1638 – Philippe de Courcillon (Marquis de Dangeau), French officer, author, memoirist, and diplomat who is most remembered for keeping a diary of his life at Versailles from 1684 until the year of his death, and using that diary to craft his 19 volumes of published memoirs; despite one critic’s opinion that his memoirs were “of an insipidity to make you sick,” they are important because they contain many facts about the reign of Louis XIV.
1726 – Jovan Rajić, Serbian writer, poet, historian, theologian, playwright, geographer, educator, and philosopher who is considered one of the greatest Serbian academics of the 18th century and one of the most notable representatives of Serbian Baroque literature.
1840 – Thérèse Bentzon (pen name for Marie Thérèse Blanc), French journalist, essayist, novelist, and translator.
1852 – Giovanni Marradi, Italian poet, educator, and founder of a literary review journal who was known as a charming descriptive poet.
1858 – Vetle Vislie, Norwegian writer, playwright, novelist, educator, and politician.
1859 – Ilka Pálmay, Hungarian writer, poet, opera singer, and actress; in London in 1896, she created the leading role of Julia in the premiere production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Grand Duke.
1862 – Gurazada Apparao, Indian Telugu writer, poet, and playwright who was considered a pioneer in Indian theater.
1866 – H.G. Wells, English author now best known as the “Father of Science Fiction”; his most notable science-fiction works include The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau.
1868 – Elena Văcărescu, Romanian writer, poet, diplomat, translator, journalist, and librettist.
1875 – Kusumkumari Das, Indian Bengali poet, writer, and social activist who is known not only as a poet in her own right but also as the mother of Jibanananda Das, the eminent poet of modern Bengali literature.
1899 – José Bartholomew Pedroni Fantino, Argentine poet who is considered the foremost literary figure of Esperanza, Santa Fe, the city where he spent most of his career.
1900 – Miriam Yalan-Shteklis, Israeli writer, poet, and librarian who was most famous for her children’s books.
1901 – Subramaniam Chettiar, Indian journalist, newspaper founder and editor, and philanthropist.
1906 – Lauritz Johnson, Norwegian novelist, children’s writer, and radio and television host who was nicknamed “Uncle Lauritz” for his work in children’s programming.
1907 – Helen Foster Snow, American journalist and author who reported from China in the 1930s under the name Nym Wales on the developing Chinese Civil War, the Korean independence movement, and the Second Sino-Japanese War; she also interviewed Communist leaders, including Mao Zedong.
1916 – Yolanda Bedregal de Cónitzer, Bolivian poet and novelist who is known as Yolanda of Bolivia; she is remembered for her explorations of human emotions, and especially in her later years, of isolation and loneliness.
1917 – Phyllis Nicolson, British mathematician, physicist, researcher, and writer best known for her work in the area of heat conduction.
1922 – Francis Woodbine Blackman, Barbadian novelist, teacher, journalist, and historian who was better known as Woodie Blackman.
1924 – Fereydoon Hoveyda, Iranian writer, screenwriter, historian, translator, politician, diplomat, and film critic who was the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations in the 1970s.
1928 – Édouard Glissant, Martinique-born French writer, poet, and literary critic who is widely recognized as one of the most influential figures in Caribbean thought, cultural commentary, and French-language literature.
1929 – Yuz Aleshkovsky, Russian writer, poet, playwright, children’s writer, screenwriter, singer-songwriter, musician, lyricist, and guitarist.
1929 – Kwang-lim Kim, award-winning early-modern South Korean poet; his early poems overflow with pain and suffering endured as a result of the Korean War, but after the war he focused more on visual imagery, eventually adding elements of Buddhism. His poems often seem like quick glimpses of life in which human concern meets with tight poetic control.
1931 – Albert Maori Kiki, Papua New Guinea autobiographer and politician who was one of the founders of the Pangu Party, which demanded home rule leading to eventual independence for New Guinea; his autobiography is called Ten Thousand Years in a Lifetime.
1933 – Dmitri Bilenkin, Russian writer, journalist, science-fiction author, and literary critic.
