0845 – Sugawara no Michizane, Japanese Kanshi poet, writer, and diplomat who is today revered in Shinto as the god of learning, Tenman-Tenjin.
1779 – Francis Scott Key, American lawyer and poet who authored the lyrics to the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
1815 – Richard Henry Dana, Jr., American lawyer and politician, and author of the classic memoir Two Years Before the Mast.
1819 – Herman Melville, novelist, poet, and short-story writer who is considered a key figure in American literature; he is best known for his masterpeice Moby Dick, but with his books Omoo, Typee, and Mardi, he is one of the authors whose works appear most often in crossword puzzles.
1834 – Mariane van Hogendorp, Dutch writer and activist for women’s suffrage.
1870 – Catherine Ann Andersen, award-winning New Zealand writer, teacher, and community leader.
1881 – Rose Macauley (Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay), English writer, most noted for her award-winning novel The Towers of Trebizond, about a small Anglo-Catholic group crossing Turkey by camel; the story is seen as a spiritual autobiography, reflecting her own changing and conflicting beliefs. Her novels were partly influenced by Virginia Woolf; she also wrote biographies and travelogues.
1881 – Aizu Yaichi, award-winning Japanese poet, writer, historian, art and literary historian, calligrapher, and university teacher; much of his work focused on Buddhist art of the Asuka and Nara eras.
1903 – Paul Horgan, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American author of fiction and nonfiction, much of it having to do with the American southwest.
1904- Vivien Greene (nee Dayrell-Browning), Rhodesian-born British writer who was the world’s foremost expert on dollhouses and who married novelist Graham Greene.
1911 – Jackie Ormes, cartoonist, writer, columnist, and journalist who was the first African-American woman to create and produce a nationally appearing comic strip; her work was unprecedented in that her lead characters were not only women but were strong, elegant, intelligent, urbane, and opinionated Black women who challenged the derogatory caricatures of Black people, and especially Black women, that appeared in comics at that time.
1916 – Anne Hébert, French-Canadian novelist, poet, playwright, and short-story writer, noted for her examination of the Québécois.
1919 – Stanley Middleton, Booker Prize-winning British novelist, best known for his novel Holiday.
1923 – Thelma Honora Forshaw (also known as Thelma Korting), Australian short-story writer, book reviewer, and journalist who is best known for her autobiographical short stories.
1923 – Lee Wu-jong, South Korean writer, journalist, trade unionist, feminist activist, and politician who was the leader of South Korean radical feminists.
1931 – Fides Belza Cuyugan-Asensio, Filipina librettist, translator, teacher, actress, and coloratura soprano.
1939 – Robert James Waller, American author and photographer who achieved fame with his book The Bridges of Madison County.
1939 – Vladimir Evgen’evich Zakharov, Soviet and Russian poet, mathematician, physicist, and professor.
1942 – Brianda Domecq, Spanish-Mexican novelist and memoirist who writes in Spanish, though her native language is English.
1945 – Ola Balogun, Nigerian documentary scriptwriter and director who is part of the first generation of Nigerian filmmakers.
1947 – Lorna Goodison, Jamaican poet, short-story writer, memoirist, visual artist, and professor who is a leading West Indian writer of the generation born after World War II and is Poet Laureate of Jamaica; her work explores Jamaican culture, issues of home and exile, and the power of art to reconcile opposites and contradictions in the Caribbean historical experience.
1947 – Kenji Tokitsu, Japanese author, biographer, and practitioner of Japanese martial arts; he is best known for a scholarly work about the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto.
1948 – David Gemmell, British author of heroic fantasy, best known for his debut novel Legend, the first in the Drenai saga.
1948 – Milan Radulovic, Serbian literary critic, professor, and politician whose writing focused on Serbian modernism.
1952 – Bruna Lombardi, Brazilian writer, poet, novelist, blogger, and actress.
1954 – James Gleick, American science writer whose books have been Pulitzer and National Book Award finalists.
1952 – Amy Friedman, American/Canadian novelist, memorist, journalist, editor, and teacher.
1957 – Madison Smartt Bell, award-winning American novelist, nonfiction author, short-story writer, and professor.
1960 – Boris Cheendykov, award-winning Russian Chuvash playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, and translator.
1965 – Goretti Kyomuhendo, award-winning Ugandan novelist, children’s writer, graphic novelist, and literary activist; one of her novels, Waiting: A Novel of Uganda’s Hidden War, has been described as “a sensitive, slowly unraveling observation of daily life in a remote Ugandan village as Amin’s marauding soldiers approach,” and as “a complex and disturbing story told with almost a touch of sweetness to it, through the eyes of a young girl forced to grow up before her time.”
1966 – James St. James, American novelist whose book Disco Bloodbath (now published under the title Party Monster) that chronicles the Manhattan club scene in the 1980s and 1990s and centers around a murder committed by a friend of his; St. James was notorious for a lifestyle of excess that included drug use, partying, and bizarre costumes.
1967 – Mona Eltahawy, Egyptian journalist, essayist, author, and nonfiction writer.
1976 – Lola Omolola, Nigerian journalist best known for founding an online forum where women can share their stories.