January Author Birthdays

This year we're honoring the classic literature of our favorite authors. What better way to do that than by celebrating each of their birthdays? Every month on the Prestwick House Blog, you'll find free literary resources — including crossword puzzles, posters, lesson plans, eBooks, How to Teach resource guides, and more — to commemorate the dates of birth for our honorary authors. Share the never-to-be-forgotten works of iconic writers with your students and make use of these resources in your classroom this (and every) January.

J.D. Salinger

January 1, 1919

The ever-reclusive J.D. Salinger broke onto the world stage in 1951 with his controversial coming-of-age novel, The Catcher in the Rye. After the book’s enormous success, he withdrew from the public eye, publishing only a handful of short works. Salinger died at 91 years old in January of 2010.

J.R.R. Tolkien

January 3, 1892

J.R.R. Tolkien single-handedly re-invented the fantasy genre, creating our modern conception of elves, dwarves, and epic adventures. In addition to his ever-popular Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, Tolkien was known as an expert on midlevel languages and literature. J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973.

Zora Neale Hurston

January 7, 1891

One of the most powerful voices of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston is best known for her 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God. Born the child of two former slaves, she was the first in her family to attend college, studying anthropology at Columbia University. Zora Neale Hurston died in 1960.

Alan Paton

January 11, 1903

Author of Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton was born in South Africa in 1903. He spent his career working with imprisoned young black men in apartheid South Africa. He dedicated his life to fighting aparthied and became one of its chief opponents, founding the Liberal Party of South Africa. Paton died in 1988, two years before Mandela was freed and South African apartheid started to crumble.

Jack London

January 12, 1876

One of America’s first celebrity authors, London is most famous for his adventure stories on the high seas and in the Klondike Gold Rush. After an early life of poverty in San Francisco, London wandered the West in search of adventure and great stories, eventually becoming the first American author to earn over one million dollars, thanks to his best-selling books like Call of the Wild and White Fang. Jack London died at the young age of 40 at his ranch in California.

Edgar Allan Poe

January 19, 1908

The father of American mystery and horror, Poe was born in Boston in 1809 and orphaned at a young age. He spent his youth in the military before declaring his intent to write for a living. Poe struggled with finding steady work as he built a name for himself publishing short stories and poems in a number of different journals and magazines. After his wife died of consumption, he became increasingly erratic and died at only 40 years old on the streets of Baltimore.