0538 – Gregory of Tours, Gallo-Roman historian and Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that had been referred to as Gaul; his work is the primary contemporary source for Merovingian history, and his most notable work was his Decem Libri Historiarum (Ten Books of Histories), better known as the Historia Francorum (History of the Franks). He was born Georgius Florentius
1554 – Sir Phillip Sidney, English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier who is remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan age.
1667 – Jonathan Swift, Anglo-Irish writer, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin; he is still known for such works as Gulliver’s Travels.
1817 – Theodore Mommsen, Nobel Prize-winning German classicist who was called “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing” in reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome.
1835 – Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens), American author, essayist, humorist, travel writer, and journalist, best known for his classic novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
1868 – Angela Brazil, one of the first British writers of “modern schoolgirls’ stories,” books written from the characters’ point of view and intended as entertainment rather than moral instruction; she also published numerous short stories; her books were commercially successful and widely read by pre-adolescent girls but were seen as disruptive and a negative influence on moral standards by some authority figures, leading to them being banned or even burned. She made a major contribution to changing the nature of fiction for girls, presenting a young female point of view that was active, independent-minded, and aware of current issues.
1874 – Winston Churchill, British politician and military leader who led Great Britain through World War II as Prime Minister; he was also a journalist and writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his six-volume history of the war.
1874 – L.M. Montgomery (Lucy Maud Montgomery), Canadian author of the wildly popular “Anne of Green Gables” books, which have been the basis for many television and movie versions; she was also a poet, short-story writer, and essayist. Though her books were a huge commercial success and she is still the bestselling Canadian novelist of all time, in her own day she was often dismissed by critics because books for women and children were not considered serious literature.
1902 – Maria Villavecchia Bellonci, Italian writer, translator, biographer, historian, and journalist, known especially for her biography of Lucrezia Borgia.
1906 – John Dickson Carr, American author of detective stories, who also published under the pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn.
1907 – Jacques Barzun, French-born writer of critical and historical studies.
1910 – Balakrishna Bhagwant Borkar, Indian writer and poet who wrote in the Marathi and Konkani languages; he wrote about nature, patriotism, the body and soul, and the individual in society, and his work has been praised for his diverse sensibility, his multi-colored imagery, and the ease with which he showcases the joys and sorrows of life.
1912 – Gordon Parks, American poet, novelist, photographer, biographer, and filmmaker who was the first Black photographer to work for Vogue and Life magazines. His autobiographical novel The Learning Tree was made into a film; Parks himself directed, becoming the first African-American to direct a film for a major studio. He went on to direct Shaft, the first major-studio action film with a black hero, and other movies.
1926 – Chie Nakane (中根 千枝), award-winning Japanese anthropologist and author who was the first female professor at the University of Tokyo and the first female member of the Jpana Academy; her work focuses on cross-cultural comparisons of social structures in Asia, and she is internationally known for her bestselling book, Japanese Society.
1931 – John Samuel Mbiti, Kenyan-born writer, philosopher, and Anglican priest who is considered the father of modern African theology.
1931 – Margot Zemach, Caldecott Medal-winning American author and illustrator of children’s books, many of whose works were adaptations of folk tales from around the world.
1940 – Kevin Price Phillips, American writer, critic, and political and economic commentator who was a Republican Party strategist before becoming an Independent.
1947 – David Mamet, American playwright, essayist, and film director who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony-nominated playwright.
1947 – Moses Nagamootoo, Guyanese novelist, writer, lawyer, and politician who is Prime Minister of Guyana.
1966 – David Nicholls, award-winning English novelist and screenwriter.
1970 – Tayari Jones, American novelist and professor whose book An American Marriage was a 2018 Oprah’s Book Club Selection.
1978 – Robert Kirkman, comic-book writer whose best-known works included Invincible and The Walking Dead, and who also worked on Ultimate X-Men for Marvel Comics.
1979 – Om Swami, Indian monk who has written bestselling books about wellness, enlightenment, and spirituality, as well as a memoir.