1613 – François de La Rochefoucauld, French author of maxims and memoirs who was was one of the leading exponents of the ‘maxime, a French literary form of epigram that expresses a harsh or paradoxical truth with brevity.
1789 – James Fenimore Cooper, American writer of historical romantic fiction dealing with frontier and Indian life, as well as sea tales; author of The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer; he also wrote nonfiction.
1890 – Agatha Christie, prolific British mystery writer and playwright, most well known for her Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot series; she is considered the bestselling novelist of all time.
1890 – Claude McKay, Jamaican-born poet and novelist who was a major writer of the Harlem Renaissance.
1894 – Jean Renoir, French screenwriter, film director, author, and biographer who wrote Renoir, My Father, the definitive biography of his father, the celebrated impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.
1897 – Merle Curti, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian.
1901 – Liselotte Welskopf-Henrich (born Elizabeth Charlotte Henrich), German novelist, history professor, and philosopher.
1905 – Ramkumar Verma, Indian Hindi poet, writer, and politician who published one act-plays and several anthologies of his work.
1909 – Betty Neels, prolific English romance novelist who was a retired nurse when she heard a woman in her local library bemoaning the lack of good romance novels and decided to write one herself.
1914 – Orhan Kemal (pen name of Turkish novelist Mehmet Rasit Ögütçü), Turkish novelist, screenwriter, and poet known for realistic novels that describe the life of the poor in Turkey.
1914 – Robert McCloskey, American children’s book author and illustrator; many of his books were set in Maine, but his classic picture book, Make Way for Ducklings, was set in Boston. (The photo shows my own teenager at the Make Way for Ducklings statues at Boston Common, where the book takes place.)
1915 – Fawn Brodie, American biographer and professor who sparked a dramatic rethinking of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy with the biography, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, the first modern examination of evidence that Jefferson had taken his slave Sally Hemings as a concubine and fathered children by her; she also wrote biographies of Mormon leader Joseph Smith, Richard Nixon, and others.
1918 – Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning American professor of business and economic history who wrote about industrialization and the history of management structures.
1919 – Heda Margolius Kovály, Czech writer, novelist, crime writer, autobiographer, and translator who survived the Lódz ghetto and Auschwitz, where her parents died, and escaped while being marched to Bergen-Belsen.
1921 – Richard Gordon (also known as also known Gordon Stanley Ostlere), English surgeon who also was a novelist, screenwriter, and history author; most of his work centered around the the practice of medicine and health-related topics.
1927 – Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena, Indian Hindi writer, poet, columnist, and playwright.
1934 – Tomie DePaola, beloved American author and illustrator of more than 200 children’s books, including Caldecott Honor book Strega Nona and Newbery Honor book 26 Fairmount Avenue.
1940 – Norman Spinrad, multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-nominated American science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, nonfiction author, critic, and essayist.
1945 – Mouna Bassili Sehnaoui, Egyptian-born Lebanese author, illustrator, and artist.
1949 – Marie Arana, Peruvian-born author, memoirist, screenwriter, editor, journalist, and critic who is Literary Director of the U.S. Library of Congress.
1969 – Dan Lungu, Romanian novelist, short-story writer, sociologist, and essayist.
1977 – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning Nigerian writer of novels, short stories, and nonfiction; her most famous works are the novels Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and Americanah.
1982 – Jesse Andrews, American novelist and screenwriter who adapted his first novel, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, for film.