1561 – Francis Bacon (1st Viscount St Alban), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England; he is one of the scholars credited with developing the scientific method, arguing for scientific knowledge based on inductive reasoning, careful observation, and a methodical approach; he has been called the father of empiricism.
1572- John Donne, English cleric who was a poet of the Metaphysical school; his works, which include sonnets, sermons, love poems, religious poems, epigrams, songs, elegies, and satires, are noted for vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor.
1729 – Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, German writer, dramatist, philosopher, and art critic who was a key literary figure of the German Enlightenment era; his work was characterized by a witty and ironic style.
1751 – Amabel Hume-Campbell (1st Countess de Grey and 5th Baroness Lucas), English diarist, political writer, and author who was a countess in her own right; she wrote particularly about the French Revolution.
1773 – René-Charles Guilbert de Pixerécourt, prolific French dramatist who was best known for his Modernist melodramas.
1788 – Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale), influential English poet, politician, and peer, and an important figure in the Romantic movement; he traveled throughout Europe, and while living in Italy spent time with his friend, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; later he joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which the Greeks revere him as a national hero. His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is considered the founder of the field of computer programming.
1849 – August Strindberg, Swedish writer whose book The Red Room has been called the first modern Swedish novel.
1864 – Marguerite Durand, French journalist, newspaper founder, actress, women’s rights activist, and suffragist; she was also famous for walking the streets of Paris with Tiger, her pet lion.
1872 – Katai Tayama, Japanese author who established the Japanese literary genre of naturalistic novels that revolve around detailed self-examination; he also wrote about his experiences in the Russo-Japanese War.
1886 – Isabel Paterson, Canadian-U.S. journalist, novelist, political philosopher, and leading literary and cultural critic; she is considered one of the three founding mothers of U.S. libertarianism (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand).
1888 – Hedwig “Vicki” Baum, prolific, bestselling Austrian author, memoirist, and screenwriter whose novel Menschen im Hotel (People at a Hotel) was made into an Academy Award-winning film, Grand Hotel, and a Broadway musical; she also trained as a boxer. Some of her early short stories were published under the name of her first husband, Max Prels.
1891 – Antonio Gramsci, Italian writer, politician, theorist, economist, sociologist, literary critic, journalist, and linguist.
1904 – Arkady Gaidar (real name Arkady Petrovich Golikov), Russian Soviet writer, journalist, novelist, short-story writer, and children’s author who was best known for the book Timur and His Gang.
1906 – Robert E. Howard, U.S. author of pulp fiction novels, known primarily for creating the character Conan the Barbarian.
1911 – Mary Hayley Bell, Chinese-born English actress, screenwriter, playwright, and novelist; her husband was Sir John Mills and her daughter was actress Hayley Mills.
1920 – Ann Philippa Pearce, Carnegie Medal-winning English author of children’s books.
1922 – Howard Moss, National Book Award-winning U.S. poet, editor, dramatist, and critic.
1925 – Katherine Anne MacLean, U.S. science-fiction author best known for her short fiction of the 1950s, which explored the effects of technological advances on individuals and society.
1926 – Aurora de Albornoz, Spanish scholar, poet, professor, and literary critic whose work was inspired, in part, by her experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
1934 – Graham Kerr, Scottish chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host who was known as the Galloping Gourmet; after a religious conversion and his wife’s health problems, Kerr turned to healthier cuisine and later renounced his earlier shows, saying “What I did wasn’t art, it was a crime,” given high rates of obesity.
1937 – Sallie Bingham, U.S. author, playwright, poet, novelist, short-story writer, teacher, memoirist, feminist activist, and philanthropist; she is part of the Bingham family, which dominated the news media of Louisiville and of the state of Kentucky for most of the 20th century.
1937 – Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling U.S. author whose police fiction and nonfiction draws on his 14 years of experience with the Los Angeles Police Department; several of his books have been made into films, and the Mystery Writers of America named him a Grand Master.
1943 – James Carroll, U.S. author, historian, journalist, and Roman Catholic reformer whose fiction and nonfiction center on religion and history.
1963 – Denise Dresser (Denise Eugenia Dresser Guerra), Mexican writer, journalist, editor, columnist, and university professor who has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in Mexico and one of the 50 most influential women in Twitter.
1979 – Saheed Aderinto, Nigerian author, encyclopedia writer, literary critic, historian, and professor known for his interdisciplinary approach to historical research, borrowing vocabulary, methodology, and discursive tools from a wide range of disciplines and sub-disciplines.
1980 – Subhash Ram Prajapati, Nepalese author, ethnomusicologist, and documentary filmmaker.
1982 – Salma Khalil Alio, award-winning Chadian poet, short-story writer, photographer, caricaturist, and graphic artist.