1725 – George Mason, American planter, politician, statesman, writer, and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution (because it did not yet have a bill of rights). His writings, including substantial portions of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774 and his Objections to this Constitution of Government, have greatly influenced American political thought; he is called the Father of the U.S. Bill of Rights, which was based on his Virginia Declaration of Rights.
1756 – Anton Tomaž Linhart, Slovene playwright and historian who is considered the father of Slovene historiography.
1810 – Alfred de Musset, French dramatist, poet, and novelist.
1849 – Ellen Karolina Sofia Key, Swedish feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics, and education, who was an important figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement and an early advocate of a child-centered approach to education and parenting.
1882 – Subramanya Bharathi, Indian poet, journalist, independence activist, and social reformer who wrote in the Tamil language; he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time.
1892 – Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, American writer of books for pseudonymous children’s mystery series including “Nancy Drew” and the “Hardy Boys.”
1897 – Ethel Borden Harriman, American author, screenwriter, and actress whose mother, Florence Harriman, was the U.S. Ambassador to Norway.
1906 – Birago Diop, Senegalese veterinarian, diplomat, poet, and story-teller, whose writing is credited with popularizing African folktales.
1911 – Nahguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author, known for “works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous,” who has formed “an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”
1916 – Elena Garro, Mexican screenwriter, journalist, playwright, short-story writer, and novelist who was commonly affiliated with the Magical Realism movement (though she rejected that affiliation). She was married to poet Octavio Paz.
1918 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist, short-story writer, and dissident lauded for “the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.”
1922 – Grace Paley, American short-story author, poet, teacher, and political activist.
1931 – Jerome Rothenberg, American poet, translator, and anthologist, noted for his work in ethnopoetics and performance poetry.
1932 – Keith Waldrop, National Book Award-winning American poet, translator, and scholar.
1937 – Jim Harrison, American author of poetry, fiction, reviews, and essays about the outdoors; his novella “Legends of the Fall” was adapted into a movie.
1939 – Thomas McGuane, American author of novels, screenplays, and short stories, known especially for his writing about fishing.
1945 – Pauline Gedge, New Zealand-born Canadian novelist best known for her bestselling historical fiction trilogies; she also writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
1946 – Diana Palmer, pen name of American romance and science-fiction novelist Susan Kyle, who has also published under Diana Blayne, Katy Currie, and her own name.
1964 – Ayelet Waldman, Israeli-American lawyer, novelist, and essayist known for her self-revelatory essays, and for her fiction and nonfiction about the changing expectations of motherhood, and the demands of children, partners, career and society.