Posted on August 22, 2021 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of August 22, 2021.

Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893): Parker was a celebrated writer of many forms, from verse to book reviews to short stories, but she is most generally known for her quips, including one you may still hear today: “Men seldom make passes / At girls who wear glasses.”

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920): Bradbury’s honors include the National Book Foundation Medal, the National Medal of Arts, and a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation for his lifetime of work including Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Dandelion Wine.

Annie Proulx (August 22, 1935): Proulx’s literary fame was cemented by her novel The Shipping News, which received both a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award, and her pop-culture fame came from the movie adaptation of her short story “Brokeback Mountain.”

Edgar Lee Masters (August 23, 1868): Masters’s poetry career peaked with Spoon River Anthology, though he also wrote other collections of verse, novels, and an autobiography.

Jean Rhys (August 24, 1890): Rhys’s most famous novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, which imagines the life of the mad wife from Jane Eyre, was written after a nearly three-decade sabbatical from publishing.

A.S. Byatt (August 24, 1936): Byatt received the Booker Prize for her novel Possession, which was also adapted into a movie; she’s also known for her short-story collections.

Paulo Coelho (August 24, 1947): Coelho, best known for The Alchemist, is considered Brazil’s most successful author, with more than 350 million book sales to his name in a number of countries and languages.

Orson Scott Card (August 24, 1951): Card is best known for his sci-fi novels like Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, though he has also written biblical and fantasy novels, poetry, and (most recently) comics.

John Green (August 24, 1977): Green, a New York Times bestselling author, has seen his novels Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars adapted into hit movies as well. 

Bret Harte (August 25, 1836): Harte, known best for “The Luck of Roaring Camp,” “The Outcasts of Poker Flat,” and “The Heathen Chinee,” helped create the local-color school of American fiction.

Sherley Anne Williams (August 25, 1944): Williams excelled in multiple literary areas, winning acclaim and awards for her novels (Dessa Rose), poetry (The Peacock Poems), and children’s literature (Working Cotton).

Barbara Ehrenreich (August 26, 1941): Ehrenreich, a journalist and activist in addition to nonfiction writer, is best known for Nickel and Dimed.

Theodore Dreiser (August 27, 1871): Dreiser was among the leaders of the naturalism movement, depicting the often harsh realities of life in such novels as Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy.

Jeanette Winterson (August 27, 1959): Winterson’s debut novel Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit was a huge hit, followed many years later by her autobiography, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, which reveals the real-life facts behind her first novel. 

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749): Von Goethe, best known for Faust and The Sorrows of Young Werther, is considered the greatest German literary figure of the modern era; Faust, in fact, is among Europe’s greatest long poems.

Leo Tolstoy (August 28, 1828): Tolstoy is popularly known and praised for War and Peace and Anna Karenina, though his much shorter The Death of Ivan Ilyich is also considered one of the best novellas.

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

Categories: Today in Books

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