Rosen, prolific author of children’s books and poems; Children’s Poet Laureate of Britain; columnist and TV presenter.

1950 – Tim Russert, American journalist, lawyer, broadcaster, and author.

1954 – Amy Heckerling, screenwriter, film director, and producer whose work includes such popular films as Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

1960 – Almudena Grandes, award-winning Spanish writer, screenwriter, and journalist.

1964 – Elliot Perlman, Australian novelist and short story writer.

May 6 Writer Birthdays

1856 – Sigmund Freud, Austrian neurologist and the founding father of psychoanalysis.

1868 – Gaston Leroux, French journalist and author of detective fiction, best known for the novel The Phantom of the Opera.

1885 – Yaeko Nogami (birth name Kotegawa Yae), Japanese writer, novelist, essayist, and translator.

1902 – Harry Lewis Golden, Jewish-American journalist and author who wrote satirically on race relations.

1904 – Harry Martinson, Swedish sailor, author, and poet; Nobel Prize winner.

1910 – Leo Lionni, Dutch author and illustrator of children’s books who was also an economist, graphic designer, and architectural writer.

1914 – Randall Jarrell, American poet who was U.S. Poet Laureate; he was also a literary critic, children’s author, essayist, and novelist.

1915 – Orson Welles, American screenwriter, actor, and director, remembered especially for the groundbreaking film Citizen Kane and his 1938 radio broadcast of the H.G. Wells book War of the Worlds, which caused widespread panic when listeners who tuned in late mistook it for a news broadcast about a real Martian invasion.

1915 – Theodore H. White, Pulitzer Prize-winning American political journalist, best known for his series of books, “The Making of the President.”

1918 – Henrietta Boggs, U.S.-born Costa Rican author, journalist, and activist who served as First Lady of Costa Rica; she turns 102 years old today!

1935 – Ted Lewin, Caldecott Honor-winning American children’s book author and illustrator.

1942 – Vladimiro Ariel Dorfman, Argentine-Chilean novelist, playwright, and human-rights activist.

1950 – Jeffrey Deaver, bestselling American mystery and crime-novel writer.

1956 – Sujata Bhatt, Indian-American poet and translator.

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.