1494 – Suleiman I (also called Birinci Süleyman, Kanunî Sultan Süleyman, and Muhtesem Süleyman, and commonly known as Suleiman the Magnificent and Suleiman the Lawgiver), Turkish-born leader who was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire; he was a distinguished poet and goldsmith who became a great patron of culture, overseeing the Golden Age of Ottoman artistic, literary, and architectural achievements.
1671 – Colley Cibber, English dramatist, autobiographer, actor, and Poet Laureate.
1784 – Laure Junot (Duchesse d’Abrantès), French memoirist and nonfiction author.
1831 – Anna Leonowens, Indian-born English/Canadian writer, teacher, pedagogue, memoirist, autobiographer, traveler, suffragist, and social activist who became well known with the publication of her memoirs, beginning with The English Governess at the Siamese Court, which chronicled her experiences in Siam (modern Thailand), as teacher to the children of the Siamese King Mongkut; her account has been fictionalized in Margaret Landon’s bestselling novel Anna and the King of Siam, as well as films and television series based on the book, most notably Rodgers and Hammerstein’s hit musical The King and I.
1867 – Marie Bregendahl (née Sørensen), one of Denmark’s most acclaimed authors of rural literature; her novels and short stories were written in a realistic, almost grotesque style. She also published poetry.
1880 – Robert Musil, Austrian novelist whose unfinished book, The Man Without Qualities (Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften), is considered an important modernist novel.
1883 – Jonas Lauritz Idemil Lie, Norwegian novelist who was considered one of the Four Greats of 19th-century Norwegian literature.
1886 – Ida Barney, award-winning U.S. astronomer, author, mathematician, and professor who is best known for her 22 volumes of astrometric measurements on 150,000 stars.
1898 – Suzanne Comhaire-Sylvain, Haitian writer who was the first woman Haitian anthropologist; in addition to her interest in Haitian folklore and social issues and the condition of women in Haiti and Africa, her research focused on the origins of Creole language.
1900 – Juvencio Valle (also known by the pseudonym Gilberto Concha Riffo), award-winning Chilean poet.
1901 – Yáng Kāihuì, Chinese poet and teacher who was the second wife of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong; she began writing poetry to express her loneliness when his work kept him away for long periods of time. After she died at the age of 29, Mao mourned her for the rest of his life.
1907 – Catherine Crook de Camp, U.S. science-fiction and fantasy novelist, editor, and nonfiction writer; much of her fiction was coauthored with her husband, novelist Sprague de Camp.
1919 – Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, award-winning Portuguese poet, writer, politician, translator, and children’s writer who was one of the most important Portuguese poets of the 20th century.
1921 – James Jones, U.S. novelist, nonfiction author, and short-story writer whose work explored World War II and its aftermath; his first novel, From Here to Eternity, was adapted for both film and television.
1924 – William Auld, Scottish poet, author, translator, editor, essayist, science-fiction writer, musicologist, and esperantologist.
1926 – Zig Ziglar, U.S. motivational speaker and author of autobiography and self-improvement books.
1931 – Nasiha Kapidžic-Hadžic, Bosnian children’s author and poet.
1934 – Nadežda Plíšková, Czech poet, sculptor, and graphic artist whose work wa influenced by surrealism, pop art, and realism.
1935 – Beatrice Sylvia Vianen, Surinamese writer, novelist, and poet who goes by the name Bea Vianen; she wrote mainly in Dutch, but occasionally in Sranan Tongo, and her writing contained many autobiographical elements..
1938 – Diana E. H. Russell, South African feminist researcher, writer, and activist.
1940 – Ingeborg Day, Austrian-born writer, author, and novelist who was best known for the semi-autobiographical erotic novel Nine and a Half Weeks, which she published under the pseudonym Elizabeth McNeill, and which was later made into a film starring Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke.
1943 – Berlie Doherty, award-winning English novelist, poet, playwright, children’s author, and screenwriter.
1946 – Viivi Luik, Estonian poet, writer, and children’s author.
1950 – Linda LeGarde Grover, U.S. Chippewa novelist, short-story writer, essayist, columnist, and professor whose work concerns the Anishinaabe group of indigenous peoples.
1952 – Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist, editor, screenwriter, and professor, best known for his novel The Hours.
1954 – Karin Fossum, Norwegian mystery writer and poet who has been called the Norwegian Queen of Crime; she has also been a taxi driver and a nurse.
1954 – Stephen Watson, South African creative writing teacher, poet, and critic.
1955 – Catherine Asaro, award-winning U.S. science-fiction and fantasy writer, author of the Saga of the Skolian Empire series; she is also a physicist, chemist, and dancer.
1955 – Maria Shriver, U.S. journalist, author, children’s writer, and television personality who was the niece of U.S. President John F. Kennedy; she was married to actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
1957 – Camille Laurens, award-winning French writer and novelist.
1964 – Ibrahim Al-Hsawi, Saudi Arabian poet, film producer, and actor.
1965 – Clare Vanderpool, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. children’s author.
1966 – Sandile Dikeni, South African poet, journalist, editor, essayist, and political commentator who was an activist against apartheid; he was called, “one of the finest poets and journalists our Struggle has produced.”
1966 – Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, Equatoguinean author, poet, and activist who was a constant thorn in the side of his country’s long-standing dictatorial government, engaging in protests and political activism, including a hunger strike in 2011; he now lives in exile in Spain.
1969 – Colson Whitehead, National Book Award-winning and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist, nonfiction writer, and columnist.
1973 – Simon Mol, pen name of Simon Moleke Njie, Cameroonian journalist, writer, poet, and anti-racist political activist.
1974 – Dorta Jagic, Croatian poet, playwright, travel writer, theater reviewer, teacher, and translator.
1982 – Zhang Yueran, Chinese novelist, short-story writer, and educator who is part of China’s Post-’80s Generation literary movement.