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.)

May 5 Writer Birthdays

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

1739 – Đuro Ferić, Croatian poet, translator, and Jesuit vicar.

1797 – Hippolyte-Louis Guérin de Litteau, French poet and writer whose poetry inspired many composers during the Second French Empire and the French Third Republic.

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.

1834 – Emily Rebecca Page, American poet, prose writer, and editor.

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

1841 – Kristofer Janson, Norwegian writer, poet, journalist, and clergyman who is commonly recognized as the founder of the Norwegian Unitarian Church.

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.

1864 – Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, Indian Hindi writer, poet, translator, and editor; the second phase of the Modern Period in Hindi literature is called Dwivedi Yug, in his honor.

1865 – Helen Maud Merrill (pen name Samantha Spriggins), U.S. writer, poet, songwriter, humor writer, and editor.

1892 – Ahmad Javad, Azerbaijani poet, writer, editor, teacher, and professor who is most remembered for writing the words of the National Anthem of Azerbaijan.

1893 – Ivo Pelay (born Guillermo Juan Robustiano Pichot), Argentine playwright, journalist, radio writer, songwriter, lyricist, and theater manager who was one of Argentina’s most prolific playwrights of the early 20th century; he is best known for his 1925 nationalist dramedy, La canción de los barrios (Song of the Streets). While most of his plays were satires or straight comedies, he also wrote popular local musicals, which helped popularize the tango style of music.

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 U.S. poet who was called “a modern stylist with romantic sensibilities.”

1906 – Louise Aslanian, Iranian, Armenian, and 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.

1907 – Iryna Vilde (real name Daryna Dmytrivna Polotniuk, née Makohon), Ukranian and Soviet writer and correspondent; her works are now considered classics of Ukrainian literature.

1909 – George Claessen, Sri Lankan artist and poet whose art was inspired by his mystical outlook and beliefs; he was a founding member of the Colombo ’43 Group school of modern art.

1914 – Mehdi Hamidi Shirazi, Iranian writer, poet, translator, and university professor.

1917 – Robert Bloch, U.S. 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 U.S. children’s author and illustrator whose characters are anthropomorphic animals.

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

1921 – Mavis Lilian Batey, English author and historian of gardening who campaigned to save historic parks and gardens; during World War II, she left college and became one of the leading codebreakers at Bletchley Park.

1932 – Aleksandra Andreevna Antonova, award-winning Russian Sámi teacher, writer, poet, fiction writer, textbook author, and translator; she was instrumental in formulating the official Kildin Sámi written language.

1932 – Mavjuda Hakimova, award-winning Tajikistan and Soviet poet, playwright, and children’s writer who is sometimes known simply as Mavjuda. Much of her work combines the conventions of Persian poetry with standard Soviet ideals, and deals with themes of love and nature; in the 1970s, she turned to writing plays, depicting daily life in Tajikistan in the post-Stalin era. She also wrote two volumes of poetry for children.

1937 – Joseph Lelyveld, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. 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.

1946 – Akhudiat, award-winning Indonesian writer, poet, playwright, and lecturer.

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

1952- Hafsat Abdulwaheed, Nigerian writer, poet, and women’s rights activist who was the first female Hausa writer from Northern Nigeria to have written a published novel.

1955 – Roni Margulies, Turkish writer, poet, author, translator, journalist, and political activist.

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.

1958 – Ras Nas (also known as Nasibu Mwanukuzi), Tanzanian poet, musician, journalist, and magazine writer who blends African music and reggae with a dash of poetry.

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 U.S. science-fiction and fantasy novelist, poet, essayist, short-story writer, nonfiction writer, and literary critic; her novel The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making was the first online, crowdfunded book to win a major literary award before traditional publication.

May 4 Writer Birthdays

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

1749 – Charlotte Turner Smith, English Romantic poet, novelist, and children’s writer who initiated a revival of the English sonnet, helped establish the conventions of Gothic fiction, and wrote political novels of sensibility; scholars credit her with transforming the sonnet into an expression of woeful sentiment.

1793 – Dorothea Primrose Campbell, Scottish Shetland poet, novelist, short-story writer, and teacher whose melodic and whimsical poems and works of fiction are regarded as revealing works of English literature, containing themes about historical and societal barriers.

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.

1853 – Marie Robinson Wright, prominent U.S. travel writer whose books focused on Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Mexico.

1859 – Julia de Asensi, Spanish journalist, translator, author, and children’s writer.

1866 – Lucie Faure-Goyau, French writer, poet, traveler, and woman of letters.

1900 – Meta Davis Cumberbatch, Trinidadian poet, playwright, pianist, composer, and cultural activist who spent most of her life in The Bahamas, where she became known as the “Mother of the Arts.”

