1225 – Thomas Aquinas, influential Italian writer, professor, theologian, friar, and Dominican scholastic philosopher of the Catholic Church who tried to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity; he was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology; much of modern philosophy has either developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.
1746 – Stéphanie-Félicité (comtesse de Genlis), French author, children’s writer, entomologist, and harpist, known for her novels, her journals, and theories of children’s education.
1759 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet of the Romantic era; known as the national poet of Scotland.
1874 – W. Somerset Maugham, British writer, one of the most popular novelists of his generation.
1882 – Virginia Woolf, English writer of the Modernist movement who was a member of the Bloomsbury group; her novels, through their nonlinear approaches to narrative, exerted a major influence on the genre.
1885 – Hakushu Kitahara, pen-name of Kitahara Ryukichi, one of the most popular and important poets in modern Japanese literature.
1889 – R. Narayana Panickar, prolific, award-winning Indian Malayalam writer, translator, academic, novelist, essayist, historian, playwright, and lexicographer; some of his best known books are the six-volume work, Kerala Bhasha Sahithya Charthram, a comprehensive history of Malayalam literature.
1890 – Sasha Siemel (Aleksandrs Ziemelis), Latvian-born American/Argentinian adventurer, writer, photographer, hunter, guide, actor, and lecturer who spoke seven languages and boasted of having experienced more adventure in a single year than most men witnessed in a lifetime.
1905 – Margery Sharp, English author best known for her children’s story The Rescuers, which was later adapted into two Disney movies.
1914 – Chang Man-yong, South Korean poet, nonfiction author, journalist, editor, and translator whose poems often explored nostalgic themes of rural life.
1921 – Anh Thơ, (real name Vương Kiều Ân), award-winning Vietnamese poet and writer who published the first collection of Vietnamese poetry by women poets; her most notable literary achievement was a collection of her poetry entitled Buc tranh que (A rural portrait).
1926 – Youssef Chahine, award-winning Egyptian screenwriter and film director who has been credited with launching the career of actor Omar Sharif; despite winning international accolades, he was considered controversial for his liberal views, portrayal of sexuality, and political critiques.
1935 – J.G. Farrell, Irish author, two of whose Empire trilogy titles won the Booker Prize.
1946 – Catherine MacPhail, Scottish author, romance novelist, children’s and young-adult writer, and radio writer.
1950 – Gloria Naylor, National Book Award-winning African-American novelist, short-story writer, and professor; she is best known for her debut novel, The Women of Brewster Place.
1954 – David Grossman, award-winning Israeli novelist, nonfiction author, children’s book author, poet, broadcaster, and left-wing peace activist.
1969 – Ashwin Sanghi, Indian author of bestselling thriller novels with mythological themes.
1970 – Stephen Chbosky, American novelist, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
1985 – Christina Ochoa (born Cristina Ochoa Lopez), Spanish science writer, film company executive, magazine writer, and book reviewer; while living in the Washington, D.C., area, she began acting, starting in theatrical plays at the Little Theatre of Alexandria; she has also studied marine biology, oceanographic engineering, and particle physics.