1452 – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian inventor, designer, writer, scientist, painter, sculptor, cartographer, and “Renaissance man”; he has been called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time.
1843 – Henry James, American-born British novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and literary critic who is considered one of the greatest novelists in the English language; he is a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism.
1857 – Jane de la Vaudère (pen name of Jeanne Scrive), French novelist, short-story writer, poet, and playwright who was part of both the Decadent movement and Naturalism.
1875 – Klaziena (Ina) Boudier-Bakker, Dutch novelist whose most famous work is De klop op de deur (The knock on the door).
1892 – Corrie ten Boom, Dutch author, watchmaker; along with her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members, she helped many Jews escape the Nazis during World War II by hiding them in her home until she was arrested and sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, is a memoir that recounts the story of her family’s efforts and her time at Ravensbrück.
1916 – Helene Hanff, American writer best known for her work 84, Charing Cross Road.
1921 – Vimala Thakar, Indian author, social activist, and spiritual teacher
1925 – Sat-Okh (real name Stanislaw Suplatowicz), Canadian-born Polish children’s author and television presenter who was a soldier in the Polish Resistance during World War II and published autobiographical children’s books; claiming to be Polish-Shawnee and to have grown up in Canada among First Nations people, he became an important figure in the Polish “indianist” movement, but there is controversy as to whether his accounts were a hoax, as his books reflect culture and customs not associated with the peoples of the Northwest Territories.
1931 – Tomas Tranströmer, Nobel Prize-winning Swedish poet, psychologist, and translator, who won the award “because, through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”
1932 – Suresh Bhat, Indian poet who was known as Ghazal Samrat (Emperor of ghazals) for his exposition of the ghazal form of poetry and its adaptation to the Marathi language.
1940 – Jeffrey Archer, English author and former politician who resigned amid scandal.
1943 – Pınar Kür, Turkish author, playwright, and literary critic.
1950 – Josiane Balasko, award-winning French screenwriter, actress, and film director.
1958 – Anne Michaels, award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who was the poet laureate of Toronto, Ontario.
1958 – Benjamin Zephaniah, U.K./Jamaican writer, poet, and playwright.
1964 – Johanne Hildebrandt, Swedish novelist and journalist who has authored ten books.
1966 – Cressida Cowell, British author and children’s writer, best known for her bestselling book series, “How To Train Your Dragon.”
1968 – Mons Kallentoft, Swedish journalist and author of the Police Inspector Malin Fors crime novels.