The month of February hosts a number of important writers’ birthdays of the 19th and 20th centuries. While there are too many to list in this blog, a few notables emerge as having major influence on literature and society as a whole. Profiling several of these writers can increase understanding of their literary and societal impact, providing a good starting point to enrich your Classroom Book Sets. What’s more, buying wholesale education books predicated on author contributions can be a great way to expand a school’s library. Below are just a few famous and compelling authors celebrating February birthdays, along with brief personal and literary descriptions and well-known book titles.
Cake, Candles, and Culture
- Charles Dickens: Born February 7, 1812, in Portsmouth, England, no other author has had as much to say about poverty and its consequences as Dickens. At age 12, his father was sent to debtor’s prison, which had a tremendous impact on the adolescent, forcing Dickens to work in a factory to support the family. While rarely addressing it directly in his stories, Dickens’ settings, themes, and characters are frequently immersed in it. Many classroom book sets in high schools and colleges in England and America include some of his most notable works, such as Oliver Twist, Little Dorrit, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and Hard Times, among others.
- John Steinbeck: Born February 27, 1902, in Salinas, California, John Steinbeck wrote extensively about what he knew best: the dust bowl years, the depression, and their collective impact on immigrant farmers and the middle class. In 1960, Steinbeck traversed America in a camper van, which reinforced previously formed impressions of life in rural (and agricultural) America. While possessing a diverse thematic body of literary works, the plight of earning a living from the land during some of America’s most difficult years earned Steinbeck the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. Notable book titles in many classroom book sets include The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, East of Eden, and Travels with Charlie.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Born February 27, 1807, in Portland, Maine, Longfellow is one of America’s most prized poets, capturing the quintessential experience in 19th century America. During the height of his career, Longfellow was described as the most popular poet of his day, with one friend contending “no other poet was so fully recognized in his lifetime.” This included fame not only in America but Europe as well. Much of his style was lyrical, although he also penned works in other genres. Many of his contemporaries (though not all) both respected and admired his substantial talents including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allen Poe, among others. Longfellow’s most famous works include Paul Revere’s Ride, The Courtship of Miles Standish, The Song of Hiawatha, among others.
- Ayn Rand: Born February 2, 1905 in Russia Ayn Rand moved to the United States in 1926. As a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, she used her craft to extend strong philosophical beliefs known as objectivism. Rand was also a proponent of limited government and laissez-faire capitalism. As such, she became a darling of conservatism, particularly the libertarian movement in America, through her writing. Her most influential novels include Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, both of which are frequently found in classroom book sets due to their tremendous impact on political and American culture.