Posted on February 21, 2021 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of February 21, 2021.

Anaïs Nin (February 21, 1903): Nin published several novels in her earlier years, but it was her diaries — released almost uncensored while she was still alive — that made her a celebrity.  

W. H. Auden (February 21, 1907): Auden received the Pulitzer Prize for the dramatic poem The Age of Anxiety.

Erma Bombeck (February 21, 1927): Bombeck broke through as a humorist while writing newspaper columns; she also wrote several bestsellers, If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?.

Michel de Montaigne (February 23, 1533): Montaigne is best known for Essais; while his work’s title translates to “attempts” or “tries,” it also led to the use of the word “essay” for a short prose composition.

Samuel Pepys (February 23, 1633): Pepys is famous for the diary he kept for nearly a decade, describing such landmark events in England as the restoration of the monarchy, an outbreak of the plague, and the Great Fire of London.

W.E.B. Du Bois (February 23, 1868): Du Bois wrote two landmarks of African American literature: The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study, the first case study of a black community in the US, and the essay collection The Souls of Black Folk.

Anthony Burgess (February 25, 1917): Burgess is best known for A Clockwork Orange, which routinely appears on lists of best books of the twentieth century and was also adapted into a critically acclaimed movie.

Victor Hugo (February 26, 1802): Hugo’s global fame comes from his novels The Hunchback of Notre-Dame and Les Misérables, though he’s also considered among the finest French poets.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807): Immensely popular during his lifetime for such works as The Song of Hiawatha and “Paul Revere’s Ride,” Longfellow was the first American to be honored with a bust in Westminster Abbey’s Poets’ Corner.

Angelina Weld Grimké (February 27, 1880): Grimké’s play Rachel was among the first written by a black woman about black issues; she is better known for such poems as “El Beso,” “Dawn,” “Beware Lest He Awakes,” and “The Black Finger.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 27, 1892): Millay was known in her time and beyond as one of the greatest American poets, with her collection The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver receiving a Pulitzer Prize.

John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902): Though some of his works are lighter in tone, Steinbeck — a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner — is best known for the social criticism and tragedy of The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden.

James T. Farrell (February 27, 1904): Farrell is best known for his Studs Lonigan trilogy, and The Face of Time — starring a character from the trilogy — is also considered among his best works.

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!

Categories: Today in Books

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