March 27 Writer Birthdays

1770 – Eleonora Charlotta d’Albedyhll, née Wrangel, Swedish countess, poet, writer, and salon holder.

1770 – Sophie Friederike Mereau, novelist, poet, translator, publisher, and short-story writer associated with German Romanticism.

1883 – Marie Under, Estonian writer, poet, translator, and archivist who is considered one of Estonia’s greatest poets; she was nominated eight times for the Nobel Prize.

1892 – Thorne Smith, American writer of humorous supernatural fantasy fiction; notably his two Topper novels, which were considered racy inthe 1930s.

1910 – Ai Qing (艾青), Chinese writer who was regarded as one of the finest modern Chinese poets.

1914 – Budd Schulberg, American novelist and screenwriter.

1922 – Barnaby Conrad, American artist and author who was also a nightclub proprietor, bullfighter, and boxer.

1922 – Dick King-Smith, British author of children’s books whose book The Sheep-Pig was published in the United States as Babe the Gallant Pig and adapted into the popular movie Babe.

1923 – Louis Simpson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Jamaican poet.

1926 – Frank O’Hara, National Book Award-winning American poet.

1939 – Leila Kasra, Iranian writer, poet, songwriter, and lyricist .

1942 – Michael Jackson, English author and journalist who was best known for writing about beer and whisky.

1949 – Dubravka Ugrešic, Amsterdam-based Croatian novelist, short-story writer, and essayist; she is also a literary scholar, much of whose work focuses on contemporary Russian literature.

1950 – Julia Alvarez, Dominican-American novelist, poet, essayist, and children’s writer who is considered one of the world’s most important Latina writers.

1952 – Dana Stabenow, American author of science fiction, mystery and crime fiction, thrillers, and historical adventures; many of her books are set in her native Alaska.

1955 – Patrick McCabe, award-winning Irish author whose dark, violent novels are set in modern-day Ireland.

1962 – Kevin J. Anderson, American science-fiction author who has written spin-off novels for Star Wars, The X-Files, and other popular series, as well as work set in his own science-fiction worlds; with Brian Herbert, he is the co-author of the Dune prequel series. He is married to writer and sometimes writing partner Rebecca Moesta.

1966 – Bettina Balàka, award-winning Austrian novelist, poet, essayist, playwright and short story writer.

March 26 Writer Birthdays

1859 – A.E. Housman (Alfred Edward Housman), English classical scholar and poet, best known for his lyrical “A Shropshire Lad” poems, which evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside.

1819 – Louise Otto-Peters, German journalist, suffragist, and women’s rights activist who wrote novels, poetry, essays, and libretti.

1874 – Robert Frost, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet whose work is closely associated with the northern U.S. but was first published in England; known for realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, he examined complex social and political themes through observations about rural life in New England. He was also Poet Laureate of Vermont.

1904 – Joseph Campbell, American writer, professor, and lecturer who was known for his work in comparative mythology and religion.

1905 – Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist; his Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles his time in a Nazi concentration camp.

1907 – Mahadevi Verma, Hindi poet, freedom fighter, and professor; she was a major poet of the “Chhayavaad,” a literary movement of romanticism in modern Hindi poetry.

1911 – Tenessee Williams, Pen name of Thomas Lanier Williams III, creator of many classics of American drama; along with contemporaries Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered one of the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.

1930 – Gregory Nunzio Corso, American poet who was part of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers.

1931 – Leonard Nimoy, screenwriter, photographer, actor, writer, poet, musician, voice actor, film director, film producer, television actor, and film actor; he is, of course, best known for playing Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

1941 – Richard Dawkins, Kenyan-born English evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and author who is best known for his book The Selfish Gene and his outspoken views against religion.

1942 – Erica Jong, American novelist, satirist, and poet who pushed the boundaries of female sexuality with her 1973 novel Fear of Flying.

1943 – Sanmao, Taiwanese novelist, translator, screenwriter, and lyricist; her
works range from autobiographical writing, travel writing, and reflective novels, to translations of Spanish-language comic strips; she also studied philosophy and taught German.

1943 – Bob Woodward, American journalist and author who, with Carl Bernstein, did much of the investigative reporting for the Washington Post that exposed the Watergate scandal.

