1434 – Janus Pannonius, Croatian-Hungarian poet, writer, diplomat, judge, and Catholic priest who is considered the most significant Renaissance poet in Hungary.
1707 – George-Louis Leclerc (Comte de Buffon), influential and prolific French natural-history writer, naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedia writer; of his 36-volume Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, it has been said, “Written in a brilliant style, this work was read … by every educated person in Europe.”
1883 – Walter Oliver, Australian-born New Zealand naturalist, science writer, museum curator, botanist, ornithologist, and malacologist (mollusk expert) whose work includes a seminal ornithological guide, New Zealand Birds.
1885 – Elinor Wylie, American poet, novelist, and editor whose poems were noted for being melodious, sensuous, articulate, and highly polished, and show the influence of both the metaphysical poets and the British Romantics.
1887 – Edith Sitwell, award-winning English poet whose work was praised for its solid technique and painstaking craftsmanship; she also wrote biographies of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria.
1889 – Elmer Hader, Caldecott Medal-winning American author and illustrator whose most acclaimed book, created with his wife Berta, was the children’s picture book The Big Snow; he died on this day in 1973, his 84th birthday.
1900 – Taylor Caldwell, prolific and bestselling English-born American novelist known for her intricately plotted and suspenseful stories of historical fiction, whose themes included family tensions, the immigrant experience of rags to riches, and the conflict between the desire for money and power and the longing for love and family.
1903 – Margaret Landon, bestselling American author whose novel Anna and the King of Siam was adapted for stage and film many times, most famously by Rodgers and Hammerstein into the musical The King and I; Landon’s book is based on the true story of Anna Leonowens, the late-19th century governess to the Siamese royal family, but also drew heavily on Landon’s own experiences running a mission school in Siam (now Thailand).
1904 – C.B. (Carroll Burleigh) Colby, prolific American writer of nonfiction books for children.
1919 – Louise Bennett-Coverley, Jamaican author, poet, folklorist, singer, actress, television presenter, radio personality, and teacher who worked to preserve the practice of presenting poetry, folk songs, and stories in patois, establishing the validity of local languages for literary expression.
1924 – Wanda Cowley, New Zealand children’s writer.
1925 – Khin Hnin Yu, prolific Burmese novelist known for her realistic portrayal of life in Burma (now Myanmar); many of her books involve young heroines struggling to survive.
1927 – Eric Hill, British author and illustrator of children’s books, especially his “Spot the Dog” series; he started writing about Spot for his own son, and devised a new kind of book design, in which Spot was hidden behind little flaps that children could lift to see the dog.
1932 – Malcolm Bradbury, British author, literary critic, biographer, television writer, and academic who is remembered mostly for his novels.
1944 – Martin Booth, British poet, novelist, biographer, teacher, screenwriter, and children’s book writer.
1944 – Houshang Moradi Kermani, Iranian novelist, young-adult author, short-story writer, and screenwriter.
1946 – Joe Klein, American journalist, columnist, political commentator, and author of bestselling novel Primary Colors, a thinly fictionalized story about the first Clinton presidential campaign that was first published anonymously.
1950 – Peggy Noonan, American political author, columnist, and presidential speechwriter who was also a consultant on the television series, The West Wing; while writing speeches for president Vice President and then President George H. W. Bush, she coined three phrases that became catchphrases: “a kinder, gentler nation,” “a thousand points of light,” and “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
1959 – Vuong Trung Hieu, Vietnamese novelist, anthologist, journalist, translator, and interdisciplinary scholar; many of his works are published under the pseudonym Thoai Son.
1961 – Lois-Ann Yamanaka, American poet and novelist who has written much of her literary work in Hawaiian Pidgin; her writing sometimes dealt with controversial ethnic issues, sometimes touching on themes of Asian-American families and the local Hawaiian culture.
1962 – Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning American modernist and post-modernist short-story writer and novelist who is best known for the book A Visit From the Goon Squad, which straddles the distinction between a novel and a collection of short stories.
1964 – María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Ecuadorian poet, essayist, politician, and diplomat who was the president of the United Nations General Assembly.
1977 – Nalini Singh, New Zealand author of paranormal romance novels.
1979 – Claudia Ulloa Donoso, Peruvian short-story writer, blogger, and teacher who was considered one of the most promising young writers in Latin America, but is now based in Norway.