Literary Birthdays – Week of April 12 – 18

April 12

Tom Clancy (b. 1947) – U.S. novelist – The Hunt for Red October (1984)

Watch Larry King talk to Tom Clancy about his success as an author

April 13
Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett (b. 1906) – Irish playwright, novelist, poet – Waiting for Godot

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney (b. 1939) – Irish poet, Nobel Prize winner (1995)

Seamus Heaney describes his family in this 1997 interview: 


You must have very quickly become the fourth adult in the house.


Yes, I did. In my early teens I acquired a kind of representative status, went on behalf of the family to wakes and funerals and so on. And I would be counted on as an adult contributor when it came to farm work—the hay in the summertime, for example. But I remember that kind of responsibility being laid upon me almost formally the morning my brother Christopher was buried. He was our four year old who was killed in a road accident. I must have been thirteen or fourteen at the time. Anyway, I came home from college for the funeral and all the rest of the youngsters were there. And when I began to cry in the bedroom, my father said to me, “Come on now, if you cry, they’ll all be crying.”


That’s memorialized in your poem “Mid-Term Break.”

April 15

(David) Wiley Miller
(b. 1951) – U.S. cartoonist – Non Sequitur (comic strip)

Cartoon by Wiley Miller


Henry James (b. 1843) – U.S. novelist, short-story writer, playwright – Daisy Miller (1879)

April 16

Anatole France

Anatole France (Jacques Anatole Thibault) (b. 1844) – French novelist, 1921 Literature Nobel Prize – Thais (1890)

Excerpt from Thais
He said–
“I love thee, O Thais! I love thee more than my life, and more than
myself. For thee I have quitted the desert; for thee my lips–vowed
to silence–have pronounced profane words; for thee I have seen what I
ought not to have seen, and heard what it was forbidden to me to hear;
for thee my soul is troubled, my heart is open, and the thoughts gush
out like the running springs at which the pigeons drink; for thee I
have walked day and night across sandy deserts teeming with reptiles and
vampires; for thee I have placed my bare foot on vipers and scorpions!

Yes, I love thee! I love thee, but not like those men who, burning with
the lusts of the flesh, come to thee like devouring wolves or furious
bulls. Thou art dear to them as is the gazelle to the lion. Their
ravening lusts will consume thee to the soul, O woman! I love thee in
spirit and in truth; I love thee in God, and for ever and ever; that
which is in my breast is named true zeal and divine charity. I promise
thee better things than drunkenness crowned with flowers or the dreams
of a brief night. I promise thee holy feasts and celestial suppers.
The happiness that I bring thee will never end; it is unheard-of, it
is ineffable, and such that if the happy of this world could only see a
shadow of it they would die of wonder.”

April 17

Isak Dinesen

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) (b. 1885) – Danish memoirist, short-story writer – “Babette’s Feast”

April 18
George Henry Lewes (b. 1817) – British philosophical writer, literary critic – Problems of Life and Mind

Excerpt from Problems of Life and Mind:

What I call my Body is a persistent aggregate of objective phenomena; and my Soul is a persistent aggregate of subjective phenomena: the one is an individualized group of experiences expressible in terms of Matter and Motion, and therefore designated physical; the other an individualized group of experiences expressible in terms of Feeling, and therefore designated psychical. But, however contrasted, they are both simply embodiments of Experience, that is to say, are Modes of Feeling. All Existence—as known to us—is the Felt. The laws of our organism compel us, indeed, to postulate an Existent which is extra mentem — a Real not Ourselves—but the same laws debar us from any knowledge whatever of what this is, or is like. We know Things absolutely in so far as they exist in relation to us; and that is the only knowledge which can have any possible significance for us.

Russell Payne (b. 1971) – British science fiction / fantasy writer

Conan O’Brien (b. 1963) – U.S. comedian, comic writer


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