Author Birthdays: Rilke, Butler, Woolrich

December 4th marks the birthday of authors Rainer Maria Rilke, Samuel Butler, and Cornell Woolrich.

Rainer Maria Rilke was an Austrian poet who wrote in both verse and lyrical styles. His best known work is called Duino Elegies (German Duineser Elegien), which he wrote in the early 20th century. Other works include the Book of Hours (German Stundenbuch), which was inspired by the spirituality of Russia, and the semi-autobiographical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, written in Paris and centered around themes of existentialism.

Rilke often used figures of Greek mythology in his poetry. One, Sonnets to Orpheus, has a public domain translation which you can read online. You may also be interested in checking out a biography on him.

Samuel Butler was a Victorian writer. His most famous pieces are probably the satire Erewhon and the novel The Way of All Flesh.

If you are interested in reading any of Butler's works, many are available for free download on Project Gutenberg. He wrote many essays as well as fiction, and they discuss anything from Darwin and evolution to the possible homosexuality of Shakespeare.

Cornell Woolrich was an American writer who also wrote under the names William Irish and George Hopley. He wrote many, many mysteries, including Fright, the story of a man who strangled his mistress after his wedding day, and Manhattan Love Song, which is widely considered one of the beginning works of noir.

Woolrich also wrote short stories, some of which have been made into movies. Rear Window is probably the most well known. For a more complete listing of the 20+ films based on his works, visit Wikipedia.