I love birthdays – and not just my own. I love celebrating other people, who have experienced yet another year of living life.
Life is such a wonder, and I think birthdays are a great way to keep reminding us of just that. Even when I don’t know someone personally – and never will – I like to take a moment on their birthday to feel grateful for how they’ve enriched my life in big or small ways.
Which leads me to the topic of today’s blog post. As readers, we get to experience the most intimate part of an author’s being – their mind. Authors let us see what they think and feel, they pour their heart and soul into their work, and we are invited into a universe that can potentially change our view of not only ourselves but the world around us. In some ways, we often have a deeper understanding of our favourite author than we have of Uncle Steve. So why not take the opportunity to celebrate the birthdays of some great authors, who have enriched our literary lives more than Uncle Steve ever could?
June is packed with amazing authors, who were born during the first month of summer. And even though all of them have left behind a literary legacy that we are now lucky enough to enjoy forever, I’ve chosen to highlight just five of them – the list would have been way too long if I had to list everyone!
These five authors are among some of the most famous, and you’ll probably have heard about them, but have you ever thought about when their birthday was?
1. Anne Frank (1929 – 1945)
On June 12th, 1929, Annelies Marie Frank (aka Anne Frank) was born in Frankfurt, Germany. Anne is the author of the world’s most famous diary. She wrote the diary whilst in hiding during WWII, and after she died in a Nazi concentration camp at the age of 15, her father (the only surviving member of her family) published it after her death.
The diary gives a very personal account of her life in the two years where Anne and her family lived in hiding in the Netherlands. Whilst it covers some of the darkest parts of her life, it contains some inspiring messages. These messages show that even in what seems to be a miserable situation, Anne managed to find light in the darkness – something that is just as important today as it was in the 1940’s.
“I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.” (Read more of her quotes here)
2. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 – 1896)
On the 14th of June in 1811, a woman who would have a profound impact on both literary- and American history was born in Litchfield, Connecticut. Harriet Beecher Stowe is famous for Uncle Tom’s Cabin, her heart-breaking story about the horrors of slavery in the US. The book became an instant bestseller when it was released in 1852, and the book has often been cited as a contributing factor to the outbreak of the American Civil War.
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
3. Salman Rushdie (1947 -)
On the 19th of June, 1947, Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay, India. He is probably most (in-)famous for his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ which was published in 1988. The book was the subject of a major controversy because Muslims from several countries accused it of containing blasphemy and mocking their faith.
The situation escalated in 1989 when a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death was issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran at the time. The conflicts continued to grow, resulting in bookstores being firebombed, countries banning the book, and several people associated with either translating or publishing the book were attacked, seriously injured, and even killed. Rushdie himself went into hiding with police protection for most of the 90’s. He has stated that the novel isn’t “an anti-religious novel. It is, however, an attempt to write about migration, its stresses and transformations.”
If anyone needs proof of just how powerful books are, I would say this is a pretty good example…
“When you write, you write out of your best self. Everything else drops away.”
4. George Orwell (1903 – 1950)
In 1903 on the 25th of June, Eric Arthur Blair was born in India. You probably know him better by his pen name George Orwell. He is best known for his books ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984’, which he wrote in the last five years of his life. Even though he was born in India, he spent most of his life in the UK, where he also died.
As you may have heard, Orwell’s novel 1984 has seen an incredible rise in sales in the last year or so as many people compare the political situation in the book to present day developments in politics – *cough* the U.S. *cough*. Regardless of what the book may or may not indicate about the current political situation, it’s a pretty interesting read.
“Big Brother is watching you.”
5. Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900 – 1944?)
On the 29th of June in 1900, Antoine de Saint-Exupery was born in Lyon, France. He is the author of the famous children’s book ‘The Little Prince’ which was written in New York, USA, whilst Saint-Exupery was trying to convince the U.S. to enter the conflict against Nazi Germany during WWII.
Even though the book was published in the U.S. in 1943, ‘The Little Prince’ probably wasn’t released in his native France until after his death, so he didn’t really get a chance to enjoy all of the book’s fame. And no, you didn’t read that wrong – I did say ‘probably wasn’t published’ because the truth is that no one knows for sure when Saint-Exupery died. He went missing on a reconnaissance mission for the Free French Air Forces on 31st July, 1944. Several days later, the body of a man in a French uniform was found in the sea at Carqueiranne, France. In 2000, his plane was found scattered on the seabed off the coast of Marseille, though the plane wasn’t officially confirmed to be his until 2004.
Though Saint-Exupery’s love of flying ultimately resulted in his death, it was also the inspiration for some of his best work such as ‘The Little Prince’ and ‘Wind, Sand and Stars’. He was even known to read and write during his flights…
“Tell me who admires and loves you, and I will tell you who you are.”
And there you have it! Five famous authors who were all born in June. Do you know when your favourite author celebrates his or her birthday? Do you share a birthday with a famous author?