May 11 Writer Birthdays

1645 – William Scott (2nd Baronet of Thirlestane), Scottish lawyer, lyricist, and neo-Latin poet.

1763 – János Batsányi, Hungarian poet, writer, translator, editor, and literary critic.

1771 – José Mamerto Gómez Hermosilla, Spanish writer, journalist, and literary critic.

1817 – Isabella Letitia Woulfe, British writer known for a popular and acclaimed debut novel, Guy Vernon, which included gypsies, scandals, and two cases of bigamy; she died before she could complete a second book.

1828 – Eleanor Anne Ormerod, pioneering English entomologist, writer, and autobiographer; based on her studies in agriculture, she became one of the first to define the field of agricultural entomology, publishing an influential series of articles on useful insects and pests in the Gardeners’ Chronicle and the Agricultural Gazette along with annual reports from 1877 to 1900 and two books. Virginia Woolf wrote a story, “Miss Ormerod” that was based on her life.

1888 – Elisabeth Erdmann-Macke (nee Gerhardt), German memoir writer whose work focused on her marriage to the expressionist painter August Macke.

1889 – Burhan Felek, Turkish journalist, columnist, sportsperson, writer, teacher, and lawyer.

1894 – Ōmi Komaki, Japanese writer, translator, and university teacher.

1897 – Shuddhananda Bharati, award-winning Indian writer, composer, poet, essayist, novelist, autobiographer, playwright, librettist, translator, yogi, and philosopher whose teachings are focused mainly on the search for God in Self, through the Sama Yoga practice he created. He wrote more than 250 published works in five different languages: Tamil, English, French, Hindi, and Telugu. “Shuddhananda” is a title he adopted; it means “pure bliss.”

1901 – Rose Ausländer, German Jewish poet who spent part of World War II in the Czernowitz ghetto; she wrote in English and German and eventually became an American citizen.

1902 – Enrique Labrador Ruiz, award-winning Cuban journalist, novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and poet.

1904 – Gladys May Casely-Hayford (pen name Aquah Laluah), Gold Coast-born Sierra Leonean writer and teacher; she is credited as the first author to write in the Krio language. She celebrated her blackness in poems such as “Rejoice” and “Nativity”; writers of the Harlem Renaissance in the U.S. cited her work as an influence.

1905 – Ida Gerhardt, award-winning Dutch writer, classicist, translator, and Post-Symbolist poet whose poems are characterized by a special focus on nature and landscape; she also received recognition for her careful translation of the Psalms.

1905 – Mikhail Sholokhov, Nobel Prize-winning Russian Soviet writer, screenwriter, poet, politician, journalist, and novelist; he is known for writing about the lives of Cossacks during the Russian Revolution, the civil war and the period of collectivization, primarily in his most famous novel, And Quiet Flows the Don.

1908 – Kim Kirim (born Kim In-son), North Korean poet, literary critic, journalist, essayist, teacher, and university lecturer who wrote mostly intellectualist and imagist poetry. In 1946 he fled Soviet-occupied North Korea for the South, but during the Korean War he was kidnapped and returned to North Korea.

1909 – Aneirin Talfan Davies, Welsh poet, literary critic, broadcaster, translator, and publisher; he was also known by the bardic name of Aneurin ap Talfan. Religious themes characterize much of his writing.

1916 – Camilo José Cela, Nobel Prize-winning Spanish novelist, renowned for “rich and intensive prose, which with restrained compassion forms a challenging vision of man’s vulnerability.”

1918 – Sheila Burnford, British-Canadian novelist who was best known for her book The Incredible Journey, which was not originally intended as a children’s book, but was later adapted into the popular animated Disney move, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

1918 – Richard Feynman, U.S. theoretical physicist, lecturer, and semi-autobiographical writer.

1920 – Fatma Nezihe Araz, bestselling Turkish author, poet, playwright, biographer, screenwriter, and journalist.

1925 – Rubem Fonseca, Brazilian novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and scriptwriter.

1926 – Mark Sergeev, prolific Ukrainian-born Russian poet and children’s writer.

1927 – Gene Savoy, U.S. explorer and author who is especially associated with discoveries in Peru.

1927 – Zilpha Keatley Snyder, three-time Newbery Honor-winning U.S. children’s author.

1928 – Mo Yun-tuan (pen name Luo Fu, or Luòfū), Taiwanese writer, poet, essayist, and translator; in 2001 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

1929 – Gane Todorovski, award-winning Macedonian writer, poet, translator, author, editor, essayist, historian, professor, screenwriter, journalist, and literary critic

1930 – Kamau Brathwaite (born Lawson Edward Brathwaite), Barbadian poet, historian, and essayist.

1934 – Ofelia Giudicissi Curci, Italian poet, writer, and archeologist; her archeological work focused on Calabria, in southern Italy.

