1225 – Thomas Aquinas, influential Italian writer, professor, theologian, friar, and Dominican scholastic philosopher of the Catholic Church who tried to synthesize Aristotelian philosophy with the principles of Christianity; he was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology; much of modern philosophy has either developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.
1746 – Stéphanie-Félicité (comtesse de Genlis), French author, children’s writer, entomologist, and harpist, known for her novels, her journals, and theories of children’s education.
1759 – Robert Burns, Scottish poet of the Romantic era; known as the national poet of Scotland.
1862 – Ramabai Ranade, Indian autobiographer, social worker, and women’s rights activists who at the age of 11 was married to Indian scholar and reformer Mahadev Govind Ranade, who encouraged her to learn to read and write, despite the fact that educating women was considered immoral; she went on to found an organization to improve women’s public-speaking skills, to advocate for women’s education, to help the poor and sick, and to offer classes to teach languages and other skills to women.
1874 – W. Somerset Maugham, British writer, one of the most popular novelists of his generation.
1882 – Virginia Woolf, English writer of the Modernist movement who was a member of the Bloomsbury group; her novels, through their nonlinear approaches to narrative, exerted a major influence on the genre.
1885 – Hakushu Kitahara, pen-name of Kitahara Ryukichi, one of the most popular and important poets in modern Japanese literature.
1889 – R. Narayana Panickar, prolific, award-winning Indian Malayalam writer, translator, academic, novelist, essayist, historian, playwright, and lexicographer; some of his best known books are the six-volume work, Kerala Bhasha Sahithya Charthram, a comprehensive history of Malayalam literature.
1890 – Sasha Siemel (Aleksandrs Ziemelis), Latvian-born U.S./Argentinian adventurer, writer, photographer, hunter, guide, actor, and lecturer who spoke seven languages; he boasted of having experienced more adventure in a single year than most men witnessed in a lifetime.
1905 – Margery Sharp, English author best known for her children’s story The Rescuers, which was later adapted into two Disney movies.
1905 – Julia Frances Smith, U.S. composer, pianist, biographer, and author on musicology; she is best known for her operas and orchestral works, which incorporate elements of jazz, folk music, and 20th-century French harmonies.
1914 – Chang Man-yong, South Korean poet, nonfiction author, journalist, editor, and translator whose poems often explored nostalgic themes of rural life.
1921 – Anh Thơ, (real name Vương Kiều Ân), award-winning Vietnamese poet and writer who published the first collection of Vietnamese poetry by women poets; her most notable literary achievement was a collection of her poetry entitled Buc tranh que (A rural portrait).
1926 – Youssef Chahine, award-winning Egyptian screenwriter and film director who has been credited with launching the career of actor Omar Sharif; despite winning international accolades, he was considered controversial for his liberal views, portrayal of sexuality, and political critiques.
1935 – J.G. Farrell, Irish author, two of whose Empire trilogy titles won the Booker Prize.
1946 – Catherine MacPhail, Scottish author, romance novelist, children’s and young-adult writer, and radio writer.
1950 – Gloria Naylor, National Book Award-winning U.S. African-American novelist, short-story writer, and professor; she is best known for her debut novel, The Women of Brewster Place.
1954 – David Grossman, award-winning Israeli novelist, nonfiction author, children’s book author, poet, broadcaster, and left-wing peace activist.
1969 – Ashwin Sanghi, Indian author of bestselling thriller novels with mythological themes.
1970 – Stephen Chbosky, U.S. novelist, author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
1985 – Christina Ochoa (born Cristina Ochoa Lopez), Spanish science writer, film company executive, magazine writer, and book reviewer; while living in the Washington, D.C., area, she began acting, starting in theatrical plays at the Little Theatre of Alexandria; she has also studied marine biology, oceanographic engineering, and particle physics.