Birthday Cake and Balloons with Discover Books Logo

We’re back with another roundup of writers whose birthdays fall in the same month! These authors with May birthdays span many genres, age groups, and time periods. But their books are just a small sampling of what Discover Books has to offer. We hope that no matter what you’re looking for, this list will help you find your next favorite used or new book!

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Born May 22, 1859

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered as the creator of private detective and master of deduction Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. John Watson. These characters are featured in four novels and more than 50 short stories by Doyle. He published many of his writings about Holmes in the literary magazine The Strand before they became books or anthologies. Doyle also wrote numerous other novels, short stories, and poems, although none are as well known as the Sherlock Holmes works.

Although Doyle seemed to have had a love-hate relationship with his most famous character and tried to kill off Holmes several times, his stories have become a major part of pop culture. The character features in many movies and TV shows, such as the BBC series Sherlock and the popular 2009 film Sherlock Holmes, and has inspired other writers’ work, but Doyle’s original stories are still at the core of the Sherlock Holmes craze.

A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four cover
The Hound of the Baskervilles cover
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (short story collection) cover

Joseph Heller

Born May 1, 1923

If you’ve ever heard someone call a contradictory or insane-sounding choice a “catch-22,” you have Joseph Heller to thank for that term. Catch-22, Heller’s first and best-known novel, was published in 1961 and serves as a critique of war and society through the eyes of a conflicted captain serving in World War II. Although Catch-22 has received mixed reviews since its publication and has created controversy among the general public, it’s still as popular and thought-provoking as ever. Catch-22 also paved the way for Heller’s commercial success with five more novels, including the bestseller Something Happened.

Catch-22 cover
Something Happened cover

Lorraine Hansberry

Born May 19, 1930

Despite her untimely death at age 34, Lorraine Hansberry became the first African-American woman to write a play performed on Broadway. She was also the youngest person to win the New York Drama Circle Critics Award. Her writings and personal connections greatly contributed to the Civil Rights Movement of the mid-20th century. 

Hansberry’s most famous play, A Raisin in the Sun, is a tragedy about a Black family’s financial and social struggles in 1950s Chicago. Since its original Broadway run in 1959, it has performed and widely read as a classic. After her death, her ex-husband Robert Nemiroff put together some autobiographical writings that Hansberry left behind into another popular play: To Be Young, Gifted and Black.

A Raisin in the Sun cover
To Be Young, Gifted and Black cover

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Born May 25, 1803

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poems and essays have survived more than 150 years to become classic works in their respective genres. But during his life, Emerson was a controversial figure. He founded the transcendentalist movement, which promoted humanity’s independence and connection with nature, in addition to calling for the abolition of slavery. However, his essays “Nature” and “Self-Reliance,” among others, influenced many other romantic writers and are still read and debated today.

Self-Reliance and Other Essays cover
Nature and Selected Essays cover

Walt Whitman

Born May 31, 1819

Walt Whitman’s poetry and essays were somewhat influenced by transcendentalism. However, he found his own voice and line of thought as a writer throughout his career. His most famous work is the poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which contains the often-quoted “Song of Myself.” If you’ve ever seen the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, you may remember Whitman’s other poem “O Captain! My Captain!” as an integral part of the plot.

Leaves of Grass cover
Walt Whitman: The Complete Poems cover

L. Frank Baum

Born May 15, 1859

L. Frank Baum is best remembered as the creator of the fictional land of Oz. Beginning with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, Baum published 14 books in the Oz series. He also wrote numerous other novels, short stories, poems, and plays; although he published these under a variety of pen names.

Baum’s most famous novel became the basis of one of the first Technicolor films: the hit 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz. This movie inspired other adaptations on screen, on stage, and in literature (e.g. the Dorothy Must Die series and the novel-turned-Broadway-hit Wicked). In addition, if you’ve ever referenced flying monkeys, the yellow brick road, or not being in Kansas anymore, you can thank L. Frank Baum for those concepts.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz cover
Dorothy Must Die cover
Wicked cover

J.M. Barrie:

Born May 9, 1860

Just as Oz is to L. Frank Baum, Neverland is to J.M. Barrie. The play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up became J.M. Barrie’s best-known work. Most of his other writings include the character of Peter Pan or the concept of a child who never grows up. Barrie’s play was adapted into the 1953 Disney animated film Peter Pan and inspired other popular works such as the 2004 live-action movie Finding Neverland and the children’s novel series Peter and the Starcatchers.

Peter Pan cover
Peter and the Starcatchers cover

Mary Pope Osborne

Born May 20, 1949

Mary Pope Osborne has published more than 60 stories for children, most of which are part of the Magic Tree House series. These young-reader chapter books focus on a brother and sister who find a treehouse in their neighborhood that allows them to travel to nearly any place or time: Ancient Greece, Elizabethan England, even the moon. The series has sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide and can be read in any order.

Most of the Magic Tree House stories involve real elements of science, history, and/or world cultures. Osborne has also written a nonfiction companion series–Magic Tree House Fact Trackers–that dives deeper into the educational side of each fiction book. On most of the Fact Trackers, Osborne collaborated with her sister Natalie Pope Boyce and/or her husband Will Osborne.

The Knight at Dawn (Magic Tree House #2) cover
Knights and Castles (Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #2) cover

Jennifer Niven

Born May 14, 1968

Since changing careers from TV producer to writer, Jennifer Niven has written both nonfiction books and several genres of fiction. However, she’s most famous for her young adult contemporary novels. Her book All the Bright Places received many honors–including a 2015 Goodreads Choice Award–and a Netflix film adaptation was released in early 2020. The plot follows two teenagers whose worlds collide as they each work through different mental health issues.

Niven’s other YA contemporary works, Holding up the Universe and Breathless, also became bestsellers. Between those books, her Velva Jean historical fiction series, and her nonfiction works that focus on historical adventures, Niven has something for every reader to enjoy.

All the Bright Places cover
Velva Jean Learns to Drive cover
The Aqua Net Diaries cover

Hank Green

Born May 5, 1980

Hank Green is relatively new to novel-writing, having published his first book An Absolutely Remarkable Thing in 2018. That novel and its 2020 sequel A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor demonstrate the influence of social media and the effects of overnight fame in modern society through their speculative fiction plots. In the novels, an alien being named Carl comes to Earth and makes first contact with New York City resident April May.

Green is perhaps better known for his video and podcast creations. He has contributed much content to the Crash Course and SciShow educational YouTube series. He also developed the VlogBrothers channel and the Dear Hank and John podcast in collaboration with his brother, novelist John Green. Hank Green’s novels have received positive reviews and continue to be read around the world.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing cover
A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor cover

At Discover Books, you’ll find books from all these authors, with prices as low as $3.85 on several of them. If you want to stay up-to-date on what authors have upcoming birthdays, check the “Discover Books by Authors Celebrating Birthdays This Week” section of our homepage. Also, if you missed our April list, click here to discover more authors and their wonderful writings!

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