1952 – T.A. Barron, American author of fantasy literature for children and young adults.

1954 – Dorothy Porter, Australian writer, poet, children’s author, and librettist.

1964 – Hai Zi, pen name of the Chinese poet Zha Haisheng, one of the most famous poets in Mainland China after the Cultural Revolution; he committed suicide by lying on a rail at the age of 25, lying beside a bag containing a Bible, a book of selected stories by Joseph Conrad, Thoreau’s Walden, and Heyerdahk’s Kon-Tiki, a death now regarded as an important event in modern Chinese literature.

March 25 Writer Birthdays

1347 – Saint Catherine of Siena, a laywoman associated with the Dominican Order who was a mystic, activist, and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and the Catholic Church.

1625 – Ann Fanshawe, English memoirist and cookbook author; in her 1665 book of recipes, she published the first known written recipe for ice cream (which she called “icy cream”).

1920 – Paul Scott, Booker Award-winning British novelist, playwright, and poet.

1925 – Flannery O’Connor, American novelist, short-story writer, and essayist in the Southern Gothic style whose work often features disturbing elements, deals with questions of morality and ethics, and revolves around morally flawed characters, many of whom are disabled or interact with people with disabilities; her writing is noted for a grasp of the nuances of human behavior.

1934 – Gloria Steinem, American journalist, columnist, editor, feminist, and leader of the Women’s Liberation movement; best known as a co-founder of Ms. magazine.

1939 – Toni Cade Bambara, African-American novelist, short story writer, essayist, documentary filmmaker, professor, and civil-rights activist whose work focused on the lives of African-Americans.

1939 – D.C. Fontana (Dorothy Catherine Fontana) – screenwriter, television producer, and story editor known for her work on the original Star Trek television series; she also wrote for Star Trek, the Next Generation, Star Trek DS9, and other popular television shows, as well as writing a Star Trek novel. She used her initials because women were not commonly accepted in writing science fiction for television at the time.

1942 – Ana Blandiana, Romanian poet, essayist, journalist, children’s writer, and political figure.

1946 – Stephen Hunter, Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic and author of thrillers.

1948 – Bayyinah Bello, Haitian historian, teacher, writer and humanitarian worker.

1952 – Jung Chang, Chinese-born British writer, poet, historian, linguist, biographer, and autobiographer; she is best known for her family autobiography Wild Swans, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide but was banned in the People’s Republic of China.

1954 – Thom Loverro, American sportswriter and columnist.

1958 – Susie Bright (a.k.a. Susie Sexpert), American feminist, author, journalist, critic, editor, publisher, producer, and performer, often on the subject of sexual politics and sexuality.

1960 – Linda Sue Park, Newbery Award-winning American author of teen fiction and children’s picture books.

1964 – Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Award-winning American writer of children’s and young-adult fiction.

1965 – Melina Marchetta, Australian author, children’s writer, screenwriter, and teacher, best known for her young-adult novels.

Update to the End of High School

I posted yesterday about the Virginia governor’s announcement that schools are closed through the end of the school year. And today, it was no surprise that the high-school principal confirmed in an email to parents what I’d already assumed: that my son and other seniors will not have a graduation ceremony or prom.

I’m sure there will be many more similar announcements, as all the other milestone events are officially canceled. I am sad for our students.

March 24 Writer Birthdays

1775 – Muthuswami Dikshitar, Indian poet, author, and legendary composer of Indian classical music.

1826 – Matilda Joslyn Gage, American author, editor, journalist, lecturer, abolitionist, suffragist, and activist for women’s rights and Native American rights who ran an Underground Railroad station out of her home and wrote prolifically against oppression of all kinds; her son-in-law, Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum, called her “the most gifted and educated woman of her age.”

1834 – William Morris, influential English poet, artist, designer, and social activist who was a key figure in the Arts and Crafts movement.

1855 – Olive Schreiner, South African author, anti-war activist, and intellectual who was best known for her novel, The Story of an African Farm.