1934 – Leonard Cohen, Canadian poet, novelist, singer, songwriter, musician, and painter.
1939 – Mozaffar Partowmah, Iranian scientist and writer who was a scholar both of Islam and of nuclear physics.
1941 – Justo Justo, Filipino columnist, playwright, politician, and AIDS activist.
1944 – Fannie Flagg, pen name of Patricia Neal, American actress, comedienne, and author who is best known as a writer for her novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.
1944 – Christopher Harvie, Scottish historian, writer, professor, and literary critic who was a Member of the Scottish Parliament for Mid Scotland and Fife.
1945 – Rainer Rupp, German writer, opinion journalist, economist, and spy who worked under the codenames Mosel and later Topaz for the East German intelligence service in the NATO headquarters in Brussels from 1977 until 1989, releasing documents of the highest importance to the Eastern Bloc.
1945 – Kay Ryan, American poet and U.S. Poet Laureate who is considered one of the most original voices in the contemporary literary landscape; her tightly compressed, rhythmically dense poetry is often compared to that of Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore.
1946 – Paul C. Doherty (full name Paul Charles Dominic Doherty), award-winning English author, educator, lecturer, and historian who has written dozens of historical novels and nonfiction history books.
1947 – Stephen King, award-winning American author of bestselling horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels; he also writes short stories and nonfiction books, and has been called the “King of Horror.” Some of his work has been published under the pen name Richard Bachman.
1947 – Marsha Norman, Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, screenwriter, novelist, lyricist, and librettist, best known for her play, ‘Night, Mother.
1947 – Rói Reynagarð Patursson, award-winning Faroese writer, poet, philosopher, and songwriter.
1952 – Anna Coutsoudis, South African public health scientist, academic, researcher, and writer who is best known for her work on HIV and nutrition, specializing in the benefits of breastfeeding for children with HIV.
1953 – Lars Saabye Christensen, Norwegian-born Danish screenwriter, poet and novelist.
1960 – Kelley Eskridge, award-winning American novelist and short-story writer who has written speculative fiction, slipstream, essays, nonfiction, and screenplays.
1960 – Masoumeh Ebtekar, Iranian writer, journalist, translator, immunologist, and politician who headed Iran’s Department of Environment from 1997 to 2005, making her the first female member in the cabinet of Iran since 1979 and the third in history. As a child she had lived with her family in Philadelphia for several years; because she spoke perfect English, she was chosen in 1979 as a university student to be translator and spokeswoman for the for the students who took hostages and occupied the U.S. Embassy in Iran.
1960 – Lee Kyung-kyu, South Korean screenwriter, actor, comedian, and film producer. He patented an instant noodle recipe that he created during an amateur cooking contest on a television show; it became one of the top-selling products of 2011, and changed the landscape of the Korean market for instant noodles.
1965 – Frédéric Beigbeder, award-winning French novelist, essayist, comic book writer, short-story writer, publisher, and literary critic; his writing is characterized by humor, self-mockery, and references from both high and low culture.
1966 – Olga Arefieva, award-winning Russian poet and writer who is also a composer, singer, singer-songwriter, musician, and dancer; her poetry has been described by critics as a combination of realism and mysticism, possibly inspired by the absurdism of Daniil Kharms or the magic realism of Gabriel Garcia Márquez.
1967 – Suman Pokhrel, award-winning Nepali poet, lyricist, essayist, playwright, translator, and artist.
1970 – Samantha Power, Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish-born American author, academic, government official, and diplomat.
1971 – Lee Jeong-beom, South Korean screenwriter and film director who is best known for his films as Cruel Winter Blues and The Man from Nowhere.
1973 – Mehdi Khalaji, Iranian writer, translator, journalist, novelist, blogger, and linguist.
1973 – Darain Shahidi, Indian journalist, political commentator, news presenter, and dastango (storyteller).
1983 – Sarah Rees Brennan, award-winning Irish novelist and short story writer who is best known for her bestselling young-adult fantasy fiction.