1468 – Juan del Encina (born Juan de Fermoselle), Spanish writer, poet, playwright, and composer who is considered one of the founders of Spanish drama.
1724 – Cao Xueqin, Chinese writer, poet, painter, and philosopher who is best known as the author of Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. There is some dispute about his exact birth year.
1792 – Pyotr Vyazemsky, Russian writer, poet, historian, journalist, literary critic, memoirist, linguist, and translator who was a leading personality of the Golden Age of Russian poetry.
1797 – Luise Adelaide Lavinia Schopenhauer (known as Adele Schopenhauer), German author who also wrote under the pen names Henriette Sommer and Adrian van der Venne; she was the sister of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and the daughter of author Johanna Schopenhauer.
1812 – Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Iranian-Azerbaijani playwright, artist, literary critic, and philosopher.
1817 – Henry David Thoreau, American author, essayist, poet, and philosopher, best known for his works Walden and Civil Disobedience.
1874 – Elsa Hildegard (Baroness von Freytag-Loringhoven, née Plötz), German avant-garde Dadaist poet, writer, painter, and sculptor whose provocative poetry was published posthumously in Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. The New York Times praised the book as one of the notable art books of the year.
1876 – Max Jacob, French poet, painter, writer, and critic whose work is seen as an important link between the symbolism and surrealism; despite the fact that the Jewish-born Jacob had converted to Catholicism decades earlier, he was arrested by the Gestapo and died while awaiting deportation to a concentration camp.
1886 – Min Won-sik, Korean journalist, writer, poet, painter, philosopher, and politician who was an advocate for Korean political rights and autonomy; some of his literary works were published under the pen names Chungam, Nankok, and Handong.
1892 – Bruno Schulz, Polish writer, artist, literary critic, and art teacher who is considered one of the great Polish-language prose stylists of the 20th century.
1895 – Buckminster Fuller, American architect, author, diarist, scientist, systems theorist, designer, inventor, visual artist, philosopher, and futurist who popularized the geodesic dome.
1895 – Oscar Hammerstein, arguably the most influential American lyricist and librettist of all time, with credits including the lyrics to such popular shows as South Pacific, Show Boat, The King and I, and The Sound of Music; he was a frequent collaborator with Richard Rodgers.
1902 – Günther Anders, Austrian writer, screenwriter, translator, university teacher, journalist, art critic, film critic, philosopher, and historian.
1904 – Pablo Neruda, pen name and, later, legal name of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician who was born as Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto; Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez called him “the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language.”
1909 – Herbert Zim, American naturalist, author, and educator best known as founder and editor of the Golden Guides nature books for children.
1911 – Johanna Moosdorf, award-winning German writer, poet, and editor whose work often focused on unconventional women and centered on the threats of fascism, racism, and sexism.
1913 – Manohar Malgonkar, Indian author of fiction and nonfiction in the English language; he was also an army officer, farmer, civil servant, mine owner, and big game hunter.
1918 – Betty Sue Cummings, American author of books of history and of fiction for both adults and children.
1918 – Doris Grumbach, American novelist, essayist, biographer, children’s writer, memoirist, editor, and literary critic.
1920 – Pierre Berton, Canadian nonfiction author, journalist, and television personality.
1923 – James Gunn, influential Hugo Award-winning American science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, anthology editor, and professor who was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
1926 – Bidyut Prabha Devi, Indian Odia poet, playwright, and children’s writer who is recognized as one of the best poets in Odia literature; her poems deal with the problems women face in an ancient, conservative society.
1929 – Tayeb Salih, Sudanese novelist, broadcaster, columnist, and teacher; he is widely considered one of Sudan’s greatest authors of the twentieth century.
1933 – Donald Westlake, prolific, award-winning American author, short-story writer, and screenwriter who is best known for crime novels but who also wrote science fiction, nonfiction, and other genres; he wrote under many pseudonyms, including Richard Stark, Alan Marshall, Samuel Holt, Rolfe Passer, and Barbara Wilson.
1934 – Digish Nanubhai Mehta, Indian Gujarati-language essayist, novelist, biographer, literary critic, and translator.
1937 – Bill Cosby, controversial American actor, comedian, educator, Jello spokesperson, and activist who has written many books, including books of comedy; nonfiction about children, parenting, education, and family relationships; and fiction for children. His reputation as the quintessential family man was shattered by revelations of multiple incidents of sexual assault and rape.
1939 – Phillip Andrew Hedley Adams, Australian columnist, broadcaster, and farmer; In 1997 the International Astronomical Union named a minor planet orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter after him.
1939 – Patricia Ann Granger, British crime writer and author of historical romances; she has also published under the pen name Ann Hulme.
1941 – Ignatius Kilage, Papua New Guinean politician and book author who served as Governor-General of Papua New Guinea.
1944 – Delia Ephron, bestselling American author, screenwriter, and playwright who is the sister of the late screenwriter Nora Ephron.
1941 – Affaf Tobbala, award-winning Egyptian children’s author, short-story writer, screenwriter, and television documentary director and producer.
1946 – Robert Fisk, Beirut-based English and Irish writer and journalist who is best remembered for his criticism of the United States’ foreign policy in the Middle East and the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians.
1948 – Elias Khoury, Lebanese novelist, playwright, screenwriter, editor, critic, and intellectual.
1948 – Dušan Kovačević, Serbian writer, screenwriter, playwright, director, artist, and diplomat.
1951 – Joan Bauer, Newbery Honor-winning American author of young-adult literature.
1955 – Timothy Garton Ash, British historian, professor, author and commentator who specializes in modern history of Central and Eastern Europe.
1956 – Cathal Ó Searcaigh, Irish poet, homoerotic love poet, playwright, and travel writer who writes in the Irish language and has been praised for his “confident internationalism.”
1967 – Adam Johnson, Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short-story writer.
1984 – Amanda Hocking, American writer of paranormal romance for young adults; she was one of the first authors to self-publish bestselling novels.
1997 – Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Prize-winning Pakistani writer, memoirist, blogger, and activist for children’s education and human rights.