1897 – Theodora Kroeber (full name Theodora Covel Kracaw Kroeber Quinn), American writer, anthropologist, and university Regent, best known for her accounts of several Native Californian cultures; her influential book Ishi in Two Worlds was an account of the last member of the Yahi tribe of Northern California, whom her husband, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber, had befriended and studied. Her later work included a collaboration with her daughter, renowned science-fiction and fantasy author Ursula K. Le Guin.

1916 – Donald Hamilton, American writer of pulp spy fiction, crime fiction, and westerns.

1919 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti, American beat poet, painter, social activist, and founder of San Francisco’s City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

1920 – Mary Stolz, Newbery Honor-winning American author of children’s books and young-adult novels.

1923 – Michael Legat, British author of romance novels and guides for writers.

1924 – Vincent Cronin, British author of cultural histories and biography, best known for biographies of French royalty and historical work about the Renaissance; his father was the Scottish novelist A.J. Cronin.

1926 – Dario Fo, Nobel Prize-winning Italian playwright, actor, and director who “emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.”

1935 – Mary Berry, British food writer, prolific cookbook author, autobiographer, and television presenter who was one of the judges on the Great British Baking Show.

1943 – Kate (Catherine Merrial) Webb (born March 24, 1943) – New Zealand journalist and war correspondent; she was known for her fearless and tenacious reporting throughout the Vietnam War, and at one point was held prisoner by the North Vietnamese and was thought to have been killed in captivity but survived to write about the weeks-long ordeal.

1944 – Mary Balogh, Welsh-Canadian author of historical romance novels.

1949 – Tabitha King, American writer, novelist, and science-fiction writer; she is married to author Stephen King.

1970 – Erica Kennedy, African-American author, journalist, blogger, singer, and bestselling novelist.

And Just Like That, High School Is Over

I took this one at All-State Orchestra auditions a few weeks ago, before life became surreal. My son and the other auditioning violinists from his high school orchestra hung out together all day, waiting for their turns. They seemed to have a fantastic time. Jon Morgan is the one in the back.

The governor of Virginia announced today that state K-12 schools are closed for the rest of the school year. I don’t fault him for making the decision. Our schools were already closed through the end of spring break in mid-April, but anyone who thinks this global coronavirus pandemic will be over by then is, well, President Trump, who claims the virus will disappear “like a miracle.” And we all know how much his pronouncements are worth. Besides, Governor Northam is a doctor; he knows the situation better than most of us.

But I’m sad for my son. Jon Morgan is scheduled to graduate June 13, and the city school superintendent still says our seniors will graduate on time. They will have online classwork. But so much had already been canceled (most importantly, the school orchestra trip to Boston, which was supposed to take place in early April) and now I’m afraid online classes will provide all the things he doesn’t like about school, without the consolations of friends and laughter — and in his case, music.

He says he doesn’t mind never going back to high school. He has been suffering from extreme senioritis and was feeling so ready to move on. I understand being sick and tired of the classes and the routine. But now he’ll miss out on so much more than that:

  • The three-week Senior Experience program in May, when he was planning to volunteer as an assistant to George Washington Middle School orchestra director.
  • Senior prom with his girlfriend.
  • His final T.C. Williams High School orchestra concert, the one with special recognition for all the graduating seniors.
  • Most likely his final Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra concert — which is a shame, since the group was supposed to premiere a movement of the first symphony he’s composed for full orchestra
  • The premiere of another classical orchestra piece he’s composing now, one he was commissioned to write for the Francis Hammond Middle School orchestra to perform at its spring concert.
  • His final Northern Virginia District and Virginia State Reflections awards presentation.
  • Getting his yearbook at school and having friends and teachers sign it.
  • The All-Night Grad Party.
  • And, most iconic of all, his high-school graduation ceremony, which I assume will have to be canceled.

Maybe the worst is that he won’t be able to just hang out with his friends. It’s not like a snow day when they can get together to watch movies, drink hot chocolate, complain about teachers, and speculate about which colleges they’ll attend. The last part of senior year was supposed to be their time, what they’ve been working for all these years, and they deserve the chance to celebrate it together.

Jon Morgan and his girlfriend Kat went to the Winter Formal together, but now there will not be a Senior Prom.

