August 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) August.

Jojo Moyes

August 4, 1969

Jojo Moyes was born near London, England. She worked a variety of jobs, including typing braille statements for blind people. In 1992, she earned an undergraduate degree at London University and began studying journalism. For ten years, Moyes worked as a journalist, writing for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and The Independent in the UK. In 2002, she transitioned to writing novels and has since published fourteen books. Her most well-known novel, Me Before You, has been adapted into a motion picture. Moyes lives on a farm in Essex, England with her husband and three children.

Suzanne Collins

August 10, 1962

Collins was born in Hartford, Connecticut, though she moved frequently because her father was an officer in the Air Force. After double majoring in drama and telecommunications at Indiana University, she began her career writing scripts for children's television. While she worked on these shows, a colleague encouraged her to write children's books. Her debut book series The Underland Chronicles became a New York Times bestseller. Then, influenced by her father's discussions of the Vietnam War, Collins published The Hunger Games Trilogy, which became an international best seller, has been translated into fifty-one languages, and has been adapted into four movies.

Edith Hamilton

August 12, 1867

Born to American parents in what is now Germany, Edith Hamilton grew up in Indiana. As a student, she expressed an interest in Greek and Roman literature. Following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College, Hamilton studied at the universities of Leipzig and Munich, becoming one of the first women to attend classes in at the University of Munich. Upon returning to the United States, she was appointed headmistress of the newly founded Bryn Mawr School for Girls in Baltimore, Maryland, a position she held for twenty-six years. After retiring, Hamilton published articles and books on Greek and Roman life and art. Her scholarly book Mythology is regarded as the preeminent introductory text to Greek and Roman myths. In 1957, ninety-year-old Edith Hamilton traveled to Athens, Greece, where the mayor awarded her honorary citizenship. She died in Washington, DC, on May 31, 1963.

Sue Monk Kidd

August 12, 1948

Sue Monk Kidd graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in nursing and worked as a registered nurse and a college nursing instructor before gravitating toward writing. Her first three books were memoirs that examined spirituality and feminism. In 2002, she published her first novel, The Secret Life of Bees, which was heavily influenced by the small Southern town she in which she was raised. Bees won numerous awards and has been adapted into both a play and a movie. Kidd has since published two novels, a travel memoir she co-authored with her daughter, and a collection of spiritual essays, meditations, and inspirational stories. Kidd lives in Florida with her husband and dog.

Erin Gruwell

August 15, 1969

Dedicated teacher Erin Gruwell was raised in southern California. Though she initially intended to study law, watching news reports of the 1992 Los Angeles riots inspired Gruwell to become a teacher and help struggling children. After earning her master's degree, Gruwell began teaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Through an atypical teaching style, Gruwell helped so-called "problem students" by inviting them to write anonymous journals, which she later compiled and published as The Freedom Writers Diary. In 1998, Gruwell was honored as a Distinguished Teacher in Residence at California State University. She has since left the classroom and founded the Freedom Writers Foundation, which works to spread her teaching methods and lower high school dropout rates.

Eric Schlosser

August 17, 1959

Investigative journalist Eric Schlosser was born in New York City. He studied history at Princeton University and at Oriel College, Oxford. Rather than pursue an academic career, Schlosser wrote plays and a novel. In 1992, he transitioned to journalism and began writing in-depth pieces for The Atlantic. His work caught the interest of a Rolling Stone magazine editor, who asked him to research and report on the fast food industry. Schlosser later published the three-piece Rolling Stone series as the book Fast Food Nation, which became a New York Times bestseller and inspired Americans to think more carefully about what they eat. Schlosser continues to publish nonfiction works on topics ranging from the underground economy to the risk of nuclear terrorism to the United States prison system.

Frank McCourt

August 19, 1930

Frank McCourt was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a large, struggling Irish family. His father worked odd jobs while his mother, Angela, raised seven children. During the Great Depression, the McCourts moved back to Ireland, where their poverty worsened. When Frank McCourt was thirteen, his father abandoned the family. A year later, McCourt was hired to deliver telegrams and newspapers, earning enough to help his family and save money to return to America. At nineteen, he moved back to the United States and was drafted to fight the Korean War. After completing his service, he used the GI Bill to enroll in New York University, where he majored in education. McCourt taught English at New York City high schools for thirty years. When he retired, he wrote Angela's Ashes about his life in Ireland; his critically acclaimed book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997. He wrote two more autobiographical works before losing a battle to cancer and meningitis and passing away on July 19, 2009.

Veronica Roth

August 19, 1988

Veronica Roth was born in New York City and grew up in Barrington, Illinois. An avid reader, she began writing at a young age. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University and penned Divergent, the first novel of a dystopian trilogy set in Chicago, during her senior year. Her series debuted when young adult dystopian fiction was gaining popularity, so, at the age of twenty-two, Roth became a New York Times bestselling author. She has since completed the Divergent trilogy and a companion piece and has started writing a new young adult science fiction series.

