1844 – Sarah Bernhardt (born Henriette-Rosine Bernard), world-renowned French stage and screen actress who was one of the first major acting stars; she was also a book author, playwright, autobiographer, painter, and sculptor.
1870 – Ivan Bunin, Nobel Prize-winning Russian writer who was praised for “his bold and ingenious revival of dramatic and scenic art.”
1887 – Samuil Yakovlevich Marshak, Russian and Soviet writer of Jewish origin who was a poet and translator of work for both children and adults; writer Maxim Gorky called Marshak the founder of Russia’s children’s literature.
1898 – Dámaso Alonso y Fernández de las Redondas, Spanish poet, philologist, and literary critic; he was a member of the Generation of ’27, but his best-known work dates from the 1940s and later.
1906 – Sidney Kingsley, U.S.-born Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, screenwriter, and actor who was controversial for his tendency to include sexual content in his work.
1919 – Madhav Prasad Ghimire, prize-winning Nepali poet, playwright, essayist, editor, songwriter, and scholar who was honored as Nepal’s National Poet. His poetic style was based on chhandas poetry, a stylization that combines rhythm with a fixed meter; he was a classicist of the Romantic school of thought, with themes ranging from patriotism to the beauty of nature and inspired by his childhood in the mountains.
1919 – Doris May Lessing, Nobel Prize-winning Iranian-born British and Zimbabwean novelist and short-story writer who has been called, “that epicist of the female experience, who with skepticism, fire, and visionary power has subjected a divided civilization to scrutiny.” After she met with success, she wrote two novels under the literary pseudonym Jane Somers to show the difficulty new authors face in trying to get their work printed; her U.K. publisher rejected them. Lessing’s work is commonly divided into three distinct phases: her Communist phase (radical writing about social issues), her Psychological phase, and her Sufi phase (science fiction).
1920 – Timothy Leary, U.S. psychologist, writer, and counterculture icon known for his advocacy of the use of psychedelic drugs.
1935 – Ann Rule, U.S. author of true-crime nonfiction books and articles; she is best known for The Stranger Beside Me, about the serial killer Ted Bundy. Rule worked with him and considered him a friend, but he was later revealed to be a murderer.
1946 – Deepak Chopra, Indian-born U.S. physician, author, and alternative-medicine advocate who is a prominent figure in the New Age movement.
1948 – Debbie Macomber, bestselling U.S. author of romance novels and contemporary women’s fiction, known for her many different book series; six of her novels have been made into television movies.
1951 – Elizabeth Hay, award-winning Canadian novelist, memoirist, essay, short-story writer, travel writer, and nonfiction author.
1965 – A.L. Kennedy (Alison Louise Kennedy), Scottish writer of six novels, five story collections, two books of nonfiction, and a book called On Writing.
1965 – Sumito Estévez Singh, Venezuelan chef, cookbook writer, columnist, entrepreneur, educator, and television personality; he is one of the most recognized Venezuelan chefs.
1971 – José Ángel Mañas, Spanish writer whose name is often included in the generation of neorealist Spanish writers from the 1990s.