1840 – Thomas Hardy, English novelist and poet of the Victorian realist school who was also influenced by Romanticism; he thought of himself as primarily a poet, but is most remembered as author of some of the most acclaimed novels in English literature, including The Mayor of Casterbridge, Far From the Madding Crowd, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles.
1857 – Karl Adolph Gjellerup, Nobel Prize-winning Danish poet and novelist who was lauded “for his varied and rich poetry, which is inspired by lofty ideals.”
1899 – Edwin Way Teale, Pulitzer Prize-winning American naturalist, best known for his nonfiction book Wandering Through Winter.
1907 – Dorothy West, American novelist, short-story writer, and essayist of the Harlem Renaissance, best known for her book The Living is Easy.
1911 – Xiao Hong, Chinese novelist, poet, short-story writer, and autobiographical essayist; she was born Zhang Naiying and also used the pen name Qiao Yin.
1913 – Barbara Pym, Booker Prize-nominated English novelist and humorous author, once called “the most underrated writer of the century.”
1927 – William Loren Katz (born Loren Paul Katz), prolific American author of young-adult books about the integral roles of African-Americans in the U.S., and editor of the series, “The American Negro: His History and Literature” and “The Antislavery Crusade in America.”
1929 – Norton Juster, American architect and author of children’s books, notably The Phantom Tollbooth.
1934 – Anita Lobel, Polish-born American memoirist, author, and illustrator of children’s books, whose memoir No Pretty Pictures was a finalist for the National Book Award.
1935 – Carol Shields, Pulitzer Prize-winning American-born Canadian novelist and short-story writer.
1945 – Suzan Shown Harjo, American Cheyenne-Holdulgee-Muscogee poet, writer, journalist, lecturer, curator, broadcaster, and activist for American Indian rights, known for her advocacy on behalf of Native American tribes; her efforts to get sports teams to drop names that promote negative stereotypes of Native Americans have resulted in the Patent and Trademark Office revoking the Washington Redskins trademark. In 2014 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.
1953 – Cornel Ronald West, American philosopher, political activist, social critic, author, theologian, radio host, and professor whose work focuses on the roles of race, gender, and class in American society; he is an outspoken voice in left-wing politics in the U.S. Among his most influential books are Race Matters and Democracy Matters. He has been portrayed on Saturday Night Live by Kenan Thompson.
1957 – Sara Warneke (pen name Sara Douglass), Australian fantasy novelist, short-story author, and nonfiction author.
1962 – Sibylle Berg, Swiss-German writer, playwright, novelist, short-story writer, columnist, and university instructor.
1965 – Jim Knipfel, American novelist, journalist, columnist, music and film reviewer, and autobiographer.
1965 – Sean Stewart, American author of science-fiction and fantasy books for adults and teens.
1975 – Salvatore Scibona, American novelist and short-story writer; in 2010, The New Yorker included him as one of the “Fiction Writers to Watch: 20 under 40.”
1981 – Fredrik Backman, bestselling Swedish novelist, columnist, blogger, and writer, best known for the book A Man Called Ove.