1714 – Gotthard Friedrich Stender, Latvian German grammarian, lexicographer, writer, and Lutheran pastor who played a key role in Latvia’s cultural history; he was the first Latvian grammarian and lexicographer, and is considered the founder of 18th-century Latvian secular literature. He wrote the first Latvian-German and German-Latvian dictionaries, as well as the first Latvian encyclopedia and the first illustrated Latvian alphabet book.
1770 – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, German philosopher, editor, and historian who is considered one of the founders of German Idealism.
1781 – Finnur Magnússon, Icelandic writer, historian archeologist, anthropologist, philologist, professor, and translator of ancient texts; he spent much of his career in Denmark.
1845 – Martha Capps Oliver, American writer, poet, children’s author, and hymnwriter.
1856 – Ivan Franko, Ukrainian writer, poet, politician, economist, playwright, translator, journalist, literary critic, ethnographer, cultural historian, and political activist who wrote the first detective novels and modern poetry in the Ukrainian language.
1859 – Helene von Forster (born Helene Schmidmer), German author, poet, playwright, politician, and women’s rights activist; she was elected to the Nuremberg city council, making her one of the first women in the new Republic of Germany to hold political office. She is considered the most important representative of the feminist movement’s moderate “bourgeois” wing in Nuremberg.
1860 – Yevgeny Mikhailovich Garshin, Russian writer, teacher, novelist, publisher, and literary historian.
1864 – Súsanna Helena Patursson, Faroese writer, playwright, cookbook author, actress, and activist for Faroese nationalism and women’s rights; she was considered the first political feminist in the country, particularly stressing the need for all Faroers to be able to write and learn Faroese properly, and wrote the first play in the Faroese language. (Faroese refers to the Faroe Islands, an autonomous territory of Denmark.
1871 – Theodore Dreiser, American novelist and journalist, best known for his novels Sister Carrie and An American Tragedy, which were part of the naturalist school of literature; Sister Carrie has been called “the greatest of all American urban novels.” Dreiser planned to return from his first European holiday on the Titanic but was talked out of it by an English publisher who recommended a cheaper boat.
1877 – Lloyd C. Douglas, American minister and author whose novels are rather preachy by today’s standards.
1885 – Lina Poletti (born Cordula Poletti), Italian writer, poet, playwright, and feminist who is considered one of the first women in Italy to openly declare her lesbianism; she is best known today for her affairs with writer Sibilla Aleramo and actress Eleonora Duse.
1891 – Aldo Vergano, Italian journalist, screenwriter, film director, and co-founder of the magazine Cinematografo; his first screenplay was for Sun, one of the most important films of the Italian silent cinema, and his film Il Sole Sorge Ancora (The Sun Rises Again) is considered “one of the cornerstones of neorealism.”
1892 – Percy Brand Blanshard, an American philosopher and author known primarily for his defense of reason.
1892 – Augustina Stridsberg (also known as Augustina Jirku), American writer and translator who, along with her daughter, Margietta Voge, spied for the Soviets during World War II. Her KGB code name was “Klara.”
1894 – Antonio Cunill Cabanellas, influential Spanish-Argentine playwright, theatre actor, director, and instructor.
1894 – Kazimierz Wierzynski, Polish poet, journalist, writer, and translator.
1896 – Miyazawa Kenji, Japanese poet and author of children’s literature who was also known as a devout Buddhist, vegetarian, and social activist.
1899 – C.S. Forester, pen name of Egyptian-born English author Cecil Louis Troughton Smith, who is remembered mostly for novels about naval warfare; he is best known for the “Horatio Hornblower” series but also wrote biographies, historical fiction, short stories, and crime fiction; many of his books were made into films, including The African Queen.
1904 – Nora Robinson Lofts, bestselling British author of historical fiction, nonfiction, and short stories.
1910 – Setumadhavarao Pagadi (or Sethu Madhav Rao Pagadi), award-winning Indian writer, historian, scholar, linguist, biographer, and civil servant; in his scholarly work, he specialized in modern Maratha history.
1916 – Halet Çambel, influential German-born Turkish archeologist, researcher, author, and activist who was the co-discoverer of the Hittite fortress at Karatepe, in southern Turkey, and who helped unravel the mysteries of Hittite hieroglyphics by finding and restoring a tablet with the Phoenician alphabet; she is credited with saving many archeological sites by fighting a government plan to dam the Ceyhan River, and with revitalizing traditional weaving practices in Turkey by educating villagers about traditional, plant-based dyes and about the advantages of raising sheep instead of goats. She competed on the Turkish fencing team in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, as the first Muslim woman Olympian, and took a stand against fascism by refusing an invitation to meet with Adolph Hitler.
