1750 – Robert Fergusson, Scottish poet and librettist who died at age 24 but whose career was influential, especially through his impact on poet Robert Burns, and is acclaimed for his vivid and masterly writing.
1764 – Henriette Herz, German writer and translator who was known for holding famous literary salons for prominent intellectuals of the day.
1896 – Heimito von Doderer, five-time Nobel Prize-nominated Austrian novelist and screenwriter.
1899 – Mary Helen Creighton, Canadian writer and folklorist who collected more than 4,000 traditional songs, stories, and beliefs and published many books and articles on Nova Scotia folk songs and folklore.
1905 – Arthur Koestler, Hungarian-born novelist, biographer, memoirist, essayist, and journalist, famous for his anti-totalitarian novel Darkness at Noon.
1915 – Astrid Hjertenæs Andersen, Norwegian poet, journalist, and travel writer; her poetry was modernist, but with a clear connection to the symbolism of the past, and were often inspired by music and visual art.
1916 – Frank Yerby, poet, professor, and bestselling historical novelist, especially known for romances set in the antebellum South that depicted slavery in a realistic way; part African-American, part Seminole, and part Scots-Irish, he referred to himself as “a young man whose list of ancestors read like a mini-United Nations.”
1925 – Justin Kaplan, American biographer who won the Pulitzer Prize and two National Book Awards; he was also the general editor of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.
1933 – Lin Wenyue, Chinese scholar, writer, and translator.
1935 – Ward Just, American journalist and author who wrote several novels about the Vietnam War.
1936 – Jonathan Kozol, American nonfiction writer, educator, and activist, best known for his books on public education in the United States.
1937 – Muhammad Mansha Yaad, award-winning Pakistani novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and playwright who wrote in Urdu and Punjabi.
1942 – Werner Herzog, German film director, screenwriter, and author who is considered a figure of the New German Cinema; his work often features ambitious protagonists with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature.
1943 – Sam Hamill, award-winning American poet who co-founded Copper Canyon Press.
1946 – Lily Brett (born Lilijahne Brajtsztajn), Australian novelist, essayist, pop music journalist, poet, and nonfiction writer who was born in a displaced persons camp in Bavaria to parents who survived the Holocaust
1950 – Cathy Guisewite, American cartoonist and writer who created the popular, long-running comic strip Cathy, which focused on a career woman facing the issues and challenges of eating, work, relationships, and having a mother—or as the character put it in one strip, “the four basic guilt groups.”
1952 – Paul Fleischman, Newbery Medal-winning American children’s author and poet whose books are inspired, in part, by folklore and music and are characterized by multiple points of view. The importance of history, community, art, and imagination are frequent themes in his work.
1967 – Kavita Mahajan, award-winning Indian novelist, nonfiction author, and translator who wrote in Marathi.
1979 – Emelie Schepp, bestselling Swedish crime novelist whose books focus on public prosecutor Jana Berzelius.