Month of Literary Days

February 21, 2017
  • Birthday of Ha Jin (2/21/1956)


    Ha Jin is the pen name of Chinese-American poet, short story writer and novelist Jin Xuefei. Winner of numerous literary awards (including the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, National Book Award, PEN/Faulkner Award, Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction), Ha Jin grew up in Communist China and joined the People's Liberation Army before coming to the Boston area to attend Brandeis University and currently teaches at Boston University.

February 22, 2017
  • Birthday of James R. Lowell 2/22/1819 - 8/12/1891


    Massachusetts native James R. Lowell was an accomplished poet, essayist, editor, and diplomat. With fellow New England poets Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., he was known as one of the Fireside Poets, and published poetry and essay collections over a span of nearly 50 years. Additionally, he taught at Harvard University, served as editor of The Atlantic Monthly, and his political acumen led to appointments as the Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain and later to the Court of St. James in England.

  • Birthday of Edward Gorey (2/22/1925 - 4/15/2000)


    Writer and artist Edward Gorey published more than 100 books over a 40+ year career. Best known for his illustrated books of dark and macabre gothic settings and themes, he developed a cult following in the Goth subculture. He spent the early years of his career in Massachusetts, co-founding the Poets' Theatre in Cambridge, and lived out his later adult life on Cape Cod. A diverse writing and illustrator talent, Gorey became well known for his animated introduction to PBS' "Mystery!" series, won a 1977 Tony Award for Best Costume Design for "Dracula," and wrote and directed operas.

February 23, 2017
  • Birthday of W. E. B. Du Bois (2/23/1868 - 8/27/1963)


    William Edward Burghardt DuBois, known as W. E. B. Du Bois, was an icon among the African American intellectual elite of his day. Born in Massachusetts, he was an author, editor, historian and civil rights activist. Rising to prominence as the leader of the Niagara Movement, he was the first African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard University and co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He wrote and edited an extensive list of novels, essays, non-fiction and autobiographies.

  • Birthday of Rebecca Goldstein (2/23/1950)


    Writer, philosopher and college professor Rebecca Goldstein makes her home in Massachusetts and has written numerous novels and non-fiction works revolving around her interest in the great philosophers. She has won numerous awards, including the National Humanities Medal, the National Jewish Book Award, and the MacArthur Fellowship.

February 27, 2017
  • Birthday of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (2/27/1807 - 3/24/1882)


    One of the five Fireside Poets, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a distinguished poet and educator who was considered the most popular poet of his time. Works such as "Paul Revere's Ride," "The Song of Hiawatha," and "Evangeline" are closely associated with American history. He spent most of his life in Massachusetts and taught at Harvard University.

February 28, 2017
  • Birthday of George Lyman Kittredge (2/28/1860 - 7/23/1941)


    Massachusetts native George Lyman Kittredge was a renowned folklorist, scholar and professor of English literature and was considered to be one of the most influential literary critics of the early 20th century. A celebrated professor of Modern Languages at Harvard University, his lectures were immensely popular; his scholarly edition of the works of Shakespeare was the standard well beyond his academic career.

March 1, 2017
  • Birthday of Robert Lowell (3/1/1917 - 9/12/1977)


    Poet Robert Lowell was born and raised in Boston and much of his poetry is set in Boston and New England. Referred to as a "poet-historian," Lowell won many awards for his work, including the National Book Award, two Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, and the National Book Critics Circle Award; he was also the sixth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (1947 - 48).

  • Birthday of William Dean Howells (3/1/1837 - 5/11/1920)


    Often called the "Dean of American Letters," William Dean Howells spent a good part of his life in the Boston area; two of his homes are on the National Register of Historic Places. Best known for his novel "The Rise of Silas Latham," he was a prolific writer of fiction, poetry, children's books and served as editor of the Atlantic Monthly.

March 2, 2017
  • Birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel (3/2/1904 - 9/24/1991)


    Beloved children's writer Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. Beginning his career illustrating cartoons and advertisements, he became a best-selling author of such children's classics as "The Cat in the Hat," "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish," "Horton Hears a Who," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "The Lorax." Many of his tales alluded to his social and political views and were adapted into movies. The Amazing World of Dr Seuss Museum, a tribute to his life and work, is planned to open in Springfield in 2016.

March 3, 2017
  • Birthday of Patricia MacLachlan (3/3/1938)


    Massachusetts resident Patricia MacLachlan has written many timeless books for young readers, most notably "Sarah, Plain and Tall," for which she won the Newbery Medal. Other classics include "Caleb's Story," "Skylark" and "Arthur, for the Very First Time."

March 12, 2017
  • Birthday of Jack Kerouac (3/12/1922 - 10/21/1969)


    Literary iconoclast Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts. A novelist and poet, he is considered to be a pioneer of the Beat Generation. An underground celebrity during his life, his prestige has grown over the years. He is best known for his novel "On the Road," an American classic.

  • Birthday of Dave Eggers (3/12/1970)


    Boston-born best-selling writer, editor and publisher Dave Eggers has written novels, non-fiction, humor and screenplays, most notably "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," "What is the What," and "A Hologram for the King." He has won numerous honors for his work, including the American Book Award, and co-founded an independent publishing house.

March 16, 2017
  • Birthday of Alice Hoffman (3/16/1952)


    Massachusetts author Alice Hoffman is a prolific writer of best-selling fiction, non-fiction, young reader literature, and screenplays. Much of her writing is recognized for elements of magical realism.

March 18, 2017
  • Birthday of John Updike (3/18/1932 - 1/27/2009)


    A longtime Massachusetts resident, John Updike was a renowned novelist, poet, short story writer, and art and literary critic. He is considered to be one of the great American writers of his time, focusing on small town WASP life. Long associated with The New Yorker, his literary career includes honors such as the National Book Award, the O. Henry Prize (twice), the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (twice) and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

  • Birthday of Franz Wright (3/18/1953 - 5/14/2015)


    Award-winning poet Franz Wright is the son of poet James Wright; they are the only parent/child pair to win the Pulitzer Prize in the same category. Franz published poetry collections for almost 40 years; his Pulitzer honored his 2004 collection "Walking to Martha's Vineyard." He lived in Massachusetts and taught writing at Emerson College.