1838 – Bonkim Chondra Chattopadhyay (also known as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee), Indian writer, novelist, poet, editor, and journalist, best known for Vande Mataram, the Sanskrit poem that became the lyrics of India’s national anthem.
1850 – Lafcadio Hearn, Greek/Irish/Japanese writer best known for his books about Japan, where he was known as Koizumi Yakumo, and for his writings about New Orleans, Louisiana; he was named after the island of Lefkada (a Greek Island in the Ionian Sea) where he was born.
1869 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born writer, journalist, publisher, lecturer, political activist, philosopher, autobiographer, and nurse who played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
1872 – Paul Lawrence Dunbar, African-American poet, novelist, and playwright, much of whose work was written in dialect.
1880 – Helen Keller, American author, educator, journalist, and political activist for the deaf and blind, for labor rights, and for women’s suffrage; her early autobiography was adapted into several works about her; she was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree
1896 – Helen Sewell, Caldecott Honor-winning American children’s book author and illustrator; among many other works, she illustrated the first editions of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books.
1906 – Catherine Cookson, British novelist known for her fiction based in northeast England; she also wrote under the pen names Catherine Marchant and Katie McMullen, and was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; in her lifetime, she was the top-selling UK novelist ever.
1924 – Efua Sutherland, Ghanaian writer, poet, playwright, theatrical director, children’s author, publisher, educator, and child advocate; she was an influential figure in the development of Ghanaian theatre and helped to introduce the study of African performance traditions at the university level.f
1928 – James Lincoln Collier, Newbery Honor-winning American author of children’s historical fiction; he was also a musician.
1929 – Peter Maas, American journalist and author of nonfiction books, notably several mafia biographies.
1936 – Lucille Clifton, National Book Award-winning American poet, writer, educator, and Poet Laureate of Maryland.
1938 – Alan Coren, English humorist, writer, satirist, and panelist on television and radio quiz shows.
1939 – Ivan Doig, American novelist, best known for regional historic fiction set in Montana.
1949 – James P. Hogan, Locus Award-winning British author of hard science fiction.
1951 – Anita Diamant, bestselling American author of nonfiction and fiction books; her works deal with issues of Jewish practice and the role of women; she is best known for her debut novel, The Red Tent.
1953 – Alice McDermott, National Book Award-winning American novelist, essayist, and professor.
1956 – Scott Cunningham, American author of books on Wicca, new age practices, and alternative religions.
1966 – J.J. Abrams, television and movie writer and producer, best known for his work on the television show Lost and for some of the “Star Wars” movies.
1970 – Cecily von Ziegesar, American author best known for the “Gossip Girl” books.
1971 – Jo Frost, English nanny, television personality, and author of books on child rearing.
1975 – Teju Cole, Nigerian-American writer, photographer, and art historian.
1985 – Paul Downs Colaizzo, American playwright.