1725 – George Mason, Colonial American and U.S. planter, politician, statesman, writer, and delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, one of three delegates who refused to sign the Constitution (because it still lacked a bill of rights). His writings, including substantial portions of the Fairfax Resolves of 1774 and his Objections to this Constitution of Government, have greatly influenced American political thought; he is called the Father of the U.S. Bill of Rights, which was based on his Virginia Declaration of Rights.
1756 – Anton Tomaž Linhart, Slovene playwright and historian who is considered the father of Slovene historiography.
1810 – Alfred de Musset, French dramatist, poet, and novelist.
1849 – Ellen Karolina Sofia Key, Swedish feminist writer on many subjects in the fields of family life, ethics, and education, who was an important figure in the Modern Breakthrough movement and an early advocate of a child-centered approach to education and parenting.
1863 – Annie Jump Cannon, award-winning U.S. astronomer, physicist, educator, and women’s suffrage activist who developed a system of classifying stars that is still in use today; she manually classified more stars in a lifetime than anyone else, with a total of about 350,000 stars — as well as discovering 300 variable stars, five novas, and one spectroscopic binary — and recorded her work in extensive catalogs. In 1929, the National League of Women Voters listed her as one of the twelve greatest living American women.
1882 – Subramanya Bharathi, Indian poet, journalist, independence activist, and social reformer who wrote in the Tamil language; he was a pioneer of modern Tamil poetry and is considered one of the greatest Tamil literary figures of all time.
1892 – Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, U.S. writer of books for pseudonymous children’s mystery series including “Nancy Drew” and the “Hardy Boys.”
1904 – Marjorie Henderson Buell (née Marjorie Lyman Henderson), U.S. cartoonist who worked under the pen name Marge and was best known as the creator of Little Lulu.
1906 – Birago Diop, Senegalese veterinarian, diplomat, poet, and storyteller whose writing is credited with popularizing African folktales.
1911 – Nahguib Mahfouz, Nobel Prize-winning Egyptian author, known for “works rich in nuance – now clear-sightedly realistic, now evocatively ambiguous,” who has formed “an Arabian narrative art that applies to all mankind.”
1916 – Elena Garro, Mexican screenwriter, journalist, playwright, short-story writer, and novelist who was commonly affiliated with the Magical Realism movement (though she rejected that affiliation). She was married to poet Octavio Paz.
1918 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist, short-story writer, and dissident lauded for “the ethical force with which he has pursued the indispensable traditions of Russian literature.”
1922 – Grace Paley, U.S. short-story author, poet, professor, and political activist; her Collected Stories compilation was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Her stories hone in on the everyday conflicts and heartbreaks of city life, and were heavily informed by her childhood in the Bronx.
1927 – Khadija Mastoor, acclaimed Pakistani short-story writer and novelist whose novel Aangan is widely considered a masterpiece of Urdu literature and has been made into a television drama; her sister Hajra Masroor was also a short-story writer, and her brother Khalid Ahmad was a poet, playwright and newspaper columnist.
1931 – Rajneesh (born Chandra Mohan), influential Indian writer, autobiographer, guru, speaker, mystic, and social critic who was the leader of the controversial Rajneesh movement, which emphasized meditation, mindfulness, love, celebration, courage, creativity, and humor—all of which he viewed as being suppressed by adherence to static belief systems, religious tradition, and socialization. Because of his advocacy for sexual openness, he was sometimes called, “the sex guru.”
1931 – Jerome Rothenberg, U.S. poet, translator, and anthologist, noted for his work in ethnopoetics and performance poetry.
1931 – Suncana Škrinjaric, Croatian writer, poet, journalist, screenwriter, and children’s writer; two of her works were adapted for animated films: The Elm-Chanted Forest and The Magician’s Hat.
1932 – Keith Waldrop, National Book Award-winning U.S. poet, translator, and scholar.
1934 – Manuel Oreste Rodríguez López, Spanish Galician poet, writer, journalist, and translator who is remembered for his contributions to Galician literature.
1936 – Ingvar Moe, Norwegian poet, novelist, short-story writer, textbook writer, translator, children’s writer, and young-adult writer.
1937 – Jim Harrison, U.S. author of poetry, fiction, reviews, and essays about the outdoors; his novella Legends of the Fall was adapted into a movie.
1939 – Thomas McGuane, U.S. author of novels, screenplays, and short stories, known especially for his writing about fishing.
1943 – Pilar Molina Llorente, award-winning Spanish novelist, children’s author, and translator.
1944 – Cornelia Hilda Kühn, award-winning South African Afrikaans writer who is known under the pen-name Corlia Fourie; she writes drama, children’s books, short stories, and novels.
1944 – Ernesto Degumbis Lariosa (also known as Nyor Erning), award-winning Filipino Visayan writer, poet, short-story writer, and columnist.
1945 – Pauline Gedge, New Zealand-born Canadian novelist best known for her bestselling historical fiction trilogies; she also writes science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
1945 – Roland Bruce Harvey, Australian author and children’s writer and illustrator who has been praised for his “witty, slapstick style” and “characteristic humorous and detailed illustrations.”
1946 – Walter de Camp (born Kari Lempinen), Finnish writer, author, and journalist who wrote about partying, restaurants, and celebrities for the Finnish City magazine.
1946 – Diana Palmer, pen name of U.S. romance and science-fiction novelist Susan Kyle, who has also published under Diana Blayne, Katy Currie, and her own name.
1954 – Marie Kessels (born Nederweert), award-winning Dutch poet and prose writer.
1954 – Sheree-Lee Olson, award-winning Canadian writer, poet, novelist, essayist, journalist, and newspaper editor who has been called, “one of the new bright lights in Canadian literature.”
1955 – Luis Enrique Sam Colop (or Sam-Colop), Guatemalan Mayan linguist, lawyer, poet, writer, translator, newspaper columnist, promoter of the K’iche’ language, and social activist who was a leader in the Mayan cultural renaissance and a champion of the K’iche’ Mayan language.
1964 – Liêm Hoang-Ngoc, Vietnamese-born French economist, author, professor, and politician.
1964 – Helene Uri, Swedish-born Norwegian linguist, novelist, philologist, and children’s writer.
1964 – Ayelet Waldman, Israeli-U.S. lawyer, novelist, and essayist known for her self-revelatory essays, and also for her fiction and nonfiction about the changing expectations of motherhood, including the demands of children, partners, career, and society.
1970 – Wendy Guerra, Cuban poet, novelist, and actress who has been called, “a kind of diva of contemporary Cuban literature.”
1972 – Rao Xueman, bestselling Chinese novelist and short-story writer who is best known for her teenage romance literature.
1980 – Adi Keissar, Israeli poet, writer, and activist; she founded the cultural group Ars Poetica.