Posted on 03/29/2020 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of March 29, 2020.

Paul Verlaine (March 30, 1844): Verlaine was an innovator in the art of modern word-music, marking a transition from the Romantic poets to the Symbolists; his poem Chanson d'automne endures to this day, partly because it was used as a code message during World War II.

Nikolai Gogol (March 31, 1809): Gogol is best known for his works The Government Inspector, Dead Souls, and “The Overcoat,” which served as the foundation for nineteenth-century Russian literature.

John Fowles (March 31, 1926): Fowles is best known for The French Lieutenant’s Woman, but his first novel, The Collector, was an immediate success and adapted into a movie just two years after publication.

Anne McCaffrey (April 1, 1926): McCaffrey was the first woman to win the Hugo and Nebula Awards (for Weyr Search and Dragonrider, respectively) and the first science-fiction writer, period, to land on the New York Times best-seller list.

Milan Kundera (April 1, 1929): Czechoslovakian authorities had a long history of condemning or banning Kundera’s work, from a collection of love poems in the 1950s to The Unbearable Lightness of Being in 1984.

Hans Christian Andersen (April 2, 1805): Andersen’s fairy tales, like "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Little Mermaid," and "The Ugly Duckling," are among the most frequently translated works of literature, although he also wrote plays, novels, poems, travel books, and several autobiographies.

Emile Zola (April 2, 1840): Zola’s novel La Débâcle, openly critical of the French army and government actions during the Franco-German War, was roundly criticized by both sides of the war.

Washington Irving (April 3, 1783): Irving published The Sketch Book — which includes "Rip Van Winkle” and ”The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” — almost concurrently in the United States and England, in an effort to prevent literary piracy in the days before international copyright law.

Marguerite Duras (April 4, 1914): Duras was an acclaimed screenwriter — both for adaptations of her own work and of others’ — as well as a celebrated novelist whose major works include Moderato Cantabile and her fictionalized autobiography, The Lover.

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928). Angelou, best known for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, wrote and delivered a poem for US President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, elegized South African President Nelson Mandela by request of the US State Department, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Birthdays sourced from Calendar of Literary Facts; biographical information sourced from Encyclopedia Britannica and Encyclopedia.com. Did we miss someone? Email and let us know.

Tagged As: History, Just for fun

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