SEPTEMBER LITERARY BIRTHDAYS

(Complete list of September authors here.)

Featured Authors

Miguel de Cervantes, Spanish novelist, playwright, and poet, c. 29 Sept. 1547 - 23 April 1616

Cervantes, originally named Alcala de Henares, served as a soldier and in the navy, was captured by the Turks and imprisioned for 5 years, became a government tax collector who was again imprisoned, this time for fraud. While in prison, he began writing Part I of El Ingenioso Hidalgo [The Ingenious Gentleman] Don Quixote de la Mancha, which was widely read and pirated when published in 1605; Part II was published in 1615.

Cervantes also wrote Novelas ejemplares, which were twelve cautionary tales, Viaje del Parnaso (Journey from Parnassus), and several other pieces.

Cervantes' works in Spanish are offered at a number of sites, and a nice English version of Don Quixote, translated by John Ormsby, is available on-line through The Don Quixote Web Page (Spanish and English); a weblog for people reading Don Quixote, and a website called Reading Don Quixote, with articles, papers, and other resources for studying the book, thanks to Professor Salvador Fajardo. The Cervantes Project offers a number of biographies, text details, and more. Fred Jehle provides an extensive, annotated list of Cervantes WWW Links.

Note: The exact date of Cervantes birth is not known. It is known that he was christened on October 9, 1547.

Sarah Orne Jewett, Maine novelist, 3 Sept. 1849 - 24 June 1909

Jewett was born and died in South Berwick, where the Jewett House can be toured from June 1 through October 15. Most famous in Maine for The Country of the Pointed Firs, she also wrote A Country Doctor (1884; summary and commentary available at this site), which she based on the life of her late father, and numerous other novels and short stories, including her first published story, 'Jenny Garrow's Lovers' (1868), Deephaven (1877), 'The Dulham Ladies' (1886), the much-anthologized and much-analyzed story, 'The White Heron' (1886), Tales of New England (1890), and The Tory Lover (1901). A complete list of Jewett's published and unpublished novels and short stories is available through The Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project (Coe College, Iowa), as is a short biography.

Best Stories of Sarah Orne Jewett (1988) contains an excellent introductory article on Jewett's writings. For biographical information, read Sarah Orne Jewett: A Writer's Life, by Elizabeth Silverthorne (1993).

Many of Jewett's stories are available at Donna Campbell's website at Washington State University.

Kate Douglas Wiggin, Maine novelist and children's writer, Sept. 28, 1856 - 1923

Born in Philadelphia but a resident for years of Hollis, Maine, Wiggin is best known for her children's books, such as The Birds' Christmas Carol (1889), Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903), and The New Chronicles of Rebecca (1907). She was also editor of many other children's anthologies, including Hymns for Kindergarteners (18??), Arabian Nights, Their Best Known Tales (1909), The Posy Ring - A Book of Verses for Children (1903), and Pinafore Palace: A Book of Rhymes for the Nursery (1907). And she wrote books for adults, including The Village Watch-Tower (1895; set in Hollis, ME), Mother Carey's Chickens (1911), and The Story of Waitstill Baxter (1913). Rebecca, however is the only book of Wiggin's that's still in print.

In 1925, her sister, Nora Archibald Smith, published a book about Wiggin called As Her Sister Knew Her. Wiggin herself published My Garden of Memory in 1923. More at the Maine Writers Index. Bowdoin College awarded Wiggin an honorary degree in 1904 and provides an online collection guide to Wiggin's personal papers.

