0551 BCE – Confucius, Chinese philosopher and politician who was traditionally considered the paragon of Chinese sages and one of the most important and influential individuals in human history; his teachings and philosophy formed the basis of East Asian culture and society, and continue to remain influential.
1803 – Prosper Mérimée, French dramatist and short-story writer who is best known for his novella Carmen, on which Bizet based the opera Carmen.
1824 – Francis Turner Palgrave, British critic, anthologist, biographer, and poet who was best known for his literary criticism, which was seen as demonstrating sensitivity, tact, intuitive perception, and sound judgment.
1839 – Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard, American writer, educator, temperance reformer, labor activist, and women’s suffragist who laid the groundwork that resulted in the passing of the Eighteenth (on Prohibition) and Nineteenth (on women’s suffrage) Amendments to the United States Constitution; during her lifetime, she succeeded in raising the age of consent in many states as well as passing labor reforms including the eight-hour workday.
1856 – Kate Douglas Wiggin, American educator and author of children’s stories, including the classic novel, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.
1867 – James Edwin Campbell, African-American educator, school administrator, newspaper editor, poet, and essayist who was the first principal of the West Virginia Colored Institute (present-day West Virginia State University) and is considered by the university to be its first president.
1892 – Elmer Rice (born Elmer Leopold Reizenstein), American playwright who is best known for his plays The Adding Machine and his Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of New York tenement life, Street Scene.
1935 – Simon Leys (pen name of Pierre Ryckmans), Belgian writer, sinologist, essayist, and literary critic who writes in French and English; he has written books on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and has translated important works of Chinese literature.
1938 – Rosario Ferré, Puerto Rican novelist, short-story writer, poet, biographer, essayist, professor, and translator who has written in both Spanish and English. Her father, Luis A. Ferré, was the third elected Governor of Puerto Rico; when her mother died, she took on the duties of First Lady for her father.
1944 – Marcia Muller, American mystery and thriller novelist, best known for her Sharon McCone series.
1944 – Simon Winchester, British-born nonfiction author, journalist, travel writer, and novelist who lives mostly in the United States; he has covered numerous significant events including Bloody Sunday and the Watergate scandal; his books include The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary, which has been made into a film.
1945 – Alioune Badara Bèye, Senegalese civil servant, novelist, playwright, poet, and publisher.
1948 – Kim Yong Taik, modern South Korean poet and teacher whose work celebrates the simple images and experiences of rural life and criticizes city politicians and policymakers, using dialect, proverbs, colloquialisms, and traditional rhythms to strengthen the sense of rural community in his poetry.
1950 – Brian Keenan, Northern Irish writer whose work includes the book An Evil Cradling, an account of the four-and-a-half years he spent as a hostage in Beirut, Lebanon.
1952 – Hallgerður Gísladóttir, Icelandic ethnologist, anthropologist, writer, poet, and television presenter who specialized in Icelandic food traditions and gastronomy, as well as Icelandic man-made caves.
1955 – Lila Prap, Slovenian writer, children’s author, illustrator, and architect who is best known for her children’s picture books.
1956 – Antonio Soler, award-winning Spanish novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and journalist.
1959 – Michael Scott, Irish author, children’s writer, screenwriter, science-fiction and fantasy author, horror writer, and collector and editor of folklore; he also writes romance novels under the name Anna Dillon.
1960 – Andrew Brel, South African-born author, short-story writer, songwriter, and musician.
1960 – Marina Gershenovich, Russian writer, poet, translator, author, and linguist.
1961 – Tatiana de Rosnay, French novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and short-story writer who is best known for her bestselling novel Sarah’s Key, which was made into a film.
1965 – Antoine Rault, award-winning French dramatist and novelist whose works deal with both contemporary and historical themes.
1965 – Kenneth T. Williams, award-winning Canadian Cree playwright, journalist, and art and literature reviewer who also worked as an encyclopedia salesman, bartender, and drummer.
1967 – Fang Shimin (pen name Fang Zhouzi), Chinese popular scientific writer who is primarily known for his campaign against pseudoscience and fraud in China.
1969 – Piper Kerman, American author of the memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison; the book has been adapted into an Emmy Award-winning television series for Netflix.
1972 – Heli Pauliina Laaksonen, Finnish poet, writer, and translator.
1974 – Martyna Wojciechowska (born Marta Eliza Wojciechowska), Polish writer, journalist, television presenter, mountaineer, and editor-in-chief of National Geographic Poland.
1978 – Rovshan Abdullaoglu, Azerbaijani writer, publicist, Oriental philosopher, psychologist, and theologian.
1985 – Helen Mort, award-winning British poet and novelist who was the Derbyshire Poet Laureate.