1386 – John of Capestrano, Italian Franciscan friar, writer, theologian, Catholic priest, and saint, who at age 70 led a crusade against the invading Ottoman Empire.
1542 – John of the Cross, Spanish monk, mystical philosopher, poet, and saint.
1789 – Silvio Pellico, Italian writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and patriot who played a role in the Italian unification.
1790 – Helena Sophia Ekblom, Swedish religious writer and preacher also known as Predikare-Lena (Preacher-Lena) and Vita jungfrun (The White Maiden); after spending time in a mental institution, she wrote a book of the religious revelations she had there.
1801 – Caroline Clive (born Caroline Meysey-Wigley) English writer who was sometimes known as Caroline Wigley Clive but who used the pseudonym “V.”
1824 – Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau (full name Frederica Amalia Agnes), German writer and princess who was the eldest daughter of Leopold IV, Duke of Anhalt; in addition to being a talented painter, she is known for her book, Ein Wort an Israel (A Word to Israel), which dealt with antisemitism and Christianity in Germany.
1831 – Rebecca Blaine Harding Davis, American author, short-story writer, and journalist who was a pioneer of literary realism in American literature; through her writing, she sought to effect social change for blacks, women, Native Americans, immigrants, and the working class.
1842 – Ambrose Bierce, American journalist and writer best known for his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”
1846 – Samuel Johnson, Sierra Leonean-born priest and historian of the Yoruba people; his fear that his people were losing their history led him to write a history of the Yoruba people; ironically, this work was misplaced by his British publishers and had to be recompiled after his death by his brothers, using his copious notes.
1899 – Madelon Szekely-Lulofs, Indonesian-born Dutch writer, translator, and journalist, best known for her novels set in the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.
1911 – Ernesto Sabato, Argentine writer, painter, and physicist who has been called “the last classic writer in Argentine literature.”
1889 – Dorothy Rice Sims, American writer, correspondent, journalist, aircraft pilot, bridge player, artist, and sportswoman.
1901 – Mary John Thottam (also called Sister Mary Benigna), Indian poet and Catholic nun who was one of the pioneer women writers in the Malayalam language; Pope Paul VI honoured her with the Benemerenti medal.
1912 – Mary Wesley, English novelist whose successes included 10 bestsellers in the last 20 years of her life.
1914 – Cecile Pearl Witherington Cornioley, French-born British spy who was an agent for the U.K.’s clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War, where she used Marie and Pauline as code names; she later wrote an autobiography, Codename Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent.
1915 – Norman Cousins, American political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate.
1915 – Fred Hoyle, English astronomer, screenwriter, physicist, mathematician, short-story writer, nonfiction author, and science-fiction author; he coined the term “Big Bang.”
1916 – Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat, award-winning Indian author, memoirist, and politician from Rajasthan who wrote books in Hindi and Rajasthani and was known for her bold decision on abandoning “purdah” (veil) system and for her contributions to Rajasthani literature and folk tales.
1923 – Yves Bonnefoy, French poet, essayist, art critic, translator, writer, philosopher, art historian, and university teacher.
1937 – Anita Desai, award-winning Indian novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer, and professor; she grew up speaking mostly Hindi and German, but writes in English.
1938 – Lawrence Block, American crime and mystery writer, both of whose main series are set in New York.
1939 – Samad Behrangi, Iranian writer, poet, journalist, children’s writer, essayist, translator, and social critic
1939 – Brigitte Fontaine, French poet, artist, novelist, playwright, short-story writer, lyricist, songwriter, actor, and singer.
1940 – Walter Ofonagoro, Nigerian scholar, writer, politician, and businessman who is a former Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture; he writes on African business, political, and economic issues.
1941 – Julia Kristeva, award-winning and influential Bulgarian/French philosopher, novelist, literary critic, psychoanalyst, and professor.
1942 – David Hill, New Zealander author, playwright, journalist, children’s writer, and novelist who is especially well known for his young-adult fiction.
1944 – Kathryn Lasky, popular, award-winning American author of children’s and young adult fiction, including the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series; she has also written under the names Kathryn Lasky Knight and E.L. Swann.
1946 – Robert Bernard Reich, an American political economist, professor, author, and political commentator who served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.
1947 – Mark Helprin, American novelist, journalist and conservative commentator.
1947 – Clarissa Dickson Wright, English television chef and author, half of the Two Fat Ladies team.
1949 – Alireza Nourizadeh, Iranian writer, historian, scholar, and journalist.
1950 – Sueli Carneiro, Brazilian writer, philosopher, and anti-racism activist who is a leading author on Black feminism in Brazil.
1950 – Mercedes Lackey, American fantasy and young-adult author, most of whose novels and intertwining series take place on the world of Velgarth.
1951 – Erika Rosenberg, German writer, translator, biographer, and journalist.
1955 – Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (born Malti Shetty), Indian writer, translator, and spiritual head of the Siddha Yoga path; she has written poetry, spiritual discourses, and children’s books.
1969 – Susan Nalugwa Kiguli, Ugandan poet, professor, and literary scholar who has been an advocate for creative writing in Africa.