Literary Birthdays – January 24 – 30

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January 24

Marguerite Durand (born January 24, 1864) – French feminist, founder of the first feminist newspaper, La Fronde (The Slingshot)
 Marguerite Durand and Tigre

Read about La Fronde in the Slip Into SomethingVictorian blog

Read (in French) about Marguerite Durand and one of La Fronde’s famous reporters, Séverine

(rough translation of an excerpt from the above link:)

The founder of La Fronde, Marguerite Durand — who was nicknamed ‘The Muse of Boulangism” when Séverine met her– was born on the 24th of January 1864. An illegitimate child, like George Sand, Flora Tristan (1804-1844), and Louise Michel (1830-1905), Durand studied at the Convent of the Sisters of the Trinity, and subsequently became an actress with the Comédie Française, where she played ingenues. Later she married Laguerre, the brilliant deputy and partisan of General Boulanger. ‘The Muse of Boulangism’ published several articles in the newspaper owned by her husband, La Presse, and then she joined the newspaper Le Figaro, where she wrote under the name “Courier.”

A special envoy to the International Women’s Congress in 1896, where the attendees were expected to “make a ruckus,” she was inspired to launch a great “serious” newspaper (which she financed with her pearl necklace) that was edited and run entirely by women. La Fronde was published between 1897 and 1905, with the collaboration of Severine (who wrote the column “Rebellious Notes”), Marcelle Tinayre, Pauline Kergomard, Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, Andrée Viollis, Clémence Royer (translator of the works of Darwin into French and the first woman to teach a class — in Philosophy — at the Sorbonne); and many others.

Marguerite Durand wrote: ” La Fronde was a newspaper like other newspapers … not for amusement! One found there material for discussion, not for jokes. It was soon known as “The Petticoat Times.” This criticism was the only compliment it could aspire to.  To be taken seriously and be counted from the beginning, among the major newspapers, was an unexpected success.”

January 25


Gloria Naylor (born January 25, 1950) – U.S. novelist – The Women of Brewster Place (1983)

Read Rabbit, Read‘s 2/28/2008 blogpost about
The Women of Brewster Place

January 26


Shinjo Mayu (born January 26, 1973) – Japanese Manga author

Read the Wikipedia article about Shinjo Mayu here

See some of Shinjo Mayu’s art here

January 27

Éliette Abécassis

Éliette Abécassis (born January 27, 1969) – French novelist, historian, philosopher – Qumran (1996)

Read the Wikipedia article about Éliette Abécassis

Read Éliette’s thoughts on literature and today’s writers (in French)

Approximate translation of an excerpt from the above link:

“I have a deeply rooted political consciousness because I was born into a family that has a spiritual awareness. My political consciousness is linked to questions of ethics, to beliefs, to the faith that my education awakened within me.  Moreover, the study of the history of France has developed in me a strong attachment to the Republic.

I cannot separate participation from writing. Writing is always a revolt. It is linked to the idea of the good. In Les Miserables, Victor Hugo brings us a vision of society. It’s not a question of writing a social commentary or a novel of enlightenment. In its essence it is militant literature because it arises from a denial of things such as they are, from an awareness that things could and should be otherwise.

It’s a little discouraging to see that the words in a pop star’s song have more impact than those of a writer! But if the writers of my generation don’t have the status and aura of previous intellectuals, it is because they have done nothing to deserve it; they do not take hold of words, they no longer know how to; they have nothing to say on universal questions.”

January 28

(Sidonie-Gabrielle) Colette (born January 28, 1873) – French novelist – Gigi (1945) colette_1932

Read a little about Colette in this History Is Made at Night blog post

Read the Authors Calendar biography of Colette

January 29

Grazyna Miller (born January 29, 1957) – Polish-Italian poet, translator

Read the Wikipedia article about Grazyna Miller

Excerpt from the poem “Quando descrivi la morte, la guerra”

Quando descrivi la morte, la guerra / When describing death, war
– vengono meno le parole. / – words fail to come.
Sgorgano lacrime / Tears gush
dalle sorgenti dell’anima, / from the sources of the soul,
sprofondano negli abissi del cuore. / plunging to the depths of the heart.
Fremiti di dolore  / Tremors of pain
attraversano le membra, /crossing limbs,
lacerano un giovane sorriso / cutting a young smile
– allucinante, perpetua storia / – hallucinating, perpetuating the history
di un mondo diviso. / of a divided world.

Niewygasle  Pragnienie / Undying Desire

Dzis lakniesz okruchòw pieszczoty
twojego przeznaczenia, / Today your destiny craves crumbs of affection,
by podskòrnymi dreszczami / the trembling beneath
zmusil cie do istnienia. / forces you into existence.

Bujasz sie na hustawce uczuc, / Back and forth your feelings swing
w oblokach zamglonych marzeniem, / on clouds of misty dreams,
ludzac sie, ze to pokarm / hoping that the food
zaspokoi niewygasle pragnienie / will satisfy undying desire

Read more of Grazyna Miller’s poems here:

January 30

lady anne clifford Lady Anne Clifford (born January 30, 1590) – British diarist, activist for women’s legal rights – The Knole Diary (ca. 1603-1676)

Read the entry about Lady Anne and her estate in the Norton Anthology of English Literature

Read about Anne Clifford in the Encyclopedia of World Biography

Read a detailed biography of Lady Anne here:

Lady Ann Clifford’s journals here:



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