1313 – Ibn al-Khatib (full name Muhammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Said ibn Ali ibn Ahmad al-Salmani, also called the Poet of Al-Andalus), Spanish writer, poet, historian, philosopher, autobiographer, physician, and politician; some of his poems decorate the walls of the palace of Alhambra in Granada; in 1374, he was imprisoned for heresy and atheism and sentenced to death by suffocation.
1776 – Mary Matilda Betham, English diarist, poet, woman of letters, and miniature portrait painter who exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts; after spending six years researching notable historical women around the world, she published A Biographical Dictionary of the Celebrated Women of Every Age and Country.
1861 – Arvid Järnefelt (pseudonym Arvi Rauta), Finnish novelist, playwright, short-story writer, essayist, newspaper founder, and judge who became a Tolstoyan, following a movement based on the ideals of the writer Leo Tolstoy; proponents attempt to live an ascetic and simple life as Christian pacifists, preferring to be vegetarian, non-smoking, teetotaling, and chaste. Järnefelt’s brother-in-law was the composer and violinist Jean Sibelius.
1862 – Edith Ogden Harrison, American children’s author who was known for original fairy tales; she also did travel writing.
1880 – Alexander Blok, Russian lyrical poet, writer, publicist, playwright, translator, and literary critic.
1889 – George Simon Kaufman, Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright and journalist.
1895 – Michael Arlen, Bulgarian-born Armenian/English essayist, short-story writer, novelist, playwright, and scriptwriter; he is most famous for satirical romances set in English smart society, but also wrote gothic horror and psychological thrillers.
1896 – Joan Lindsay, Australian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, essayist, poet, and visual artist; her best-known novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock, has been adapted for film and is considered one of the most important Australian novels ever.
1903 – Eva Sylvia Waldemarsson, award-winning Swedish writer mainly known for her historical novels.
1910 – Raquel Verdesoto Salgado de Romo Dávila, Ecuadorian writer, poet, teacher, feminist, and activist.
1915 – Jean Fritz, award-winning American children’s author best known for American biographies and history; she has also written several autobiographical works.
1920 – Colin Milton Thiele, prolific, award-winning Australian children’s book author.
1922 – José Saramago, Nobel Prize-winning Portuguese novelist and poet who, “with parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality.”
1930 – Chinua Achebe, Nigerian novelist, short-story writer, children’s author, and essayist whose work focuses on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era; his book Things Fall Apart is considered the most widely read book in modern African literature.
1932 – Diana Mary Mitchell (née Coates), Zimbabwean writer and political activist who worked to improve education for black children.
1934 – Ajeet Cour, award-winning Punjabi Indian writer, and poet.
1934 – Hisashi Inoue, Japanese playwright, screenwriter, novelist, science-fiction writer, comedy writer, and Esperantist who also used the pen name Uchiyama Hisashi.
1935 – Elizabeth Drew, American political journalist, author, biographer, and television commentator.
1846 – Novella Jewell Trott, American author and editor and served as vice-president of the Woman’s Press Department at the World’s Columbian Exposition, in Chicago.
1948 – Bonnie Greer, American/British playwright, novelist, critic, and broadcaster.
1951 – Hazel Joan Rowley, award-winning British-born Australian author and biographer.
1952 – Rick Atkinson, American journalist and author of military history who has won Pulitzer Prizes in both fields.
1952 – Candas Jane Dorsey, Canadian writer, novelist, short-story writer, science-fiction writer, poet, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, and advocate for the arts.
1952 – Robin McKinley (full name Jennifer Carolyn Robin McKinley), Newbery Medal and World Fantasy Award-winning American author of fantasy novels and children’s literature.
1954 – Andrea Barrett, National Book Award-winning American novelist and short story writer who is particularly known as a writer of historical fiction; her work reflects her lifelong interest in science, and women in science.
1955 – Margarita Musto, Uruguayan writer, playwright, translator, teacher, and theater director.
1958 – Anne Holt, Norwegian author, lawyer, and former Minister of Justice who is one of the most successful crime novelists in Norway.
1958 – Geling Yan, prominent Chinese-born author of novels, short stories, and screenplays.
1961 – Karen Duve, German writer, science-fiction author, copy editor, and taxi driver.
1966 – Rikke Schubart, Danish author and film scholar whose research explores emotions, gender, and genre in film and television, focusing especially on horror, action, and war films; she also writes fiction, children’s books, and a vampire novel.
1966 – Tahir Shah, London-born Anglo-Afghan Indian author, documentary maker, journalist, and adventurer, known for his travel writing; many of his books chronicle outlandish journeys through Africa, Asia and the Americas.