1803 – Edward Bulwer-Lytton, English novelist, poet, playwright, and Member of Parliament who coined several phrases that are still used today, including “the great unwashed”, “pursuit of the almighty dollar,” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” He is best known for the opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night,” which inspired the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which invites entrants to submit the opening sentence to the worst possible hypothetical novel.
1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, poet, lecturer, and philosopher who was a key figure in the Transcendentalist movement.
1846 – Naim Frashëri, Albanian poet, civil servant, historian, journalist, and translator who was national poet of Albania, the pioneer of modern Albanian literature, and one of the most influential Albanian cultural icons of his century.
1899 – Boris Artzybasheff, Newbery Medal-winning Russian-born American illustrator and commercial artist known for his surrealistic style.
1908 – Theodore Roethke, Nobel Prize-winning American poet and educator who was one of the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation; his work is characterized by introspection, rhythm and natural imagery.
1925 – Rosario Castellanos Figueroa, influential Mexican poet and author who was one of Mexico’s most important literary voices of the last century; her work dealt with cultural and gender oppression and has influenced Mexican feminist theory and cultural studies.
1926 – Dhiruben Patel, Indian Gujarati novelist, playwright, children’s writer, professor, publisher, humor writer, and translator.
1927 – Robert Ludlum, bestselling American author of thriller novels, best known for the Jason Bourne books.
1932 – John Gregory Dunne, American novelist, screenwriter, and literary critic who was the younger brother of author Dominick Dunne and the husband of author Joan Didion.
1935 – W.P. Kinsella, Canadian novelist and short-story writer best known for his book Shoeless Joe, which was adapted into the film Field of Dreams.
1936 – David Levering Lewis, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning
American historian, professor, and biographer.
1938 – Raymond Carver, American short-story writer, poet, and essayist, known for minimalism and “dirty realism,” a literary movement that used spare, unadorned language to depict the seamier or more mundane aspects of ordinary life.
1938 – Joyce Carol Thomas, National Book Award-winning African-American poet, playwright, and children’s author.
1947 – Moon Chung-hee, award-winning South Korean poet and professor whose writing presents a complex interplay of vivid emotions and sensations.
1949 – Jamaica Kincaid (born Elaine Cynthia Potter), Antiguan-born American novelist, essayist, professor, gardener, and gardening writer whose work explores themes of colonialism and colonial legacy, gender and sexuality, mother-daughter relationships, racism, class, power, and adolescence.
1952 – Al Sarrantonio, prolific American horror and science-fiction author, editor, publisher, and anthologist.
1953 – Eve Ensler (also known as simply V), American feminist playwright and author, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues, which The New York Times called “probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade.”
1967 – Poppy Z Brite, pen name of American author Billy Martin (born Melissa Ann Brite), known for gothic horror featuring gay and bisexual characters.