1903 – Hu Yepin, Chinese writer, poet, and playwright who was a prominent member of the League of Left-Wing Writers and one of the Five Martyrs of the Left League, executed in 1931 by the Kuomintang government; he was husband of the celebrated writer Ding Ling, who was also a member of the Left League.

1905 – Boris J. Kochanowsky, Russian-born U.S. memoirist who was forced to flee Russia for Germany during the Revolution, and then had to flee Germany for the United States to escape Nazi persecution.

1907 – Lucy Walker (pseudonym for Dorothy Lucie Sanders), prolific Australian romance novelist and teacher.

1912 – Elvi Aulikki Sinervo, award-winning Finnish poet and author.

1914 – Toshihiko Izutsu, Japanese professor and author of many books on Islam and other religions; he was fluent in more than 30 languages.

1916 – Jane Jacobs, U.S. and 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.”

1917 – Nicomedes “Nick” Márquez Joaquín, Filipino novelist, poet, short-story writer, and journalist who wrote in English; he also wrote using the pen name Quijano de Manila.

1921 – Suzanne Marie Adèle Beauclerk (Duchess of St Albans, née Fesq, and also known as Suzanne St Albans), Malaysian-born British writer, biographer, autobiographer, and painter.

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.

1935 – Dalip Kaur Tiwana, award-winning Indian Punjabi novelist, and short-story writer, and professor.

1937 – Göran Tunström, Swedish author, poet, and translator with a style that was personal and intimate, with a clear autobiographical tone.

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

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

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

1945 – Sylviane Agacinski-Jospin, French author, philosopher, and professor; her husband, Lionel Jospin, is a former Prime Minister of France.

1947 – Marele Day, award-winning Australian author of mystery novels.

1949 – Ágústína Jónsdóttir, Icelandic writer, artist, and educator.

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

1953 – Yacouba Konaté, Ivorian writer, art critic, curator, and professor.

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

1963 – Maria Evangelina Leonel Gandolfo (known as Vange Leonel), Brazilian novelist, journalist, playwright, singer-songwriter, rhythm guitarist, feminist and LGBT activist, and beer sommelier.

1963 – Vera Anatolyevna Pavlova, Russian poet, music historian, librettist, and lyricist.

1967 – Justin D. Fox, South African author, photojournalist, lecturer, and editor.

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

1969 – Ben Mutua Jonathan Muriithi (born Jonathan Nyaga, and often known simply as BMJ), Kenyan-born, U.S.-based print, radio and television journalist.

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

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.

1533 – Cheng Dawei, Chinese writer and mathematician who is known as “the most illustrious Chinese arithmetician,” mainly because he was the author of Suanfa Tongzong (General Source of Computational Methods).

1829 – Ellen Elizabeth Ellis, English-born New Zealand feminist and writer.

1843 – Edward Dowden, Irish critic, biographer, and poet, noted for his critical work on Shakespeare.

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, U.S. novelist who was also a newspaper and magazine editor.

1854 – Joan Alcover, Spanish writer, poet, essayist, and politician.

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

1860 – Emily Coungeau, prolific English-born Australian poet, writer, and librettist.

1865 – Martha Margaret Mildred Simpson, Irish pedagogist, lecturer, and writer who pioneered new education methods in Australia, including kindergarten education, supervised playgrounds, and hospital schools.

1870 – Octavio Cordero Palacios, Ecuadorian writer, lawyer, poet, professor, inventor, mathematician, and translator.

1873 – Nini Roll Anker, Norwegian novelist and playwright whose books often concerned the lives of women within different social classes, as well as the women’s rights movement and the rights of the working class.

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

1898 – Septima Poinsette Clark, U.S. African-American educator, civil-rights activist, and autobiographer who developed the literacy and citizenship workshops that played an important role in the drive for voting rights and civil rights for African Americans. She became known as the Queen Mother or the Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, but Martin Luther King Jr. commonly referred to her as “The Mother of the Movement.” Clark wrote two autobiographies; the first, Echo In My Soul, is a combination of her life story, her work at the Highlander Folk School, and her views about the Jim Crow laws and the legitimacy of the Civil Rights Movement, while her second autobiography, Ready from Within, recollects her own life experiences.

1898 – Golda Meir (born Golda Mabovitch), Ukrainian-born Israeli politician, teacher, author, and autobiographer who was the first woman Prime Minister of Israel; she has been described as the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics.

1902 – Mircea Gesticone, award-winning Romanian novelist and poet.

1903 – László Jávor, Hungarian poet who wrote the poem that was the basis for the jazz standard “Gloomy Sunday,” composed by Rezso Seress and later recorded by Billie Holiday.

1907 – Harvey Earl Wilson, U.S. journalist, gossip columnist, and author,

1912 – May Sarton (pen name for Eleanore Marie Sarton), Belgian-born U.S. poet, novelist, and memoirist.

