0216 – Mani, Babylonian writer, prophet, theologian, and religious leader who founded Manichaeism; six of his major works were written in Syriac, with the seventh in Middle Persian.
1126 – Ibn Rushd (often Latinized as Averroes), Muslim Andalusian philosopher and judge who wrote about philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, psychology, mathematics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, linguistics, and Aristotle.
1629 – Christiaan Huygens, Dutch astronomer and physicist who discovered the rings of Saturn, invented the pendulum clock, and wrote about mechanics and optics.
1872 – Abdullah Yusuf Ali, British-born Indian barrister, writer, translator, and scholar who wrote about Islam; his translation of the Qur’an into English is one of the most widely used in the English-speaking world.
1879 – James Branch Cabell, American author of satirical fantasy and literary fiction.
1889 – Arnold Joseph Toynbee, British historian best known for his 12-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations.
1901 – Martin Kessel, German novelist.
1912 – Nora Gal (full name Eleonora Yakovlevna Galperina), Soviet writer, poet, editor, translator, linguist, literary critic, and translation theorist, known for her translations of works by Alexandre Dumas, H.G. Wells, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Harper Lee, Katherine Anne porter, J.D. Salinger, Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. Le Guin, and many others; her influential, convention-challenging book on translation, Words Living and Words Dead, is still in print.
1924 – Mary Warnock, British baroness, writer, philosopher, politician, educator, and existentialist; her work dealt with morality, education, and the mind, and she is best known for chairing an inquiry whose report formed the basis of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. She also served as Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge.
1935 – Erich von Däniken, Swiss author known for theories about extraterrestrials, described in controversial books such as his most famous one, Chariots of the Gods. (Perhaps he was the inspiration for Dr. Daniel Jackson?)
1935 – Jack McDevitt American science-fiction novelist and short-story writer, many of whose works deal with attempts to make contact with alien races, and with archaeology or xenoarchaeology; he is best known for his Alex Benedict series and his Priscilla Hutchins series, and has been nominated for the Nebula Award sixteen times and has won once.
1945 – Inger Hagerup, Norwegian author, playwright, and poet; she is considered one of the greatest Norwegian poets of the 20th century.
1946 – Abdilatif Abdalla, Kenyan poet, writer, political activist, politician, and educator who was imprisoned for his support of the Kenya People’s Union; the poems he wrote while in solitary confinement were awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature.
1946 – Mirielle Guiliano, bestselling French/American diet book author, best known for French Women Don’t Get Fat.
1954 – Bruce Sterling, science-fiction author; early cyberpunk pioneer.
1960 – Tina Rosenberg, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist.
1961 – Daniel Clowes, American cartoonist and screenwriter.
1968 – Karla Wheelock (full name Karla Susana Wheelock Aguayo), Mexican mountaineer, writer, and lecturer who was the second Latin American woman to climb Mount Everest.
1969 – Lydia R. Diamond, influential American playwright and professor whose plays often deal with issues of race.
1970 – Michelle Eileen McNamara, American author of true crime books.
1971 – Mars Callahan, American screenwriter and poker player.
1977 – Olivia Laing, award-winning British novelist, nonfiction writer, and cultural critic.
1983 – Anna Rose, Australian author and environmental activist.