Sunday, August 04, 2019

How August 3 Gives and Takes Famous Authors

I stumbled upon something about yesterday, August 3, that strikes me as being a little unusual. August 3 seems to be one of those days on the calendar on which a handful of prominent authors were born, and on which an equally prominent handful died. 

August 3 gave us these three authors:

P.D. James
P.D. James in 1920 - writer of crime fiction, thrillers, and dystopian fiction who is best known as creator of the Adam Dalgliesh detective series. James received the Grandmaster award from the Mystery Writers of America in 1999. (My personal favorite of her's is 1973's An Unsuitable Job for a Woman.)

Leon Uris
Leon Uris in 1924 - author of historical fiction who is probably best known for 1958's Exodus, a novel focusing on the history of Palestine that ends with the founding of Israel in 1948. Other Leon Uris novels include, Mila 18 (1961), Trinity (1976), and The Haj (1984), three novels that I actually prefer to Exodus. Uris also wrote the screenplay for the 1957 movie Gunfight at the O.K. Corral starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.

Stephen Milhauser
Stephen Milhauser in 1943 - author of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction winner Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer, a cynical look at the American Dream as lived by a man who, no matter how many times his business dreams come true, is never really satisfied with his life. His short story "Eisenheim the Illusionist" was made into the 2006 movie The Illusionist starring Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti (one of my favorite movies), but

August 3 also took these three from us:

Joseph Conrad
Joseph Conrad in 1924 (the same day that Leon Uris was born, you will notice) - a highly influential author whose novels include some of the most famous and studied novels ever written, among them: Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness, Typhoon, Nostromo, and The Secret Agent. His work has been adapted for over two dozen movies and television shows, and even one video game from 2012 that was based on Heart of Darkness.

Flannery O'Conner
Flannery O'Conner in 1964 at age 39 - author who is primarily known for her short stories but Wise Blood, one of her two novels, was adapted for a 1953 movie by the same name and then remade into a 1979 movie starring Harry Dean Stanton, John Huston, and Ned Beatty. O'Conner knew that she was always going to be labeled a Southern writer, and I get a kick out of her quote regarding how she was perceived by readers up North, "anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic." She saw right through their prejudices.

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn
Aleksander Solzhenitsyn in 2008 - Russian novelist and essayist best known for Cancer Ward (novel), The Gulag Archipelago (3-volume history), and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (novella). A former Red Army officer, Solzhenitsyn was highly political and was not afraid to criticize both Russia and the West. He was imprisoned in Russia in 1945 and sent into exile after his 1953 release. His problems with Russian intelligence were, however, far from over.

And now I'm curious to see how August 3 compares to other days of the year when it comes to adding and subtracting famous authors.


  1. Replies
    1. Weird, but maybe not as unusual as I thought it was at first. I looked closely at August 4, for instance, and found it was maybe even weirder because it was peppered with more big names on either side of the equation.