Posted on July 12, 2020 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of July 12, 2020.

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817): Thoreau didn’t just preach what he believed; he practiced his philosophies, as in his classic work Walden (part memoir and part reflections on his time spent living in nature) and “Civil Disobedience” (inspired by a night he spent in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax).

Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904): Neruda, whom many consider to be the greatest poet writing in the Spanish language during his lifetime, won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his poetry in 1971; his collections include Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair and the three volumes of Residence on Earth.

Irving Stone (July 14, 1903): The subjects of Stone’s “bio-histories” — fictionalized biographies — include Vincent Van Gogh (Lust for Life), Jessie and John Fremont (Immortal Wife), Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln (Love Is Eternal), and Michelangelo (The Agony and the Ecstasy).

Iris Murdoch (July 15, 1919): Murdoch came to prominence with her third novel, The Bell, went on to win the 1978 Booker Prize for The Sea, the Sea, and became a dame of the British Empire for her work.

Clive Cussler (July 15, 1931): Cussler’s five adventure series — the Fargo Adventures, the Isaac Bell novels, The Oregon Files, the Dirk Pitt series, and The NUMA Files — have made him a New York Times bestseller many times over.

Richard Russo (July 15, 1949): Russo won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for Empire Falls; his other popular works include Straight Man, Nobody’s Fool (adapted into a movie), and The Risk Pool.

William Makepeace Thackeray (July 18, 1811): Thackeray’s Vanity Fair was highly celebrated by its contemporaries, who saw him as the only possible literary rival to Charles Dickens, and remains one of the English language’s classic historical novels.

Hunter S. Thompson (July 18, 1937): Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas established both the genre of gonzo journalism and his writing fame; it and another well-known work of his, The Rum Diary, were both adapted into hit movies.

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

Categories: Today in Books

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