0877 – Eutychius of Alexandria, Egyptian writer, historian, and physician who was one of the first Christian Egyptian writers to use the Arabic language. His most important work is Nazm al-Jauhar (“Row of Jewels”), also known by its Latin title Eutychii Annales (“The Annals of Eutychius”), which begins with the Creation, and runs down to his own times; it is a valuable source for events in Persia prior to the rise of Islam.
1758 – Hannah Webster Foster, American novelist, both of whose best-known works have alternate titles: The Coquette (or The History of Eliza Wharton) and The Boarding School (or Lessons of a Preceptress to Her Pupils); she published them under the pseudonym A Lady of Massachusetts.
1788 – Margarethe Carl (stage name of Margarethe Bernbrunn), German soprano, actress, and playwright.
1809 – Jenny d’Héricourt (born Jeanne-Marie-Fabienne Poinsard), French novelist, feminist activist, and physician-midwife; she wrote her first novel, Le Fils du réprouvé (“The son of the reprobate”), under the pseudonym Félix Lamb and is remembered for writing an influential rebuttal to the sexist essays of the anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and historian Jules Michelet.
1852 – Josep Yxart, Spanish writer, essayist, translator, and art and literary critic.
1857 – Mariana Coelho, award-winning Portuguese-born Brazilian educator, essayist, and poet who was a feminist pioneer in Brazil.
1860 – Clara Collet, British economist, author, sociologist, statistician, and civil servant who was one of the first women graduates from the University of London; she is noted for collecting statistical and descriptive evidence on the life of working women in England, and was pivotal in many reforms that greatly improved working conditions and pay for women.
1875 – John Lavington Bonython, Australian politician, journalist, and newspaper editor.
1878 – Fanny Louise Irvine-Smith, New Zealand teacher, lecturer, historian, and writer who lectured in New Zealand history and Māori culture, subjects rarely taught in New Zealand institutions at the time; her bestselling book, The Streets of My City, examined the development of the city of Wellington through the names of its streets and the people who lived there, and is still used as a resource on Wellington history.
1880 – Georgia Douglas Johnson, African-American poet, playwright, short-story writer, and columnist who was an important participant in the Harlem Renaissance; much of her work explores themes of isolation, loneliness, pain, and love, as well as the role of being a Black woman in her time.
1885 – Carl Clinton Van Doren, Pulitzer Prize-winning American critic, editor, and Benjamin Franklin biographer; his study The American Novel is credited with helping to re-establish Herman Melville’s status as first-rate literary master.
1886 – Hilda Doolittle (pen name H.D.), American poet, novelist, and memoirist who was a leader of the early 20th-century avant-garde Imagist group of poets, which included Ezra Pound. One critic wrote that “her loneliness cries out from her poems”; her poetry often borrowed from Greek mythology and classical poets, and is noted for its incorporation of natural scenes and objects.
1890 – Marie Heiberg, Estonian poet and short-story writer who was only 16 when her first collection of poems was published; her poetry explored recurrent themes of loneliness, sadness and spiritual darkness.
1890 – Elsa Schiaparelli, Italian fashion designer, poet, and autobiographer; in 1934, Time magazine said of her: “Madder and more original than most of her contemporaries, Mme Schiaparelli is the one to whom the word ‘genius’ is applied most often.”
1890 – Franz Werfel, Austrian-Bohemian novelist, playwright, and poet; he is best known for his novel The Forty Days of Musa Dagh.
1903 – Cyril Connolly, English intellectual, literary critic, magazine editor, and writers known for writing the book, Enemies of Promise, which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of fiction that he had aspired to be in his youth.
1903 – Benita Galeana Lacunza, Mexican writer, suffragist, and activist for the rights of women and workers; she was a key figure in the social justice movements in Mexico during the second half of the twentieth century.
1910 – Juan Chabás, Spanish-born poet and writer who was a member of the influential group of writers known as the Generation of ’27; he fled to exile in Cuba following the Spanish Civil War.
1918 – Marianne Winder, British writer, librarian, and specialist in Middle High German and in Tibetan studies.
1921 – Mohan Chopra, award-winning Indian Hindi novelist, poet, playwright, short-story writer, and travel writer.
1921 – Hideo Haga, Japanese photographer and author known for his photography of traditional Japanese festivals and folk culture.
