1752 – Thomas Chatterton, English poet of the Romantic era who typified a commitment to the life of imagination; referring to Chatterton’s suicide at the age of 17, poet William Wordsworth described him as, “the marvellous Boy, The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride.”
1858 – Selma Lagerlöf, Nobel Prize-winning Swedish author and teacher; she was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and has been praised for the “lofty idealism, vivid imagination, and spiritual perception that characterize her writings.”
1889 – Edwin Powell Hubble, U.S. astronomer whose writings helped establish the field of extragalactic astronomy; known for the “expanding universe” theory and for proof that objects previously classified as nebulae are actually galaxies outside the Milky Way.
1908 – Alistair Cooke, British journalist, broadcaster, and television personality who was also known as the host of PBS’s “Masterpiece Theatre.”
1858 – Selma Lagerlöf, Swedish author who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
1866 – Ndre Mjeda, Albanian Gheg writer, poet, politician, Catholic priest, translator, author, philologist, university teacher, and member of the Albanian Resistance; he was influenced by the Jesuit writer Anton Xanoni and the Franciscan poet Leonardo De Martino.
1867 – Kavi Kant, Indian Gujarati poet, writer, playwright, and essayist who was an innovator of Khandkavya, a typical Gujarati poetic form and narration of one episode.
1869 – Zinaida Hippius (also spelled Gippius), Russian poet, novelist, playwright, memoirist, short-story writer, and literary critic who was a major figure in the Russian Symbolist literary movement. After the October 17 revolution she emigrated to Poland and then to France and Italy; the tragedy of the exiled Russian writer was a major topic for her abroad, but she also continued to explore mystical and covertly sexual themes.
1886 – Bray Hammond, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. financial historian and author of Banks and Politics in American from the Revolution to the Civil War.
1892 – Grete Reiner, Czech-German anti-fascist magazine editor, writer, and translator who was the first translator of The Good Soldier Schwejk, the antimilitarist satirical novel by Jaroslav Hašek, from the original Czech into German; Reiner was also known as Grete Reinerová, Markéta Reinerová, and Greta Reiner-Straschnow. In 1942, she was deported by the Nazis and died in Auschwitz.
1908 – Katja Špur, award-winning Slovenian writer, children’s author, poet, journalist, teacher, translator, linguist, and slavicist.
1910 – Pauli Murray (full name Anna Pauline Murray), U.S. civil rights activist who became a lawyer, women’s rights activist, and author who was also the first African-American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest.
1915 – Dulcie Winifred Catherine Denison, (née Bailey), Malaysian-born British novelist, mystery writer, lepidopterist, singer, and actress who was known professionally as Dulcie Gray.
1918 – Naomi Frankel (also spelled Fraenkel and Frenkel), German-Israeli novelist and children’s author who was evacuated to Mandatory Palestine with other German-Jewish children in 1933; her most famous work was Shaul ve-Yohannah (Saul and Joanna), a three-generational tale of an assimilated German-Jewish family in prewar Germany.
1923 – Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize-winning South African writer and political activist.
1926 – John Gardner, English author of spy and thriller novels, best known for continuing the James Bond series.
1927 – Susanna Al-Hassan, Ghanaian writer, children’s author, and politician who was Ghana’s first female to be appointed minister and the first African woman to hold a cabinet post and became a member of parliament for the then Northern Region.
1928 – Beverley Jackson, U.S. writer on Chinese culture and fashion, international travel, polo, doll collecting, and style; she has also been a columnist, lecturer, curator of Chinese textiles, and weaver of pine needle baskets.
1930 – Christine Arnothy, Budapest-born French writer, journalist, and novelist
whose best known book, J’ai quinze ans et je ne veux pas mourir (I Am Fifteen and I Do Not Want to Die), was based on her diary, in which she recorded her experiences as a teenager living through the 1945 siege of Budapest; when she fled Hungary with her parents to resettle in France, her diary was the only possession she still had. She also wrote detective stories under the pseudonym William Dickinson, among other books.
1930 – Bai Hua, Chinese novelist, playwright, and poet who gained national fame for his plays, which were characterized by uncompromising historical criticism.
1932 – Colville Young, Belizean novelist, short-story writer, composer, musician, politician, and Governor-General of Belize.
1934 – Antoine Abel, Seychelles poet and writer who is considered the father of Seychelles literature.
1936 – Don Delillo, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, essayist, and playwright whose works have covered subjects as diverse as television, nuclear war, sports, performance art, the Cold War, mathematics, the digital age, politics, economics, and global terrorism.
1937 – Rhys Isaac, Pulitzer Prize-winning Australian historian and writer on American history.
1937 – Viktoriya Samoilovna Tokareva, Soviet and Russian screenwriter and short-story writer.
1940 – Wendy Doniger, U.S. writer, historian, psychologist, translator, professor, and Indologist who has written on Sanskrit and Indian textual traditions.
1940 – Mohammad-Ali Sepanlou, Iranian poet, author, editor, translator, and literary critic who was an advocate for freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
1945 – Deborah Eisenberg, U.S. short-story writer, playwright, professor, and actress.
1946 – Guechse Yim, Cambodian poet and novelist who writes in the Khmer language; he now lives in Germany.
1948- Reine-Aimée Côté, award-winning Canadian novelist, poet, short-story writer, and educator.
1950 – Carolyn Cooper, Jamaican-born West Indian author, professor, and literary scholar.
1957 – Dilruba Z. Ara, Swedish/Bangladeshi writer, novelist, artist, educator, and translator.
1957 – Julie M. Fenster, U.S. author of biographies and historical articles and books focusing on the 19th century.
1959 – Orlando Figes, British author, historian, and professor who writes about Russian and European history.
1967 – Fadhila El Farouk, pen name of the Algerian writer, journalist, and novelist Fadhila Melkemi; some of her work focuses on the suffering of women under Arab rule, equality between the sexes, and the coexistence of religions.
1972 – Sheema Kalbasi, Iranian-born poet, filmmaker, and human-rights activist.