1509 – John Calvin, French theologian, pastor, and reformer who wrote bible commentaries, treatises, and many of the foundation documents for reformed churches.
1856 – Nikola Tesla, Serbian/Austrian/American scientist, inventor, and engineer who wrote books and articles about his work, including an autobiography; he is best known for his work with electricity; among his discoveries: fluorescent light, laser beams, wireless communications, remote control, and more; his alternating-current induction motor is considered one of the ten greatest inventions ever, and a unit of magnetic field strength is named tesla after him. His mother, Djuka Mandic, was also an inventor, despite the fact that she was illiterate.
1871 – Marcel Proust, French novelist and short-story writer, best known for his seven-volume autobiographical stream-of-consciousness novel, À la recherche du temps perdu, which is currently translated as In Search of Lost Time but is also known as Remembrance of Things Past. He died before he could complete the last three volumes; they were edited by his brother and published posthumously.
1875 – Edmund Clerihew Bentley, English novelist and humorist; after whom is named the clerihew, an irregular form of humorous verse on biographical topics; he is also credited with writing the first modern detective novel.
1885 – Mary O’Hara, American author of fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, and children’s books; she was also a screenwriter, rancher, pianist, and composer; her most famous book is My Friend Flicka.
1903 – John Wyndham, pen name of John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, an English science-fiction writer known for post-apocalyptic novels; he also wrote under the names John Beynon and Lucas Parkes.
1905 – Mildred Wirt Benson, American journalist and children’s book author who wrote 23 early Nancy Drew mystery books under the pen name Carolyn Keene; she also wrote many other books and was a pilot, amateur archaeologist, and adventurer.
1916 – Martin Provensen, Caldecott Medal-winning American writer and illustrator of children’s books, who collaborated with his wife Alice Rose Provensen on many titles.
1922 – Jean Kerr, American author and playwright whose best-known book was a collection of humorous essays, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, which was made into a film and TV series; she was married to Pulitzer Prize-winning drama critic Walter Kerr.
1926 – Fred Gwynne, six-foot, five-inch American actor best known as television’s Herman Munster; he also wrote and illustrated children’s books.
1931 – Julian Clare May, An American science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and children’s book author who has also written science articles for encyclopedias and two episodes of the Buck Rogers comic strip.
1931 – Alice Munro, Nobel Prize-winning Canadian short-story author.
1951 – Arja Uusitalo, Finnish poet, journalist, editor, and broadcaster who wrote in Swedish as well as Finnish.