Posted on July 9, 2023 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

Here are the literary birthdays to celebrate over the week of July 9, 2023.

Dean Koontz (July 9, 1945): Fourteen of Koontz’s novels have hit number one on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list, and sixteen have done so for the paperback version; they include Intensity, Midnight, and The Bad Place.

Marcel Proust (July 10, 1871): Even nonreaders are aware of Proust’s legacy; his seven-volume work In Search of Lost Time — featuring the madeleine cookies now associated with him — set the tone for the 20th-century novel as an art form.

Mildred Benson, aka Carolyn Keene (July 10, 1905): Benson wrote twenty-three of the first thirty Nancy Drew books, a fact that remained secret until a court case involving the books’ publisher revealed the truth in 1980.

Alice Munro (July 10, 1931): Munro has won both the Man Booker International Prize and the Nobel Prize in Literature for a lifetime of excellence in short-story writing, such as The Love of a Good Woman, Runaway, and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. 

Jhumpa Lahiri (July 11, 1967): Lahiri’s first book, Interpreter of Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 as well as the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction; she has also been nominated for the Man Booker Prize and National Book Award for a later novel, The Lowland.

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817): Thoreau didn’t just preach what he believed; he practiced his philosophies, as in his classic work Walden (part memoir and part reflections on his time spent living in nature) and “Civil Disobedience” (inspired by a night he spent in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax).

Pablo Neruda (July 12, 1904): Neruda, whom many consider to be the greatest poet writing in the Spanish language during his lifetime, won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his poetry in 1971; his collections include Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair and the three volumes of Residence on Earth.

Irving Stone (July 14, 1903): The subjects of Stone’s “bio-histories” — fictionalized biographies — include Vincent Van Gogh (Lust for Life), Jessie and John Fremont (Immortal Wife), Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln (Love Is Eternal), and Michelangelo (The Agony and the Ecstasy).

David Mitchell (July 14, 1974): Mitchell is the bestselling author of The Bone Clocks and the Booker Prize shortlisted Number9Dream and Cloud Atlas (which was also adapted into a movie). 

Clement Clarke Moore (July 15, 1779): Moore, a professor of Oriental and Greek literature, took credit for “A Visit from St. Nicholas” almost two decades after the poem was anonymously published in a newspaper, though the relatives of another writer argued that he had in fact written it.

Iris Murdoch (July 15, 1919): Murdoch came to prominence with her third novel, The Bell; went on to win the 1978 Booker Prize for The Sea, the Sea; and became a dame of the British Empire for her work.

Clive Cussler (July 15, 1931): Cussler’s five adventure series — the Fargo Adventures, the Isaac Bell novels, The Oregon Files, the Dirk Pitt series, and The NUMA Files — have made him a New York Times bestseller many times over.

Richard Russo (July 15, 1949): Russo won a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for Empire Falls; his other popular works include Straight Man, Nobody’s Fool (adapted into a movie), and The Risk Pool.

Categories: Today in Books

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