1913 – William Motter Inge, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. playwright and novelist whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. In the early 1950s he had a string of memorable Broadway productions, including Picnic, Come Back Little Sheba, and Bus Stop.

1914 – Itsuo Tsuda, influential Korean-born Japanese philosopher, author, and teacher of aikido and Seitai.

1917 – Betty Comden, U.S. 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.

1929 – Jahanara Imam, Indian Bangladeshi writer and political activist; for her efforts to bring those accused of committing war crimes in the Bangladesh Liberation War to trial, she has been called “Shaheed Janani” (Mother of Martyrs).

1931 – Hamlet Bareh Ngapkynta, Indian writer, historian, and film director who was the first person from the Khasi tribe, an indigenous ethic group of the state, to secure a doctoral degree; he also made the first feature film in the Khasi language, Ka Synjuk Ri ki Laiphew Syiem (The Alliance of Thirty Kings).

1935 – Sujatha, pen name of S. Rangarajan, prolific Indian Tamil writer of novels, short stories, books on science, plays, columns, and poetry; he was one of the most popular authors in Tamil literature.

1937 – Mohammad Hoghooghi, Iranian poet, author, and critic; his book Modern Poetry, From Beginning Until Today is one of the leading encyclopedic sources on modern Iranian poetry.

1944 – Twins Seven Seven (born Omoba Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki), Nigerian painter, sculptor, writer, dancer, and musician who was one of the best known artists of the Osogbo School.

1947 – Aino Hivand, Norwegian-Sami visual artist and children’s book writer with an expressionist and abstract style.

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

1948 – Leslie Marmon Silko, U.S. Native American novelist, poet, and essayist who is a Laguna Pueblo Indian and one of the key figures in the First Wave the Native American Renaissance.

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

1955 – Hailji, South Korean writer and poet whose series of “Racetrack” novels created controversy in Korea; many of his works have been made into movies or plays, making him a key figure in the development of modern Korean cinema.

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, as well as a sequel to Phantom of the Opera.

1962 – Shukri Mabkhout, Tunisian writer, academic, and literary critic

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

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

1977 – Maryam Mirzakhani (Persian: مریم میرزاخانی), award-winning Iranian mathematician, researcher, writer, and professor whose research topics included Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry; in 2005, she was honored as part of Popular Science‘s fourth annual “Brilliant 10,” as one of the top 10 young minds who have pushed their fields in innovative directions.

May 2 Writer Birthdays

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

1437 – Filippo Buonaccorsi, Italian humanist, writer, poet, biographer, and diplomat who fled to Poland in 1468 after taking part in a supposed assassination attempt upon Pope Paul II; in his writings, he argued for the strengthening of the king’s power at the expense of the aristocracy. He also went, at times, by the names Callimico, Caeculus, Bonacursius, and Philippus Callimachus Experiens.

1551 – William Camden, leading English author, historian, topographer, and herald, best known as the author of Britannia, the first chorographical survey of the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, and the Annales, the first detailed historical account of the reign of Elizabeth I of England.

1721 – Peter Pavel Glavar, Slovenian writer, school and library founder, businessman, and beekeeper who was also a Carniolan Roman Catholic priest,

1729 – Catherine the Great (Yekaterina Alexeevna, born Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg), Prussian-born Empress of Russia who presided over Russia’s Golden Age; she 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, prolific novelist, entrepreneur, and political and social commentator; he has been called the first political novelist in the English language, because he was the first whose fiction dealt with issues of the Industrial Revolution.

1813 – Caroline Leigh Gascoigne, British novelist, poet, and short-story writer.

1823 – Emma Hardinge Britten, English author, orator, autobiographer, and speechwriter who was an advocate for the early Modern Spiritualist Movement; her books Modern American Spiritualism and Nineteenth Century Miracles are detailed accounts of the history of early Modern Spiritualism.

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.

1839 – Annie E. Ridley, British novelist who wrote books about women’s education and a science book for children, as well as being the governor of London’s Camden School for Girls.

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.

1870 – Elisa Brătianu, Romanian writer, political figure, garden designer, cultural preservationist, and library founder; during the Second Balkan War, she established an ambulance service to assist cholera patients who had participated in the Bulgarian campaign, and converted rooms in her home into hospital barracks. She is remembered for her work to preserve traditional Romanian handicrafts by teaching needlework and by collecting and publishing traditional patterns.

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, U.S. actress, journalist, and iconic gossip columnist.

1890 – E.E. Smith, U.S. food engineer and early science-fiction author; he was known as the father of space opera.

1891 – Lene Voigt (born Helene Wagner), German writer and poet; although some of her early work used standard “Hochdeutsch” German, she is better remembered today for her prose and poetry written in the Saxon dialect.