The more I think about it, the more I’m grieving for what he has lost, even though it hasn’t hit him yet. I grieve for what they’ve all lost. My husband and I have been actively involved with his school orchestras for years, and we have gotten to know all of the talented, vibrant kids he performs with. They don’t deserve this.

Of course, it’s the right decision. We’re talking about the possibility of millions of people dying, and that has to take priority over wearing a cap and gown and going to parties and concerts. But our kids should have been allowed to be kids for just a few months more.

March 23 Writer Birthdays

1814 – Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda y Arteaga, Cuban-born Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright who sometimes used the pseudonym La Peregrina (The Pilgrim); her most famous work is the antislavery novel Sab, about a slave who is deeply in love with his mistress Carlota, who is entirely oblivious to his feelings for her.

1881 – Roger Martin du Gard, Nobel Prize-winning French author lauded “for the artistic power and truth with which he has depicted human conflict as well as some fundamental aspects of contemporary life.”

1882 – Amalie Emmy Noether (better known as Emmy Noether), German mathematician and writer who made important contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics.

1910 – Akira Kurosawa, Japanese film director and screenwriter who is considered one of the most important and influential figures in the history of filmmaking.

1912 – Eleanor Cameron, National Book Award-winning American librarian, critic, essayist, and children’s author, best known for The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, and for her criticism of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which she found tasteless, sadistic, and phony overall, as well as racist in its original depiction of the Oompa-Loompas; descriptions and pictures of them were revised for later editions, possibly as a result of her criticism.

1947 – Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Nebula Award-winning American author of science-fiction and fantasy novels and short stories who frequently collaborated with author Anne McCaffrey; she is also a registered nurse.

1942 – Ama Ata Aidoo (née Christina Ama Aidoo), Ghanaian novelist, playwright, short-story writer, professor, and Minister of Education; her work, written in English, emphasizes the paradoxical position of the modern African woman; some sources list her birth year as 1940. She is considered one of Africa’s greatest writers.

1943 – Winston Francis Groom, Jr., American novelist and nonfiction writer, best known for his book Forrest Gump, which was adapted into a wildly popular film.

1950 – Ahdaf Soueif, Egyptian novelist, essayist, nonfiction writer, and political and cultural commentator; in her works, she focuses on Egyptian history and politics and also writes about Palestinians.

1951 – Plantu (pen name for Jean Plantureux), French cartoonist, political satirist, and sculptor.

1952 – Kim Stanley Robinson, American author of science-fiction and fantasy books and short stories, best known for his Mars trilogy; a winner of Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, he has produced work that the Atlantic calls “the gold-standard of realistic, and highly literary, science-fiction writing,” and he has been called by The New Yorker, “one of the greatest living science-fiction writers.”

1960 – Yoko Tawada, award-winning Japanese writer, novelist, essayist, playwright, Germanist, and literary scholar who is based in Germany and writes in both Japanese and German.

1968 – Mitch Cullin, American novelist, poet, and short-story writer who lives in both the United States and Japan.

1972 – Judith Godrèche, French screenwriter, director, actress, and novelist.

March 22 Writer Birthdays

1712 – Edward Moore, English dramatist and poet.

1771 – Heinrich D. Zschokke, German/Swiss author and reformer.

1846 – Randolph Caldecott, British artist and illustrator; influential in children’s book art; the Caldecott Medal is named for him.

1901 – Gabrielle Roy, influential and critically acclaimed French-Canadian author.

1908 – Louis L’Amour, popular novelist of the American West.

1908 – Albrecht Goes, German poet, author, and theologian.

1910 – Nicholas Montserrat, British author of sea stories inspired by his time the Royal Naval Reserve.

1911 – Jack Popplewell, British author, playwright, songwriter, and rhubarb farmer.

1922 – Stewart Stern, Emmy Award-winning American screenwriter; twice Oscar-nominated, he was best known for the James Dean film Rebel Without a Cause.

1930 – Stephen Sondheim, Tony Award-winning American lyricist, best known for West Side Story.

1931 – Igor Hajek, Czech writer, editor, and translator.

1931 – William Shatner, actor, starship captain, and author of the TekWar series of science-fiction books.

