1256 – Gertrude the Great (or Gertrude of Helfta), German Benedictine nun, mystic, and theologian who wrote numerous works grounded in the themes and rites of Catholic Liturgy; she is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.
1588 – Elizabeth Stanley (Countess of Huntingdon and Lady Hastings of Hungerford), English noblewoman, writer, and patron of the arts who was third in line of succession to the English throne; she wrote manuscripts, meditations, letters, and religious materials.
1835 – Maria Trubnikova, Russian writer, editor, feminist, and philanthropist who was one of the pioneer founders and leaders of the first organized Russian women’s movement; her work was instrumental in allowing Russian women to pursue a university education.
1878 – Carl Sandburg, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet, author, biographer, journalist, and editor, best known for his poetry and his biography of Abraham Lincoln.
1883 – Khalil Gibran, Lebanese-American poet and visual artist, remembered most for his 1923 book The Prophet.
1901 – Tómas Guðmundsson, Icelandic poet, author, and translator who was known as Reykjavík’s Poet.
1904 – John Holmes, U.S. poet, critic, and professor who also wrote the lyrics to several Unitarian Universalist hymns.
1905 – Idris Davies, Welsh poet whose early works are in Welsh, but who later wrote exclusively in English.
1906 – Benedict Wallet Vilakazi, South African Zulu poet, novelist, and educator.
1910 – Wright Morris, two-time National Book Award-winning U.S. author and photographer, best known for Love Among Cannibals.
1915 – Alan Watts, British-born author and philosopher, known for popularizing Eastern religions in the West.
1917 – Maeve Brennan, Irish short-story writer, author, journalist, literary critic, and novelist who was an important figure in both Irish diaspora writing and in Irish writing itself.
1931 – E.L. Doctorow, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, editor, playwright, and professor, known especially for his historical fiction and considered one of the most important American novelists of the 20th century.
1932 – Kamleshwar, important Indian Hindi writer and scriptwriter for cinema and television.
1938 – Vasyl Stus, Ukrainian poet, writer, translator, literary critic, journalist, human-rights activist, publicist, and dissident; because of his politics, his works were banned by the Soviet regime, and he spent 13 years in detention. He is widely regarded as one of Ukraine’s foremost poets.
1945 – Allen Appel, U.S. novelist best known for his stories about time traveler Alex Balfour.
1945 – Barry Lopez, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. nonfiction writer.
1949 – Carolyn D. Wright, National Book Award-winning U.S. poet who was also a Guggenheim and MacArthur fellow.
1951 – Yashodhara Mishra, Indian novelist, poet, and short-story writer who wrote in English and Hindi.
1954 – Anthony Minghella, Academy Award-winning English film director, playwright, and screenwriter.
1956 – Elizabeth Strout, bestselling Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author of such literary novels as Olive Kitteridge and My Name Is Lucy Barton.
1960 – Nigella Lawson, British food writer, broadcaster, television personality, and cookbook author.
1969 – Ree Drummond, U.S. blogger and cookbook author known as the “Pioneer Woman.”
1971 – Karin Slaughter, bestselling U.S. crime writer whose fiction series are mostly based in the southern United States.