10 Famous Birthdays to Celebrate in November

Joshua Moore // Getty Images
Joshua Moore // Getty Images

Some of history's greatest pioneers and artists were born in the month of November. We couldn't possibly name them all, but here are just a handful whose lives we'll be celebrating.

1. DANIEL BOONE: NOVEMBER 2, 1734

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Frontiersman Daniel Boone was born in Pennsylvania and died in Missouri, but he is most closely associated with the American West. As one of first folk heroes to emerge in American history, there's bound to be a few myths surrounding the man, one of which is his iconic coonskin cap. Renderings often show him donning the fur fashion, but the truth is, he simply never wore one. In fact, he reportedly hated them.

2. MARIE CURIE: NOVEMBER 7, 1867

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Marie Curie is best known for being a pioneer for women in sciences—and for being the first person ever (and only woman in history) to be awarded two Nobel Prizes. To this day, only four people have done it: Frederick Sanger, Linus Pauling, John Bardeen and Curie. Born in Poland, she studied physics and math at the Sorbonne in France, where she married Professor Pierre Curie. Together, they studied radiation and radioactive materials, and won a joint Nobel Prize in Physics for their research in 1903. Following the death of Pierre in 1906, Marie fell in love with one of her students—a married man. Their love letters were leaked to to the press, and her paramour challenged the newspaper editor to a duel to defend Curie's honor. While the scandal raged in France, Curie was awarded her second Nobel Prize, this one in chemistry, for her work with radium and polonium. 

3. CARL SAGAN: NOVEMBER 9, 1934

Carl Sagan was an astronomy professor at Cornell University and a consultant for NASA, but he was best known for inspiring the public with his reverence for the universe around us—and explaining it all in an easy-to-understand way. He was a bestselling author (he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for The Dragons of Eden), and his 1980 PBS series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is still among the most popular and widely-watched PBS series of all time. And while Sagan certainly wanted to communicate the enormity of the universe to the public, he never actually said the phrase "billions and billions." That catchphrase came from his friend Johnny Carson, who spoofed Sagan in a 1980 Tonight Show skit.

4. GRACE KELLY: NOVEMBER 12, 1929

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Grace Kelly starred in 11 high-profile movies and several more television shows between 1950 and 1956, and in that brief time, left quite an impression on the pop culture universe. But the actress gave up her Hollywood career to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco, after which she became Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco. In 1962, Alfred Hitchcock managed to convince her to come out of retirement to star in his film Marnie, but the people of Monaco weren't thrilled with the idea. Kelly soon dropped out of the cast, citing scheduling conflicts. She died two decades later following a one-car accident in France.

5. GEORGIA O'KEEFFE: NOVEMBER 15, 1887

Carl Van Vechten via WikimediaCommons // Public Domain

Georgia O'Keeffe was a dedicated artist from an early age; she was well known in the New York art scene even before she became obsessed with New Mexico in the late '20s. O'Keeffe moved there permanently in 1949, and produced a huge body of work focusing on the flowers and landscapes of the American West. She even modified her Model-A Ford to use as a painter's studio so she could paint outside without being exposed to the sun. The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe has over 240 of her oil paintings, watercolors, and sculptures.   

6. ALAN SHEPARD: NOVEMBER 18, 1923


One of NASA's original Mercury astronauts, Alan Shepard went down in history as the first American in space when he rode the Freedom 7 spacecraft to an altitude of 116 miles on May 5, 1961 (in a pee-soaked suit, no less). The 15-minute trip was preserved on film, and today, you can virtually ride along with Shepard 55 years after the fact. Shepard also walked on the moon as part of the Apollo 14 mission in 1971.

7. GEORGE ELIOT: NOVEMBER 22, 1819

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British author George Eliot was born Mary Ann Evans, but she adopted the male pen name so her work would be taken seriously—a valid concern in the Victorian era, when women authors were expected to stick to romance novels. Additionally, Evans wanted her literary efforts to be separate from her work as an editor and literary critic. She ultimately penned seven novels in all (along with short stories and poetry), including Middlemarch and Silas Marner. It wasn't until after the publication of 1859's Adam Bede that she came forward with her true identity after an imposter tried to claim credit for the work.

8. CHARLES SCHULZ: NOVEMBER 26, 1922

Orange County Archives via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Charles M. Schulz spent nearly 50 years drawing the adventures of Charlie Brown and his friends in the comic strip Peanuts. The simply-drawn young children with their grownup thoughts and conversations struck a chord with readers, and the ring of truth in the work made sense: Charlie Brown himself was a reflection of Schulz's own life, particularly his angst and difficulties with women. Schulz would never have retired if it weren't for health problems. He died of colon cancer just hours before his final Peanuts strip was distributed in the Sunday, February 13, 2000 newspapers.  

