1564 – Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher, mathematician, and writer who played a major role in the Renaissance’s scientific revolution; called the “father of observational astronomy,” the “father of modern physics,” and the “father of science,” he is known for confirming the phases of Venus, discovering the four largest satellites of Jupiter (the Galilean moons), and observing and analyzing sunspots; his insistence that the earth revolved around the sun, along with his views on science and the church, led to his conviction for heresy and his house arrest for the rest of his life. The Catholic Church pardoned him in 1992.
1638 – Zeb-un-Nissa, Indian Mughal poet and princess who was the eldest child of Emperor Aurangzeb; imprisoned by her father for the last 20 years of her life, she wrote under the pseudonym Makhfi (Hidden One).
1869 – Henry Sylvester-Williams, Trinidadian politician, lawyer, writer, activist, and historian who is remembered most for his involvement in the Pan-African movement; he spent time in North America, Britain, and South Africa, where he became the first Black man to practice law in the Cape Colony.
1883 – Sax Rohmer, English novelist, best known for his Fu Manchu series.
1883 – Pearl Lenore Curran, American writer, poet, novelist, and occult medium who claimed that her novels, poetry, and prose were not her own but were channeled through her by a spirit named Patience Worth.
1896 – James Phinney Baxter III, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, author, and professor.
1898 – Masuji Ibuse, award-winning Japanese novelist and short-story writer whose work is characterized by a blend of humor and bitterness, combined with keen powers of observation.
1909 – Miep Gies, (born Hermine Santruschitz), Austrian/Dutch activist who hid Anne Frank, Anne’s family, and four other Jews from the Nazis in an annex above Anne’s father’s business during World War II; Gies later wrote a book, Anne Frank Remembered, but her biggest contribution to literature was her gathering up the pages of Anne’s diary after the Nazis ransacked the hiding place and arrested the people hiding there, and saving the diary until after the war to give to Anne’s father, the only survivor; she died in 2010 at the age of 100.
1922 – Naresh Mehta, prolific, award-winning Indian Hindi writer, poet, and playwright.
1923 – Yelena Bonner, award-winning Turkmenistan-born Soviet author, physician, dissident, and human rights activist who married physicist Andrei Sakharov
1928 – Norman Bridwell, American’s children’s book author and illustrator, known for the “Clifford The Big Red Dog” books.
1935 – Susan Brownmiller, influential American feminist journalist, author, and activist best known for the book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, which the New York Public Library selected as one of 100 most important books of the 20th century.
1937 – Gregory Mcdonald, American mystery writer, author of the “Fletch” books.
1945 – Jack Dann, American science-fiction and fantasy writer and anthologist.
1945 – Douglas Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize-winning American professor of cognitive science.
1947 – Ádám Nádasdy, Hungarian poet, linguistics scholar, translator, and professor.
1948 – Art Spiegelman, Swedish-born American cartoonist, best known for his graphic novel Maus.
1951 – Linda Grant, British novelist, nonfiction author, memoirist, and journalist; her fiction draws heavily on her Jewish background, her family history, and the history of Liverpool.
1954 – Matthew Abram “Matt” Groening, American cartoonist, writer, producer, animator, and voice actor, best known as creator of the animated television series, The Simpsons.
1967 – Bronnie Ware, Australian author, blogger, memoirist, motivational speaker, and singer-songwriter best known for her writings about the top deathbed regrets she heard during her time as a palliative caregiver.
1972 – Maile Meloy, American novelist and short-story writer who writes books for both adult and children.