1934 – Wakako Hironaka, Japanese writer, translator, and politician; she served four terms in the Japanese House of Councillors.

1936 – Olga Xirinacs Díaz, award-winning Spanish writer, poet, playwright, pianist, essayist, translator, short-story writer, university teacher, and children’s author who usually writes in Catalan and whose work is influenced by the writing of Virginia Woolf and Marcel Proust.

1938 – Aline Pettersson, Mexican novelist and poet whose work deals with themes of loneliness, heartbreak, isolation, and the passage of time that razes all.

1939 – Yves-Emmanuel Dogbé, Togolese novelist, essayist, poet, philosopher, educator, and sociologist who holds a prominent position among French-speaking Togolese writers and was regarded in his lifetime as Togo’s greatest living writer.

1939 – Samih al-Qasim al Kaissy, Jordanian-born Israeli Palestinian poet, writer, journalist, author, and newspaper editor whose work is well known throughout the Arab-speaking world.

1942 – Clive Algar, South African novelist and short-story writer.

1942 – Rachel Billington, British author of fiction and nonfiction books for both adults and children; she is also a screenwriter, journalist, and columnist.

1947 – Latif Nazemi, award-winning Afghani-born Persian poet, author, literary critic, and university teacher who now lives in exile in Germany.

1949 – Peter Sís, award-winning Czech-born U.S. children’s author and illustrator, filmmaker, and editorial cartoonist.

1952 – Mike Lupica, U.S. sports columnist, children’s author, and mystery writer whose stories tend to revolve around sports.

1952 – Reza de Wet, award-winning South African dramatist who is considered one of South Africa’s greatest playwrights; in addition to chipping away at the societal mores of Apartheid and racism, her stories masterfully weave Biblical myths, tribal and Afrikaner folktales, magical realism, and stream-of-consciousness storytelling in a poignant and original way, to completely reinvent the psychological-thriller format.

1953 – David Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, author, and biographer.

1955 – Fang Fang (pen name of Wang Fang), award-winning Chinese novelist and poet.

1962 – Mirela Ivanova, Bulgarian poet, essayist, literary critic, theater critic, translator, and literary historian who is one of the most famous modern Bulgarian poets.

1962 – Joko Pinurbo, award-winning Indonesian poet, editor, and university teacher whose poetry is a mixture of narrative, irony, and self-reflection.

1965 – Marie Koizumi, Japanese novelist, manga writer, and screenwriter.

1965 – Dante Lam, Hong Kong Chinese screenwriter, film director, and actor.

1979 – Mohammad Tolouei, Iranian poet, writer, screenwriter, playwright, translator, and novelist.

May 10 Writer Birthdays

0893 – Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdani, Yemeni Arab writer, poet, historian, linguist, grammarian, geographer, chemist, astronomer, and astrologer.

1843 – Benito Pérez Galdós, prolific Spanish novelist, short-story writer, poet, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, painter, and politician who was the leading literary figure in 19th century Spain.

1863 – Kaarle Krohn, Finnish folklorist, writer, and professor who developed the geographic-historic method of folklore research and devoted much of his career to the study of the epic poetry that forms the basis for the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala.

1866 – Constance Piers, Canadian journalist, poet, and newspaper editor.

1876 – Ivan Cankar, Slovenian writer, playwright, essayist, novelist, poet, and political activist whose work marks the beginning of modernism in Slovene literature; he is regarded as the greatest writer in the Slovene language, and has been compared to Franz Kafka and James Joyce.

1898 – Ariel Durant (born Chaya Kaufman), Pulitzer Prize-winning Russian-born U.S. author, historian, and researcher who coauthored the 11-volume Story of Civilization with her husband, writer Will Durant.

1898 – Younghill Kang, Korean-born novelist, memoirist, and playwright who has been called “the father of Korean American literature.”

1900 – Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin, British-born U.S. astronomer, astrophysicist, and author who proposed in her doctoral thesis that stars were composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, a conclusion that was initially rejected but eventually proven correct; her work on the nature of variable stars, carried out with her husband, Sergei Gaposchkin, was foundational to modern astrophysics.

1903 – Kathleen Coad “Kay” Petre (née Defries), Canadian racecar driver who turned to writing and became a journalist and food writer after a 1937 racing accident resulted in serious injuries and the end of her racing career.

1906 – Eisuke Yoshiyuki, Japanese author who was part of the Japanese Dada movement.

1910 – Nguyễn Tuân, Vietnamese writer who is ranked as one of the top authors of contemporary Vietnamese literature; he is especially known for his essays, and for his clever and creative use of language.

1911 – Bel Kaufman, U.S. 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, U.S. pediatrician and author of parenting books.

1919 – Antônio Olinto Marques da Rocha, Brazilian writer, essayist, poet, novelist, literary critic, political analyst, children’s author, dictionary editor, and translator.

