A regular monthly feature by Elaine Henderson featuring noteworthy authors born in this month.
Who? Dorothy Parker (nèe Rothschild), American journalist, critic, poet and political activist
When? 22 August 1893
Where? West End, New Jersey, USA
Why should I read her work? Parker was a legendary literary figure in New York, renowned for her sharp wit, biting criticism and acerbic short stories.
Try: Complete Stories, The Collected Dorothy Parker, The Penguin Dorothy Parker
Interesting fact: Parker’s career was launched when she deputised for PG Wodehouse as theatre critic for Vanity Fair in New York in 1918.
Who? Charlotte Mary Yonge, English novelist
When? 11 August 1823
Where? Otterbourne, Hampshire
Why should I read her work? Yonge was immensely popular in the 19th century; her strong moral principles and devotion to Anglo-Catholic doctrine and practice appealed to all levels of society, including writers such as Carroll, Kingsley, Eliot, Tennyson and Trollope.
Try: The Heir of Redclyffe (1853), Heartsease (1854), The Daisy Chain (1856)
Interesting fact: William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones read The Heir of Redclyffe aloud to each other at Oxford, later taking the medieval background and the hero’s chivalric ideals as principles of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Who? ? Georgette Heyer, writer of historical romances and detective stories
When? 16 August 1902
Where? Yate, Gloucestershire
Why should I read her work? Heyer established the historical romance genre, particularly the Regency romance. Her careful and meticulous research gives her work authority and depth.
Try: Powder and Patch (1930), Regency Buck (1935), Cousin Kate (1968)
Interesting fact: When her publisher tried to suggest alterations to the language in one of her books, he was promptly informed by a member of staff that ‘No one in England knows more about Regency language than Georgette Heyer’!
Who? (Henri-René-Albert) Guy de Maupassant, French novelist, short story writer and poet
When? 5 August 1850
Where? Chateau de Miromesnil, near Dieppe
Why should I read his work? Maupassant is a master of the short story; his naturalistic form is fused with such economy of style that his work transcends the constraints of language and time.
Try: Une Vie (A Woman’s Life, 1883), Bel Ami (1885), The Best Short Stories (1997)
Interesting fact: de Maupassant wrote six novels and 300 short stories; his first short story, Boule de Suif (Ball of Fat, 1880) is considered his masterpiece.
Who? John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright
When? 14 August 1867
Where? Parkfield, Kingston Hill, Surrey
Why should I read his work? Galsworthy is one of the earliest Edwardian writers to challenge the suffocating and rigid Victorian ideals of upper middle-class English society, using the knowledge and experience of an insider.
Try: The Forsyte Saga (1906-1933)
Interesting fact: Galsworthy was unable to enlist in the First World War, so he worked as an orderly in a French hospital; he refused a knighthood in 1917.
Who? Philip (Arthur) Larkin, English poet, novelist and librarian
When? 9 August 1922
Where? Redford, Coventry, Warwickshire
Why should I read his work? His highly structured, yet fluid, verse expresses a profoundly English view of emotions and relationships.
Try: The Less Deceived (1955), The Whitsun Weddings (1964)
Interesting fact: Larkin was offered, but declined, the office of Poet Laureate in 1984.
11 August 1823