1828 – Leo Tolstoy (Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy), Russian novelist, poet, and essayist who is considered one of the greatest writers of all time; his work is known for its high degree of detail and its psychological complexity, including his most famous novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. He has been called “the conscience of humanity.”
1850 – Bharatendu Harishchandra, Indian poet, author, travel writer, dramatist, and translator who is considered the father of modern Hindi literature and theater.
1851 – Mabel Collins, Guernsey-based English fashion writer, author of popular occult novels, anti-vivisection activist, and theosophist.
1868 – Mary Hunter Austin, American nature writer whose work focused on the fauna, flora, culture, and spirituality of the Southwestern United States.
1871 – Ralph Hodgson, English poet and animal lover who is considered one of the earliest writers about ecology, speaking out against the fur trade and human destruction of the natural world.
1872 – Sarala Devi Chaudhurani, Indian writer and activist who founded the first women’s organization in India; one of her primary goals was to promote female education.
1878 – Adelaide Crapsey, American writer, teacher, poet, journalist, and literary critic.
1900 – James Hilton, award-winning bestselling English novelist, short-story writer, nonfiction author, playwright, and screenwriter whose most famous works include the books Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Random Harvest, and Lost Horizon, as well as the screenplay for the World War II film Mrs. Miniver.
1903 – Phyllis A. Whitney, Japanese-born American mystery writer for adults and teens, known for her suspenseful plots and exotic settings.
1907 – Leon Edel, Pulitzer Prize-winning and National Book Award-winning American literary critic and Henry James biographer.
1911 – Paul Goodman, American novelist, playwright, poet, psychotherapist, social critic, anarchist philosopher, and public intellectual whose work often revolved around education, community, civil planning, decentralization and self-regulation, civil liberties, and peace.
1922 – Bernard Bailyn, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and author who wrote about American Colonial and Revolutionary War history.
1934 – Sonia Sanchez (born Wilsonia Benita Driver), American Book Award-winning African-American poet, playwright, children’s author, short-story writer, essayist, and black nationalist who is part of the Black Arts movement.
1948 – Pamela Des Barres, author, magazine writer, memoirist, actress, and musician who writes about music and popular culture.
1950 – Seyla Benhabib, award-winning Turkish-born American writer, philosopher, biographer, political scientist, and professor; she is well known for her work in political philosophy, which draws on critical theory and feminist political theory.
1951 – Bob Shacochis, National Book Award finalist American novelist, short-story writer, food writer, and literary journalist.
1953 – Wanjiru Kihoro, Kenyan writer, economist, and feminist activist who was one of the founders of the pan-African women’s organisation Akina Mama wa Afrika and the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners in Kenya.
1960 – Kimberly Willis Holt, National Book Award-winning American children’s author.
1962 – Eva Elisabeth “Liza” Marklund, Swedish journalist, crime writer, and book publisher whose novels feature fictional newspaper reporter Annika Bengtzon.
1964 – Aleksandar Hemon, Bosnian-American fiction writer, essayist, and critic best known for his 2008 novel The Lazarus Project.