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

1897 – Willemijn Posthumus-van der Goot (pen name Peggy Vlug), Dutch writer, economist, book author, feminist, radio broadcaster, and resistance fighter; as the first woman to attain a doctorate in economics in The Netherlands, her work focused on the impact of working women on the economy, refuting government claims that there was no benefit to women working outside the home. During World War II, she worked with the Dutch resistance to smuggle Jewish children out of Amsterdam and place them with foster families, work for which she and her husband and sister were in 2008 honored by the government of Israel as Righteous Among Nations.

1898 – Rodolfo Tálice, Uruguayan writer, mycologist, ecologist, politician, and professor of medicine.

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

1906 – Aileen Muriel Riggin (also known as Aileen Soule and Aileen Riggin Soule), U.S. competition swimmer, diver, journalist, columnist, author, coach, and actor. She was the Olympic champion in springboard diving in 1920 and U.S. national springboard diving champion from 1923 to 1925, and continued to swim into old age, breaking six world records for her age group in her 80s, and eleven national records and five world records in her 90s. She wrote books about swimming and became a successful sports journalist and newspaper columnist.

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

1924 – Jamaluddin Abro (also known as Jamal Abro), Pakistani Sindhi short-story writer.

1928 – Foyez Ahmad, award-winning Bangladeshi journalist, poet, politician, and cultural activist.

1931 – Martha Grimes, U.S. 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.

1948 – Bode Sowande, Nigerian writer and dramatist, known for the theatric aesthetic of his plays about humanism and social change; he is a member of the second generation of Nigerian playwrights, who favor a much more political tone in their writing and seek to promote an alliance to a change in the status quo and fate of the common people.

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

1961 – Lisa Bellear, award-winning Indigenous Australian writer, poet, playwright, comedian, photographer, broadcaster, and activist whose work explored the experiences of Aboriginal people in contemporary society.

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

May 1 Writer Birthdays

1503 – Celio Secondo Curione (Latin form Caelius Secundus Curio), influential Italian humanist, grammarian, editor, historian, and professor who was a major figure in the Italian Reformation.

1527 – Johannes Stadius, Belgian writer, scientist, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, and university teacher who was one of the important late 16th-century makers of ephemerides, which gave the positions of astronomical objects in the sky at a given time.

1591 – Johann Adam Schall von Bell, German writer, astronomer, mathematician, translator, and Jesuit who spent most of his life as a missionary in China (where he is remembered as “Tang Ruowang”) and became an adviser to the Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing dynasty.

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

1751 – Judith Sargent Murray, U.S. essay writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, and influential advocate for women’s rights; among many other influential pieces, her landmark essay “On the Equality of the Sexes” paved the way for new thoughts and ideas from other feminist writers.

1783 – Vicente Rocafuerte, Ecuadorian writer, diplomat, and politician who served as the President of Ecuador.

1800 – Carlo Marenco, Italian writer and playwright of the Romantic school; he was known for his elegant style, his sentimental tragedies, and his lifelike characters. Much of his work drew inspiration from Dante.

1811 – Andreas Laskaratos, Greek satirical poet and writer of the Heptanese School of literature; he was excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church because his satire targeted prominent church members.

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

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

1856 – K. Langloh Parker (pen name of Catherine Eliza Somerville Stow), Australian writer who is best known for recording the stories of the Ualarai Aboriginal people.

1856 – Raphaël Rafiringa (born Firinga), Malagasy writer and missionary who has been beatified by the Roman Catholic church.

1864 – Anna Bøe, Norwegian journalist who cofounder the women’s magazine Urd and served as its editor for 37 years.

1867 – Mary Rice Phelps, U.S. African-American teacher and writer who began her teaching career at 13 years old.

1869 – Minna Wettstein-Adelt, German and French journalist, writer, and novelist who was a proponent of extending female emancipation to the working class; she also wrote under the names Aimée Duc and Helvetia. Some of her groundbreaking work included an experiment in which she worked with women at four factories and wrote about her experiences, paying attention to issues of birth control, sexual harassment, prostitution, and the burden of working women with families, though her main recommendation was that her readers become factory supervisors instead of laborers. Her pseudonymously published 1901 novel Are They Women portrays a group of “independent, intellectually driven, same-sex loving female medical students” in Switzerland, and centers on a lesbian relationship.

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

1888 – Millicent Sylvia Armstrong, Australian playwright and farmer who wrote primarily about country life in early 20th-century Australia.

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

1901 – Sterling A. Brown, U.S. African-American poet, folklorist, and critic.

1901 – Antal Szerb, Hungarian writer, poet, translator, university teacher, literary critic, and literary historian who is considered to be one of the major Hungarian writers of the 20th century.