Robert McCloskey, children's book author, Sept. 15, 1914 - 30 June 2003

McCloskey is the winner of several Caldecott Medals and Honors. His books include: Lentil (1940, takes place in Ohio), Make Way for Ducklings (1941; locale is Boston's Public Garden; won 1942 Caldecott Medal), The Man Who Lost His Head (1942), Homer Price (1943), Blueberries for Sal (1948), Centerburg Tales (1951), One Morning in Maine (1952; about family life on an island; Caldecott Honor book), Journey Cake, Ho! (1953; Caldecott Honor book), Time of Wonder (1957; a Penobscot island summer; 1958 Caldecott Medal), Henry Reed, Inc (1958; takes place in New Jersey), Burt Dow, Deep Water Man: A Tale of the Sea in the Classic Tradition (1963), Henry Reed's Journey (1963), Henry Reed's Babysitting Service (1966), Henry Reed's Big Show (1970).

Stephen King, Maine thriller/horror/suspense writer, Sept. 21, 1947 -

aka Richard Bachman, Stephen King is the pre-eminent Maine modern popular fiction writer. He was born in Portland (ME), graduated from the University of Maine-Orono with a degree in English in 1970, and married another Maine writer, Tabitha Spruce (now King), in 1971.

King's official Web site has sections on rumors, news, the man, the past, the future, and now, as well as links, contact info, and downloads of e-books.

Other September Birthdays:

  • Sept 1
  • Sept 2
  • Sept 3
    • See Sarah Orne Jewett, above
  • Sept 4
    • French writer and statesman Francois-René de Chateaubriand (1768; d.1848), who initiated the Romantic movement in France, influencing poetry, history, and the novel
    • Paul Osborn (1901), playwright
    • British historical novelist Mary Challans, who wrote under the name Mary Renault (1905; d.1983)
    • Mississippi-born African American novelist Richard [Nathaniel] Wright (1908; d.1960), author of Native Son and Black Boy
    • Syd Hoff, children's author (1912; d.2004)
    • Joan Delano Aiken (1924; d.2004), British children's fiction author and poet Conrad Aiken's daughter
  • Sept 5
    • prolific American novelist, born Georgia, Frank [Garvin] Yerby (1916; d.1991), who lived in Spain and France as an ex-patriate for many years
    • Indiana native, journalist and fiction writer Ward Just (1935), who's written several novels about the Vietnam War
    • Paul Fleischman (1952), children's author
  • Sept 6
    • Minnesota-born writer Robert Pirsig (1928), who authored Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Sept 7
    • George-Louis Leclerc (1707; d.1788), natural history writer
    • poet Elinor Wylie (1885; d.1928), born in New Jersey
    • English poet and eccentric Dame Edith Sitwell (1887; d.1964)
    • Taylor Caldwell (1900; d.1985), British novelist
    • British poet, children's book writer, novelist, biographer Martin Booth (1944; d.2004)
    • New Yorker, journalist and author Joe Klein (1946), who wrote the novel Primary Colors
  • Sept 8
    • Luovico Ariosto (1474; d.1533), Italian poet, wrote Orlando Furioso
    • Frédéric Mistral (1830; d.1914), Provençal poet, 1904 Nobelist
    • Indiana-born writer Marilyn Durham (1930), author of The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing
    • novelist and short story writer, born Washington, D.C., Ann Beattie (1947)
  • Sept 9
    • for Tolstoy (1828), see 28 August
    • Indian poet/dramatist, father of modern Hindi literature, [Bhartendu] Harishchandra (1850/1849?; d.1885/1882?)
    • Mary Hunter Austin (1868; d.1934), feminist and nature writer from Illinois
    • American novelist (born Japan) Phyllis Whitney, prolific writer of romantic suspense for adults and novels and mysteries for young adults (1903; d.2008)
    • Alabama native and poet, playwright, children's author, essayist, and black nationalist Sonia Sanchez (1934), born Wilsonia Benita Driver, who won the American Book Award in 1985 for her poems homegirls & handgrenades
  • Sept 10
    • Georgia native, poet, playwright, and composer Georgia Douglas Johnson (1886; d.1966), one of the first modern American black women to gain recognition as a poet
    • Pennsylvania-born poet Hilda Doolittle (1886; d.1961), known as H.D., the leader of the imagist movement
    • Franz Werfel (1890; d.1945), Austrian author of Forty Days of Musa Dagh
    • Cleveland native, Pulitzer Prize winning poet Mary Oliver (1935)
    • New York City-born paleontologist, zoologist, and essayist Stephen Jay Gould (1941; d.2002), who wrote science for the layperson
    • Russian-born French writer Andreï Makine, winner of both the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Medicis (1957; some sources say 1958 and most don't provide any birthdate)
  • Sept 11
    • Scottish poet James Thomson (1700; d.1748), who wrote the first long nature poem in the English language
    • O. Henry (1862; d.1910), pseudonym of William Sidney Porter, American short story writer (born North Carolina), who began writing while serving jail time for embezzlement, and whose tales, including 'The Gift of the Magi' and 'The Ransom of Red Chief,' are noted for their surprise endings
    • D[avid] H[erbert] Lawrence (1885; d.1930), English novelist and poet, author of Sons and Lovers (1913), Women in Love (1920), and Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), among others
    • Canadian (born North Carolina) writer and novelist Leon Rooke (1934)
  • Sept 12
    • H. L. Mencken, Baltimore newspaperman, critic, and curmudgeon (1880; d.1956)
    • Stanislaw Lem (1921; d.2006), Polish sci-fi writer (Lem book list)
    • Philadelphia native, African American novelist and author of books for young adults Kristin [Eggleston] Hunter (1931), who has been praised for her realistic yet optimistic look at ghetto life
    • Canadian (born Sri Lanka) poet and author Michael Ondaatje (1942), author of The English Patient
  • Sept 13
  • Sept 14
    • Wisconsin-born Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, short-story writer, and poet [Hannibal] Hamlin Garland (1860; d.1940), a leading exponent of realism, which he called veritism
    • children's writer Edith Hurd aka 'Posey' (1910; d.1997), born in Missouri, who authored over 75 children's books [cited article says she was born Sept. 13, but her brother says she was born on Sept. 14]
    • Czech novelist and playwright Ivan Klíma (1931)
    • Kate Millett, Minnesota feminist and author of Sexual Politics (1934)
    • Irish novelist and scriptwriter Bernard MacLaverty (1942)
    • African-American children's writer, born Brooklyn, John [Lewis] Steptoe (1950; d.1989)
  • Sept 15
      Besides Robert McCloskey,
    • François, 6th duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613; d.1680), French writer and epigramist
    • New Jersey-born James Fenimore Cooper (1789; d.1851), social critic, historian, and the first major American novelist, who authored The Leatherstocking Tales (1823-1827), which followed the life of frontier hero Natty Bumppo