1930 – Alfredo Augusto Torero Fernández de Córdova, Peruvian anthropologist and linguist who ranks among the founders of Andean linguistics; much of his work is characterized by bringing aspects of Andean culture into his linguistic investigations.
1931 – Ece Ayhan (full name Ece Ayhan Çaglar), Turkish poet and author.
1931 – Isabel Diana Colegate, acclaimed British author and literary agent; her novel The Shooting Party was adapted as an award-winning film of the same name.
1934 – Feliu Formosa Torres, award-winning Spanish Catalan dramatist, poet, translator, and educator.
1934 – Ernesto Gastaldi, Italian screenwriter, writer, science-fiction writer, and film director.
1934 – Charles Kuralt, award-winning American journalist, columnist, author, autobriographer, and television presenter; his “On The Road” television series spawned many books.
1935 – Mary Oliver, American poet who won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize; her poetry focused on the quiet of occurrences of nature: industrious hummingbirds, egrets, motionless ponds, and “lean owls / hunkering with their lamp-eyes.”
1937 – Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning American scientist, geographer, historian, ornithologist, and author best known for his popular-science books, especially Guns, Germs, and Steel; he has been ranked ninth on a poll by Prospect and Foreign Policy of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals.
1937 – Kwon Jeong Saeng, award-winning South Korean writer, poet, essayist, and children’s author.
1938 – Charles Brewer-Carías, Venezuelan explorer, anthropologist, naturalist, photographer, biographer, author, and dentist who has led more than 200 expeditions to remote parts of the Venezuelan Guayan and has written about the plants, animals, and landscapes; his discoveries include the sink holes of Cerro Sarisariñama and the world’s largest known quartzite cave, Cueva Charles Brewer. Many species of animals and plants have been named in his honor.
1941 – Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, science historian, and popular-science author and essayist; his most significant contribution to evolutionary biology was the theory of punctuated equilibrium, developed with Niles Eldredge, which proposes that most evolution is characterized by long periods of evolutionary stability, infrequently punctuated by swift periods of branching speciation. The Library of Congress has named him a “Living Legend.”
1942 – Janet Todd, British writer, university teacher, literary critic, and literary scholar; much of her work concerns Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, and their circles.
1945 – Gerard Henderson, Australian author, columnist, journalist, and conservative political commentator who has a particular interest in the history of the Catholic Church in Australia and the Communist Party of Australia.
1946 – Shlomo Sand, Israeli historian and author, best known for his book The Invention of the Jewish People.
1948 – Zhang Chengzhi, popular Chinese author who is considered the most influential Muslim writer in China.
1950 – Babette Cole, prolific and award-winning Jersey-born English writer and illustrator of children’s picture books.
1950 – Melba Padilla Maggay, Filipina writer, social anthropologist, and social activist best known for her academic work and popular books on culture, social change, and development issues.
1952 – Marisa Sistach (né Marysa Sistach Peret), award-winning Mexican screenwriter, writer, and film director who is a key member of the third-wave of prolific female directors in Mexican cinema; she is known for her feature films and documentaries, many with recurring themes of femininity and women’s issues.
1957 – Andreï Makine, award-winning Russian-born French author, best known for his novel Dreams of My Russian Summers; he also writes poetry, in both French and his native Russian, and publishes some of his work under the pseudonym Gabriel Osmonde.
1959 – Corinne De Vailly, French-born Canadian writer, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, nonfiction writer, children’s writer, and journalist.
1960 – Alison Bechdel, American cartoonist and bestselling author who is best known for the long-running comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For; she is also the author of an acclaimed graphic memoir, Fun Home, which was adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. She is the originator of the Bechdel Test, which measures representation of women in fiction by asking whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man; the requirement that the two women must be named is sometimes added.
1962 – Obioma Paul Iwuanyanwu (pen name Obiwu), Nigerian-American writer and professor who is a survivor of the Igbo genocide in Nigeria.
1963 – Marian Keyes, bestselling, award-winning Irish novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction writer.
1966 – Yuki Saito, Japanese actress, singer, writer, poet, essayist, and composer.
1969 – David Trueba, Spanish writer, journalist, screenwriter, film director, and actor.
1977 – Anna Kim, award-winning South Korean-born Austrian novelist and poet; she is best known for her novel Die gefrorene Zeit (“Frozen Time”), about a Kosovar man searching for his missing wife after the end of the Yugoslav wars.