Posted on January 24, 2021 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of January 24, 2021: 

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”).

W. Somerset Maugham (January 25, 1874): While his novels Of Human Bondage and The Moon and Sixpence have cemented his name in literary history, Maugham also wrote short stories and plays.

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.

Colette (January 28, 1873): Among Colette’s most famous works are Chéri and Gigi, the latter of which was adapted for the stage and the screen; her lifetime of work earned her spots — rare for a woman — in the Belgian Royal Academy, French Académie Goncourt, and the Legion of Honour.

Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737): Paine, considered one of the greatest political propagandists in history, wrote Common Sense (which influenced the American Revolution), The Rights of Man (a defense of the French Revolution), and The Age of Reason.

Olga Tokarczuk (January 29, 1962): Tokarczuk has become one of the most prominent Polish writers of her generation, winning the Man Booker International Prize for Flights and, a year later, the Nobel Prize for Literature; another novel, Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, made multiple award longlists as well.

Barbara W. Tuchman (January 30, 1912): Tuchman was not only a popular historian, but also a critically acclaimed one: The Guns of August and Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45 both received the Pulitzer Prize.

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

Categories: Today in Books

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