1764 – Anne Radcliffe, English author and pioneer of the Gothic novel; she was the most popular author of her day, but not much is known about her life because she was so reclusive. Poet Christina Rossetti tried to write her biography but abandoned the project because so little information was available.
1775 – Matthew Lewis, English Gothic novelist and playwright whose novel, The Monk, was wildly successful, earning him the nickname “Monk Lewis,” though critics condemned its horror, violence, and eroticism.
1887 – Samuel Eliot Morison, American maritime historian who won Pulitzer Prizes for his biographies of Christopher Columbus and John Paul Jones and was also a U.S. Navy Rear Admiral.
1893 – Dorothy Thompson, journalist, political commentator, columnist, women’s suffrage activist, and radio broadcaster who was the first American journalist expelled from Nazi Germany; in 1939, Time magazine named her the second most influential woman in America (after Eleanor Roosevelt); her husbands included American Noble Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis and Hungarian writer Joseph Bard; Thompson was often called “The First Lady of American Journalism” and was the model for the title character in Woman of the Year, played by Katharine Hepburn in the film and Lauren Bacall in the stage production.
1901 – Barbara Cartland, English romance author who held the Guinness Book records for most novels written in a year and for bestselling author of all time; she also wrote cookbooks and nonfiction books about nutrition and vitamins; in addition, she was an advocate for the rights of the Roma people, and for better wages and working conditions for midwives and nurses, and she helped create the first aeroplane-towed glider airmail, earning an award for her contributions to the development of aviation.
1903 – Arthur Walworth, Pulitzer Prize-winning American biographer of Woodrow Wilson; he also wrote about China and Japan.
1910 – Patrícia Rehder Galvão (pseudonym Pagu), Brazilian writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and translator who was a key figure in the Brazilian Modernist movement.
1911 – Mervyn Peake, Chinese-born English writer and illustrator, best known for his Gormenghast series, a work of dark fantasy, and his illustrations for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
1933 – Oliver Sacks, British-American neurologist, professor, and writer whose books explore the science of the brain.
1936 – June Millicent Jordan, Jamaican-American poet, columnist, teacher, memoirist, and activist.
1945 – Dean R. Koontz, bestselling American author known for his suspense novels.
1953 – Thomas Ligotti, American horror writer and editor.
1966 – Nayan Raj Pandey, Nepali novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter who is known for his depictions of contemporary Nepalese society, presented in a figurative style.
1967 – John Rocco, American author and illustrator of children’s books, best known for illustrating the Percy Jackson series.
1972 – Hiro Arikawa, award-winning Japanese light novelist; one of her books has been adapted to film.