1803 – Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, poet, lecturer, and philosopher who was a key figure in the Transcendentalist movement.
1803 – Edward Bulwer-Lytton, English novelist, poet, playwright, and Member of Parliament who coined several phrases that are still used today, including “the great unwashed,” “pursuit of the almighty dollar,” and “the pen is mightier than the sword.” He is best known for the opening line, “It was a dark and stormy night”; it inspired the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which invites entrants to submit the opening sentence to the worst possible hypothetical novel.
1818 – Louise de Broglie (Countess d’Haussonville), Swiss-born French writer, biographer, essayist, and historian.
1842 – Helen Blackburn, Irish writer, editor, and campaigner for women’s rights, especially in the field of employment.
1846 – Naim Frashëri, Albanian poet, civil servant, historian, journalist, and translator who was national poet of Albania, the pioneer of modern Albanian literature, and one of the most influential Albanian cultural icons of his century.
1883 – Jehanne d’Orliac, French writer, playwright, poet, biographer, and lecturer.
1899 – Boris Artzybasheff, Newbery Medal-winning Russian-born American illustrator and commercial artist known for his surrealistic style.
1902 – Helvi Leiviskä, award-winning Finnish writer, composer, music educator, critic, and librarian.
1903 – Dagny Tande Lid, Norwegian writer, poet, autobiographer, scientific illustrator, painter, and postage-stamp designer; she is most noted for her drawings of plants, for her own illustrated poetry collections, and for her botanical illustrations on Norwegian postage stamps.
1908 – Theodore Roethke, Nobel Prize-winning American poet and educator who was one of the most accomplished and influential poets of his generation; his work is characterized by introspection, rhythm and natural imagery.
1925 – Haroldo Conti, Argentine writer, screenwriter, writer, journalist, and Latin professor.
1925 – Rosario Castellanos Figueroa, influential Mexican poet and author who was one of Mexico’s most important literary voices of the last century; her work dealt with cultural and gender oppression and has influenced Mexican feminist theory and cultural studies.
1926 – Dhiruben Patel, Indian Gujarati novelist, playwright, poet, children’s writer, short-story writer, professor, publisher, humor writer, and translator; one of her plays was adapted into a film.
1927 – Robert Ludlum, bestselling American author of thriller novels, best known for the Jason Bourne books.
1927 – Elio Pagliarani, Italian poet and literary critic, who belonged to the avant-garde Gruppo 63 movemement.
1928 – Harkisan Laldas Mehta, Indian Gujarati novelist, editor, and journalist.
1932 – John Gregory Dunne, American novelist, screenwriter, and literary critic who was the younger brother of author Dominick Dunne and the husband of author Joan Didion.
1934 – Esther Regina Largman, award-winning Brazilian author whose works are part of the high-school curriculum in Brazilian schools.
1935 – W.P. Kinsella, Canadian novelist and short-story writer best known for his book Shoeless Joe, which was adapted into the film Field of Dreams.
1936 – David Levering Lewis, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning
American historian, professor, and biographer.
1938 – Raymond Carver, American short-story writer, poet, and essayist, known for minimalism and “dirty realism,” a literary movement that used spare, unadorned language to depict the seamier or more mundane aspects of ordinary life.
1938 – Joyce Carol Thomas, National Book Award-winning African-American poet, playwright, and children’s author.
1939 – Tibor Várady, Yugoslavian/Serbian writer, editor, and legal scholar who was one of the founders of the Hungarian language avant-garde literary magazine Új Symposion.
1947 – Moon Chung-hee, award-winning South Korean poet and professor whose writing presents a complex interplay of vivid emotions and sensations.
1948 – Jojo Cobbinah, Ghanaian author, columnist, and literary reviewer who is especially noted for his travel guides but who has also written a cookbook of West African cuisine.
1949 – Jamaica Kincaid (born Elaine Cynthia Potter), Antiguan-born American novelist, essayist, professor, gardener, and gardening writer whose work explores themes of colonialism and colonial legacy, gender and sexuality, mother-daughter relationships, racism, class, power, and adolescence.
1952 – Al Sarrantonio, prolific American horror and science-fiction author, editor, publisher, and anthologist.
1953 – Eve Ensler (also known as simply V), American feminist playwright and author, best known for her play The Vagina Monologues, which The New York Times called “probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade.”
1957 – Agata Tuszynska, Polish writer, poet, and journalist.
1959 – Ronit Matalon, Israeli writer, journalist, children’s writer, and essayist.
1960 – Eric Brown, award-winning British writer, science-fiction author, short-story writer, playwright, and children’s author; some of his works are set in India.
1961 – Núria Perpinyà Filella, Spanish novelist, playwright, essayist, and professor; her novels deal with unusual topics and are characterized by their intellectual irony, formal rigor, and experimentalism. Her fiction is written in Catalan, but most of her essays are in Spanish or English.
1967 – Poppy Z. Brite, pen name of American author Billy Martin (born Melissa Ann Brite), known forgothic horror featuring gay and bisexual characters.
1974 – Madeleine Thien, award-winning Canadian novelist and short-story writer whose work reflects the increasingly transcultural nature of Canadian literature, exploring art, expression, and politics inside Cambodia and China, as well as within diasporic Asian communities.
1986 – Mariatu Kamara, Sierra Leonean memoirist and UNICEF Special Representative who is a survivor of the civil war in Sierra Leone; she became pregnant at age 12 when she was raped, but shortly afterward her village was invaded by Revolutionary United Front rebels, who murdered most of her family and cut off both of her hands. Years later, after escaping and eventually emigrating to Canada, she wrote The Bite of the Mango, about her experiences during the war.