Posted on November 29, 2020 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

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

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832): Alcott’s fame in her lifetime was almost exclusively due to Little Women and its sequels, but in recent years, her fiction for adults — including A Modern Mephistopheles and Work: A Story of Experience — has gained attention as well.

Madeleine L’Engle (November 29, 1918): L’Engle wrote over sixty novels for adults and young readers alike, with her best-know being the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its follow-ups.

Philip Sidney (November 30, 1554): Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella is among the finest Elizabethan sonnet cycles; his The Defence of Poesie, the best work of Elizabethan literary criticism.

Jonathan Swift (November 30, 1667): Swift remains among the leading English satirists for such works as the pamphlet “A Modest Proposal” and the novel Gulliver’s Travels.

Mark Twain (November 30, 1835): The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (which has never been out of print), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and The Innocents Abroad were all hits in Twain’s lifetime, while other works like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches took longer to catch on.

L.M. Montgomery (November 30, 1874): Montgomery put aside the manuscript for Anne of Green Gables for a few years, after a series of rejections, but with the right publisher, it became an immediate bestseller and launched her career as a novelist.

Rex Stout (December 1, 1886): Stout became and remains famous for his Nero Wolfe detective tales, for which he received the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award; he also served as president of the Authors Guild for many years.

Joseph Conrad (December 3, 1857): Conrad is best known for Heart of Darkness, though his other acclaimed novels include Lord Jim, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, and Under Western Eyes.

Rainer Maria Rilke (December 4, 1875): Rilke is considered among the finest German poets, with Sonnets to Orpheus, Neue Gedichte (New Poems) and Duino Elegies bringing him lasting fame.

Christina Rossetti (December 5, 1830): Rossetti was celebrated for her poetry, such as Goblin Market and Other Poems and The Prince’s Progress and Other Poems, and her children’s works, most notably Sing-Song: a Nursery Rhyme Book.

Joan Didion (December 5, 1934): Didion’s long literary career in nonfiction (Slouching Toward Bethlehem) and fiction (Play It as It Lays) earned her a National Humanities Medal; she also received the National Book Award for the memoir The Year of Magical Thinking.

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

Categories: Today in Books

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