1902 – Ken Kuronuma, Japanese writer, screenwriter, novelist, translator, science-fiction author, and composer; he gained wide acclaim as the writer of the classic monster movie, Giant Monster of the Sky: Rodan (Sora no Daikaiju: Rodan), but his next film, Rodan with Varan the Unbelievable, was so unpopular that it nearly destroyed his career. He also wrote scripts for one of Japan’s first science fiction series, Undersea Man 8823, and helped compose the music for it.

1904 – M.P. Paul (Menacherry Poulose Paul) Indian Malayalam academic, educationist, scholar, and literary critic who was a key literary critic of Malayalam literature.

1905 – Maria José Dupré (also known as Sra. Leandro Dupré), award-winning Brazilian novelist and short-story writer who was one of the most popular and prolific Brazilian writers of the 1940s and 1950s; her work has been adapted multiple times for telenovelas.

1905 – Edna May Hull van Vogt, Canadian author and science-fiction writer who published under the name E. Mayne Hull; she was married to science-fiction writer A.E. van Vogt.

1908 – Niccolo Tucci, Swiss and Italian author of autobiographical fiction.

1910 – Nejdet Sançar, Turkish author, magazine writer, and literature teacher who became one of the prominent personalities of the Pan-Turkist ideology.

1912 – Tugelbay Sydykbekov, award-winning Kyrgyzstani writer, poet, politician, and artist who was known as the “patriarch of Kyrgyz literature.”

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

1915 – Khin Myo Chit (born Khin Mya), award-winning Burmese author, short-story writer, editor, poet, travel writer, autobiographer, and journalist.

1916 – Marguerite Lazarus (née Jackson), award-winning British writer who wrote children’s fiction as Marguerite J. Gascoigne and romance novels as Anna Gilbert.

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

1921 – Vladimir Colin, award-winning Romanian writer, poet, translator, essayist, journalist, publisher, children’s writer, linguist, translator, comic-book writer, fantasy author, and science-fiction writer who is one of the most important fantasy and science-fiction authors in Romanian literature.

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

1927 – Morio Kita, pen name of Sokichi Saito, Japanese novelist, essayist, screenwriter, children’s writer, and psychiatrist.

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

1929 – Tamar Bornstein-Lazar, Israeli children’s writer who is best known for her book series featuring the monkeys Kofiko and Chipopo.

1931 – Jamshid Giunashvili, award-winning Iranian-born Georgian writer, academic, linguist, Iranologist, researcher, author, and diplomat who served as the first ambassador of Georgia to Iran.

1931 – Elsie Gunborg Johansson, Swedish writer and children’s author who is sometimes considered a proletarian writer.

1939 – María Victoria Moreno, Spanish writer and teacher who was a pioneer of literature for children and young people in Galician.

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

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

1947 – Marilar Aleixandre, Spanish Galician writer, translator, children’s author, and biologist.

1947 – Adame Ba Konaré, Malian writer, author, publisher, historian, and professor who is the former First Lady of Mali and an outspoken feminist who wrote The Dictionary of Famous Women of Mali and other books about African history, and founded one of the few women’s museums in Africa.

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

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

1950 – Werewere Liking, award-winning Cameroon-born writer, novelist, playwright, and performer based in Côte d’Ivoire; she established the Ki-Yi Mbock theatre troupe and founded the Ki-Yi village for the artistic education of young people.

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

1951 – Kerttu Maarit Kirsti Vuolab, Finnish Sámi author, illustrator, translator and songwriter, who has made it her life mission to ensure that the Sámi oral tradition, language, and culture are passed on to future generations of Sámi.

1956 – Aravind Malagatti, prominent, award-winning Indian Dalit poet, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, critic, and folklorist who writes in Kannada.

1958 – Jelka Godec Schmidt, Slovenian writer, illustrator, and children’s author.

1959 – Yasmina Reza, French screenwriter, playwright, novelist, translator, linguist, and actress; many of her brief, satiric plays reflect on contemporary middle-class issues.

1962 – Yoon Dae-nyeong, award-winning South Korean novelist, short-story writer, and poet who captures the ethos and sensibilities of Korean people during the 1990s.

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

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

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

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

1989 – Khrystyna Koslovska, Ukrainian writer, poet, and journalist.

Is Grammar Out of Style?

I have a Master’s degree in writing and a Bachelor’s degree in English. I’ve written more than two dozen books, and I’ve edited others. I’ve been a newspaper and magazine editor. Grammar and spelling are important to me. Are they no longer important to our society as a whole?

I saw an online post recently in which a high-school English teacher corrected a student’s grammar in class. He complained about it to her, in a disrespectful manner. It seemed clear to me that the teacher was just doing her job, and the student was out of line. But most of the readers who commented sided with the student, saying it was rude for the teacher to correct him at all!

