1013 – Hermann of Reichenau, German Benedictine monk, writer, historian, astronomer, mathematician, poet, musicologist, and musical composer.
1635 – Robert Hooke, English author, astronomer, professor, physicist, surveyor, and scientist who often argued with Isaac Newton over scientific theories.
1811 – William Makepeace Thackeray, Indian-born English journalist, illustrator, editor, and author, best known for his satirical novel Vanity Fair; as a journalist, he often wrote under such absurd pen names as George Savage Fitz-Boodle, Michael Angelo Titmarsh, Theacuteophile Wagstaff, and C.J. Yellowplush, Esq.; his daughter Anne Thackeray Ritchie, step-aunt to Virginia Woolf, was also a prominent writer.
1864 – Ricarda Huch, German writer, poet, novelist, librarian, historian, playwright, philosopher, and seven-time Nobel Prize nominee; she was a pioneering German intellectual who wrote many works of European history. Asteroid 879 Ricarda is named in her honor.
1865 – Dowell Philip O’Reilly, Australian poet, short-story writer, teacher, and politician; he was known as a feminist and was praised for his ability to write with a feminine viewpoint.
1870 – Darío Herrera, Panamanian writer, modernist poet, journalist, and diplomat who was greatly influenced by contemporary French writing.
1880 – Esmeralda Zenteno Urizar (better known by her pseudonym Vera Zouroff), Chilean feminist writer, editor, novelist, poet, lecturer, and correspondent.
1892 – Gabriel Jönsson, Swedish author and poet who is best known for his works inspired by farming.
1893 – Anna Vasilyevna Timiryova (born Anna Safonova), Russian poet, writer, translator, and painter. When her lover was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks for his opposition to the Revolution, she approached them and declared: “Arrest me. I cannot live without him.” As a result, she was imprisoned but was released his execution; this was the beginning of a long string of her arrests, prison and labor camp sentences, and years of internal exile. She dedicated many of her poems to his memory.
1898 – Beata Obertyńska, Polish writer and poet who was the daughter of the “Young Poland” poet Maryla Wolska and the granddaughter of the sculptor Wanda Młodnicka. She used the pen name Marta Rudzka.
1900 – Nathalie Sarraute, Russian-born French lawyer, author, and dramatist.
1902 – Jessamyn West, American Quaker novelist and short-story writer, best known for her first novel, The Friendly Persuasion; she was second cousin to U.S. President Richard Nixon.
1906 – Clifford Odets, American screenwriter, playwright, stage actor, and theatrical director.
1909 – Bishnu Dey, prominent Indian Bengali poet, prose writer, translator, academic, literary critic, and art critic whose work is classified as symbolist, modernist, and post-modernism; his poetry is known for its musical quality and is seen as marking the advent of “New Poetry” in Bengali literature.
1914 – Adalcinda Magno Camarão Luxardo, award-winning Brazilian writer, poet, linguist, professor, and composer.
1918 – Nelson Mandela, Nobel Prize-winning South African president, civil-rights activist, and writer.
1920 – Zheng Min, Chinese modernist poet, scholar, and lecturer; together with eight other poets, she is considered one of the “Nine Leaves” of Chinese poetry.
1921 – Jón Óskar Ásmundsson, Icelandic poet, novelist, short-story writer, biographer, translator, and linguist who is typically categorized as one of the Icelandic Atom Poets.
1926 – Margaret Laurance, influential Canadian novelist and short-story writer who often wrote about Africa, where she once lived.
1930 – Vilborg Dagbjartsdóttir, Icelandic poet, writer, nonfiction author, children’s author, and translator who is one of the few women in Iceland to have been writing modernist poetry in the mid-twentieth century; her work combines lyrical realism with romantic imagery, and is concerned with social inequality, especially the status of women in society.
1933 – Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Soviet and Russian poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, actor, editor, and film director.
1934 – Ciril Bergles, award-winning Slovene poet, essayist, translator, and teacher who was especially known for his translations of poetry by Spanish and South American writers.
1937 – Roald Hoffmann (born Roald Safran) Ukrainian-born Polish-American theoretical chemist who won the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry; he is also a poet, playwright, and professor. As a small child, he escaped from a Nazi labor camp with relatives and lived in hiding for more than a year, because of his family’s Jewish background; most of his family was killed in the Holocaust, including his father.
1937 – Hunter S. Thompson, American journalist and author who is credited with creating the genre of “Gonzo Journalism”; his topics ranged from sports to politics to cultural commentary.
1938 – Jan Stanislaw Skorupski, Polish-born Swiss writer, poet, essayist, and Esperantist.
1943 – Joseph J. Ellis, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning bestselling American historian and biographer.
1944 – Wayne Vincent Brown, Trinidad and Tobagoan novelist, poet, columnist, and writing teacher who mentored many Caribbean writers.
1948 – Ólafur Gunnarsson, award-winning Icelandic novelist, short-story writer, children’s author, travel writer, poet, and translator.
1951 – Steven Hahn, Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian whose work often focuses on the American South, African-American history, and the international history of slavery, emancipation, and race.
1969 – Elizabeth Gilbert, American writer best known for her travel memoir, Eat, Pray, Love.
1975 – Dima Ghawi, award-winning Turkish-born Jordanian-American author, leadership speaker, and executive coach; she is best known as the author of Breaking Vases: Shattering Limitations & Daring to Thrive – A Middle Eastern Woman’s Story.
1976 – Hardwar Goswami, Indian poet, writer, and playwright who writes in the Gujarati language.
1976 – Svitlana Pyrkalo, London-based Ukrainian writer, journalist, translator, and blogger who writes in Ukrainian, English and Russian.
1977 – Kristiina Ehin, Estonian writer, poet, translator, singer, and songwriter who specializes in folklore.
1977 – Alfian Sa’at, Singaporean writer, playwright, and poet who is known for his provocative works.
1985 – Zynnell Zuh, award-winning Ghanaian writer, actress, and television personality.
1990 – Xu Lizhi, Chinese poet and factory worker who attracted media attention after his suicide at the age of 24.