1466 – Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch Renaissance writer, humanist, Catholic priest, social critic, teacher, and theologian who was the first editor of the New Testament and an important figure in classical literature.
1561 – Mary Sidney (Countess of Pembroke, née Sidney), English poet, writer, playwright, translator, and literary patron who was one of the first English women to achieve a major reputation for her poetry and literary patronage; by the age of 39, she was listed with her brother Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare as one of the notable authors of her time. She was especially lauded for her lyric translation of the Psalms.
1872 – Emily Post, American author and socialist who was most famous for her influential bestselling books on etiquette, but who also wrote novels, short stories, newspaper articles on architecture and interior design, humor, columns, and travel books.
1884 – Jane Murfin, American Oscar-nominated screenwriter, writer, playwright, film director, and film producer
1889 – Enid Bagnold, British novelist, short-story writer, poet, and playwright best known for her novel National Velvet, which was made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor.
1892 – Graciliano Ramos de Oliveira, Brazilian modernist writer, children’s author, journalist, and politician who was elected mayor of Palmeira dos Índios; his books depict the precarious situation of the Brazilian poor.
1900 – Romelia Alarcón Folgar, Guatemalan poet, journalist, and activist for women’s suffrage and the environment; she is considered one of the most notable Guatemalan poets of the 20th century.
1914 – Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet and writer who is best known for his poem, “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” but who also wrote radio plays, children’s stories, journalistic works, and humor; though he wrote exclusively in English, he is considered one of the most important Welsh poets of the 20th century, noted for his original, rhythmic and ingenious use of words and imagery.
1919 – Elena Rzhevskaya, award-winning Belarusian-born Russian writer, memoirist, and translator who was the finder of Adolf Hitler’s remains
1926 – Mary Antoinette Brown-Sherman, Liberian writer and professor who has written about education and was the first woman to serve as president of a university in Africa.
1930 – Francisca Aguirre Benito, award-winning Spanish poet and author.
1930 – Attoor Ravi Varma, award-winning Indian writer, poet, and translator of Malayalam literature; he is considered one of the pioneers of modern Malayalam poetry.
1931 – Nawal El Saadawi (Arabic: نوال السعداوى), Egyptian novelist, essayist, feminist writer, activist, physician, and psychiatrist who has written many books on the subject of women in Islam, especially on the practice of female genital mutilation in her society; she has been described as “the Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab World”.
1932 – Sylvia Plath, American poet, novelist, and short-story writer who was the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously; she is credited with advancing the genre of confessional poetry.
1936 – Neil Sheehan, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist and nonfiction writer; as a reporter for The New York Times in 1971, he obtained the classified Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg and wrote a series of articles that revealed a secret U.S. Defense Department history of the Vietnam War and led to a Supreme Court case when the government failed to halt publication.
1939 – Albert Wendt, award-winning Samoan novelist, poet, and editor who lives in New Zealand.
1940 – Maxine Hong Kingston, Chinese-American professor and author of fiction and nonfiction dealing with the lives of Chinese immigrants.
1941 – Gerd Mjøen Brantenberg, Norwegian novelist, short-story author, playwright, editor, teacher, and feminist writer.
1944 – J.A. Jance, prolific American mystery writer whose different series of books sometimes intersect; she is also a poet.
1950 – Frances Ann Lebowitz, American author, public speaker, and actor who is known for her sardonic social commentary on American life, as filtered through her New York City sensibilities; reviewers have compared her to a modern-day Dorothy Parker.
1961- Margaret Mazzantini, award-winning Irish-born Italian writer and actress who is best known for her novels.
1964 – Dawit Isaak, Swedish-Eritrean playwright, journalist, and writer who has been held in prison in Eritrea without trial since 2001 as a prisoner of conscience, and is considered an international symbol in the fight for freedom of the press.
1964 – Nikanor Teratologen (“Nikanor the teratologist”), Swedish novelist, essayist, translator, and literary critic whose real name is Niclas Lundkvist.
1966 – Steve Almond, American short-story writer, nonfiction author, essayist, professor, and radio personality.
1970 – Jonathan Stroud, British author of fantasy books for adults and teens, best known for his Bartimaeus series.
1973 – Anthony Doerr, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short-story writer, best known for his novel, All the Light We Cannot See, set in occupied France during World War II; he also writes a column about science books.
1975 – Zadie Smith, award-winning British novelist, best known for her novel, On Beauty.
1989 – Jiang Fangzhou, Chinese prodigy author and columnist who published her first book at the age of nine.