1504 – Sin Saimdang, Korean poet, writer, calligrapher, and painter; she is often held up as a model of Confucian ideals, with the nickname Eojin Eomeoni, which means “Wise Mother,” and was the mother of the Korean Confucian scholar Yi I. Her real name was Shin In Seon, but she also wrote under the pen names Saim, Saimdang, Inimdang, and Imsajae.
1740 – James Boswell, Scottish lawyer, author, diarist, and biographer, best known for his Life of Samuel Johnson, which was unique at the time in that it directly incorporated conversations that Boswell had transcribed in his journals; Johnson also included personal and human details that painted a vivid portrait much different from the dry, respectful biographies readers were accustomed to. It is still considered by many to be the best English-language biography every written.
1810 – Sophie d’Arbouville, French poet, writer, novelist, and salonnière.
1890 – Claire Goll (born Clara Aischmann), German-French writer, novelist, short-story author, poet, journalist, and peace activist.
1899 – Kate Seredy, Caldecott and Newbery Medal-winning Hungarian-born children’s author and illustrator who relocated to the United States in her 20s and wrote most of her books in English, a language she did not learn until adulthood.
1904 – Audrey Alexandra Brown, Canadian poet, writer, journalist, and essayist who was named an Officer of the Order of Canada “for her contributions to Canadian poetry”; she sometimes used the pseudonym Khoji.
1905 – Henry Greene, pen name of Henry Vincent Yorke, English author best known for modernist novels in which he avoided the use of definite articles in his writing, to reflect a Birmingham accent; the New York Review of Books said Green was “one of the 20th century’s great unpeggable originals, each of whose novels (each of whose sentences, you could even say) takes off for new and unexpected places.”
1924 – Zbigniew Herbert, Polish poet, essayist, and playwright.
1925 – Dominick Dunne, American writer, journalist, television commentator, and film and television producer whose work often dealt with the upper class and the legal system.
1927 – Annie Riis, award-winning Norwegian writer, poet, children’s author, and translator.
1941 – Bakdi Soemanto, Indonesian writer, poet, editor, playwright, and professor.
1948 – Frans de Waal (full name Franciscus Bernardus Maria “Frans” de Waal), award-winning Dutch primatologist, ethologist, author, columnist, and professor whose research centers on primate social behavior; he is best known for his books Our Inner Ape and The Bonobo and the Atheist.
1954 – Lee Child, pen name of Lee Grant, award-winning British thriller writer known for his Jack Reacher series about a former American military police officer.
1958 – Ann-Marie MacDonald, award-winning Canadian playwright, author, and actress whose first novel, Fall On Your Knees, was an Oprah’s Book Club selection.
1958 – David Remnick, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, biographer, editor, and journalist best known for his book Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire.
1963 – Gerald Morris, American author known for young-adult fiction that are set in the Middle Ages and blend retellings of the King Arthur legends with new storylines involving the knights of the Round Table.
1965 – Chen Xiaoxu, Chinese writer, poet, actress, and businessperson who became a Buddhist nun.
1967 – Shehu Sani, Nigerian senator, author, playwright and human rights activist.
1974 – Liesel Schwarz, South African-born British steampunk author who is often referred to as the High Priestess of British Steampunk.