0836 – Ibn al-Rumi, popular poet of Baghdad in the Abbasid-era (now in Iraq).
1728 – Ali Gohar (historically known as Shah Alam II), Mughal emperor who wrote poetry under the pen name Aftab and who authored Ajaib-ul-Qasas, considered one of the earliest and the most prominent book of prose in Urdu.
1828 – Friederike Kempner, German-Polish-Jewish poet, novelist, pamphlet writer, and playwright; she also became an activist for prison reform.
1852 – Vera Figner, Russian writer, biographer, memoirist, politician, and political activist.
1903 – George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair), English science-fiction novelist who is known for his lucid prose, biting social criticism, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism; Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm are his most popular books. He was also a journalist, essayist, and nonfiction writer.
1910 – Elizabeth Orton Jones, Caldecott Medal-winning American author and illustrator of children’s books.
1913 – P.H. Newby, English novelist and nonfiction author who was the first winner of the Booker Prize; he has been called “one of the best English novelists of the second half of the century.”
1923 – Dorothy Gilman, American mystery author who is known for the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries.
1923 – Nicholas Mosley (Sir Nicholas Mosley, 3rd Baron Ravensdale, 7th Baronet Anclats), British novelist and biographer; his book Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley and Family 1933–1980 was a scathing attack on his father, questioning his father’s motives and understanding of politics.
1926 – Ingeborg Bachmann, Austrian poet, author, screenwriter, playwright, journalist, translator, philosopher, librettist, and essayist.
1928 – Peyo (pen name of Pierre Culliford), Belgian comics artist, publisher, and creator of the Smurfs.
1929 – Eric Carle, prolific American/German children’s book author and illustrator, known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other children’s books illustrated with his distinctive collage work.
1935 – Taufiq Ismail, award-winning Indonesian poet, activist and literary magazine editor; he figured prominently in Indonesian literature of the post-Sukarno period and is considered one of the pioneers of the “Generation of ’66.”
1935 – Charles Sheffield, Nebula and Hugo Award-winning English-born mathematician, physicist, and science-fiction author.
1936 – Bert Hölldobler, Pulitzer Prize-winning German sociobiologist who co-wrote The Ants with Edward O. Wilson.
1936 – A.J. Quinnell, (pen name of Philip Nicholson), British author whose best-known work is Man on Fire.
1942 – Ry (or Rea) Nikonova (real name Anna Aleksandrovna Tarshis), Russian artist, poet, writer, and editor who was a key figure in the Transfurism movement and in Mail Art history; she also founded the “Uktuss School” art movement.
1955 – Patricia Smith, two-time Pushcart Prize-winning American poet, playwright, author, children’s writer, professor, spoken-word performer, and journalist who was the first African-American woman to publish a weekly metro column for the Boston Globe.
1956 – Anthony Bourdain, American chef, author, travel-show host, and television personality, known for his nonfiction book Kitchen Confidential.
1963 – Yann Martel, Spanish-born Canadian author whose best-known novel, Life of Pi, won the Booker Prize and was made into a film.
1964 – Martha McPhee, American novelist who is the daughter of literary journalist John McPhee.
1973 – Rukmini Callimachi, Romanian-born American writer, journalist, and poet.
1974 – Anne van Amstel, Dutch writer, poet, and psychologist.
1979 – Aydilge Sarp, Turkish novelist, short-story writer, poet, composer, and singer-songwriter.