1725 – Johanna Charlotte Unzer, award-winning German writer, poet, and philosopher, famed for her progressive views on women’s education and for her anacreontic poetry (poems written in the style of the ancient Greek poet Anacreon).
1758 – Mary Robinson (née Darby), English poet, dramatist, novelist, teacher, and actress who was known as “the English Sappho” and was the first public mistress of King George IV while he was still Prince of Wales.
1854 – Titia Klasina Elisabeth van der Tuuk, Dutch novelist, children’s author, historical fiction writer, teacher, translator, feminist, and socialist who was passionate in her activism for atheism, teetotalism, vegetarianism, and pacifism; she was commonly known as Titia van der Tuuk, but she also used the pseudonym Vitalis, meaning “life” in Latin.
1863 – Olha Yulianivna Kobylianska, Ukrainian modernist writer and feminist who often wrote about the lives of Ukrainian peasants; she depicted the struggle between good and evil and the mystical force of nature, predestination, magic, and the irrational in many of her stories. Her works are known for their impressionistic, lyrical descriptions of nature and subtle psychological portrayals.
1878 – Jatindramohan Bagchi, Indian Bengali writer, poet, and editor who is considered a major voice of the post-Rabindranath period in Bengali poetry; his work conveyed the intricacies of life in rural Bengal.
1887 – Devorah Baron (also spelled Dvora Baron and Deborah Baron), pioneering Belarusian-born Jewish novelist, short-story writer, editor, and translator, noted for writing in Modern Hebrew and for making a career as a Hebrew author; she has been called the “first Modern Hebrew woman writer.”
1894 – Katherine Milhous, Caldecott Medal-winning American author and illustrator best known for The Egg Tree.
1895 – Amy Bailey, award-winning Jamaican writer, journalist, educator, social worker, child advocate, and women’s rights advocate.
1907 – Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Indian poet and Hindi language scholar who was part of the Nayi Kavita (romantic upsurge) literary movement.
1907 – L. Sprague de Camp, prolific American author of science fiction, nonfiction, essays, short stories, and literary biographies; he was also an aeronautical engineer. He is credited with the first usage of “extraterrestrial” as a noun meaning “alien life,” and he also coined the abbreviation “E.T.”
1909 – James Agee, American novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and poet whose autobiographical novel A Death in the Family won him a posthumous Pulitzer Prize; he was also one of the most influential film critics of the 1930s and 40s.
1916 – Francois Alwyn (Frans) Venter, prominent South African Afrikaans writer whose novels explored biblical themes or cultural identities; his best known novel, Geknelde land (Afrikaans for Afflicted land) describes the Eastern Cape Boer community living under Xhosa raids and the English governance of the 19th century.
1919 – Tal-su Kim, Korean writer and novelist who is considered the founding father of Resident Korean literature, a genre that came into being in modern times because of the forced migration of Koreans to Japan in the first half of the 20th century; although he spent most of his life in Japan, many of his literary works are set in Korea and explore the injustices of colonial rule and its painful aftermath.
1924 – Nina Cassian (pen name of Renée Annie Cassian-Matasaru), Romanian writer, composer, poet, translator, journalist, children’s writer, linguist, film critic, and pianist.
1927 – Lilith Norman, popular, award-winning Australian children’s author, editor, and librarian.
1928 – Bakul Tripathi, Indian Gujarati author, essayist, columnist, journalist, and educator who was best known for his thousands of humorous essays.
1930 – Rex Anthony Shelley, award-winning Singaporean novelist and engineer who started writing fiction late in life, publishing his first novel, The Shrimp People, at the age of 61; it was the first substantial work by a Singaporean writer about the Eurasian community in Singapore. Critics praise his “passionate, humane” style, his talent for characterization, and his ability to blend “a sharp sense of observed commentary with historical detail.”
1932 – Elsa Guðbjörg Vilmundardóttir, Icelandic geologist and author who was her country’s first female geologist; her research included mapping tuff and lava north of Vatnajökull as well as pyroclastic flows associated with prehistoric volcanic eruptions. She was coauthor of the book 100 Geosites in South Iceland.
1933 – Toeti Heraty (full name Toeti Heraty Noerhadi-Roosseno), Indonesian writer and poet who is one of the leading contemporary Indonesian poets.
1933 – Gordon S. Wood, influential Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and professor who wrote The Radicalism of the American Revolution.
1936 – Dahlia Ravikovitch, Israeli poet, translator, and peace activist whose first book of poetry, The Love of an Orange, established her as one of Israel’s leading native-born poets.
1937 – Gail Sheehy, American author, biographer, lecturer, and journalist who was part of the New Journalism movement; much of her work focused on cultural shift, including her best known book, Passages, which the Library of Congress named as one of the ten most influential books of our times.
1942 – Marilyn Hacker, National Book Award-winning American poet, professor, translator, and critic.
1951 – Melinda M. Snodgrass, American screenwriter, novelist, science-fiction writer, and lawyer who wrote several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation while serving as the series’ story editor, and wrote scripts for many other television series, as well as writing science-fiction novels and short stories; she has also written urban fantasy books under the pen name Phillipa Bornikova. In her spare time she is an equestrian who competes in dressage competitions.
1955 – Bill Nye, American science writer, educator, comedian, television personality, actor, physicist, and mechanical engineer who is best known as the host of the PBS children’s science show Bill Nye the Science Guy and other television programs; he has also two bestselling science books: Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation and Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World.
1957 – Callie Khouri, American screenwriter, producer, and director who won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the film Thelma and Louise.
1957 – Michael Stackpole, American science-fiction and fantasy author who has written books in the Star Wars and Battletech series and has designed role-playing games.
1960 – Kevin Henkes, Caldecott Medal-winning and two-time Newbery Honor-winning American author and illustrator of children’s picture books, many of which feature mice as their main characters; he also writes middle-grade fiction.
1964 – David Rakoff, Canadian-born American writer known for his humorous, self-deprecating essays; he is also a poet and a journalist.
1965 – Betool Khedairi, Iraqi novelist best known for her debut novel, A Sky So Close; she now resides in Jordan.
1966 – Jung Da-yeon, bestselling South Korean health writer, diet book author, and fitness guru widely known as “Auntie with a striking body.”
1970 – Han Kang, award-winning South Korean writer, journalist, and novelist best known for her novel The Vegetarian, which deals with a woman’s decision to stop eating meat and its devastating consequences.