Here at Discover Books, we’ve been celebrating famous writers’ birthdays each month on our blog. As we turn to featuring authors with December birthdays, we’ve again chosen writers in various genres and periods to feature. Whether you’re looking for a literary holiday gift for someone else or adding books to your own To-Be-Read list for the new year, this list can help you find a great used or new book to purchase on our website or our app!
Born December 16, 1775
Jane Austen was born into a family of England’s landed gentry, or upper middle class. Her father held an administrative position at Oxford and highly valued learning, so Austen and her sister received a more thorough education than most girls at the time. Due to the gender-based prejudices of the early 19th century, Austen published her novels anonymously, but their sales gave her an unusual level of financial independence. Today, her six novels are still widely read around the world, and three in particular–Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility–have been adapted for stage and screen many times.
Born December 10, 1830
Emily Dickinson wasn’t well known throughout her life, and she only published 10 poems during her lifetime. But after her death, her sister found a collection of nearly 1,800 more writings that caused Dickinson’s fame to take off. Her poems were unique for their time as they generally didn’t have titles and used unconventional rhyme schemes. “Hope is the Thing with Feathers” and “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” are some of her most-quoted works. Since 1955, when her poems were first published in anthology form, she has been appreciated as one of the most important American poets in history.
Born December 30, 1865
British writer Rudyard Kipling spent his childhood in India, which inspired much of his writing. His most famous work is the 1894 short story collection The Jungle Book, which Disney adapted into two feature films in 1967 and 2016. However, his extensive body of stories and poetry won him the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature, making him the first English-language writer to win and the youngest winner in history. Kipling declined multiple offers of knighthood and the British Poet Laureateship during his lifetime. However, he received the posthumous honor of being buried in the Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey.
Born December 3, 1857
Despite being from Poland originally and not speaking English fluently until age 20, Joseph Conrad is remembered as a major figure in British literature of the late 19th century. Conrad spent more than 10 years working as a merchant seaman, and his ocean travels inspired several of his novels. His best-known works include Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, and The Secret Agent. Conrad’s writing also inspired many American authors of the Lost Generation, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner.
Born December 14, 1916
After beginning her career as a fiction writer for the New Yorker, Shirley Jackson became widely famous for her harrowing short story “The Lottery.” This recognition led to Jackson’s success in publishing several horror novels, including The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, during the 1950s. Although women rarely worked outside the home at the time due to societal pressures, Jackson’s writing became the main source of income for her family. She died from cardiac complications at 48, but she influenced many horror writers to come during her relatively short career.
Born December 23, 1963
Donna Tartt spent her teenage years working at a public library and publishing poetry in local newspapers before her writing caught the attention of acclaimed writer and fellow Mississippi native Willie Morris. Tartt developed many literary connections through Morris, which led to the success of her first two novels, The Secret History and The Little Friend. Tartt has only published three novels in total and spent about 10 years working on each of them. Her third novel, The Goldfinch, won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction–just one of many awards that Tartt has received for her writing.
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Born December 20, 1983
Before becoming a full-time novelist, Taylor Jenkins Reid worked in film production. Her lifelong interest in the movie and music industries inspired her to write historical fiction centered around the popular culture of the mid-20th century. Reid’s three New York Times bestselling novels are technically standalone works and can be read in any order, but they are all connected within the same fictional universe by one supporting character. The fictional musician Mick Riva is the third husband in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, the host of a party that becomes a turning point in Daisy Jones and the Six, and the father of the main characters of Malibu Rising. Reid’s fame is growing quickly in real life, similarly to the way her characters’ fame does in their respective novels.
Born December 31, 1965
Nicholas Sparks excelled academically and athletically throughout his teenage years. He graduated as valedictorian of his high school class and magna cum laude from University of Notre Dame, which he attended on a full track-and-field scholarship. Although he majored in finance, he started writing fiction during school breaks and published his first solo novel, The Notebook, in 1995. All of Sparks’s 24 books have been New York Times and international bestsellers, and he was a producer on four of the 11 film adaptations of his novels. In addition to writing, he has worked with many nonprofits and in 2011 started the Nicholas Sparks Foundation to support cultural and international education experiences for children and teenagers.
Born December 5, 1994
After completing her B.A. in English Creative Writing at the University of Pittsburgh, Rachael Lippincott quickly rose to fame by collaborating with Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis on the 2018 young adult romance novel Five Feet Apart. Just six months after the novel became a #1 New York Times Bestseller, a popular movie adaptation was released. Following this success, Lippincott partnered with Daughtry again to write All This Time and made her solo debut with The Lucky List. Lippincott’s fourth young adult novel, She Gets the Girl, was written in collaboration with her wife Alyson Derrick and will be released in early 2022.
Born December 24, 1973
One night in June 2003, Stephenie Meyer had an unusual dream about a vampire who fell in love with a human teenager but still thirsted for her blood. She promptly wrote down the idea in story form; three months later, the story had become a completed draft of her first novel, Twilight. Twilight and its three sequels have a major global fan base: the series has sold more than 100 million copies in 37 languages, and the five movie adaptations of the series earned more than $3.3 billion combined at the box office. In the early 2000s, Meyer took advantage of the ability to connect directly with her fans via the Internet, leading critics to call the Twilight series “the first social networking bestseller.” Additionally, Meyer has written two adult novels, The Host and The Chemist, as well as several companion works to the Twilight series.
We hope you’ll enjoy these books by authors with December birthdays as much as we do. If you missed our lists for September, October, or November, you can find them here and discover more authors and their wonderful writings! And as always, you’ll find books from all these authors and more, along with low prices and free shipping on orders of $9 or more in the contiguous United States, at Discover Books.