September 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) September.

September 3, 1963

Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell once said, "If my books appear oversimplified, then you shouldn't read them." Gladwell was born in September 1963 in England and credits his mother as his role model for writing. He has written for The New Yorker since 1996 and authored five books; arguably, his most popular work is Outliers (2008), which investigates how an individual's environment impacts his or her probability to succeed. It was a New York Times bestseller for eleven consecutive weeks.

September 11, 1957

James McBride

James McBride was born in Brooklyn in 1957. He is both a writer and a musician, having toured with jazz legend Jimmy Scott and written songs for famous musicians like Anita Baker. His first novel, Miracle at St. Anna (2002), was adapted to major motion picture in 2008. His memoir The Color of Water (1995) earned the title of American classic and won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in 1997. The memoir tells the story of McBride and his mother Ruth; despite many hardships, all 12 of Ruth's children attended college.

September 13, 1943

Mildred Taylor

Mississippi native Mildred Taylor majored in English at University of Toledo and wrote her first novel, Dark People, Dark World, at the age of 19, though it was never published. In 1973, she won a contest sponsored by the Council on Interracial Books for Children for her book Song of the Trees, which Dial Books published in 1975. It became a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year. Her next novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry won a Newbery Medal in 1977; Let the Circle Be Unbroken won the Coretta Scott King Award in 1983. Her stories demonstrate the true vision of black families and their racial struggles.

September 16, 1926

John Knowles

Born in Fairmount, WV, John Knowles left his hometown at the age of 15 to attend Phillips Exeter Academy, an elite school in New Hampshire. His time there inspired two of his novels, A Separate Peace, published in 1959, and Peace Breaks Out, published in 1981. Though Knowles has written eight other novels, A Separate Peace, a coming-of-age novel set during World War II, remains his most famous. He died in 2001 when he was 75.

September 17, 1935

Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado. He attended Stanford University after winning a scholarship to a graduate program in writing. His experiences volunteering as a paid experimental subject at Stanford and working as an attendant in a psychiatric ward inspired his 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The novel was adapted to film; Kesey reportedly hated the script, but movie critics praised it. Kesey eventually made the transition to nonfiction. He died in 2001 after complications from liver surgery.

September 19, 1911

William Golding

Before William Golding was a published author, he taught English and philosophy in Salisbury, England. He temporarily stopped teaching and joined the Royal Navy in 1940. His debut, critically acclaimed novel Lord of the Flies received 21 rejections before finally getting published in 1954. Golding's book earned him a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1983. Golding went on to write several more successful novels as well as poetry, plays, essays, and short stories. He died of a heart attack in 1993.

September 19, 1972

Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca Skloot is a freelance writer who focuses on medicine and science. Before The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was published, she taught creative writing at several universities. In 2010, she published Henrietta Lacks, which examines the life of Lacks and the line that came from her cells in 1951. Over 60 publications named this book best book of the year, and it was even adapted as an HBO film in 2017. Skloot is currently working on her next book, which deals with animals, science, and ethics.

September 24, 1896

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Frances Scott Key Fitzgerald (F. Scott Fitzgerald) was a novelist and short story writer known for portraying the Jazz Age. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, he attended Princeton, where he met a woman named Ginevra King, who inspired the character Daisy in Fitzgerald's classic, The Great Gatsby. Considered a Great American Novel, The Great Gatsby centers on a young and mysterious millionaire and emphasizes themes of decadence, idealism, and resistance to change. Aside from Gatsby, Fitzgerald wrote three other novels; a fifth novel was published posthumously. He died of a heart attack at the age of 44.

September 25, 1947

Jim Murphy

Jim Murphy grew up just outside of New York City, in the New Jersey Meadowlands. He had no interest in reading—that is, until a teacher informed him that there were some books he was forbidden to read. After college, Murphy found a job in publishing as an editorial secretary; eventually, he became managing editor of that same company. His book An American Plague details the frightening tale of the 1793 yellow fever epidemic. It was selected as a Newbery Honor book in 2004.

September 26, 1934

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, formally Jeanne Wakatsuki, is known for writing about ethnic diversity in the United States. She lived in Southern California until 1942; the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the anti-Japanese laws enacted shortly afterwards forced her and her family to evacuate their home. She spent three years in an internment camp. Her autobiographical work Farewell to Manzanar offers a look into this experience.

September 30, 1924

Truman Capote

Truman Capote began writing short stories as early as eight years old. From 1943 to 1946, he produced a continual flow of short fiction. Eventually, he moved on to novels. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and "nonfiction novel" In Cold Blood are considered American classics. Capote made quite a name for himself in his lifetime; over 20 films and television dramas were adapted from his work. In 1984, he died of liver disease.

September 30, 1928

Elie Wiesel

Elie Wiesel was an author, political activist, and Holocaust survivor. He was born in Romania and survived both living in two confinement ghettos and being imprisoned at Auschwitz for almost a year, where 90% of prisoners were immediately killed. After the war ended, Wiesel joined a rehabilitation center and eventually turned to studying literature, psychology, and philosophy at the Sorbonne in France. For ten years, he refused to write about or discuss the horrors he had experienced during the war. He changed his mind after being persuaded by his friend and Nobel Laureate François Mauriac. Originally titled Un di velt hot geshvign (And the World Remained Silent), Wiesel's memoir Night has been translated into 50 different languages and has sold 10 million copies in the United States. Wiesel died in 2016.