Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February Literary Birthdays

“Ukraine-born Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem (February 18, 1859 – March 16, 1916) author of the short stories on which the libretto for Fiddler on the Roof was based. He is one of the preeminent classical writers of modern Yiddish literature. His works were widely translated, and he became known in the United States as “the Jewish Mark Twain.” He was the first to write in Yiddish for children. Adaptations of his work were important in the founding of the Yiddish Art Theatre in New York City.” – Encyclopedia Britannica.

Nikos Kazantzakis (February 18, 1883 – October 26, 1957) Greek novelist, journalist, and politician is best known internationally for novels Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ. “He gained renewed fame with the 1988 Martin Scorsese adaptation of his book The Last Temptation of Christ.”

Toni Morrison, original name Chloe Anthony Wofford, (February 18, 1931) is a Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, editor and professor. "Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon and Beloved. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue and richly detailed black characters. Morrison has won nearly every book prize possible. She has also been awarded honorary degrees."

Amy Tan was born on February 19, 1952 in Oakland, California. "Her first novel The Joy Luck Club explored the relationship between Chinese women and their Chinese-American daughters. It received the Los Angeles Times Book Award and was translated into 25 languages. Tan has also written two children's books: The Moon Lady and The Chinese Siamese Cat, the latter of which was adapted to television for PBS."

Morley Callaghan (February 22, 1903—August 25, 1990) was Canadian novelist and short-story writer. "Callaghan attended the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. He never practiced law, but he became a full-time writer and won critical acclaim for his short stories collected in A Native Argosy. Later collections of stories include Morley Callaghan’s Stories and No Man’s Meat and The Enchanted Pimp."

Anthony Burgess (February 25, 1917 – November 22, 1993) was an English novelist, poet, playwright and composer. Well known novels included The Wanting Seed, Inside Mr. Enderby, Earthly Powers and A Clockwork Orange, the latter of which was adapted into a popular 1971 Stanley Kubrik film.

Victor Hugo, in full Victor-Marie Hugo, (February 26, 1802—May 22, 1885) was a French novelist, playwright, poet and a leading figure of the Romantic Movement in France. “He was also a visual artist, statesman and human rights activist. His best novels include Les Misérables, Notre-Dame de Paris and Les Travailleurs de la Mer. He is regarded as the leading figure in the history of French literature and politics who did not only contributed to the Romantic Movement in France but also gained international fame for his efforts towards establishing the Third Republic and democracy in the country.”

John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author "whose Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, portrayed the plight of migrant workers during the Great Depression. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat and Cannery Row, the multi-generation epic East of Eden, and the novellas Of Mice and Men and The Red Pony. Steinbeck served as a war correspondent during World War II, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962."


  1. You're missing the children's literary greats! Norman Bridwell (Feb 15), Lucy Cousins (Feb 10), David Wiesner (Feb 5), Jane Yolen (Feb 11), and Laura Ingalls Wilder (Feb 7), just to name a few! We have a display at Alderney Gate that we're updating monthly with the birthdays of children's authors and illustrators.

    1. The Reader would love a children's literary birthday contribution from the Alderney Gate Library. Send us a post anytime!