1700 – James Thomson, Scottish poet who wrote the first long nature poem in the English language; he is also remembered for writing the lyrics of “Rule Britannia!”
1711 – Alexandre Guy Pingré, French and Swedish astronomer, librarian, author, naval geographer, professor, and Catholic priest; his publications include, among others, a substantial treatise on the theory and observational history of comets, and a nautical almanac containing lunar tables. The Pingré crater on the moon is named after him, as is the asteroid 12719 Pingré.
1795 – Henrik Reuterdahl, Swedish librarian, author, theologian, professor, church historian, and Church of Sweden bishop; he is best known for his detailed history of the Church in Sweden.
1824 – Eduard Hanslick, influential German Bohemian music critic, author, and professor; Johannes Brahms dedicated a set of waltzes to him.
1837 – James Henry Pope, New Zealand writer, astronomer, and teacher who was the first Inspector of Native schools in New Zealand and was one of the founders of the Polynesian Society.
1847 – Mary Watson Whitney, American astronomer, mathematician, writer, and professor who was the director of the Vassar Observatory; her research focused on double stars, variable stars, asteroids, comets, and measurements by photographic plates.
1862 – O. Henry (pen name of William Sydney Porter), American writer known for his witty short stories that end in a clever twist.
1870 – Nils Kjær, Norwegian playwright, short-story writer, essayist, literary critic, and theater critic.
1875 – Silvano Mosqueira, Paraguayan author, essayist, and biographer.
1885 – D.H. Lawrence (David Herbert Lawrence), English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic, and painter who wrote such classic novels as Sons and Lovers and Lady Chatterley’s Lover but was controversial in his time.
1889 – Ann Bridge (pseudonym for Mary Dolling Saunders O’Malley), prolific British author who wrote books based on her experiences in Peking, where she lived with her diplomat husband. Her novels combine courtship plots with thorough research, vividly-realized settings, and social satire; she also wrote crime fiction, travel books, and family memoirs.
1901 – Atmaram Raoji Deshpande, award-winning Indian poet who wrote in the Marathi language; he wrote poems under the pen name Anil; his contributions to Marathi literature include the creation of Marathi Dashapadi, a new genre of sonnets with ten lines.
1901 – Katri Vala, Finnish poet, critic, teacher, and the central member of the literary group Tulenkantajat (The Fire Bearers); she wrote about poverty and grief but used images from fairy tales and religion, as well as allegorical references.
1913 – Jacinto Convit, Nobel Prize-nominated Venezuelan scientist, physician, researcher, author, and public-health specialist in the field of communicable diseases, best known for developing a vaccine to prevent leprosy and for his work in cancer treatments; described as a popular hero, he never charged a patient for the care he gave. He published his last study in 2013 at age 100, and passed away the following year.
1917 – Jessica Mitford (full name Jessica Lucy Freeman-Mitford, English and American author, journalist, memoirist, social commentator, civil rights activist, reformer, left-wing icon, and political campaigner; the daughter of an English baron, she was one of the six aristocratic Mitford sisters noted for their sharply conflicting politics, and she renounced her privileged background because she opposed her family’s support of Hitler. She was also a singer for a cowbell-and-kazoo band. Author J.K. Rowling said she was a major influence on her own work and even named her daughter after her.
1919 – Kanhaiyalal Sethia, Indian poet and author in the Rajasthani and Hindi languages; he was also a social worker, reformer, environmentalist, and freedom fighter.
1922 – Jack Shallcrass, New Zealand author, educator, and humanist.
1923 – Grigory Yakovlevich Baklanov, Russian writer and screenwriter who was best known for his novels about World War II, and as the editor of the literary magazine Znamya.
1926 – Alfred Slote, American children’s book author known for books about sports and space.
1927 – Wong Tin-Lam (or Wang Tianlin), Chinese screenwriter, producer, director, and actor, who has contributed to the Hong Kong cinema scene with films made in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Amoy.
1928 – William X. Kienzle, American writer who left the Catholic priesthood and became a mystery author.
1929 – David Broder, Pulitzer Prize-winning American journalist, columnist, author, and pundit who wrote on politics for the Washington Post.
1929 – Birgitta Trotzig, award-winning Swedish poet, novelist, literary critic, nonfiction writer, and essayist; her fiction often focused on dark visions and existential perspectives dark visions, with recurring themes of death and the resurrection of love.
1934 – Leon Rooke, award-winning U.S.-born Canadian novelist and short-story writer.
1935 – Bjørg Vik, Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, playwright, journalist, and children’s writer.
1940 – Thomas K. McCraw, Pulitzer Prize-winning American business historian.
1940 – Bandula de Silva Vithanage, award-winning Sri Lankan screenwriter, playwright, translator, film and television director, theater director, and actor who is considered one of the earliest pillars of Sri Lankan art and drama; he was the first to introduce Shakespearean theater to Sri Lanka.
1942 – Lois Ruby, American author of books for children and young adults, best known for her historical fiction.
1944 – Nikos Perakis, Egyptian-born Greek screenwriter, film director, production designer, costume and set designer, and actor.
1946 – Anthony Browne, British writer and illustrator of children’s books who was named U.K. Children’s Laureate; he especially likes to write about gorillas.
1953 – Lesley Visser, pioneering American sportswriter, sportscaster, and radio personality who was the first female NFL analyst in television history.
1956 – Tony Gilroy, Oscar-nominated American screenwriter and filmmaker known for his action-adventure films, including the “Bourne” movies.
1956 – Joan Helene Hambidge, South African Afrikaans poet, postmodern literary theorist, and academic who is controversial for her out-of-the-closet style of writing.
1957 – James McBride, National Book Award-winning African-American novelist, memoirist, writer, and musician, known especially for his book, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother.
1957 – Aita Efimovna Shaposhnikova, award-winning Russian Yakut translator, editor, biographer, and literary critic.
1959 – Andre Dubus III, American novelist, lecturer, and short-story writer; he is best known for the book The House of Sand and Fog, which was a National Book Award finalist and an Oprah’s Book Club selection.
1960 – Carmen Agra Deedy, Cuban-born American author of children’s picture books and short stories; she is also a storyteller and a commentator on National Public Radio.
1961 – Philip “Beardy” Ardagh, English children’s author and book reviewer who wrote the BBC’s first interactive radio drama and collaborated with former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney on a children’s book.
1961 – Alfonso Mejia Arias, Mexican writer, social activist, politician, and musician.
1961 – Akihiko Shiota (塩田 明彦), award-winning Japanese film director and screenwriter.
1967 – Maria Sara Bartiromo, American television journalist, magazine columnist, and author; she was the first journalist to report live on TV daily from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
1976 – Masih Alinejad (born Masoumeh Alinejad), award-winning exiled Iranian journalist, author, novelist, and blogger who is well known for her criticism of the Iranian government.
1991 – Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, South African screenwriter, film director, musician, and visual artist.