1859 – A.E. Housman (Alfred Edward Housman), English classical scholar and poet, best known for his lyrical “A Shropshire Lad” poems, which evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside.
1819 – Louise Otto-Peters, German journalist, suffragist, and women’s rights activist who wrote novels, poetry, essays, and libretti.
1874 – Robert Frost, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet whose work is closely associated with the northern U.S. but was first published in England; known for realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, he examined complex social and political themes through observations about rural life in New England. He was also Poet Laureate of Vermont.
1904 – Joseph Campbell, American writer, professor, and lecturer who was known for his work in comparative mythology and religion.
1905 – Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist; his Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles his time in a Nazi concentration camp.
1907 – Mahadevi Verma, Hindi poet, freedom fighter, and professor; she was a major poet of the “Chhayavaad,” a literary movement of romanticism in modern Hindi poetry.
1911 – Tenessee Williams, Pen name of Thomas Lanier Williams III, creator of many classics of American drama; along with contemporaries Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered one of the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.
1930 – Gregory Nunzio Corso, American poet who was part of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers.
1931 – Leonard Nimoy, screenwriter, photographer, actor, writer, poet, musician, voice actor, film director, film producer, television actor, and film actor; he is, of course, best known for playing Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.
1941 – Richard Dawkins, Kenyan-born English evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and author who is best known for his book The Selfish Gene and his outspoken views against religion.
1942 – Erica Jong, American novelist, satirist, and poet who pushed the boundaries of female sexuality with her 1973 novel Fear of Flying.
1943 – Sanmao, Taiwanese novelist, translator, screenwriter, and lyricist; her
works range from autobiographical writing, travel writing, and reflective novels, to translations of Spanish-language comic strips; she also studied philosophy and taught German.
1943 – Bob Woodward, American journalist and author who, with Carl Bernstein, did much of the investigative reporting for the Washington Post that exposed the Watergate scandal.
1952 – T.A. Barron, American author of fantasy literature for children and young adults.
1954 – Dorothy Porter, Australian writer, poet, children’s author, and librettist.
1964 – Hai Zi, pen name of the Chinese poet Zha Haisheng, one of the most famous poets in Mainland China after the Cultural Revolution; he committed suicide by lying on a rail at the age of 25, lying beside a bag containing a Bible, a book of selected stories by Joseph Conrad, Thoreau’s Walden, and Heyerdahk’s Kon-Tiki, a death now regarded as an important event in modern Chinese literature.