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Here are seven author birthdays for this week.
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In This Week’s Author Birthdays:
Lord Byron – January 22
On this day, January 22, in 1788, George Gordon Byron (better known as Lord Byron) was born in London, England. The flamboyant writer is considered one of the greatest British poets and a major figure of the Romantic movement. His life was one of excess and sexual liberties, and he was associated with many romantic liaisons, including a scandalous affair with his half-sister.
Known for his lengthy poems Don Juan and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and the short poem She Walks in Beauty, he died of a violent fever at age 36 while fighting the Ottoman Empire in Greece (where he is still hailed as a national hero).
Walter M. Miller, Jr. – January 23
On this day, January 23, in 1923, science fiction writer Walter M. Miller, Jr. was born in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Author of numerous short stories, it was the novel A Canticle for Liebowitz – one of only two novels he authored and the only one published during his lifetime – that brought him fame, winning the 1961 Hugo Award for best science fiction novel. The post-apocalyptic tale is still considered a masterpiece of the genre.
A well-known recluse (he never allowed a face-to-face meeting with his literary agent), he committed suicide in 1996 shortly after the death of his wife. He was 76.
Edith Wharton – January 24
On this day, January 24, in 1862, writer Edith Wharton was born in New York City. The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature (in 1921 for The Age of Innocence) she was also nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. Her writing style “combined her insider’s view of America’s privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight.”
She was also considered a major trend-setter, and wrote several books on gardening and interior design. She died at age 75 of a stroke in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France.
Virginia Woolf – January 25
On this day, January 25, in 1882, Virginia Woolf was born in Kensington, Middlesex, England. Her idyllic childhood was interrupted in 1895 when her mother died (Virginia was 13), which brought on the first of her many nervous breakdowns; mental disorders would plague her throughout her life.
She was a lyrical writer (one of the foremost modernists of the 20th century), married to a writer, but it was her razor sharp wit, her association with London’s liberal literary society and her feminism that has made her a household name. (“For most of history, anonymous was a woman.”) She took her own life in 1941, by drowning, at age 59.
Philip José Farmer – January 26
On this day, January 26, in 1918, Philip José Farmer was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. The three time HugoAward-winning science fiction writer was known for his mash-ups of existing literature with his own original work (for example, he wrote a novel under the pen name “Kilgore Trout” – a fictional author created by Kurt Vonnegut), and for being the first to write about sex within the genre.
He claimed to know he was going to be a writer since fourth grade; 80 years later, he was given the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and the Science Fiction Writers of America made him its 19th Grand Master. He died in 2009 at age 91.
Lewis Carroll – January 27
On this day, January 27, in 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was born in Daresbury, Cheshire, England. The creator of Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and Jabberwocky was the oldest boy in a family of 11 children. Tall and thin, with a bad knee, deaf in one ear, with a stammer that affected him his whole life and weak lungs due to an early bout of whooping cough, he nevertheless was a talented, if somewhat undisciplined, student.
A skilled mathematician, he was also an inventor and professional photographer. He died in 1898 of pneumonia, just two weeks shy of turning 66.
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette – January 28
On this day, January 28, in 1873, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, better known simply as “Colette”, was born in Yonne, France. She was very popular writer throughout her life, due to her witty dialog and her explicit and gender flaunting themes (today we remember her mainly for the novel Gigi , which was the basis for the stage play and movie of the same name).
She was also well known for her numerous marriages, affairs (with both men and women) and for performing in music halls such as the Moulin Rouge (a lesbian kiss she performed on stage there with the woman she was currently involved with nearly caused a riot). Beloved in France, she died in Paris, at age 81.
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