I’ve read on various occasions lately that pointing out spelling and grammatical errors is elitist, that expecting others to conform to such rules discriminates against those who went to poor schools, and that it is cruel to value correct usage over an individual’s right to self-expression. When did this become acceptable? Does good writing not matter anymore? When did appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation go out of style?

April 30 Author Birthdays

1331 – Gaston Fébus (also spelled Phoebus), French count who was one of the most renowned hunters of his day. His book Livre de chasse (Book of the Hunt), the classic treatise on Medieval hunting, has been described as “one of the most influential texts of its era”; it records different stages of hunting various animals, describes animal behavior, offers advice to less well-off gentry about how to enjoy hunting without bankrupting themselves, and is even sympathetic to the peasant poacher, because he too has the hunting instinct. Fébus was also known as Gaston III, Count of Foix and Viscount of Béarn (as Gaston X).

1523 – Alonso de Góngora Marmolejo, Spanish conquistador, writer, and historian who chronicled the early conquest and settlement of Chile and the start of the Arauco War. His book Historia de Todas las Cosas que han Acaecido en el Reino de Chile y de los Que lo Han Gobernado (History of All the Things that Have happened in the Kingdom of Chile and of Those Who Had Governed It) is significant to historians because it was based on his own personal witnessing of the events and on reports of others who witnessed them, and because of his attempts to show all sides.

1704 – Jean Adam (or Adams), working-class Scottish poet whose best-known work is “There’s Nae Luck Aboot The Hoose,” a tale of a sailor’s wife and the safe return of her husband from the sea, a work admired by national poet Robert Burns; nonetheless, her poems did not sell well, forced her to turn first to teaching and then to domestic labor.
She died penniless in Glasgow’s Town’s Hospital poorhouse at the age of sixty.

1830 – Sardar Ghulam Muhammad Khan Tarzi, Afghan Pashtun poet, scholar, soldier, politician, and military leader.

1850 – Ieronim Ieronimovich Yasinsky, Russian novelist, poet, journalist, literary critic, translator, essayist, and science-fiction author; among the numerous pseudonyms he used were Maxim Belinsky, Nezavisimy (The Independent One), and M. Tchunosov.

1864 – Juhan Liiv, Estonian writer, teacher, and journalist who was also one of Estonia’s greatest poets.

1866 – Augusta Klein (also known, using her mother’s maiden name, as Augusta Kirby), English author and travel writer.

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

1883 – Annie O’Meara de Vic Beamish, Irish author, playwright, and translator who wrote under the names John Bernard and Noel de Vic Beamish; she also taught English at a Berlitz school in Cannes, and founded several schools of language in Europe. She was a friend of playwright Samuel Beckett and inspired the character “Old Miss McGlone” in his play Krapp’s Last Tape. Beamish was considered a local character, wearing men’s clothing, going by the name Noel, and using a monocle for reading.

1883 – Jaroslav Hašek, Czech novelist, humorist, satirist, journalist, and bohemian; his best known work, the World War I novel The Fate of the Good Soldier Švejk — an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier, which satirizes the ineptitude of authority figures — has been translated into 60 languages, making it the most translated novel in Czech literature.

1886 – Jadwiga Vuyk (née Jadwiga Reich Rosenblatt), Polish-born Dutch art historian, writer, and art dealer who is known for her publications about the Dutch Masters.

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

1907 – Nadezhda Abramova (also spelled Nadzieya Abramava), Belarusian nationalist writer, doctor, and politician who was the founder of the Union of Belarusian Youth.

1909 – Theresa Wallach, English motorcyclist, adventurer, engineer, mechanic, and author. In 1935, with Florence Blenkiron, another experienced motorcyclist, she rode a 600cc single-cylinder Panther motorcycle from London to Cape Town, South Africa, crossing the Sahara desert, reportedly without a compass; the 13,500-mile journey took nearly eight months; Wallach captured their exploits in her book The Rugged Road. In 2003, she was inaugurated into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

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

1911 – Clara Kathleen “Kay” Smith, award-winning Canadian poet who published her first poem at the age of 14.

1913 – Edith Fowke, award-winning Canadian folklorist, author, and radio host who is particularly noted for recording folk songs of traditional singers.

1919 – Åke Hodell, Swedish author, poet, book publisher, graphic artist, painter, composer, and fighter pilot.

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

1926 – Taeko Kono, highly influential Japanese novelist, essayist, playwright, short-story writer, and literary critic whose work often dealt with dark themes, and who was one of Japan’s most important writers of the 20th century and a leading presence in Japan’s literary establishment; her work has been described as “lucidly intelligent,” and she has been called “one of the truly original voices of the twentieth century, beyond questions of gender or even nationality.” She is known to readers in English mostly through the collection of short stories Toddler-Hunting and Other Stories, which draws together some of her best writing from the 1960s.

