Women Authors with December Birthdays

by Cassie Wefald

Women Authors with December Birthdays

By John Pecoraro, Assistant Director


It’s amazing what you can find on the Web. For example, a list of authors with birthdays in December (www.bookish.com). The perfect theme for the final “At the Library” of 2018, but to narrow the field, I’ll highlight women authors.

     Jan Brett was born on December 1. The popular writer and illustrator has dozens of children’s books to her credit. She writes original stories, such as “Berlioz the Bear,” and “The Hat,” as well as adapting classics like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”

     Also early in the month, Ann Patchett had a birthday on December 2. Patchett is the author of the bestselling novel “Bel Canto” which follows the relationships among a group of young terrorists and their hostages with opera as a centralizing theme throughout the story. Patchett’s latest novel, “Commonwealth,” tells the story of six children in a series of vignettes spanning fifty years.

     Willa Cather was born on December 7. Cather achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, including “O Pioneers!,” and “My Antonia.” Her later historical novel “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” concerning the attempts of a Catholic bishop and priest to establish a diocese in New Mexico Territory, was included on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels of the twentieth Century.

     December 10 is the birthday of the belle of Amherst, poet Emily Dickinson. Dickinson lived much of her life in reclusive isolation. She was considered eccentric for her fondness for white clothing. She was also known for her aversion to greeting guests, and late in life seldom left her bedroom. While a prolific private poet, of her more than 1,800 poems fewer than a dozen were published during her lifetime. The first complete collection of her poetry was edited by Thomas Johnson in 1955, and is available at the library as “The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson.”

     Shirley Jackson, born on December 14, is remembered primarily for her works of horror and mystery. Her horror novel, “The Haunting of Hill House,” is considered a classic ghost story. Jackson also wrote about her family in “Life Among the Savages,” a fictionalized memoir about her life with her four children. Jackson is also well known for her short stories. She published over 200 stories. Her most famous is “The Lottery,” which describes a small town observing an annual ritual known. It has been described as one of the most famous short stories in the history of American literature.

     Irish novelist and short story writer, Edna O’Brien, was born on December 15. Philip Roth once described O’Brien as the most gifted woman writing in English. Beginning with her first novel, “The Country Girls,” O’Brien’s writing revolves around the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men and to society. O’Brien’s latest novel, “The Little Red Chairs,” is about a woman in a small village in Ireland, and the mysterious Eastern European healer who is not what he appears.

     Jane Austen was born on December 16. Austen is best known for her novels interpreting and critiquing the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Mansfield Park,” and “Emma,” among others, explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of social standing and economic security. Her novels depict manners, marriage, education, and money with a sense of humor.  In “Pride and Prejudice,” for example, the protagonist Elizabeth Bennet, learns the error of making speedy judgments and learns to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential in life. 

     Two popular authors share the birth date December 24, Mary Higgins Clark and Stephenie Meyer. Mary Higgins Clark is the author of 51 bestselling suspense novels. Her popular titles include “While My Pretty One Sleeps,” “Loves Music, Loves to Dance,” “Pretend You Don’t See Her,” and “I’ve Got My Eyes on You” published earlier this year. Clark’s latest offering is “Kiss the Girls and Make Them Cry,” due out April 2019.

   Stephenie Meyer is the author of the popular vampire and werewolf romance series, the Twilight Saga. In the first book in the series, “Twilight,” seventeen year old Bella meets Edward, who she learns is not exactly human. Other titles in the series include “New Moon,” “Eclipse,” and “Breaking Dawn.” Each of the novels has been adapted for the screen.