0538 – Gregory of Tours (born Georgius Florentius), French-born Gallo-Roman historian and writer who was Bishop of Tours, which made him a leading prelate of the area that has been referred to as Gaul; his work is the primary contemporary source for Merovingian history, including his most notable work, Decem Libri Historiarum (Ten Books of Histories), better known as the Historia Francorum (History of the Franks).
1554 – Phillip Sidney, English poet, courtier, scholar, and soldier who is remembered as one of the prominent figures of the Elizabethan age.
1667 – Jonathan Swift, Anglo-Irish writer, satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer, poet, and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin; he is still known for such works as Gulliver’s Travels.
1817 – Theodore Mommsen, Nobel Prize-winning German classicist who was called “the greatest living master of the art of historical writing” in reference to his monumental work, A History of Rome.
1835 – Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens), U.S. author, essayist, humorist, travel writer, and journalist, best known for his classic novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
1868 – Angela Brazil, one of the first British writers of “modern schoolgirls’ stories,” books written from the characters’ point of view and intended as entertainment rather than moral instruction; she also published numerous short stories; her books were commercially successful and widely read by pre-adolescent girls but were seen as disruptive and a negative influence on moral standards by some authority figures, leading to them being banned or even burned. She made a major contribution to changing the nature of fiction for girls, presenting a young female point of view that was active, independent-minded, and aware of current issues.
1874 – Winston Churchill, British politician and military leader who led Great Britain through World War II as Prime Minister; he was also a journalist and writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his six-volume history of the war.
1874 – L.M. Montgomery (Lucy Maud Montgomery), Canadian author of the wildly popular “Anne of Green Gables” books, which have been the basis for many television and movie versions; she was also a poet, short-story writer, and essayist. Though her books were a huge commercial success and she is still the bestselling Canadian novelist of all time, in her own day she was often dismissed by critics because books for women and children were not considered serious literature.
1902 – Maria Villavecchia Bellonci, Italian writer, translator, biographer, historian, and journalist, known especially for her biography of Lucrezia Borgia.
1906 – John Dickson Carr, U.S. author of detective stories; he also published under the pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn.
1907 – Jacques Barzun, French-born writer of critical and historical studies.
1910 – Balakrishna Bhagwant Borkar, Indian writer and poet who wrote in the Marathi and Konkani languages; he wrote about nature, patriotism, the body and soul, and the individual in society, and his work has been praised for his diverse sensibility, his multi-colored imagery, and the ease with which he showcased the joys and sorrows of life.
1912 – Gordon Parks, U.S. poet, novelist, photographer, biographer, and filmmaker who was the first Black photographer to work for Vogue and Life magazines. His autobiographical novel The Learning Tree was made into a film; Parks himself directed, becoming the first African-American to direct a film for a major studio. He went on to direct Shaft, the first major-studio action film with a black hero, and other movies.
1926 – Chie Nakane (中根 千枝), award-winning Japanese anthropologist and author who was the first female professor at the University of Tokyo and the first female member of the Japan Academy; her work focuses on cross-cultural comparisons of social structures in Asia, and she is internationally known for her bestselling book, Japanese Society.
1931 – John Samuel Mbiti, Kenyan-born writer, philosopher, and Anglican priest who is considered the father of modern African theology.
1931 – Margot Zemach, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books, many of whose works were adaptations of folk tales from around the world.
1934 – Donato Francisco Mattera (better known as Don Mattera), South African poet, author, and journalist.
1946 – Marina Abramović, Serbian conceptual and performance artist, writer, filmmaker, and philanthropist whose work explores body art, feminist art, the relationship between the performer and audience, the limits of the body, and the possibilities of the mind.
1946 – Andrés Luciano Mateo Martínez, award-winning Dominican writer, novelist, poet, philologist, educator, literary critic, essayist, researcher, and philosopher.
1947 – Sergio Badilla Castillo, Chilean poet, writer, journalist, and translater who is the founder of transrealism in contemporary poetry; he is also considered the Latin American poet with the broadest Nordic influence.
1947 – David Mamet, U.S. playwright, essayist, and film director who is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony-nominated playwright.
1947 – Moses Nagamootoo, Guyanese novelist, writer, lawyer, and politician who is Prime Minister of Guyana.
1950 – Chris Claremont, British-born U.S. comic book writer and novelist; he is best known for his 1975–1991 stint on Uncanny X-Men, during which he is credited with developing strong female characters as well as introducing complex literary themes into superhero narratives, turning the once underachieving comic into one of Marvel’s most popular series.
1951 – Rønnaug Kleiva, award-winning Norwegian poet, writer of short stories, and author of children’s literature.
1951 – Torild Wardenær, award-winning Norwegian writer, poet, essayist, playwright, and children’s writer; she has collaborated extensively with visual artists and musicians.
1966 – Ogaga Ifowodo, Nigerian lawyer, scholar, poet, columnist, public commentator, and rights activist; he was awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, given to writers “who have fought courageously in the face of adversity for the right to freedom of expression.”
1966 – Iman Mersal, Egyptian writer, poet, translator, and professor; in her book How to Mend: On Motherhood and its Ghosts, she “navigates a long and winding road, from the only surviving picture of the author has with her mother, to a deep search through what memory, photography, dreams and writing, a search of what is lost between the mainstream and more personal representations of motherhood and its struggles.”
1966 – David Nicholls, award-winning English novelist and screenwriter.
1970 – Tayari Jones, U.S. novelist and professor whose book An American Marriage was an Oprah’s Book Club Selection.
1974 – Halyna Kruk, Ukrainian writer, poet, translator, university teacher, children’s writer, and literary scholar.
1978 – Robert Kirkman, U.S. comic-book writer whose best-known works included Invincible and The Walking Dead, and who also worked on Ultimate X-Men for Marvel Comics.
1979 – Om Swami, Indian monk who has written bestselling books about wellness, enlightenment, and spirituality, as well as a memoir.