1926 – Ángel A. Rama, Uruguayan writer, academic, and literary critic who was known for his work on modernismo and for his theorization of the concept of transculturation.

1926 – Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo, São Toméan poet, writer, and politician from (São Tomé and Príncipe is an African island nation close to the equator); she wrote in Portuguese.

1932 – Umar Kayam, Indonesian sociologist, writer, actor, and politician.

1933 – Þorgeir Þorgeirson, Icelandic writer, poet, novelist, essayist, journalist, translator, and filmmaker who in 1987 was found guilty of defaming the Icelandic police in two newspaper articles and fined; he then sued the Icelandic state and achieved an influential ruling found in his favor.

1933 – Karla Erbová (born Fremrová, but she also uses the pseudonym K. Papežová), Czech poet, prose writer, and journalist; many of her writings are historical or mythological in subject matter, often including works on Ancient Greece.

1938 – Yahya Taher Abdullah, award-winning Egyptian novelist and short-story writer; his novella The Collar and the Bracelet was made into a major film. Some sources give his birth year as 1942.

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

1943 – Ly Seppel, Estonian writer, poet, author, and translator.

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

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

1955 – Jacqueline Winspear, award-winning English author of mystery novels and a memoir; she is best known for her Maisie Dobbs series of books, which explore the aftermath of World War I through the cases of private investigator Dobbs.

1956 – Nguyen Quang Lap, award-winning Vietnamese writer, playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and politician whose political publications led to his arrest in 2014.

1961 – Eva Illouz, award-winning Moroccan-born Israeli author, sociologist, and professor whose research explores the sociology of emotions, of culture, and of capitalism; in 2009, the newspaper Die Zeit chose her as one of the 12 thinkers most likely to “change the thought of tomorrow.”

1964 – Alexandra Gennadievna Petrova, award-winning Russian poet, novelist, and short-story writer.

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

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

1976 – Aatish Kapadia, Indian television writer, producer, lyricist, and actor.

April 29 Writer Birthdays

0220 – Pacuvius, Ancient Roman tragic poet, writer, playwright, and painter who is regarded as the greatest Roman tragedian of his time.

1659 – Sophia Elisabet Brenner, Swedish writer, poet, feminist, and salon hostess.

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

1780 – Charles Nodier, influential French author, poet, librarian, translator, journalist, entomologist, literary critic, novelist, and lexicographer who introduced a younger generation of Romanticists to the conte fantastique, gothic literature, and vampire tales. (Conte fantastique is a French literary and cinematic genre that blends science fiction, horror, and fantasy.)

1787 – Jane Bewick, English writer and editor who is best known for editing and publishing a memoir of her father, the famous wood-engraver Thomas Bewick.

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

1822 – Amalia de Llano, Spanish writer and countess who was an important figure in the cultural life of Madrid in the 19th century.

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

1882 – May Hezlet (real name Mary Elizabeth Linzee Hezlet), Gibraltar-born British golfer, sportswriter, and author of books about golf; she has been called “probably Ireland’s greatest woman golfer.”

1888 – Stina Bergman, Swedish writer, translator, and screenwriter who was the daughter of actors August and Augusta Lindberg and sister of director Per Lindberg; she married author Hjalmar Bergman.

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

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

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

1901 – Alison Grant Robinson Waley, New Zealand poet, journalist, artist, and writer who was best known for her memoir A Half of Two Lives: A Personal Memoir, a book about her lifelong affair with writer and translator Arthur Waley.

1902 – Frances Shelley Wees, Canadian mystery and romance novelist, poet, short-story writer, children’s author, and educator.

1907 – Chuya Nakahara (born Chuya Kashimura), groundbreaking Japanese poet and translator who was influenced by Dada and other experimental forms of European (mainly French) poetry; he wrote more than 350 poems, though he died at the young age of 30. Many called him the “Japanese Rimbaud” for his affinities with the French poet whose poems he translated.

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

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

1912 – Glecia Bear (also called Nêhiyaw), Canadian-born Cree elder, writer, and traditional tale teller; she was the first female chief of the Flying Dust First Nation.

1916 – Ramón Amaya Amador, Honduran author and journalist who was known for his radical left-wing politics.

1917 – Maya Deren (born Eleonora Derenkowska), Ukrainian-born experimental filmmaker, film theorist, poet, writer, photographer, lecturer, dancer, and choreographer who was an important promoter of the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s.

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

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

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

1927 – Sabino Acquaviva, Italian writer, journalist, novelist, scriptwriter, sociologist, professor, and university president; he is best known for his studies about secularization and the decline of religion in Western Europe.

1930 – Kyōko Kishida, Japanese writer, actress, voice actress, and children’s author.

