At Discover Books, we love to recognize the wonderful writers whose books fill our website and our hearts. So, we've compiled a list of ten authors with April birthdays to celebrate this month. We're featuring authors from both classic and contemporary times, as well as a variety of book genres. But this list contains just a small sampling of the used and new books you can find at DiscoverBooks.com and on the Discover Books app!
Literary critics consider William Shakespeare the greatest English-language author and the most successful playwright in history. His plays and poems have sold nearly four billion copies in the last 400 years, and he is the third most frequently translated author behind Agatha Christie and Jules Verne. Many of Shakespeare's plays have received direct film adaptations over the years, such as Hamlet and Macbeth. However, other modern movies feature plot elements of the classic dramas, like She's the Man (inspired by Twelfth Night) and West Side Story (inspired by Romeo and Juliet). Shakespeare also coined many expressions used in modern English, including skim milk, break the ice, and good riddance.
Together with her younger sisters, Emily and Anne, Charlotte Bronte was one of the most famous British writers of the early 19th century. The Bronte sisters attempted to start a school together, but it closed due to a lack of students and funding. So, they supported each other's writing careers instead. They started by publishing poems together under the names Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell (since publishers of the time rarely accepted women's writing) before switching to individual novel-writing. Charlotte Bronte's first novel, The Professor, was initially rejected and then published after her death. But her second, Jane Eyre, solidified her place in history as a writer of literary classics. Charlotte outlived all her siblings but still died young, at age 38, from pregnancy complications.
Henry James was born in New York City but became a British citizen later in his life. His novels and stories often reflect the bridging of American and European cultures that he experienced as he moved from the U.S. to England. Additionally, James incorporated psychology into many of his stories, which isn't surprising considering his brother William was a famous psychologist. Henry James's best-known full-length novel is The Portrait of a Lady, about a young American woman who suddenly inherits a lot of money and has to figure out how to deal with her new social status. He is also known for his novellas, including Daisy Miller, Washington Square, and especially The Turn of the Screw.
Born in Manhattan to British parents, Washington Irving started his career writing nonfiction. He wrote letters for a local newspaper at age 19 and then published historical books and biographies while studying law. Irving moved to Europe in 1815 in an attempt to save his family's trading company, but it went bankrupt. While abroad, though, he wrote some of his most famous short stories, including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle. Later in his life, Irving became an advocate for copyright protection laws and served as the U.S. Minister to Spain under President John Tyler. Irving is fittingly buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, NY.
Nelle Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, and became interested in literature during high school. Her father, however, hoped that she would follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer. Although Harper Lee dropped out of the pre-law program at the University of Alabama, her father's court experience defending two Black men accused of murdering a white shopkeeper inspired her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. To Kill a Mockingbird won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and remains a bestseller. Lee only published one other novel, a Mockingbird sequel titled Go Set a Watchman, shortly before her death in 2016.
Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson, is remembered for her poems, essays, autobiographies, and civil rights activism. After working odd jobs and spending several years in Africa, Angelou wrote and produced a successful PBS documentary series in 1968, putting her on the map creatively. She then published her first of seven memoirs, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the following year. Angelou continued writing for film and television through the 1970s, and after becoming a professor at Wake Forest University in 1981, she wrote many of her famous essays and poems. In 1993, she became the second writer to read an original poem - On the Pulse of the Morning - at a presidential inauguration (after Robert Frost in 1961).
Barbara Kingsolver mostly grew up in Kentucky, but she briefly lived in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo while her parents did public health work in the area. Upon returning to the U.S., she entered college on a music scholarship but switched her major to biology to improve her job prospects. This shift led to Kingsolver's working as a scientific feature writer for a newspaper, which allowed her to develop her writing skills and eventually become a full-time author. Her best-known books are The Poisonwood Bible, a novel about American missionaries living in Africa, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a nonfiction account of her family's attempt to eat only locally grown food for a year.
Young adult novelist Leigh Bardugo was born in Israel, grew up in Los Angeles, and studied English at Yale University. She published her first fantasy novel, Shadow and Bone, in 2012. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, and Netflix adapted it into a television series in 2021. Bardugo has published two sequels to Shadow and Bone and two spin-off duologies, Six of Crows and King of Scars. In 2019, she released her first novel for an adult audience, Ninth House, and she is set to executive produce its upcoming Amazon Prime Video adaptation.
Danish author Hans Christian Andersen grew up in a poor family and left home at age fourteen to pursue an acting career. However, a friend at the Royal Danish Theatre inspired Andersen to become a writer instead. Although he wrote many poems, plays, and nonfiction travel books, he is best known for his fairy tales. Some of Andersen's internationally famous children's stories include The Little Mermaid, The Emperors New Clothes, The Ugly Duckling, and The Snow Queen (the latter inspired Disney's award-winning animated movie Frozen). Andersen's birthday, April 2, is now celebrated as International Children's Book Day.
Oregon native Beverly Cleary is now one of the most famous children's authors of all time. However, she struggled with reading growing up because her comprehension skills developed slowly, and she found reading boring. After working as a librarian for several years, Cleary took on the challenge of writing the book you'd want to read and began writing realistic children's fiction based on her childhood experiences in a middle-class suburban neighborhood. Since the publication of Cleary's first novel, Henry Huggins, in 1950, her books have sold more than 91 million copies and received countless awards. Her other famous characters besides Henry Huggins include sisters Beezus and Ramona Quimby, as well as Ralph S. Mouse. Cleary passed away on March 25, 2021, just a few weeks shy of her 105th birthday.
If you'd like to discover more books by authors with birthdays in spring, check out our author birthday lists from March and May. Additional writings by all these authors are available on our website and app. With low prices for everyone and free shipping on orders of $9 (see website for details) or more in the contiguous United States, Discover Books is a great place to find your next favorite author and let their stories live on.
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