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Here are seven author birthdays for this week.
Check out which authors are your favorites, and find out who shares your day.
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This Week’s Author Birthdays:
E. M. Forster – January 1
On this day, January 1, in 1879, E. M. Forster was born in Marylebone, Middlesex, England. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society, such as Where Angels Fear to Tread, Howard’s End, A Room With a View, and A Passage to India (many of which became major motion pictures and television series). He also co-authored the opera Billy Budd in 1951.
His views as a humanist are at the heart of his work; not surprisingly, he was President of the Cambridge Humanists for 11 years and a member of the Advisory Council of the British Humanist Association from 1963 until his death in 1970 at age 91.
Isaac Asimov – January 2
On this day, January 2, in 1920, Isaac Asimov was born in Petrovichi, Russia. His family immigrated to the USA when he was 3; he became a naturalized citizen at age 8. An extremely prolific writer, he penned or was editor of over 500 books, including the classic Foundation series, I Robot, and Fantastic Voyage, to name just a few. He also was a huge influence in popularizing the non-frankensteinian notion of androids with “positronic brains” (a made up science) and a code of ethics; he actually coined the phrase “robotics” in 1941.
Winner of 8 Hugo Awards, 2 Nebula Awards, and 14 honorary doctorate degrees, he died of heart and kidney failure in 1992 at age 72.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien – January 3
On this day, January 3, in 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (South Africa), of British parents (his father was a bank manager); he traveled with his mother to England when he was three. An authority on Anglo-Saxon literature, a long tenured professor at Oxford, a consummate linguist, he is fondly considered the father of modern high fantasy literature.
His creation of the realm of Middle-earth, chronicled in The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy, has endeared him to generations of readers, and his characters have permeated modern culture in ways perhaps unparalleled in the literary world. Although we lost him in 1973 at age 81, JRR Tolkien still looms large in our world. Happy birthday, Professor!
Doris Kearns Goodwin – January 4
On this day, January 4, in 1943, Doris Kearns Goodwin was born in Brooklyn, New York. She has written six biographies of US Presidents, including No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1995.
Other accolades include being named a White House Fellow during the Johnson administration, despite being active in the anti-war movement; being the first female journalist admitted to the Boston Red Sox locker room; penning the biography of Lincoln used in the screenplay for Steven Spielberg’s 2012 film; being a resource for Stephen King as he wrote his novel 11/22/63 and an all around an amazing woman. Today, she turns 81.
Umberto Eco – January 5
On this day, January 5, in 1932, Umberto Eco was born in Alessandria, Piedmont, Italy. Although he is widely recognized for his 1980 groundbreaking historical mystery novel The Name of the Rose (and the four fiction novels that have come since), his calling was in academia where he was a renowned scholar and author (having written over 40 academic texts) in the fields of medieval aesthetics, anthropology, media culture, literary criticism and, specifically, semiotics (the study of the philosophical theory of signs and symbols). He died in 2016 of pancreatic cancer at age 84.
Carl Sandburg – January 6
On this day, January 6, in 1878, poet Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois. The winner of three Pulitzer Prizes, he is one of the best known American poets of the modern age. He left school at age 13 in order to hold what came to be a wide number of jobs, including milk truck driver, railway porter, bricklayer, farm laborer, and “coal-heaver”.
His literary career began as a journalist for the Chicago Daily News; along with poetry he also wrote children’s books, histories, biographies, and film reviews. He was a staunch supporter of the civil rights movement and was the first white man to be honored by the NAACP. He died of natural causes in 1967, at age 89.
William Peter Blatty – January 7
On this day, January 7, in 1928, William Peter Blatty was born in New York City. Author of 11 novels, it is his 1971 work, The Exorcist, for which he is most widely recognized. He also wrote the screenplay for the 1973 film, for which he received an Academy Award. He led a colorful life, evidenced by exploits such as seeding his early writing career with winnings from a game show, and ghost-writing columnist Dear Abby’s best-selling book for which she was named “Mother of the Year”.
You can read LitStack’s take on The Exorcist and the review of Nat Segaloff’s recent book about The Exorcist. William Peter Blatty died of multiple myeloma in 2017, just five days after his 89th birthday.
Other LitStack Resources
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