1561 – Francis Bacon (1st Viscount St Alban), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England; he is credited with developing the scientific method, arguing for scientific knowledge based on inductive reasoning, careful observation, and a methodical approach; he has been called the father of empiricism.
1751 – Amabel Hume-Campbell (1st Countess de Grey and 5th Baroness Lucas), diarist political writer, and author who was a Countess in her own right; she wrote particularly about the French Revolution.
1788 – Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron), influential English poet, politician, and peer, and an important figure in the Romantic movement; he traveled throughout Europe, and while living in Italy spent time with his friend, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; later he joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which the Greeks revere him as a national hero. His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is considered the founder of the field of computer programming.
1849 – August Strindberg, Swedish writer whose book The Red Room has been called the first modern Swedish novel.
1872 – Katai Tayama, Japanese author who established the Japanese literary genre of naturalistic novels that revolve around detailed self-examination; he also wrote about his experiences in the Russo-Japanese War.
1886 – Isabel Paterson, Canadian-American journalist, novelist, political philosopher, and leading literary and cultural critic; she is considered one of the three founding mothers of American libertarianism (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand).
1891 – Antonio Gramsci, Italian writer, politician, theorist, economist, sociologist, literary critic, journalist, and linguist.
1906 – Robert E. Howard, American author of pulp fiction novels, known primarily for creating the character Conan the Barbarian.
1911 – Mary Hayley Bell, Chinese-born English actress, screenwriter, playwright, and novelist; her husband was Sir John Mills and her daughter was actress Hayley Mills.
1920 – Ann Philippa Pearce, Carnegie Medal-winning English author of children’s books.
1922 – Howard Moss, National Book Award-winning American poet, editor, dramatist, and critic.
1925 – Katherine Anne MacLean, American science-fiction author best known for her short fiction of the 1950s, which explored the effects of technological advances on individuals and society.
1926 – Aurora de Albornoz, Spanish scholar, poet, professor, and literary critic whose work was inspired, in part, by her experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
1934 – Graham Kerr, Scottish chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host who was known as the Galloping Gourmet; after a religious conversion and his wife’s health problems, Kerr turned to healthier cuisine and later renounced his earlier shows, saying “What I did wasn’t art, it was a crime,” given high rates of obesity.
1937 – Sallie Bingham, American author, playwright, poet, novelist, short-story writer, teacher, memoirist, feminist activist, and philanthropist; she is part of the Bingham family, which dominated the news media of Louisiville and the state of Kentucky for most of the 20th century.
1937 – Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling American author whose police fiction draws on his 14 years of experience with the Los Angeles Police Department.
1943 – James Carroll, American author, historian, journalist, and Roman Catholic reformer whose fiction and nonfiction center on religion and history.
1963 – Denise Dresser (Denise Eugenia Dresser Guerra), Mexican writer, journalist, editor, columnist, and university professor who has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in Mexico and one of the 50 most influential women in Twitter.