1922 – Rosihan Anwar, renowned Indonesian journalist, editor, critic, translator, and author who founded a newspaper and a magazine.

1924 – Yulia Vladimirovna Drunina, Soviet poet and lyricist who wrote in Russian and whose works are characterized by moral clarity and real-life experience; some of the life experience she drew on came from working as a nurse and combat medic during World War II.

1924 – Zareh Yaldizciyan (better known by his pen name Zahrad), Turkish poet who wrote in the Western Armenian language.

1927 – Kunjunni, award-winning Indian poet of Malayalam literature who was known for short poems with philosophical overtones and for works that were popular among children as well as adults; he was commonly known as Kunjunni Mash (Mash is the Malayalam equivalent of teacher.)

1927 – Nayantara Sahgal, Indian novelist who writes in English; her best-known book is Rich Like Us. She also served as ambassador to Italy.

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

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

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

1937 – Manik Godghate (popularly known by his pen name Grace), award-winning Indian Marathi prose writer, poet, and lyricist.

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

1942 – Legson Didimu Kayira, Malawian novelist whose early works focused on Malawi’s rural life, while his later writings satirized the Hastings Banda regime.

1945 – Koos du Plessis, South African author, poet, journalist, editor, songwriter, and musician.

1947 – May Lenna Balisidya Matteru, Tanzanian novelist, playwright, children’s author, and university teacher who wrote in Swahili.

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

1948 – Zacarías Reyán (pseudonym of Reinaldo Antonio Plazas Peralta, also known as Z), Colombian novelist, poet, and epic writer.

1949 – Mana Al Otaiba, Emirati writer, poet, economist, businessperson, and politician.

1952 – Meta Kušar, award-winning Slovenian poet and essayist.

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

1953 – Ahdri Zhina Mandiela, award-winning Jamaican-born, Canadian-based poet, author, theatre producer, and artistic director.

1954 – Arjun Deo Charan, award-winning Indian Rajasthani poet, critic, playwright, theatre director, and translator who is prominent figure in Indian theatre.

1955 – Rick Steves, U.S. travel writer, author, activist, and television personality.

1955 – Janine Louise Zwicky, Canadian philosopher, poet, essayist, university teacher, and musician.

1960 – Gong Byeong-Ho, South Korean libertarian scholar, economist, and nonfiction author who writes about leadership, creativity, business, and religion.

1964 – Kristine Næss, Norwegian novelist, poet, short-story writer, and editor.

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, Hugo Award-winning U.S. science-fiction author, nonfiction author, columnist, critic, and short-story writer who is best known for his Old Man’s War series and was also a creative consultant on science-fiction television show Stargate Universe.

1976 – Elizabeth Bachinsky, award-winning Canadian poet and educator.

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

1981 – Roja Chamankar, Iranian-born Persian poet, writer, playwright, and film director.


Countdown to Summer Break

So far, it’s just some of Bob’s old papers and books filling the new storage unit, but soon we’ll have stuff from Jon Morgan’s dorm room there, too.

My son will soon come home from school for the summer! I am looking forward to having him back, and I know he is looking forward to a break from studying. Except that he won’t have that much of a break; he’s taking a summer school class that packs a semester’s worth of work into a month, so he’ll be busy with that for the first month of his summer vacation.

He will be in the same dorm room again next year; unfortunately, he can’t just leave his stuff there all summer. I say dorm room, but it’s really an on-campus apartment with a kitchen, living room, and bedroom, so he has more than just his clothes and a computer.

We rented a storage unit near campus for the summer, so we won’t have to rent a van to bring all of his stuff home and then rent another one to bring it back to school in August. It will be nice not to have it all filling up the living room all summer, like last year! We wanted a five-by-five unit, but the smallest we could get was five-by-ten. So we’ve decided to fill the extra space with some stuff from the basement that has to be moved out of there temporarily — boxes of old papers and books — so we can proceed with having tile installed, a project we’ve been putting off for way too long.

May 9 Writer Birthdays

1588 – Herman Hugo, Belgian writer, Jesuit priest, and military chaplain whose Pia Desideria, a religious emblem book published in Antwerp, was the most popular religious emblem book of the seventeenth century; it went through 42 Latin editions and was widely translated up to the 18th century. (An emblem book is a collection of emblems with accompanying explanatory text, typically morals or poems.)

1738 – John Wolcot, English writer, poet, satirist, and physician who wrote under the pseudonym Peter Pindar.

1752 – Johann Anton Leisewitz, German lawyer and dramatic poet who was a central figure of the Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) era, an artistic movement characterized by expressions of turbulent emotion; he is best known for his play Julius of Tarent, which inspired playwright Friedrich Schiller.

1819 – Dadoba Pandurang, Indian social reformer, writer, grammarian, and linguist from Bombay who wrote extensively on religion and social reform as an opponent of rituals and caste, while supporting widow-remarriage and education for women; he was born with the surname Tarkhadkar, but he never used it in later life.

