1737 – Thomas Paine, English-born American writer, essayist, opinion journalist, politician, philosopher, and political activist known for Enlightenment Era ideals; his pamphlet Common Sense and other writings helped inspire the American Revolution.
1783 – Vasily Zhukovsky, Russian poet, translator, linguist, and literary critic.
1863 – Anthony Hope, English author and playwright best known for his adventure novel, The Prisoner of Zenda.
1867 – Natsume Soseki (born Natsume Kin’nosuke), influential Japanese novelist who is commonly considered the greatest writer in modern Japanese history.
1874 – Amy Lowell, Pulitzer Prize-winning American Imagist poet, editor, translator, and performer.
1923 – Chava Rosenfarb, Polish-born Jewish-Canadian novelist, poet, translator, and Holocaust survivor who was a major contributor to post-World War II Yiddish literature.
1935 – Lionel Fanthorpe, British priest and entertainer who wrote under a number of pseudonyms.
1940 – J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning South-Africa born Australian novelist, essayist, linguist, and translator.
1944 – Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning American author, poet, short-story writer, essayist, and social activist; she is best known for the novel The Color Purple; much of her work explores the lives of women of color and issues of social justice.
1956 – Chenjerai Hove, Zimbabwean poet, novelist, and essayist who wrote in both English and Shona; his work examined the psychic and social costs, especially to the rural population, of the war of liberation in Zimbabwe. He died while living in exile in Norway.