1931 – Leslie Thomas, major Welsh-born British author, journalist, and autobiographer.

1941 – Billy Collins, poet, professor, and U.S. Poet Laureate; the New York Times once called him, “the most popular poet in America.”

1946 – Rudy Rucker, American science-fiction author, mathematician, and computer scientist; one of the founders of cyberpunk fiction.

1947 – James Patterson, popular author of bestselling adult thrillers and young-adult novels.

1948 – Wolf Blitzer, German-born, U.S.-based journalist, author, and television news anchor who has also worked in Israel.

March 21 Writer Birthdays

1893 – Geoffrey Dearmer, British poet whose works dealt with the brutality of war.

1902 – William Downie Forrest, Scottish journalist, editor, and war correspondent.

1905 – Phyllis McGinley, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of children’s books and poetry.

1919 – Geoffrey Pinnington, British reporter and editor.

1928 – Peter Hacks, German playwright, author, and essayist.

1929 – Jules Bergman, broadcast writer and journalist; science editor for ABC News, he is most remembered for coverage of the U.S. space program.

1934 – Ved Mehta, Hindu author and magazine writer who lost his eyesight as a child but went on to write novels, nonfiction, travel books, nonfiction books, and an autobiography.

1935 – Hubert Fichte, award-winning German novelist, essayist, and journalist.

1936 – Margaret Mahy, New Zealand author of children’s and young-adult fantasy books.

1953 – David Wisniewski, Caldecott Medal-winning American children’s author and illustrator.

1981 – Lauren Kate, bestselling author of adult and young-adult novels, especially known for historical fiction.

Update From the Land of Social Distancing

“Within Mother Nature, by Katie J., 11th grade. This won 1st Place in the Northern Virginia District PTA Reflections contest, and went on to win 1st Place (the Award for Outstanding Interpretation of Theme) in the state.

It’s the end of the first week of The End of Life as We Know It, as we all try to adjust to our new, Coronavirus-induced reality. Everything is weird and tense and depressing, but you already know that.

Virginia does not yet have a statewide order to close businesses, but many have closed anyway; those that are open are not allowed to have more than 10 customers in the place at a time, and restaurants can do takeout only. Even if I wanted to go out, there aren’t a lot of places to go. And, of course, we’re all being told to stay away from people outside our own families, as much as possible. So I have been sticking close to home, where we are limited to our own, familiar germs.

I’m not going stir-crazy yet. But I saw too much news yesterday and am staying away from it today. (Note to self: avoid future presidential press conferences or risk breaking the TV when I give in to the compulsion to throw hammers at that lying orange face.) Breaking the TV would be unfortunate. We have been binge-watching Outlander. My teenager says it’s an educational show, teaching him all about Scottish history and sex.

I am keeping busy putting together information and copies of Reflections art contest entries for a local newspaper editor who has realized schools being closed means no material for his student art page! He appealed to me for Reflections contest student art, and I’ve been sending artwork and other info for the last couple days, glad for the publicity, especially since the April 16 awards show I’m planning will likely never happen. And yesterday I used disinfectant wipes on my Little Free Library and everything in it, having decided for now to keep it open for now but clean it often and stop accepting book donations. Yes, it tells you something, that the big excitement of my day involved cleaning something. But the neighbors seem grateful.

The artwork on this page is the 1st Place High School winner in the Visual Arts category of the Northern Virginia District PTA Reflections contest. It was featured today in the Fairfax Times, too, a result of my frantic efforts to compile and submit artwork.

Bob is teleworking some days and going into the office on others. He’s home today, but for most of the day he has been in his office in the basement (we keep him down there as much as possible) so I see him only when he comes up for coffee. Jon Morgan will be out of school at least until the end of spring break in mid-April, but I’m assuming that will be extended, possibly through the end of the school year. No word on how that will affect his graduation in June. He is in his room now and claims to be working on Latin, but I’m pretty sure he has spent most of the day (and week) playing video games and texting his girlfriend. His best friend is home from college and is perplexed when Jon Morgan says he can’t go see him. Apparently he is oblivious to the whole “social distancing” thing, though my son seems to get it and so far is cooperating.

Everyone stay safe!