1832- Jessie White Mario, English and Italian writer, biographer, journalist, nurse, and philanthropist who was a nurse to General Giuseppe Garibaldi’s soldiers in four wars and was sometimes referred to as “Hurricane Jessie” in the Italian press; she researched living conditions in subterranean Naples and working conditions in Sicily’s sulphur mines and wrote copiously (in English and Italian) as both a journalist and a biographer. Her most famous biography was about Garibaldi.

1844 – Sarah Newcomb Merrick, Canadian and U.S. writer, educator, inventor, businesswoman, and physician.

1845 – Georgina Castle Smith (née Georgina Meyrick, pseudonym Brenda), popular and prolific English writer of children’s books, notable for her books that highlighted the needs of homeless children and encouraged people to donate clothing and food to them.

1851 – Sarah Elizabeth Pratt Grinnell, U.S. author, photographer, writer, editor, naturalist, and social activist.

1857 – Luigi Illica, Italian writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and librettist who wrote lyrics for some of the best known opera composers of his day, including Giacomo Puccini; he was always photographed with his head slightly turned, because he lost his right ear in a duel over a woman.

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

1861 – Anna Pappritz, German novelist, short-story writer, nonfiction author, pamphleteer, and activist for women’s rights and the abolition of prostitution.

1871 – Volodymyr Hnatiuk, Ukrainian writer, literary scholar, translator, editor, and journalist who was one of the most influential and notable Ukrainian ethnographers; he focused primarily on western Ukraine, gathering information about folk songs, legends, customs, and dialects.

1872 – Teffi (pseudonym of Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya), Russian writer, poet, playwright, translator, satirist, memoirist.

1878 – Anna Myrberg, Swedish author, poet, and lyricist; much of her work appeared under the pseudonym Svarta Masken (The Black Mask).

1891 – Rudolf Pečjak, Slovene writer, poet, editor, playwright, songwriter, children’s writer, education writer, fairytale collector, lecturer, and teacher.

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

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

1897 – Abraham Nahum Stencl, Polish poet and editor who wrote, in Yiddish, in a pioneering modernist and expressionist style.

1898 – León Pacheco Solano, award-winning Costa Rican writer and journalist who belonged to the “Generación de los 40” literary movement.

1901 – Lempi Ikävalko, Finnish writer, poet, journalist, actress, and performance artist.

1905- Lilí Álvarez, Italian and Spanish author, journalist, equestrian, alpine skier, skier, racing automobile driver, tennis player, sports journalist, figure skater, and feminist; she was best known as a tennis player, and even competed on Spain’s Olympic team.

1906 – Eleanor Estes, Newbery Medal-winning and three-time Newbery Honor-winning U.S. 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.”

1910 – Carmela Carabelli (born Carmelina Negri; better known as Mamma Carmela), famous Italian mystic, author, and religious writer.

1916 – William Pène du Bois, U.S. children’s author and illustrator who was a Newbery winner and a two-time Caldecott runner-up.

1916 – Ishwar Petlikar, Indian Gujarati-language writer, novelist, essayist, columnist, journalist, editor, autobiographer, short-story writer, social reformer, and teacher.

1917 – Fay Kanin (née Mitchell), U.S. screenwriter, playwright, and producer who served as President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

1920 – Richard Adams, bestselling English novelist, autobiographer, children’s writer, short-story writer, historian, civil servant, and animal rights activist whose best known books were about animals, including his most famous work, the award-winning novel Watership Down, which is credited with reinvigorating anthropomorphic fiction with naturalism.

1921 – Mona Van Duyn, U.S. poet and editor who was U.S. Poet Laureate and won both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize; one critic said of her work, “Using her characteristic half rhymes, sometimes in quatrains, sometimes in couplets, Van Duyn creates poems impressive for their intelligence and their determined attempts to find reason in an unreasonable world.”

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

1927 – Ludmila Vaňková, Czech author of science fiction and historic fiction.

1928 – Didi Menosi, Israeli writer, journalist, poet, lyricist, dramatist, columnist, songwriter, and satirist.

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

1935 – Ivan Lessa (full name Ivan Pinheiro Themudo Lessa), Brazilian journalist, writer, author, translator, and short-story writer.

1935 – Halina Poświatowska, (born Helena Myga), Polish poet and writer who was one of the most important figures in modern/contemporary Polish literature; she is famous for her lyrical poetry and for her intellectual, yet passionate poetry on themes of death; love; existence; famous historical personages, especially women.

1938 – Hwang Tong-gyu, Korean poet, academic, and critic who was known for stripping images to their bare, essential core and employing a terse and unalloyed prose style.

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

1939 – Rogelio Mangahas, award-winning Filipino poet, writer, editor, novelist, essayist, and artist who helped spearhead the second successful Modernist movement in Filipino poetry.

