953 – Al-Karaji, Persian mathematician and engineer who pioneered the theory of algebraic calculus and wrote groundbreaking works on mathematics.
1743 – Thomas Jefferson, 3rd U.S. President and author of some of the most influential documents in American history, including the Declaration of Independence, Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and A Summary View of the Rights of British America; he was also a lawyer, farmer, inventor, architect, scientist, and violinist. At a White House dinner for Nobel Prize winners, President John F. Kennedy said, “This is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
1891 – Nella Larsen, American nurse, librarian, and novelist of the Harlem Renaissance.
1902 – Marguerite Henry, multiple Newbery Medal-winnning American children’s author who wrote novels about horses and other animals, based on true stories; her best known book was Misty of Chincoteague.
1906 – Samuel Beckett, Nobel Prize-winning Irish playwright, novelist, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator.
1909 – Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of novels and short stories, mostly set in the American south.
1922 – John Braine, English novelist who was associated with the Angry Young Men literary movement of the 1950s.
1924 – Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, Japanese novelist and short-story writer.
1936 – Choi In-hun, South Korean novelist and professor.
1939 – Seamus Heaney, Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet, writer, and translator known “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past”; he is recognized as one of the major poets of the 20th century
1940 – J.M.G. Le Clézio, Nobel Prize-winning French-Mauritian novelist, short-story writer, essayist, professor, and translator.
1947 – Rae Armantrout, Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet and professor, associated with the Language Poets.
1948 – Drago Jančar, Slovenian novelist, playwright, and essayist.
1949 – Christopher Hitchens, British-born author, journalist, columnist, essayist, orator, and social critic who wrote about culture, politics, literature, and religion.
1959 – Zeruya Shalev, bestselling Israeli writer, children’s author, literary editor, and screenwriter.
1964 – Lee Jeong-hyang, South Korean film director and screenwriter.