1917 – Chang Chun-ha, award-winning South Korean writer, journalist, and democracy activist.
1921 – Arlene Mosel, American author of children’s picture books; her best-known work is based on folk tales.
1924 – David Harold Rowbotham, Australian poet, literary critic, and journalist; though lyrical in form, his poems are often concerned with history.
1925 – Narayan Dharap, prolific Indian Marathi author who wrote more than 100 books, primarily horror, as well as short stories; much of his fiction was inspired by contemporary American authors, including Stephen King, and he was the first author to bring H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu to Marathi readers. Most of Dharap’s stories feature a great battle between good and evil, usually concluding with good triumphant.
1925 – Saiichi Maruya, Japanese writer, translator, literary critic, novelist, essayist, and university teacher.
1925 – Jaswant Singh Neki, award-winning Indian poet, leading Indian Sikh scholar and author, and psychiatrist; he was a significant figure in Punjabi-language poetry, writing neo-metaphysical poetry, some of it autobiographical. His long autobiographical poem, Simriti De Kiran Ton Pehlan (Before Shedding Memory), is considered among the masterpieces of Indian literature.
1929 – Ira Levin, iconic American author and dramatist; his best known novels include Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, and The Stepford Wives.
1930 – Erzsébet Galgóczi, Hungarian writer, playwright, screenwriter, and journalist; her work is often described as realist fiction.
1932 – Antonia Fraser, pen name of Dame Antonia Margaret Caroline Fraser, an Anglo-Irish author of history, novels, biographies, crime fiction, and short stories; she is the daughter of politician and social reformer Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford, and historical biographer Elizabeth Longford (Elizabeth Pakenham, Countess of Longford); Fraser’s brother and sister are also authors, and she was married to Nobel Prize-winning playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter.
1932 – Mohamed Hamri (known simply as Hamri), Moroccan author and painter who was one of the few Moroccans to participate in the Tangier Beat scene; his daughter, Sanaa Hamri, was the first Moroccan woman to direct a Hollywood movie.
1933 – Kerstin Lillemor Ekman (née Hjorth), Swedish novelist who wrote a string of successful detective novels and then went on to books with psychological and social themes.
1933 – Nancy Colbert Friday, American author who has written on the topics of female sexuality and liberation.
1933 – Hanne Marie Svendsen (née Jensen) Danish broadcasting executive who writes award-winning novels, plays, and children’s books; she is best known for her novel Guldkuglen, published in English as The Gold Ball.
1934 – Ann Rinaldi, prolific American author of award-winning young-adult fiction; she is particularly known for her historical fiction, including books in the Dear America series. She has also been a newspaper columnist.
1936 – Ingebjørg Dahl Sem, Norwegian writer, journalist, and author of books for children and young adults.
1938 – Syed Mohammed Madni Ashraf (most often referred to as Madni Miyan, but also called Shaikhul Islam or Mujaddid E Azam), Indian Muslim jurist, author, theologian, ascetic, and spiritual leader.
1939 – William Least Heat-Moon (also known as William Lewis Trogdon) bestselling American travel writer and historian of English, Irish, and Osage ancestry.
1939 – Sarah Stewart, Caldecott Honor-winning American author of children’s picture books; some of her books were illustrated by her husband, author and illustrator David Small.
1943 – Suzy Kline, American teacher and author of children’s books, best known for the “Horrible Harry” series.
1943 – Sindiwe Magona, award-winning South African writer, children’s author, poet, professor, short-story writer, voice actress, and autobiographer.
1945 – Maimu Berg, Estonian writer, critic, translator, journalist, editor, and politician.
1945 – Suzanne Fisher Staples, Newbery Medal-winning American author of children’s books; she was also a journalist who has reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
1949 – Liv Nysted, award-winning Norwegian writer, novelist, and educator.
1959 – Jeanette Winterson, British journalist, broadcaster, activist, and author of novels, short stories, and memoirs.
1962 – Sjon (full name Sigurjón Birgir Sigurðsson) Icelandic poet, novelist, and lyricist whose pen name Sjon (meaning “sight”) is an abbreviation of his given name, Sigurjón.
1966 – Jill Lepore, American writer, biographer, and professor; her biography Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin was a finalist for the National Book Award.
1983 – Thando Mgqolozana, award-winning South African author; his book A Man Who Is Not A Man was adapted into an award-winning short film, Ibhokhwe (The Goat).