1944 – Lars Norén, Swedish playwright, novelist, and poet; his plays are realistic and often revolve around family relationships, among either those who are impoverished and disadvantaged, or those who live in material comfort but emotional insecurity.

1944 – Paulina Vinderman, award-winning Argentine writer, poet, literary reviewer, and translator.

1945 – Gamal El-Ghitani, Egyptian writer, editor, translator, journalist, and novelist; he was best known for his historical and political novels and his cultural and political commentaries.

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

1950 – Jesús Abraham “Tato” Laviera, Puerto Rican-born poet and playwright.

1951 – Christopher Dewdney, award-winning Canadian poet and essayist whose work reflects his interest in natural history.

1951- Joy Harjo, U.S. 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.

1952 – Arturo Fontaine Talavera, Chilean novelist, poet, philosopher and essayist whose work is considered representative of the Chilean “New Narrative.”

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

1965 – Zhenis Kakenuly Nurlybayev, Kazakh author, editor, painter, art critic, caricaturist, and graphic artist.

1969 – Larisa Vitaliivna Matveyeva, Ukrainian poet, novelist, playwright, and translator.

1971 – Hiroki Azuma, award-winning Japanese novelist, essayist, philosopher, and cultural critic who writes in a Postmodernist style.

1975 – Tony Adam Mochama, award-winning Kenyan poet, short-story writer, author, young-adult novelist, and journalist.

1992 – Maya Christinah Xichavo Wegerif (known professionally as Sho Madjozi), South African poet, songwriter, singer, rapper, singer, and actress who incorporates the Tsonga culture in her work.

May 8 Writer Birthdays

1492 – Andrea Alciato (commonly known as Alciati, or Andreas Alciatus), Italian writer, historian, jurist, and university teacher who is regarded as the founder of the French school of legal humanists. He is most famous for his Emblemata, published in dozens of editions; this collection of short Latin verse texts and accompanying woodcuts created a new genre, the emblem book, which attained enormous popularity throughout Europe.

1570 – Tamás Esterházy, Hungarian writer, translator, linguist, and composer.

1736 – Caterina Dolfin, Italian (Venetian) poet and salonnière who was best known both for her sonnets and for her scandalous divorce and love affairs.

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

1753 – Phyllis Wheatley, U.S. 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.

1765 – Marianne Kraus (real name Maria Anna Walburga Lämmerhirt, German diarist, travel writer, painter, drafter, and lady-in-waiting.

1835 – Augusta Jane Evans (also called Augusta Evans Wilson), U.S. novelist, writer, and screenwriter who is best known as an author of Southern literature.

1851 – Pyarimohan Acharya, Indian writer, historian, educationist, and newspaper editor who wrote his best-known book, Odisara Itihasa (History of Odisha) in response to an advertisement by the colonial government looking for a textbook for use in schools.

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

1867 – Margarete Böhme, bestselling German novelist, short-story writer, autobiographer, journalist, and screenwriter who was one of the most widely read German writers of the early 20th century.

1872 – Una Lucy Silberrad, British novelists whose books highlight conservative middle-class virtues, even as they focus on capable female protagonists.

1878 – Heruy Wolde Selassie, Ethiopian writer, historian, and politician whose “considerable and distinguished literary output” was written in Amharic.

1881 – Sibylle von Olfers, German art teacher and nun who worked as an author and illustrator of children’s books, including her most celebrated work, The Root Children (original title: Etwas von den Wurzelkindern, or Something About the Children From the Roots).

1884 – Emilia Bernal, Cuban poet, writer, essayist, translator, and autobiographical novelist.

1886 – Philippa Powys (full name Catharine Edith Philippa Powys), British writer, novelist, and poet, and a member of one of the most distinguished families in modern arts and literature; her brothers included novelists John Cowper Powys, Theodore Francis Powys, and Llewelyn Powys, and her sister Gertrude Powys was a painter of striking portraits and powerful landscapes.

1890 – Moyshe Altman, Moldovan-born Yiddish-language writer, author, and translator.

1912 – Joyce Lussu, Italian writer, poet, linguist, translator, and politician; she was especially noted for her translations of avant-garde literature from Asia and Africa.

1913 – Saima Harmaja, Finnish poet, writer, and diarist who is known for her four volumes of sensitive poetry and her tragic death from tuberculosis at the age of 23.

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

1917 – Miguel Bernad, Filipino writer, journalist, editor, educator, linguist, historian, and Jesuit priest.

1918 – Mario Alicata, Italian writer, screenwriter, author, literary critic, and politician.

1918 – Alix Marrier d’Unienville, Mauritius-born French and British author and spy who was an agent in the Free French Section of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during World War II.

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

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

1923 – Li Lienfung, Chinese-born Singaporean chemist, playwright, newspaper columnist, and short-story writer; she wrote in both English and Chinese.

