1635 – Robert Hooke, English author, astronomer, professor, physicist, surveyor, and scientist who often argued with Isaac Newton over scientific theories.
1811 – William Makepeace Thackeray, Indian-born English journalist, illustrator, editor, and author, best known for his satirical novel Vanity Fair; as a journalist, he often wrote under such absurd pen names as George Savage Fitz-Boodle, Michael Angelo Titmarsh, Theacuteophile Wagstaff, and C.J. Yellowplush, Esq.; his daughter Anne Thackeray Ritchie, step-aunt to Virginia Woolf, was also a prominent writer.
1900 – Nathalie Sarraute, Russian-born French lawyer, author, and dramatist.
1902 – Jessamyn West, American Quaker novelist and short-story writer, best known for her first novel, The Friendly Persuasion; she was second cousin to U.S. President Richard Nixon.
1906 – Clifford Odets, screenwriter, playwright, stage actor, and theatrical director.
1918 – Nelson Mandela, Nobel Prize-winning South African president, civil-rights activist, and writer.
1926 – Margaret Laurance, influential Canadian novelist and short-story writer who often wrote about Africa, where she once lived.
1932 – Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Soviet and Russian poet, novelist, essayist, dramatist, screenwriter, actor, editor, and film director
1937 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author, creator of Gonzo Journalism; his topics ranged from sports to politics to cultural commentary.
1943 – Joseph J. Ellis, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning bestselling American historian and biographer.
1951 – Steven Hahn, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian whose work often focuses on the American South, African-American history, and the international history of slavery, emancipation, and race.
1958 – Diana Williams, American television journalist.
1969 – Elizabeth Gilbert, American writer best known for her travel memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.