    • Massachusetts-born humorist and critic Robert Benchley (1889; d.1945)
    • black American poet and novelist (born Jamaica) Claude McKay (1890; d.1948), born Festus Claudius McKay, a major writer of the Harlem Renaissance
    • British mystery writer extraordinaire, Dame Agatha Christie (1890; d.1976)
    • Utah-born psycho-biography writer Fawn Brodie (1915; d.1981), who wrote works on Thomas Jefferson, Mormon leader Joseph Smith, and Richard Nixon, among others
    • New England children's author and illustrator Tomie DePaola (1934), born Thomas Anthony de Paola
  • Sept 16
    • English satirical and burlesque poet and dramatist John Gay (1685; d.1732), who wrote The Beggar's Opera (1728)
    • American historian Francis Parkman (1823; d.1893)
    • English poet (wrote 'The Highwayman') Alfred Noyes (1880; d.1958)
    • Finnish writer and Nobel prize winner Frans Sillanpaa (1888; d.1964)
    • West Virginia-born novelist John Knowles (1926; d.2001), best known for his first novel, A Separate Peace
    • Georgian short story writer James Alan McPherson (1943)
    • West Virginia-born African American literary critic and editor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (1950)
  • Sept 17
    • Abilio Manuel de Guerra Junqueiro, Portugese poet and playwright (1850; d.1923)
    • British mystery writer John Creasey (1908; d.1973), said to be the most prolific writer of crime fiction in the English language (under many aliases)
    • New Jersey native, doctor and poet William Carlos Williams (1883; d.1963)
    • Colorado-born novelist Ken Kesey (1935; d.2001), known for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • Sept 18
    • Oft-quoted essayist, poet, critic, and lexicographer, and the subject of Boswell's Life of Johnson, Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709; d.1784), who wrote the Dictionary of the English Language (1755)
    • New York-born (Vermonter by choice) rural essayist Noel Perrin (1927; d.2004)
  • Sept 19
  • Sept 20
    • Novelist Upton Sinclair (1878; d.1968), who exposed the Chicago stockyards in The Jungle (1906)
    • Connecticut native (now living in New Hampshire) and poet, playwright, essayist, and U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall (1928)
    • Portuguese poet, artist, and broadcaster [Carlos] Alberto de Lacerda, born in Mozambique (1928; d.Aug2007)
  • Sept 21
      Besides Stephen King,
    • H. G. Wells, English writer of The War of the Worlds (1866; d.1946)
    • Fannie Flagg, actress and novelist -- she authored Fried Green Tomatoes (1944)
    • playwright and lyricist Marsha Norman (1947), born in Kentucky, who authored Pulitzer Prize winning 'night, Mother
  • Sept 22
    • English statesman and writer Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694; d.1773), noted especially for his letters
    • British comic novelist Fay Weldon (1933)
  • Sept 23
  • Sept 24
    • English gothic writer Horace Walpole (1717; d.1797), 4th Earl of Orford
    • Maryland native, poet, novelist, short story writer, and orator Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825; d.1911), one of the most popular 19th-century black American poets
    • American novelist and short-story writer (born St. Paul, Minnesota) F[rancis] Scott [Key] Fitzgerald (1896; d.1940), author of The Great Gatsby (1925), Tender is the Night (1934), and other works that vividly evoke the time of the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, and the Wall St. Crash
    • W. Wilson Rawls (1913; d. 1984), author of children's classic Where the Red Fern Grows (1961)
    • John Brunner, British sci-fi writer (1934; d.1995)
    • NYC-born African-American novelist, dramatist, essayist, illustrator, and educator [Masani] Alexis De Veaux (1948)
  • Sept 25
    • Mississippi-born novelist William [Harrison] Faulkner, born William Cuthbert Falkner (1897; d.1962), who won the 1949 Nobel Prize for literature, and whose novels took as their subject the decadent Old South and the materialistic New South
    • African American educator (born Kentucky), social critic, and essayist bell hooks (1952) born Gloria Watkins; bell hooks is her great-grandmother's name
  • Sept 26
    • Bengali writer Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar (1820; d.1891)
    • American born English poet, dramatist, and critic (born St. Louis, MO) T[homas] S[tearns] Eliot (1888; d.1965), who won the 1948 Nobel in literature for The Waste-Land (1922)
    • Los-Angeles-born Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Jane Smiley (1949)
  • Sept 27
    • Grazia Deledda (1875; d.1935), Italian novelist and 1926 Nobelist for Old Man of the Mountain
    • American novelist, short-story writer, and attorney Louis Auchincloss (1917)
    • Czech-born, Canadian-emigree novelist, playwright, poet, publisher Josef Skvorecky (1924)
    • NYC native writer Joyce Johnson (1935), who authored a memoir of the 1950s New York Beat generation called Minor Characters (1983)
    • North Dakota-born poet Mark Vinz (1942)
  • Sept 28
  • Sept 29
      Besides Miguel de Cervantes, above,
    • William Beckford (1760; d.1844), reclusive and eccentric English novelist, travel book writer, and architect, best known for his Oriental romance The History of the Caliph Vathek (1782)
    • English writer Elizabeth Cleghorn [Stevenson] Gaskell (1810; d.1865), aka Mrs. Gaskell, one of the most popular Victorian novelists
  • Sept 30