1924 – Suppiramaniam Vithiananthan, Sri Lankan writer, professor, and the first vice-chancellor of the University of Jaffna; he specialized in Asian and African Studies.

1924 – Gerda Weissmann Klein, Polish-born writer, autobiographer, children’s author, and human-rights activist who was a Holocaust survivor; her autobiographical account of the Holocaust, All but My Life, was adapted for the 1995 short film, One Survivor Remembers, which received an Academy Award and an Emmy Award, and was selected for the U.S. National Film Registry.

1925 – Gururaja Shyamacharya Amur, Indian writer, critic, and professor who writes in the Kannada and English languages.

1928 – Ramesh Chandra Jha, Indian writer, poet, novelist, journalist, freedom fighter whose poems and stories evoke patriotism and human values.

1928 – Rose Zwi, Mexican-born South African and Australian writer best known for her work about the immigrants in South Africa.

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

1932 – Julieta Campos, award-winning Cuban and Mexican novelist, writer, and translator.

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

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

1942 – Park Taesun, award-winning South Korean novelist, short-story writer, and translator who was part of the “April 19 Generation,” the group of writers who came into prominence in the 1960s and whose writing reflects the values of the Korean April 19 Student Revolution; his primary themes revolve around his criticisms of the customs of modern urban life.

1943 – Pat Barker, English author of historical fiction.

1944 – Mongane Wally Serote, South African poet, political activist, and writer who became involved in political resistance to the apartheid government by joining the African National Congress (ANC) and was arrested and detained for several months without trial; he spent years in exile before returning to South Africa in 1990.

1947 – Dhruv Bhatt, Indian Gujarati-language novelist and poet.

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

1953 – Sachithanantham Sri Kantha (also known as Sachi Sri Kantha), Sri Lanka-born Japanese Tamil scientist, historian, and author.

1957 – Ahmed Parker Yerima, Nigerian playwright, professor, and theater director who was director-general of the Nigerian National Theatre.

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.

1964 – Nira Konjit Wickramasinghe, Sri Lankan writer, professor, and historian who specializes in Modern South Asian Studies; she is currently based in the Netherlands, where she is working on a history of the reception of the sewing machine in colonial Sri Lanka.

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

1972 – Jigme Gyatso (aka Golog Jigme), Tibetan journalist, filmmaker, and human rights activist.

Gallery Show

A few weeks ago, I submitted one of my photographs for a juried art show at a local gallery. The theme of the show: “Drips, Lines, Splatters, and Splash.” The organizers were seeking artwork that celebrated the artistic ideals of the Washington Color School art movement. My photo was accepted.

When I saw the theme, one photo in particular came to mind. I thought about entering others as well, but in the end, this was the one that best embodied the theme. The artists of the Washington Color School used innovative techniques to emphasize color, abstract design, and the two-dimensional surface of the picture plane. My photo, which I titled Reflections, shows an interior space where an enormous wall of color-blocked stained glass casts squares of color streaming across the floor and bouncing off a stainless-steel wall where a figure sits, reading.

The exhibit opened yesterday. My husband and I attended last night’s opening. This morning, I took a volunteer shift at the gallery. The exhibit is vivid and exciting, with a wide variety of artworks of all types: paintings, multimedia works, photographs, textiles, ceramics, furniture, stained glass, cloisonné, and more. What a joy to walk out of a cold, gray, rainy day into a room filled with such joyous color and life.

And my photo sold! I had been wondering if I should have printed it larger, framed it differently, or priced it lower. So I was surprised — shocked, really — that someone wanted to buy it. I bought two other works while I was there, so I am not coming out ahead financially, but that’s not the point.

I took the photo at the convention center in Montreal, descending into the space on an escalator. A huge wall of stained glass and another of stainless steel bounce colored light around the room. The reading girl sits against the silver wall and is mirrored in it. Some of the standing figures reflected in the wall to the right are dressed as Star Wars characters; you can see white Stormtrooper helmets if you look carefully.

May 7 Writer Birthdays

1426 – Giovanni Pontano (later known as Giovanni Gioviano or, in Latin, Ioannes Iovianus Pontanus), poet, writer, humanist, and politician from the Duchy of Spoleto, now in Umbria in central Italy.

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, especially her most famous work, The Declaration of the Rights of Woman; she was executed by guillotine during the Reign of Terror for challenging the regime of the Revolutionary government.

1751 – Isabelle de Montolieu, Swiss novelist and translator who wrote in and translated to French; she is best known for writing the first French translations of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion and for her translation of Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson.

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.

1842 – Alaide Gualberta Beccari, Italian writer, journalist, editor, social reformer, and activist for feminism and pacifism; she published the feminist journal Woman.

1846 – Anna Radius Zuccari, Italian novelist, short-story writer, magazine writer, journal founder and editor, and author of a dictionary of family hygiene; she used the pen name Neera.