1933 – Rod McKuen, popular U.S. poet, songwriter, composer, singer, and translator whose poetry deals with themes of love, the natural world, and spirituality; in the late 1960s he was one of the bestselling poets in the United States.

1934 – Åse-Marie Nesse, award-winning Norwegian writer, poet, philologist, translator, linguist, and teacher.

1936 – Shigehiko Hasumi, Japanese writer, translator, university teacher, journalist, film critic, literary critic, novelist, and literary historian who was president of the University of Tokyo.

1936 – Alejandra Pizarnik, Argentinian writer, poet, diarist, linguist, translator, and literary critic.

1937 – Jill Paton Walsh (real name Gillian Honorine Mary Herbert, Baroness of Hemingford), award-winning English novelist, mystery writer, and children’s book writer.

1944 – Katarina Mazetti, Swedish author, journalist, children’s picture-book writer, and radio producer.

1947 – Yusef Komunyakaa, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet and professor; his subject matter includes the Black experience, rural Southern life before the Civil Rights era, and his time as a soldier during the Vietnam War.

1949 – Hæge Follegg Pedersen, award-winning Norwegian writer of books for children and young adults.

1950 – Nguyễn Huy Thiệp, Vietnamese novelist and short-story writer who has been described as Vietnam’s most influential writer.

1950 – Bondan Winarno, Indonesian writer, journalist, culinary expert, and television cooking show host.

1950 – Mari Yonehara (米原 万里), award-winning Japanese translator, essayist, novelist, nonfiction writer, broadcaster, television commentator, and simultaneous interpreter between Russian and Japanese.

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

1954 – Angèle Ntyugwetondo Rawiri, Gabonese writer, actress, model, and translator who is considered the first Gabonese novelist; she published her works under the name Ntyugwetondo Rawiri.

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

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

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

1967 – Annette Langen, award-winning German author of children’s and young adults’ literature; her most popular work is a bestselling picture-book series about Felix, a traveling stuffed rabbit.

1979 – Tati Bernardi ( full name Tatiane Bernardi Teixeira Pinto), Brazilian novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and short-story writer who writes for an audience of young women.

1981 – Michèle-Jessica Fièvre, Haitian-born novelist, children’s and young-adult author, short-story writer, editor, translator, publisher, and professor who self-published her first mystery novel at the age of 16; she writes in both English and French.

1984 – Yu Wo, Taiwanese young-adult novelist and children’s writer who is well known for popular book series that feature female protagonists, such as “The Legend of Sun Knight.”

Becoming Italian, Part 2

Veduta Della Catena (Chain Map), by Francesco and Raffaello Petrini, is a pictorial representation of Florence, Italy, on display at the Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace). The 19th-century work is inspired by a 15th-century woodcut. I have not yet proven that Francesco and Raffaello are my ancestors, but I hope to make that connection someday.

Today I did something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. After several phone consultations, I contracted with a genealogy firm that will research and pull together the documents I need for claiming my Italian citizenship. If all goes well, I will eventually be a dual citizen, with both a U.S. passport and an Italian one.

I mentioned this a few weeks ago, the last time I spoke with a genealogist there. But as of today, I am forging ahead with it.

People keep asking me why I want dual citizenship. There are several reasons. It would give me various rights in Italy and other EU countries, where things like health care and education can be a lot more accessible and affordable. I could travel without needing a visa for extended trips in the EU. And I would have the right to live there if I ever wanted to; with some of the problematic things going on in this country, it might be useful at some point to have that option. It’s also just a way of honoring my Italian heritage.

Of course, I will still be a US citizen, too.

The next step now is that my case will be assigned to a team. A genealogist will go over my family tree and the accompanying documents I’ve found, and determine a plan for moving forward. I am guessing that will involve getting official copies of the U.S.-based birth certificates and other documents I have only online versions of. Much more difficult — and the reason why I can’t do this myself — will be tracking down documents in church archives and public offices in small towns in Italy.

In other words, this will take quite a while. I was told to expect it to take six months. After that, I’m not sure how long it would be before I can actually claim my citizenship. And I do mean claim it. Providing I meet the criteria, the underlying assumption, by Italian law, is that I am an Italian citizen but have to document it and have it approved before it becomes official. I do seem to be eligible, but that could fall apart if there’s some legal loophole I don’t know about.

On the other hand, I’m attempting to do this through the paternal line, which is the most straightforward way of proving Italian citizenship. But it’s not the only way. If the researchers cannot locate some crucial document, or if my paternal-line ancestors fail to meet some obscure criterion, all is not lost. I have other lines of Italian ancestry to try next. Working through a maternal ancestor requires jumping through some extra hoops, which would probably require more research and cost more money. So I’m hoping the Petrini line comes through for me.