1564 – Christopher Marlowe, English playwright, poet, translator, and (probably) government spy of the Elizabethan era; he is sometimes credited with authorship of plays attributed to Shakespeare, but most scholars refute this.
1753 – Évariste Desiré de Forges, vicomte de Parny, French poet who was extremely popular during his lifetime; Pushkin once called him, “My master.”
1778 – Ugo Foscolo (born Niccolò Foscolo), Italian writer, revolutionary, and poet.
1833 – José María de Pereda, Spanish journalist and novelist of the native realism school.
1860 – Johan (Eliza) de Meester, Dutch writer, publicist, and editor.
1864 – John Henry Mackay, Scottish-born writer and philosopher, known for his anarchist views.
1879 – Carl Wilhelm Ramsauer, internationally known German physicist, professor, writer, and editor; he pioneered the field of electron and proton collisions with gas molecules and is best known for discovery of the Ramsauer–Townsend effect.
1882 – Anne Spencer, African-American poet, teacher, civil rights activist, librarian, and gardener who was an important member of the Harlem Renaissance group of intellectuals.
1888 – Ljudmil Stojanow, Bulgarian poet, short-story writer, and novelist.
1898 – Melvin Beaunorus Tolson, American Modernist poet, educator, columnist, and politician whose work concentrated on the experience of African Americans and includes several long historical poems; he spent most of his career in Texas and Oklahoma, but was named Poet Laureate of Liberia.
1900 – Rudolf Värnlund, proletarian Swedish novelist, playwright, critic, and social commentator.
1903 – Peter G. Buckinx, Flemish poet, essayist, playwright, and magazine editor.
1905 – Irmgard Keun, German author noted for her portrayals of life in both the Weimar Republic and the early years of Nazi Germany.
1913 – Mary Leakey, British paleoanthropologist and writer who made several important discovers that advanced understanding of human evolution; she is best known for her discovery of the first fossilised Proconsul skull, an extinct ape believed to be ancestral to humans.
1919 – Louis Philip Heren, British journalist and author of political theory and autobiography; he is considered one of the great foreign correspondents of the 20th century.
1921 – Carl Neumann Degler, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and author.
1924 – Paolo Volponi, Italian writer, poet, and politician.
1925 – Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Indonesian novelist, journalist, and human rights activist.
1929 – Keith Spencer Waterhouse, British novelist, newspaper columnist, and television writer
1940 – Tom Brokaw, American television journalist and nonfiction author.
1947 – Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author and economic researcher.
1955 – Michael Pollan, American author and professor whose work centers on food and culture; he is best known for his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.