1157 – Alfonso II of Aragon, Spanish Aragonese monarch who was also a noted poet, composer, troubadour, and close friend of King Richard the Lionheart; Alfonso’s reign is best remembered for his plan to unite lands on both sides of the Pyrenees under the rule of the House of Barcelona
1347 – Saint Catherine of Siena, a laywoman associated with the Dominican Order who was a mystic, activist, and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and the Catholic Church; she was born in the Republic of Siena, now part of Italy.
1594 – Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher (also called Maria Tesselschade Roemersdochter Visscher), Dutch poet, writer, and glass engraver.
1611 – Dervis Mehmed Zillî (also known as Evliya Çelebi), Ottoman Turkish travel writer, explorer, and historian who spent forty years traveling through the Ottoman Empire and neighboring lands and recording his commentary in a travelogue called the Seyâhatnâme (Book of Travel).
1625 – Ann Fanshawe, English memoirist and cookbook author; in her 1665 book of recipes, she published the first known written recipe for ice cream (which she called “icy cream”).
1872 – Toson Shimazaki (pen name of Shimazaki Haruki), Japanese novelist and lyricist who began his career as a romantic poet but went on to establish himself as a major proponent of naturalism in Japanese fiction.
1887 – Nanjanagudu Tirumalamba, Indian writer, newspaper editor, publisher, and printer who is considered the earliest new age Kannada author; her work focused on the upliftment of women.
1899 – Bella Cohen Spewack, Transylvania-born author of novels, short stories, articles, and Broadway plays and musicals (including Kiss Me, Kate).
1910 – Benzion Netanyahu, Polish-born Israeli writer, historian, pedagogue, professor, scholar of Judaic history, encyclopedia editor, and activist in the Revisionist Zionism movement; his field of expertise was the history of the Jews in Spain. He was the father of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
1910 – Óscar Castro Zúñiga, Chilean writer, poet, and librarian who wrote in both the lyrical genre and the narrative genre.
1920 – Paul Scott, Booker Award-winning British novelist, playwright, and poet.
1925 – Flannery O’Connor, American novelist, short-story writer, and essayist in the Southern Gothic style whose work often features disturbing elements, deals with questions of morality and ethics, and revolves around morally flawed characters, many of whom are disabled or interact with people with disabilities; her writing is noted for a grasp of the nuances of human behavior.
1926 – Jaime Sabines Gutiérrez, award-winning Mexican contemporary poet known as “the sniper of Literature”; his writings chronicle the experience of everyday people in places such as the streets, hospitals, and playgrounds.
1927 – Tina Anselmi, Italian writer, teacher, and politician who was a member of the Italian resistance movement during World War II and went on to become the first woman to hold a ministerial position in the Italian government.
1928 – Viriato Clemente da Cruz, Angolan poet and politician who is considered one of the most important Angolan poets of his time; he wrote in Portuguese and Angolan, and fought to free Angola from Portuguese rule.
1934 – Hristo Konstantinov Fotev, Turkish-born Bulgarian poet and writer whose work dealt with the topic of love; the sea was also a key poetic element and inspiration.
1934 – Gloria Steinem, American journalist, columnist, editor, feminist, and leader of the Women’s Liberation movement; best known as a co-founder of Ms. magazine.
1939 – Toni Cade Bambara, African-American novelist, short story writer, essayist, documentary filmmaker, professor, and civil-rights activist whose work focused on the lives of African-Americans.
1939 – D.C. Fontana (Dorothy Catherine Fontana) – American screenwriter, television producer, and story editor known for her work on the original Star Trek television series; she also wrote for Star Trek, the Next Generation, Star Trek DS9, and other popular television shows, as well as writing a Star Trek novel. She used her initials because women were not commonly accepted in writing science fiction for television at the time.
1941 – Udyavara Madhava Acharya, Indian poet, orator, short-story writer, actor, choreographer, and economics professor; he publishes his literary works under the pen name “UMA.”
1942 – Ana Blandiana, Romanian poet, essayist, journalist, children’s writer, and political figure.
1944 – Jack Mapanje, Malawian writer, poet, and professor who was imprisoned for his book Of Chameleons and Gods, which was seen as indirectly criticizing the President Hastings Banda; after his release, Mapanje emigrated to the U.K., where he worked as a teacher.
1946 – Stephen Hunter, Pulitzer Prize-winning American film critic and author of thrillers..
1948 – Bayyinah Bello, award-winning Haitian historian, teacher, writer and humanitarian worker.
1952 – Jung Chang, Chinese-born British writer, poet, historian, linguist, biographer, and autobiographer; she is best known for her family autobiography Wild Swans, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide but was banned in the People’s Republic of China.
1953 – Lorna Byrne, Irish author and peace ambassador; she is best known for her bestselling memoir, Angels in My Hair.
1953 – Brigid Lowry, award-winning New Zealand novelist, poet, children’s author, and writing teacher; she now lives in Australia.
1954 – Thom Loverro, American sportswriter and columnist.
1958 – Susie Bright (a.k.a. Susie Sexpert), American feminist, author, journalist, critic, editor, publisher, producer, and performer, often on the subject of sexual politics and sexuality.
1960 – Linda Sue Park, Newbery Award-winning American author of teen fiction and children’s picture books.
1964 – Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Award-winning American writer of children’s and young-adult fiction.
1965 – Melina Marchetta, award-winning Australian author, children’s writer, screenwriter, and teacher, best known for her young-adult novels.
1986 – Marina Orlova, award-winning Russian actress, writer, poet, lyricist, composer, singer, radio personality, and television presenter who is known as the Russian Marilyn Monroe.