Posted on 01/31/2021 at 08:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of January 31, 2021: 

Zane Grey (January 31, 1872): Grey essentially created the literary genre of western with his eighty-plus novels of the American frontier (including the bestseller Riders of the Purple Sage).

John O’Hara (January 31, 1905): O’Hara is best known for the novels Ten North Frederick, which received the National Book Award, and From the Terrace, which were both adapted into hit movies; as well as Appointment in Samarra, considered by some to be among the best twentieth-century novels.

Norman Mailer (January 31, 1923): Mailer came to prominence with a novel (The Naked and the Dead) but found more consistent, long-lasting success with his literary-inspired nonfiction, such as the award-winning The Armies of the Night.

Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901): Hughes was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, writing poetry (“The Weary Blues,” “I, Too,” “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”), essays (“The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain”), and nonfiction, and became the first black American to support himself solely from writing and lecturing.

Muriel Spark (February 1, 1918): In addition to the well-known The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Spark was also acclaimed for The Comforters and Memento Mori (adapted for the stage and screen).

Reynolds Price (February 1, 1933): Price wrote novels, poems, plays, and Biblical essays throughout his life, much of it influenced by and set in the South; his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, won the William Faulkner Foundation Award, and a later novel, Kate Vaiden, received the National Books Critics Circle Award.

James Joyce (February 2, 1882): While Joyce is famous for his novels Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he is also considered to have written one of the greatest short stories — “The Dead” from Dubliners.

Ayn Rand (February 2, 1905): Rand’s bestselling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are credited with influencing political schools of thought, such as libertarianism and the Tea Party movement.

Gertrude Stein (February 3, 1874): While Stein was also a writer, she’s perhaps better known for hosting literary salons for the authors she dubbed “The Lost Generation”; her most celebrated work was The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas and the oft-quoted line “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”

James A. Michener (February 3, 1907): Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific won a Pulitzer Prize and also inspired the musical South Pacific, which too went on to win a Pulitzer.

Joan Lowery Nixon (February 3, 1927): Nixon, who wrote historical fiction and mystery novels for young readers, is the only four-time winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award; The Kidnapping of Christina Lattimore, The Seance, The Other Side of Dark, and The Name of the Game Was Murder were her winning titles.

William S. Burroughs (February 5, 1914): Burroughs, a member of the Beat Generation, is best known for Junkie: Confessions of an Unredeemed Drug Addict and Naked Lunch.

Christopher Marlowe (February 6, 1564): Marlowe is considered the most important predecessor to William Shakespeare, with his famous plays including Tamburlaine the Great and The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus.

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

Tagged As: History, Just for fun

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