1652 – Elizabeth Charlotte (Madame Palatine), German/French princess and writer who married Philippe I, Duke of Orléans; her vast, frank correspondence provides a detailed account of the personalities and activities at the court of her brother-in-law, Louis XIV, for half a century.
1819 – Julia Ward Howe, prominent American abolitionist, social activist, and poet who authored “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
1867 – Arnold Bennett, English novelist who has an omelette named after him at the Savoy Hotel in London.
1876 – Antoni Ferdynand Ossendowski, Polish writer, journalist, traveler, globetrotter, explorer, and university professor who is best known for his books about Lenin and the Russian Civil War,
1884 – Max Brod, German-speaking Czech and Jewish (later Israeli) author, composer, and journalist who is most famous as friend and biographer of Franz Kafka.
1894 – Dashiell Hammett, American detective novelist, best known for The Maltese Falcon.
1900 – Magda Portal, Peruvian poet, feminist, author, and political activist who was a key figure in the vanguardia poetry literary movement in Peru and Latin America, as well as a founder of the APRA (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance) political party.
1907 – Rachel Carson, American marine biologist, environmentalist, writer, and activist; her book The Silent Spring is credited with starting the global environmental movement.
1912 – John Cheever, Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning American novelist and short-story writer who is sometimes called “the Chekhov of the suburbs.” His main themes include the duality of human nature and a nostalgia for a vanishing way of life, characterized by abiding cultural traditions and a profound sense of community, as opposed to the alienating nomadism of modern suburbia.
1915 – Herman Wouk, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and nonfiction author whose most popular works include The Caine Mutiny and The Winds of War.
1925 – Tony Hillerman, bestselling American author of detective novels, short stories, a memoir, and nonfiction books about the southwestern United States; he is best known for his Navajo Tribal Police mysteries, which are rich in details about Native American cultures. He has said that his Navajo name means, “He who is afraid of his horse.”
1930 – John Barth, National Book Award-winning American novelist, short-story writer, and professor, known for the postmodernist and metafictional qualities of his work. His controversial 1967 essay, The Literature of Exhaustion, considered a manifesto of postmodernism, depicted literary realism as a “used-up” tradition; despite criticism that his essay was a statement of “the death of the novel,” Barth insisted that he meant only that literature was moving into a new stage.
1931 – Ottaplakkal Nambiyadikkal Velu Kurup (known as O.N.V. Kurup or simply O.N.V.) – Malayalam poet and lyricist who is considered one of the finest lyrical poets in India.
1932 – M.E. Kerr (who also wrote as Marijane Meaker Kerr, Ann Aldrich, and Vin Packer), American novelist, lesbian pulp fiction writer, mystery writer, and children’s author.
1932 – Linda Pastan, American poet who writes about the anxieties that exist under the surface of ordinary life
1934 – Harlan Ellison, prolific and influential American author of novels, short stories, screenplays, essays, comic books, and reviews, most of them in the genres of speculative fiction; he was also known for his outspoken, combative personality, and was the winner of multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars.
1937 – Andrei Georgiyevich Bitov, Russian novelist, poet, and writer of absurdist short stories.
1940 – Edmund Morris, Pulitzer Prize-winning Kenyan-born American biographer of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.
1945 – Anthony Pagden, American author, translator, and professor of history and political science.
1949 – Alma Guillermoprieto, Mexican journalist, author, professor, and dancer who has written extensively about Latin America for the British and American press.
1953 – Emha Ainun Nadjib, Indonesian poet, novelist, short-story writer, and essayist; his real name was Muhammad Ainun Nadjib; he also wrote under the name Cak Nun. He leads the Kiai Kanjeng group, which stages dramas and musical performances on religious themes.
1958 – Rajni Tilak, prominent Indian Dalit poet, short-story writer, autobiogrqapher, translator, and anthologist who was also an activist for the rights of women and for workers, and a leading voice in Dalit feminism and writing.
1966 – Heston Blumenthal, English chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author.