1510 – Elisabeth of Brandenburg, German Duchess and writer who wrote on politics and governance as well as religious subjects.
1578 – John Taylor, English writer who dubbed himself “The Water Poet.” He spent much of his life as a Thames waterman, a member of the guild of boatmen that ferried passengers across the River Thames in London; his occupation was his gateway into the literary society of London, as he ferried patrons, actors, and playwrights across the Thames to the Bankside theatres. It is through his writings that history is familiar with the watermen’s disputes of 1641–42.
1698 – Erik Pontoppidan, Danish author, journalist, bishop, historian, naturalist, priest, economist, ornithologist, theologian, university teacher, church historian, and entomologist; his Catechism of the Church of Denmark heavily influenced Danish and Norwegian religious thought and practice for 200 years.
1788 – Bartolomé José Hidalgo, Uruguayan writer and poet who is considered one of the initiators of Gaucho literature.
1833 – Narmad (full name Narmadashankar Lalshankar Dave), Indian Gujarati poet, playwright, essayist, orator, lexicographer, and reformer who is considered the founder of modern Gujarati literature.
1855 – Agnes Bertha Marshall, English journalist, food writer, inventor, and culinary entrepreneur who was a leading cookery writer in the Victorian period, dubbed the “Queen of Ices” for her works on ice cream and other frozen desserts; in a time before practical domestic refrigeration, her success increased the demand in London for ice imported from Norway.
1872 – Max Beerbohn, English writer, essayist, broadcaster, and drama critic best remembered for his only novel, Zuleika Dobson, a parody of undergraduate life at Oxford.
1890 – Jean Rhys (pen name of Ellen Gwendolyn Rees Williams), Dominican author whose best known work is Wide Sargasso Sea, written as a prequel to Jane Eyre.
1891 – Maria Bird (born Mary Edith Bird ), South African screenwriter and composer.
1898 – Malcolm Cowley, American novelist, poet, literary critic, and journalist.
1899 – Jorge Luis Borges, award-winning Argentine essayist, poet, and short-story writer.
1899 – Ruth Schaumann, award-winning German poet , novelist, short-story writer, sculptor, and illustrator who lost her hearing to scarlet fever as a child.
1911 – Michel Pablo (pseudonym of Michalis N. Raptis), Egyptian-born Greek writer and Trotskyist leader.
1915 – James Tiptree, Jr. (pen name of Alice Bradley Sheldon), groundbreaking American author of science-fiction short stories; she also used the pen name Raccoona Sheldon.
1916 – Léo Ferré, French-born Monegasques poet, songwriter, composer, singer, radio personality, and musician.
1917 – Rosina Ruth Lucia Park, New Zealand–born Australian writer, novelist, radio writer, and children’s author.
1922 – Howard Zinn, American historian, author, playwright, and social activist who wrote more than 20 books, including his bestselling A People’s History of the United States.
1935 – Beatrice Aboyade, pioneering Nigerian librarian and professor who is noted for increasing information access for rural Africans.
1936 – A.S. Byatt (pen name of Dame Antonia Susan Duffy), Booker Prize-winning English novelist, poet, and literary critic who was listed by The Times as one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945; she is the sister of author Margaret Drabble.
1937 – Susan Sheehan, Pulitzer Prize-winning Austrian-born American nonfiction author and journalist.
1947 – Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist whose allegorical novel The Alchemist has been translated into more than 70 languages.
1947 – Diamela Eltit, award-winning Chilean writer, artist, and university professor.
1948 – Alexander McCall-Smith, Rhodesian-born Scottish writer famous for The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series.
1951 – Orson Scott Card, American science-fiction author, essayist, critic, and columnist, best known for the novel Ender’s Game.
1951 – Oscar Hijuelos, American novelist who was the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
1952 – Linton Kwesi Johnson, Jamaican dub poet who was the second living poet, and the only black poet, to be published in the Penguin Modern Classics series; his middle name, “Kwesi”, is a Ghanaian name that is given to boys who are born on Sunday.
1957 – Stephen Fry, British actor, author, playwright, poet, television presenter, and film director.
1958 – Yan Lianke, Chinese poet, novelist, and short-story writer whose work is satirical; much of it is set in the natural environment of Balou Mountain, which has become the most important setting of Yan’s literary world and the most noted fictional landscape created in Chinese literature. Much of his work has been banned in China.
1962 – Ali Smith, Scottish playwright, journalist, and author of fiction and nonfiction who has been described as “Scotland’s Nobel Laureate-in-Waiting.”
1963 – Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Icelandic writer of crime fiction and children’s books; the central character in her crime novels is Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a lawyer.
1972 – Ava DuVernay, award-winning American screenwriter, film director; for her work on Selma, she became the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director, and the first black female director to have her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
1977 – John Green, bestselling American author of popular young-adult fiction; he was included in Time magazine’s list of The 100 Most Influential People in the World and is also known for his series of educational YouTube videos.