Happy Birthday to Us!

Today’s my birthday (yay!), and instead of doing my usual “this day in history”, I thought I’d pay tribute to some of the cool people born on November 15. Folks, you’ve all given me something to aspire to, and today, I salute you.

Pope Nicholas V (1397-1455)—Encouraged culture in Italy and helped promote the early Renaissance through his patronage and building projects. With assistance from Enoch of Ascoli, he founded a library of 9000 volumes (and don’t forget, this is pre-printing press). He also helped modernize Rome by paving some of the main streets and restoring the water supply that had been destroyed by 6th century invaders.

Madeline de Scudèry (1607-1701)—French intellectual, salon hostess, and author. Her novel Artamène is one of the longest novels ever written. Many of her works feature intelligent, well-educated women controlling the intellectual conversation.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708-1778)—British Prime Minister known for his statesmanship, support for the American Colonies in the run-up to the revolutionary war, and leadership during the Seven Years’ War. He was extremely popular and helped fight against corruption in government. His son, William Pitt the Younger, became Britain’s youngest ever Prime Minister at the age of 24.

Sir Frederick William Herschel (1738-1822)—German expat who, while living in Britain, discovered Uranus and two of its major moons, Titania and Oberon. He’s also credited with discovering two moons of Saturn and infrared radiation. Oh, and in his free time, he composed 24 symphonies.

Joseph Quesnel (1746-1809)—French-Canadian composer, poet, and playwright who wrote what might be the first Canadian opera, Colas et Colinette. He died of pleurisy after diving into the St. Lawrence River to save a drowning child.

Jerome-Napoleon Bonaparte (1784-1860)—Youngest brother of Napoleon, who named him King of Westphalia in 1807. When Napoleon III became emperor, he was recognized as heir presumptive until the birth of crown prince Napoleon Eugene.

Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1946)—German dramatist and novelist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1912.

Schack August Steenberg Krogh (1874-1949)—Professor and scientist who developed the Krogh Principle. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1920 for discovering the mechanism of regulation of the capillaries in skeletal muscle.

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)—American painter. Need I say more?

Sacheverell Sitwell, 6th Baronet (1897-1988)—English writer and art critic. He occasionally collaborated with his siblings, who were also writers: Osbert Sitwell and Dame Edith Sitwell.

J.G. Ballard (1930-2009)—British author whose works include Crash and Empire of the Sun, which was inspired by his own experience in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. The Times named him one of The 50 Greatest British Writers Since 1945 in 2008.

Happy birthday to you all!

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