April 21 – Queen Elizabeth II

Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth II!

Queen Elizabeth II by Yousuf Karsh 1951

Queen Elizabeth II (b. 1926) – U.K. monarch – The Servant Queen and the King She Serves (foreword) (2016)

Read about Queen Elizabeth in this mini-biography here and the BBC biography here

Watch documentary footage of the Queen, with her narration, speaking of her life


Queen Elizabeth II delivers a Christmas message every year which she herself writes. Here is an excerpt from her 2016 Christmas message:

…to be inspirational you don’t have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.

To mark my 90th birthday, volunteers and supporters of the six hundred charities of which I have been patron came to a lunch in the Mall. Many of these organisations are modest in size but inspire me with the work they do.

From giving friendship and support to our veterans, the elderly or the bereaved; to championing music and dance; providing animal welfare; or protecting our fields and forests, their selfless devotion and generosity of spirit is an example to us all.

When people face a challenge they sometimes talk about taking a deep breath to find courage or strength. In fact, the word ‘inspire’ literally means ‘to breathe in’. But even with the inspiration of others, it’s understandable that we sometimes think the world’s problems are so big that we can do little to help. On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.

The message of Christmas reminds us that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received, and that love begins small but always grows.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.

Watch this World War II newsreel showing the teenage Princess Elizabeth as a driver in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. (1945)

Q Elizabeth driver ATS


Watch news footage of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding on November 20, 1947.


2014 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by David Bailey

Queen Elizabeth 2014 by David Bailey

Visit the British Monarchy Facebook page here


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April LitBirthdays

Author Birthdays in April

April 1

John Wilmot

Susan Boyle

Milan Kundera

Edmond Rostand

April 2

Joanna Chmielewska

Émile François Zola

April 3

Herb Caen

Washington Irving

Unni Lindell

April 4

Andrei Tarkovsky

Maya Angelou

April 5

Amalia Guglielminetti

Booker T. Washington

April 6

Leonora Carrington

Lowell Thomas

April 7

Daniel Ellsberg

Gabriela Mistral (Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga)

April 8

Robert Toru

Trina Schart Hyman

April 9

George David Weiss

Paule Marshall (Paule Burke)

April 10

Peter Morgan

George William Russell

John M. (Mike) Ford

April 11

Clive Exton

Attila József

April 12

Thomas Dybdahl

Tama Janowitz

Gary Soto

Tom Clancy

April 13

Drago Jančar

Eudora Welty

Seamus Heaney

April 14

April 15

Benjamin Zephaniah

Leonardo da Vinci

Henry James

(David) Wiley Miller

April 16

Gerry Rafferty

Diane Middlebrook

Anatole France (Jacques Anatole Thibault)

April 17

Ray Kluun

Giusy Ferreri

Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

April 18

Rithy Panh

Costas [or Kostas] Ferris

George Henry Lewes

April 19

Sandro Petraglia

Maria Ember

Etheridge Knight

April 20

Asia Alfasi

Erna Brodber

John Paul Stevens

April 21

Elaine May

Queen Elizabeth II

Kole Omotosho

April 22

Damien Broderick

Kseniya Simonova

Immanuel Kant

Ana Maria Shua

April 23

Michael Moore

Fadil Hadzic

William Shakespeare

April 24

Eric Bogosian (

Carl (Friedrich Georg) Spitteler (pseudonym Carl Felix Tandem)

April 25

Grace Rasp Nuri

Albert Uderzo

April 26

Ğabdulla Tuqay

Marcus Aurelius

Carol Burnett

I.M. Pei

April 27

Edwin Morgan

Cecil Day Lewis (pseudonym Nicholas Blake)

Russell T Davies

April 28

Carolyn Forché

(Nelle) Harper Lee

Jay Leno

April 29

Egon Erwin Kisch

Jerry Seinfeld

April 30

Jaroslav Hašek

Willie Nelson

Aatish Kapadia

Dempsey Books are on Amazon.com

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March 25 – Dorothy C. Fontana

Happy Birthday Dorothy C. Fontana!

Dorothy C. Fontana (born March 25, 1939) – screenwriter and story editor of first Star Trek television series, and Star Trek – the Next Generation, and several other popular U.S. television programs.

Read the Wikipedia article about D.C. Fontana

Read Kelly Konda’s “8 Things You Learn About Star Trek From Eugene Roddenberry’s Documentary Trek Nation

Gene Roddenberry’s production secretary Dorothy Fontana was the first person to read his original 12-page treatment for Star Trek in 1964 because he thought so highly of her he valued her opinion. By the time 1966 came around, she had briefly quit as his production secretary, insisting that she get a chance to actually write for the show even though it was a time when not a lot of women wrote for television shows. Roddenberry didn’t want to lose her, and apparently had no problem with using a female writer. So, he gave her a script which was in need of a re-write, and that turned into the first season episode “This Side of Paradise,” which we have argued elsewhere is the 2nd best Original Series episode ever. Fontana claims that if the Network or other writers were uncomfortable with her around as a female writer she never heard or felt it due to Roddenberry’s influence. However, her credited name D.C. Fontana did seem designed to make it less obvious the episode had been written by a female. Plus, the documentary fails to cover this, but she ended up a credited writer for 8 Original Series episodes, three of which were written under the male pseudonyms Michael Richards or J. Michael Bingham.

Dorothy Fontana talks about her life and work:

Fontana at minute 22:00: I was dealing with producers at that time [early 1960s] who didn’t care what gender I was. ‘Did I write a good story?’ was all that I was ever asked.