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

1867 – Władysław Reymont, Nobel Prize-winning Polish epic novelist known for symbolism, socialist concepts, romantic portrayal of the agrarian countryside, and criticism of capitalism.

1868 – Kaia Bruland Nilssen, Norwegian novelist, poet, editor, and translator; her book Aagot Vangen – et livsbillede is a biographical novel about the Norwegian sculptress Aagot Vangen.

1880 – Azim Aslan oglu Azimzade, Azerbaijani writer, artist, and caricaturist who was awarded the title People’s Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR.

1883 – Evaristo Carriego, Argentine writer, poet, and journalist who was an important influence on the writing of tango lyrics; he is best known today for the biography written about him by Jorge Luis Borges.

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

1911 – Jean Iris Ross Cockburn, Egyptian-born British writer, journalist, political activist, war correspondent, and film critic; in her youth she lived in Germany, where she was a cabaret singer and model who inspired the fictional character Sally Bowles in Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, later adapted into the long-running stage musical Cabaret.

1911 – Zabihollah Safa, Iranian writer, poet, historian, translator, professor, literary historian, encyclopedia writer, and leading Iranologist who has written extensively on the history of Persian literature.

1926 – Hữu Mai, award-winning Vietnamese novelist and biographer; many of his books were about war.

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

1931 – Gene Wolfe, prolific, award-winning U.S. science-fiction and fantasy novelist and short-story writer noted for his dense, allusive prose and for the strong influence of his Catholic faith.

1932 – Nonny Hogrogrian, Armenian-U.S. children’s author who was a two-time Caldecott Medal winner.

1939 – Volker Braun, German poet, playwright, novelist, and short-story writer.

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

1940 – Angela Carter, pen name for Angela Olive Pearce (formerly Carter, née Stalker), English novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist who was known for her feminist, magical realism, and picaresque works.

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

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

1950 – Moshtaque Ahmad Noori, Indian Urdu short-story writer and critic who is a respected figure in the world of Urdu literature.

1950 – Tim Russert, U.S. journalist, lawyer, broadcaster, and author best known for his 16 years of serving as moderator for NBC’s news magazine show, Meet the Press.

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

1954 – Elisabeth Rynell, Swedish screenwriter, poet, and novelist.

1957 – Sarah Mkhonza, Swazi writer, human-rights activist, lecturer, journalist, and linguist. Because her writing was critical of the authorities in Swaziland, she was ordered to stop writing; threats and assaults led her to seek political asylum in the United States.

1955 – Nguyễn Nhật Ánh, Vietnamese novelist, short-story writer, poet, teacher, and correspondent who writes for teenagers and adults and is regarded as one of Vietnam’s most successful writers for teens.

1960 – Almudena Grandes, award-winning Spanish writer, screenwriter, and journalist whose fiction is known for realism and intense psychological introspection; her novel Las edades de Lulú (The Ages of Lulu) was considered “a breakthrough for eroticism in women’s writing.”

1960 – Hisashi Nozawa, award-winning Japanese screenwriter and mystery novelist.

1964 – Elliot Perlman, Australian novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer, and barrister.

Becoming Italian, Part 3

I spoke yesterday with the genealogist who is handling the research for my Italian citizenship quest. She confirmed my eligibility and agrees that my best bet is to go through the Petrini line (though I’m also eligible through other lines).

She has already found the marriage certificate of my great grandparents Francesco and Maria Petrini. They were married in 1903 in Nocera Umbra, a town in the Perugia region of Umbria, 35 kilometers outside of Assisi. Both were born there, as well. That alone answers a question I’ve wondered about. The family always said the couple came from Santa Maria degli Angeli, just below the hill town of Assisi. But my research kept pointing to Nocera Umbra instead. Now I can prove it. I suppose it’s possible that the family lore was not wrong; the couple may have moved to Santa Maria degli Angeli after they were married. I’m hoping I can learn more about that. That same marriage certificate also confirmed which of two spellings of my great grandmother’s maiden name is the correct one.

Next, the genealogist will have to pull together documents from Italy and from various parts of the U.S. When all that is done, the documents must be translated, the Italian embassy in Washington, D.C., will have to approve the translations, and I’ll attend a meeting at the embassy to have my citizenship request approved.

If everything goes well, the process will take six months to a year, and I will be an Italian citizen, but will retain my US citizenship as well.

And here is Nocera Umbra, the actual hometown of my Petrini ancestors.

May 6 Writer Birthdays

1584 – Diego de Saavedra Fajardo, Spanish writer, playwright, essayist, satirical writer, political writer, historian, and diplomat who published the anti-Machiavellian book Empresas Políticas: Idea de un príncipe político cristiano (Political Maxims: Idea of a Christian Political Prince), written primarily for the son of King Philip IV.

1751 – François-Rodolphe de Weiss, Swiss writer, philosopher, politician, diplomat, and military leader.