Sharon M. Draper

August 21, 1948

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, Sharon Mills Draper had an affinity for reading and learning. She graduated high school a National Merit Scholar and majored in English at Pepperdine University in California. She returned to Ohio for her master's degree, married, and started working as a public school teacher in Cincinnati. She had high expectations for her students and was named Ohio's Teacher of the Year in 1997. After submitting a short story for a contest in Ebony magazine and winning first place, Draper felt encouraged to write longer fiction. Her first young adult novel, Tears of a Tiger, has received a number of awards including the Coretta Scott King Award. Draper has written subsequent books that examine the African American community and identity. Although she retired from teaching, she continues to speak publicly about the importance of education.

Ray Bradbury

August 22, 1920

Famed author Ray Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois. When he was twelve or thirteen, he decided to become a writer so he could be immortalized through his fiction. He graduated high school during the Depression and spent his time writing in the library and selling newspapers. He began writing short stories and science fiction before publishing his censorship-exploring masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451, in 1953. Ray Bradbury has written numerous books, short stories, poems, essays, and plays; he has even written an Emmy-winning teleplay and created an animated film. Bradbury died on June 5, 2012 at the age of ninety-one.

Paulo Coelho

August 24, 1947

One of the most successful modern writers, Paulo Coelho holds the record as the living author with the most-translated book. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he wanted to pursue writing from a young age; however, his parents disapproved, hoping he would follow a more practical profession. A rebellious teenager, Coelho was committed to a mental institute three times by his parents. When he was twenty, he enrolled in law school to please his parents, but dropped out in 1970 to travel and engage in a hippie lifestyle. In Spain, he made a 500-mile Catholic pilgrimage, which inspired him to devote himself to writing. In 1987, he wrote The Alchemist, which has since sold approximately thirty-five million copies worldwide. Coelho lives with his wife in Rio de Janeiro and in their country home in the Pyrenees Mountains of France.

Orson Scott Card

August 24, 1951

Best known for his science fiction novels, Orson Scott Card has also written mysteries, biblical novels, plays, poetry, scripts, and review columns. Born in Washington, Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. Before graduating college, he volunteered as a Mormon missionary in Brazil. Then he returned to Utah and founded a theater company; when it proved unsuccessful, he pursued science fiction writing. He published a short story "Ender's Game" while still in college before adapting it into a novel. Ender's Game was awarded both a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award, thus beginning Card's illustrious writing career. Card lives in North Carolina with his wife.

John Green

August 24, 1977

John Green was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, though he grew up in Orlando, Florida, and attended boarding school in Alabama. After graduating from college, he worked as a student chaplain at a children's hospital; interacting with terminally ill children motivated him to write young adult fiction. His job as a chaplain likely influenced his best-known novel, The Fault in Our Stars, which is about a teenager with terminal cancer. In addition to writing young adult novels, Green had developed an educational YouTube channel with his brother, Hank, and is involved in other video projects and podcasts.

Barbara Ehrenreich

August 26, 1941

The daughter of a miner, Barbara Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, when it was still a blue-collar mining town. Growing up, she watched her father work hard to obtain a college degree and saw her family struggle to achieve middle class status. In 1970, after giving birth to her first child, Ehrenreich became involved in activism and wrote articles and pamphlets on feminism and women's health. Most of her works are a combination of activism, journalism, and academic writing. Ehrenreich is best known for Nickel and Dimed, an investigative journalism book she wrote about how the 1996 welfare reform act affected the working poor.

Stephen Dubner

August 26, 1964

Stephen Dubner became interested in writing at a young age and published his first piece in Highlights magazine when he was eleven years old. During his undergrad at Appalachian State University, he started a rock band and moved to New York City after signing a record deal. However, he gave up his music career to earn an MFA in writing at Columbia University. He worked as a journalist and editor at New York magazine and The New York Times before writing books. In 2005, he published Freakonomics with economist and co-author Steven Levitt. In addition to writing, he hosts the Freakonomics podcast and public radio show.

Mary Shelley

August 30, 1797

Mary Shelly was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin to prominent writers William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Though she received little formal education, she met many of her father's intellectual acquaintances. She spent most of her teenage years writing stories in Scotland. When she was sixteen, she returned to London, began an affair with Percy Bysshe Shelley, and became pregnant. She and Percy Shelley eventually married and had four children, though three of them died young. In 1816, Mary Shelley and her husband spent the summer in Switzerland with other writer friends and Mary wrote what would become Frankenstein, which she published anonymously in 1818. When Percy Shelley drowned in 1824, Mary became an impoverished widow and supported herself through writing. She died of brain cancer on February 1, 1851 and was buried with the cremated remains of her late husband.