Minute 28:58: October 1966 I became story editor for Star Trek. It was working independently with writers as a story editor. No one was looking over my shoulder to see if I was doing it right.

Minute 46:30: (Interviewer) What were you doing to attract intelligent viewers?

Fontana: Writing intelligent stories. That’s what we did on Star Trek. We weren’t going to write science fiction trash. We had usually strong women, most of the time. We had really good actors who were involved in good stories.


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March 21 – Slavoj Žižek

Happy Birthday Slavoj Žižek!

Slavoj Zizek
Slavoj Žižek, born March 21, 1949 – Slovenian philosopher – Refugees, Terror and Other Troubles with the Neighbors: Against the Double Blackmail (2016)

Read the Wikepedia article about Slavoj Žižek.

Watch a 2016 interview (Tavis Smiley show) where Zizek speaks about the failure of political correctness:

(Paraphrase:) Political correctness tries to make the rules too explicit. It tries to regulate everything. Behind all this respect of the other, isn’t beneath it a certain terrifying coldness?


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LitBirthdays for March


March 1

Ralph Ellison

Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

Shantabai Kamble

March 2

Janos Arany

Evgeny Baratynsky

Metta Victoria Fuller Victor (Seeley Regester)

March 3

Yury (Karlovich) Olesha

George Miller (George Miliotis)

Caroline Lamarche

March 4

Robert Orben

Miriam Makeba

Khaled Hosseini

Robert Emmet

March 5

MC Solaar

Elisabeth Badinter

March 6

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Andrzej Wajda

Teru Miyamoto

March 7

Georges Perec

Robin Becker

Muhsin Al-Ramli (Arabic: ) محسن الرملي‎

March 8

Kenneth Grahame

Hafid Bouazza

Carole Bayer Sager

March 9

Robert James (Bobby) Fischer

Mickey (Frank Morrison) Spillane

Ismael Serrano


March 10

Lorenzo Da Ponte

Keren Ann Zeidel (Hebrew: קרן אן זיידל‎)

Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

March 11

Lea Hernandez

Douglas Adams

Ezra Jack Keats

Jean “Binta” Breeze

Alba de Cespedes

March 12

Naomi Shihab Nye

Virginia Hamilton

Tian Han 田汉

Jack (Jean Lous) Kerouac

March 13

Lisa Lutz

André Téchiné

Mahmoud Darwish

Common, U.S. rapper

March 14

Pam Ayres

Horton Foote, Jr.

Caryl Phillips

March 15

Ben Okri

Veronica Maggio


Madelyn Pugh

March 16

Zoe Jenny

Sully Prudhomme

Richard Matthew Stallman

James Madison

March 17

Yokomitsu Riichi (横光 利一)

Nat King Cole

March 18

Queen Latifah

Luc Besson

Christa Wolf,

John Updike

March 19

John Burnside

Valerio Zurlini

Philip Roth

March 20

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)

Vera Panova

Lucy Myers Wright Mitchell

March 21

Ved Mehta

Phyllis McGinley

March 22

Beverley Knight

Louis L’Amour Lawrence Dearborn LaMoore

March 23

Plantu (Jean Plantureux)

Emmy Noether

Akira Kurosawa

March 24

Kate (Catherine Merrial) Webb

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

March 25

Gloria Steinem

Toni Cade Bambara

Thom Loverro

March 26

Bob Woodward

Robert Frost

Tennessee Williams

March 27

Julia Alvarez

Budd (Seymour Wilson) Schulberg

Ai Qing (艾青) (Jiang Haicheng)

Michael Aris

Abelardo Castillo

March 28

Jennifer Weiner

Dimcho Debelianov (Димчо Дебелянов)

Maxim Gorky (Aleksey Maksimovich Peshkov)

Lauren Weisberger

March 29

Vangelis (Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou) (Greek: Ευάγγελος Οδυσσέας Παπαθανασίου)

Andrija Maurović

Lennart Meri

March 30

Thierry Cabot

Céline Dion

Sharadindu Bandyopadhyay (Bangla: শরদিন্দু বন্দোপাধ্যায়)

Moses Maimonides

March 31

Octavio Paz

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut

René Descartes

Dempsey Books are on Amazon.com

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LitBirthdays – February 26

Happy Birthday Jela Krečič!


Jela Krečič – born February 26, 1979 – Slovenian novelist and journalist (None Like Her / Ni Druge – 2016)

The GoodReads bio of Jela Krečič

Read her 2013 interview with Julian Assange

Read a review of Krečič’s novel None Like Her

Watch a 2013 interview of Jela (Slovenian language)

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LitBirthdays February 18

Happy Birthday Toni Morrison!

February 18


Toni Morrison (Chloe Ardelia Wofford) (b. 1931) – U.S. novelist, 1993 Literature Nobel Prize winner – Beloved

Read the excellent Authors Calendar biography of Toni Morrison


Read the MSBush bio of Toni Morrison


Meridian. The sound of it opens the windows of a room like the first four notes of a hymn. Few people can say the names of their home towns with such sly affection. Perhaps because they don’t have home towns, just places where they were born. But these girls soak up the juices of their home towns, and it never leaves them. They are thin brown girls who have looked long at hollyhocks in the backyards of Meridian, Mobile, Aiken, and Baton Rouge. And like hollyhocks they are narrow, tall, and still. Their roots are deep, their stalks are firm, and only the top blossom nods in the wind. They have the eyes of people who can tell what time it is by the color of the sky.

page 81, The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Read more from The Bluest Eye here:


Watch a BBC documentary about Toni Morrison

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