1762 – Antoinette Kleyn Ockerse (also called Antonia Ockerse), Dutch poet who wrote odes and patriotic poetry; her husband Joannes Petrus Kleyn and their daughter Adelaide Geertruid Kleyn were also poets.

1775 – Mary Martha Sherwood, bestselling English writer, children’s author, novelist, and illustrator who has been called “one of the most significant authors of children’s literature of the nineteenth century.”

1809 – Juan María Gutiérrez, Argentine writer, poet, olaywright, novelist, biographer, literary critic, science writer, naturalist, mathematician, diplomat, historian, and statesperson who was a major figure in Argentine liberalism and one of the most prominent promoters of Argentine culture during the 19th century.

1823 – Elizabeth Drew Stoddard, U.S. poet, novelist, and children’s author.

1829 – Phebe Ann Coffin Hanaford, U.S. minister, writer, and biographer who was active in championing universal suffrage and women’s rights; she was the first woman ordained as a Universalist minister in New England and the first woman to serve as chaplain to the Connecticut state legislature.

1829 – Margaret Anna Cusack (also known as Sister Mary Francis Cusack and Mother Margaret), controversial Irish nationalist and writer who became an Irish Anglican nun and a Roman Catholic nun; she wrote biographies of saints and pamphlets on social issues, with more than 200,000 copies of her works circulating throughout the world.

1831 – Mary C. Ames (sometimes called Mrs. Mary Clemmer, and, after her second marriage, Mrs. Edmund Hudson, U.S. novelist, poet, columnist, and journalist; in 1871, she received $5,000 for her work, the largest salary ever paid a U.S. newspaper woman up to that time.

1848 – Lastenia Larriva y Negron de Llona, Peruvian poet, writer, and journalist who was born and died in Lima, but did most of her writing in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

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.

1879 – Bedřich Hrozný, Czech archeologist, linguist, writer, pedagogue, and orientalist who helped decipher the ancient Hittite language, identified it as an Indo-European language, and laid the groundwork for the development of Hittitology.

1880 – Winifred Mabel Brunton (née Newberry), South African painter, illustrator, author, and Egyptologist who was best known for her portraits of Egyptian pharaohs.

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

1893 – Margaret Cole, English writer, novelist, detective story author, historian, suffragette, biographer, lecturer, and politician.

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

1903 – Allan G. Odell, U.S. marketer, poet, and advertising writer best known as the Burma Shave jingle-writer.

1904 – Harry Martinson, Nobel Prize-winning Swedish sailor, author, and poet.

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

1912 – Nguyễn Huy Tưởng, award-winning Vietnamese writer, playwright, and revolutionary.

1913 – Douglas Stewart, New Zealand poet, short-story writer, essayist, and literary editor.

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

1915 – Orson Welles, U.S. 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 U.S. political journalist, best known for his series of books, “The Making of the President.”

1916 – Geneviève Callerot, French farmer and novelist; during World War II, along with her father and sister, she assisted more than 200 people in passing the demarcation line from the Nazi-occupied French territory to unoccupied Vichy France.

1918 – Henrietta Boggs, U.S.-born Costa Rican author, journalist, and activist who served as First Lady of Costa Rica who died in 2020 at the age of 102.

1918 – Gaetano Tumiati, award-winning Italian journalist, writer, novelist, essayist, editor, and literary critic.

1934 – Johnny Odd Bergh, Norwegian screenwriter, producer, and director who was a key player in the development of Norwegian television.

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

1941 – Charnvit Kasetsiri (ชาญวิทย์ เกษตรศิริ), Thai historian, writer, and professor who specializes in Thai history.

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

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

1956 – Sujata Bhatt, award-winning Indian and U.S. poet and translator whose free verse has been described as, “fast-moving, urgent with narratives, softly spoken.”

1965 – Ellen Banda-Aaku, award-winning Zambian novelist and short-story writer.

Throwback Thursday: Plane Crash

Perusing an online auction site last week, I was stunned by a photograph that suddenly appeared on the screen. It was a newspaper photographer’s photo from 1946, of a plane crash on Long Island — with my grandfather’s name in the caption! I’ve always known that he was riding in a small plane piloted by a friend when it crashed in a potato field. My mother, eight years old, witnessed the crash, along with her mother and baby sister. My grandmother had tried to convince my grandfather not to accept a plane ride with his friend, who was an inexperienced 22-year-old pilot. My grandfather should have listened. He broke his jaw, lost all of his teeth, and suffered some other injuries. Still, he was the lucky one; the pilot was paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Two Injured in Plane Crash. HICKSVILLE, N.Y. – Wreckage of light plane which crashed in Commack, L.I., seriously injuring the two persons aboard, John Swiersky, 22, and Ralph DeRicci, 31, both of Long Island. Plane took off from Hicksville Air Park. Credit Line (ACME). (That is the text from the back of the photo.)