1643 – Isaac Newton, English physicist and mathematician who was one of the great minds of the Scientific Revolution; he developed the principles of modern physics published his most acclaimed work, The Principia : Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy, which has been called the single most influential book on physics.
1746 – Benjamin Rush, American physician, writer, educator, and humanitarian who founded Dickinson College and was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
1785 – Jacob Grimm, German mythologist, who, along with his brother Wilhelm, was one of the authors of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
1812 – Evdokiya Rostopchina, Russian writer, poet, playwright, translator, and countess; much of her poetry was about unrequited love, but during her trip abroad in 1845 she poet wrote an allegorical ballad, “Forced Marriage,” in which she condemned Russia’s relationship with Poland, enraging Nicholas I, who banished her from St. Petersburg, forcing her to live in Moscow until the tsar’s death.
1839 – Casimiro de Abreu, Brazilian poet, novelist, and playwright of the Ultra-Romanticism movement.
1878 – Alfred Edgar Coppard, English poet and short-story writer.
1882 – Violet Van der Elst, British writer, businesswoman, and activist for ending the death penalty; she was best known for her book On the Gallows, about capital punishment; she also published a collection of ghost stories, The Torture Chamber and Other Stories.
1883 – Max Eastman, American writer and poet whose work covered literature, philosophy, and society and who was known for his radical politics.
1889 – Yumeno Kyusaku (pen name of Sugiyama Taido), Japanese detective novelist whose pen name means “a person who always dreams”; he was known for his avant-gardism and his surrealistic, wildly imaginative narratives.
1900 – James Bond, American ornithologist and author of Birds of the West Indies, from which volume spy novelist Ian Fleming took inspiration for his main character’s name.
1901 – Cyril Lionel Robert James, influential Afro-Trinidadian historian, journalist, socialist theorist, and essayist who sometimes wrote under the pen-name J.R. Johnson and is considered a pioneering voice in postcolonial literature.
1915 – Marie-Louise von Franz, German-born Swiss writer and social scientist who was a Jungian psychologist; she was renowned for her psychological interpretations of fairy tales and of alchemical manuscripts.
1922 – Doreen Edith Dominy Valiente, English author and poet who was responsible for writing much of the early religious liturgy within the tradition of Gardnerian Wicca; she also worked as a translator at Bletchley Park during World War II.
1924 – Gopaldas Saxena (pen name Neeraj), Indian writer who is one of the best-known poets and authors in Hindi literature.
1930 – Zahida Zaidi, award-winning Indian scholar, poet, playwright, literary critic, translator, and professor who wrote more than 30 books in Urdu and English.
1931 – Kim Yang-shik, award-winning Korean poet, writer, essayist, philosopher, translator, art museum director, and Indologist.
1933 – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Newbery Medal-winning American author of children’s and young adult fiction, best known for her Shiloh trilogy.
1940 – Hossein Elahi Ghomshei, Iranian writer, translator, philosopher, lecturer, and mystic
1940 – Gao Xingjian, Nobel Prize-winning Chinese novelist and playwright.
1943 – Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian and biographer, best known for her biography of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.
1943 – Jean Kilbourne, American feminist author, speaker, and filmmaker who is internationally recognized for her work on images of women in advertising and for her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising; she is credited with introducing the idea of educating about media literacy.
1946 – Lisa Appignanesi (born Elzbieta Borensztejn), Polish-born writer, novelist, professor, and campaigner for free expression; she is best known for her award-winning book Mad, Bad, and Sad: A History of Women and the Mind Doctors.
1948 – Natalie Goldberg, American author whose most popular books explore writing as Zen practice; her best known work is Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within.
1956 – Sarojini Sahoo, Indian feminist writer, journalist, editor, philosopher, columnist, and essayist who has been listed as one of 25 Exceptional Women of India.
1958 – Andy Borowitz, American comedian and New York Times bestselling author who won the first National Press Club award for humor; he is best known for his satirical website, the Borowitz Report, which has an audience in the millions. CBS News Sunday Morning has called him “one of the funniest people in America.”
1962 – Harlan Coben, American author of mysteries and thrillers set in New York and New Jersey.
1964 – Christina Baker Kline, bestselling American novelist best known for her work of historical fiction, Orphan Train.
1976 – Seth Grahame-Smith, American bestselling author, screenwriter, and film and television producer; he is best known as the author of bestselling novels Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.