9. SOJOURNER TRUTH: 1797

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November 26 (1883) is actually Sojourner Truth's death day, but we're celebrating it among the birthdays because the abolitionist and women's rights activist's birth date is unknown. We do know she was probably born in 1797 in New York, named Isabella Baumfree, and grew up speaking Dutch as her first language. She escaped from her owner in 1826, taking her infant daughter with her, just one year before the state of New York freed all slaves. Baumfree had four other children, and soon after her escape, she learned that her five-year-old son had been sold illegally to a slaveholder in Alabama. In a landmark court case, she sued the man, and won. Baumfree changed her name to Sojourner Truth in 1843 and spent the rest of her life preaching, and campaigning for abolition and women's rights.

10. MARK TWAIN: NOVEMBER 30, 1835

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Samuel Langhorne Clemens worked as a typesetter, riverboat pilot on the Mississippi, miner, and journalist before he began writing novels under the pen name Mark Twain. His stories about the people he met along the way earned him the reputation as the world's foremost writer on American life at the turn of the 20th century. The infinitely quotable Twain said many memorable things, but some of his best known quotes are actually either paraphrased or misattributed. One thing he did say (which we can totally get behind): "Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

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The Hidden Meanings Behind 11 Common Tombstone Symbols

Tombstone symbols can sometimes be hard to interpret.
Tombstone symbols can sometimes be hard to interpret.
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Walk through any cemetery in the world and you’ll find a solemn landscape that honors loved ones that have passed on. Accompanying the inscriptions of names, dates, and family crests are some common symbols that crop up repeatedly on tombstones. If you’ve ever wondered what they could mean, take a look at some of the explanations behind the graveyard graphics.

1. Eye

The eyes have it.Valerie Everett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you feel someone may be looking at you in the cemetery, you might be near a tombstone engraved with an eye. Often surrounded in a burst of sunlight or a triangle, an eye typically represents the all-seeing eye of God and could denote that the decedent was a Freemason.

2. Clasped Hands

Hands on a tombstone can mean several things.Christina Ramey, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Seeing two hands clasped together can illustrate shaking hands or holding hands, depending on the position of the thumbs. A handshake can mean a greeting to eternal life. If clasped hands have different cuffs, it could indicate a bond between the deceased and a spouse or relative. If one hand is higher than the other, it could also mean that a person is being welcomed by a loved one or a higher power. The hand engraving grew into wide use during the Victorian era.

3. Dove

Doves appear in a variety of poses on tombstones.Tim Green, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A dove usually symbolizes peace and the Holy Spirit, but its specific meaning depends on how the bird is posed. If it’s flying upward, the soul is ascending to heaven. If it’s flying down, it represents the Holy Spirit arriving at the baptism of Jesus Christ. If it’s holding an olive branch in its mouth, it refers to an ancient Greek belief that olive branches could ward off evil spirits.

4. Broken Chain

Chains on tombstones can be linked or broken.Carl Wycoff, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Medieval wisdom once held that a golden chain kept the soul in the body. In death, the chain is broken and the soul is freed. If the chain is unbroken and if it features the letters FLT (for Friendship, Love, and Truth), it probably means the deceased belonged to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization that seeks to promote charitable causes and offer aid.

5. Book

The meaning of a book on a tombstone isn't always easy to read.Carl Wycoff, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Was the deceased an avid reader? Maybe, but not necessarily. An open book on a tombstone might refer to a sacred text like the Bible, the “book of life,” or the person’s willingness to learn. If you see a dog-earned corner on the right side, it could indicate the person’s life ended prematurely and before their “book” was finished.

6. Finger Pointing Up

An index finger pointing up can direct visitors to look up.Christina Ramey, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A hand with the index finger raised skyward is one of the more ambiguous symbols found in graveyards. It might be pointing to heaven, or indicate the fact that the decedent has risen from the land of the living.

7. Corn

Ears of corn could mean the deceased was a farmer.mike krzeszak, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A corn stalk on a tombstone means the deceased could have been a farmer; it used to be a custom to send corn instead of floral arrangements to a farmer’s family. It might represent other kinds of grain. Alternately, corn seeds can symbolize rebirth.

8. Scroll

Scrolls on a tombstone can refer to an unknown future.Kelly Teague, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

A scroll engraved on a tombstone with both ends rolled up can indicate that part of life has already unfolded while the future is hidden.

9. Lamp

Lamps can mean a love of knowledge.Sean, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

A lamp on a tombstone could speak to a love of learning or knowledge, or it might refer to how the spirit is immortal.

10. Camel

Camels aren't something you'd expect to see on a tombstone.Glen, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

While this particular camel signifies the Imperial Camel Corps that occupied desert regions during World War I, a camel can also represent a long journey or a skilled guide—in this case, for the afterlife.

11. Hourglass

An hourglass can be a message to the living.justiny8s, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

As you may have guessed, the hourglass symbolizes the march of time. An hourglass on its end may mean the deceased died suddenly, while a winged hourglass communicates how quickly time flies. It may also be construed as a message to the living—time is short, so don’t waste it.