Posted on January 19, 2020 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of January 19, 2020:

Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809): Poe’s widespread fame comes from his spooky short stories (like “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Pit and the Pendulum”) and poems including “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee,” but he also wrote what’s considered the first modern detective story — “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.”

Patricia Highsmith (January 19, 1921): Highsmith is most closely associated with The Talented Mr. Ripley and its sequels, though she wrote other hit novels that also became movies: Strangers on a Train and The Price of Salt (known as Carol since 1990).

Edwidge Danticat (January 19, 1969): Danticat’s most recent work, Everything Inside, currently up for an National Book Critics Circle Award, is one of her many awards to receive critical fame — others include Krik? Krak!, Brother, I'm Dying, and Breath, Eyes, Memory.

Francis Bacon (January 22, 1561): Bacon’s writings broke a long drought in English philosophy; influential works include The Advancement of Learning, Novum Organum (which presented a scientific method), and De Sapientia Veterum (The Wisdom of the Ancients).

Lord Byron (January 22, 1788): Byron first caught attention for a satirical poet response to criticism of his first work; poetry including Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, Beppo, and Don Juan — in addition to his love affairs — cemented his fame.

Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862): Wharton published over fifty books, most notably The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence (which won a Pulitzer Prize).

Robert Burns (January 25, 1759): Burns, considered Scotland’s national poet, remains celebrated for his poems (“To a Mouse,” “An Address to the Deil,” and “Tam o’ Shanter”) and his songs (“Auld Lang Syne,” “I’m O’er Young to Marry Yet,” and “Green Grow the Rashes, O”).

Virginia Woolf (January 25, 1882): Woolf is as beloved for her novels, like Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, as she is for her nonfiction writing, particularly A Room of One’s Own.

Gloria Naylor (January 25, 1950): Naylor won the National Book Award for The Women of Brewster Place, which also became a movie starring Oprah Winfrey; her other well-known novels include Linden Hills, Mama Day, and Bailey’s Cafe.

Birthdays sourced from Calendar of Literary Facts; biographical information sourced from Encyclopedia Britannica, the National Book Foundation, and author websites. Did we miss someone? Email and let us know!

Categories: Today in Books

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