Author Birthdays – Welcome to August

Herman Melville (b. August 1, 1819, New York, NY; d. September 28,  1891, New York, NY)

Handsome devil“A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a sailor aboard merchant vessels and a whaling ship; apparently not caring for his time as a whaler (he jumped ship); living for a time in the islands of French Polynesia (where he was when he jumped ship); becoming a successful writer by publishing novels Typee and Omoo (which were based upon his time in Polynesia); following that with a series of novels (and later poetry) that were considered mediocre at best and failures at worst – like Moby Dick, for example; and for finally being rediscovered a hundred years after his death and being hailed as a literary genius of the American Renaissance

For more on Herman Melville, click here.


James Baldwin (b. August 2, 1924, New York, NY; d. December 1, 1987, St. Paul de Vence, France)

Guess how much he cares about what you are saying?“The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.” Find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Growing up poor in Harlem with an abusive step-father and ever-present racial discrimination; being openly gay in the mid-twentieth century; being a longtime friend and one-time roommate to Marlon Brando; moving to France at the age of 24, where he lived for the majority of the rest of his life; being active in social and political activism, including the American Civil Rights movement, even though he lived in France at the time; being a friend and associate to many of the most prominent artists and social reformers of the era; and for writing several novels and essays exploring racial, sexual, class, family and identity issues in America and the world as a whole – while several of his writings are well-known, two of his most well-known may be two of his firsts, the novel Go Tell It on the Mountain and the collection of essays, Notes of a Native Son

For more information on James Baldwin, click here.


Isabel Allende (b. August 2, 1942, Lima, Peru)

Something very... South American about her. In a completely good way.“I’m interested in people who have to overcome obstacles, people who are not sheltered by the umbrella of the establishment, marginals.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for:Being a prominent Chilean journalist; being the cousin of Salvador Allende, president of Chile (1970-73); having to eventually flee with her family to Venezuela after General Augusto Pinochet staged a military coup and took over Chile (she would move from Venezuela to California in 1987); being a talented and prolific author, starting with her first work, The House of the Spirits, all the way through to her most recent, The Japanese Lover; and for championing feminist and humanitarian causes and starting her own foundation to help support women and children in need

For more information on Ms. Allende and her books, click here.


Wendell Berry (b. August 5, 1934, Henry County, KY)

Happier looking than I would have expected“There are no sacred and unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places. My belief is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts.” More Wendell Berry quotes here.

Best Known for:Being a lifelong midwesterner, a Kentuckian to be specific (with a few brief pauses for time spent in Europe and New York); being an outspoken humanitarian and activist as well as a strong supporter of environmental conservation and protection; living on and working a 125-acre farm in Henry County, KY called Lane’s Landing since 1965; writing several novels, short stories and essays (many of which revolve around living close to the land, agrarian/rural life in America and how it is changing and the struggles that people face in their lives) – it is probably his short fiction and essay collections that he is best known for; and for receiving several awards for his humanitarian and environmental efforts and his writing – he is the only living author to have been inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame

For information on Wendell Berry and his books you can click here.


Alfred Lord Tennyson (b. August 6, 1809, Somersby, England; d. October 6, 1892, Lurgashall, England)

Looks a little like my uncle Mike“Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control; these three alone lead one to sovereign power.” Read more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being the son of a relatively well-off country vicar; losing the family fortune (unfortunate investments); being a prolific and well-known poet from an early age – “The Charge of the Light Brigade” is perhaps his best known poem in the US; being made Poet Laureate of Great Britain by Queen Victoria (who was a fan); turning down a baronetcy twice before finally accepting becoming Baron Tennyson at the behest of the queen in 1884; and, thanks to such lines as “‘Tis better to have loved and lost/Than never to have loved at all,” for being listed by The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as the ninth most quoted author in the world

For more on Alfred Lord Tennyson, click here.


Garrison Keillor (b. August 7, 1942, Anoka, MN)

Like a caricature of every talk radio show hosts“I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Being a popular radio personality; creating A Prairie Home Companion radio show; being a (self-diagnosed) high-functioning autistic person; wearing red shoes (seriously); writing several books, stories, essays and articles for different publications – including The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly; and for creating Lake Wobegon, the fictional Minnesota community where much of his fiction takes place

For more on Mr. Keillor, click here.


Jonathan Kellerman (b. August 9, 1949, New York, NY)

A bit... magiciany for my tastes“Without sounding pompous, I really do feel that I have a set of standards that I must adhere to, even leaving aside considerations of what the readers expect.” You can find more quotes here.

Best Known for: Having a PhD in clinical psychology; being a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine; being married to Faye Kellerman, a well-known crime writer; writing multiple non-fiction works on child psychology; and for his many popular psychological thriller novels, especially his long running Alex Delaware series

For more on Jonathan Keller and his work, click here.


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