1612 – Samuel Butler, English poet, satirist, translator, and artist; he is best known for the satirical novel Erewhon and the semi-autobiographical Bildungsroman The Way of All Flesh, published posthumously in 1903, both of which are still in print, but he also examined subjects including Christian philosophy and Italian art, and made prose translations of the Iliad and Odyssey that are still consulted today.
1763 – Caroline von Wolzogen (born Caroline von Lengefeld), German novelist and biographer of playwright and poet Friedrich Schiller, her brother-in-law.
1811 – Horace Greeley, influencial U.S. editor who founded the New York Tribune.
1826 – Walter Bagehot, English economist and journalist whose father-in-law was the founder of the Economist, which Bagehot edited.
1842 – Sidney Lanier, U.S. musician, poet, author, critic, and lawyer who served in the Confederate Army, was imprisoned for working on a blockade-running ship, was a church organist, and gave musical performances at a hotel.
1870 – Ada Negri, Italian poet and autobiographical novelist; her poetry often focused on the plight of the poor and others who suffered injustice.
1874 – Gertrude Stein, quotable U.S. expatriate writer, novelist, poet, and playwright whose memoir The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas made her into a cult literary figure.
1881 – Harry Edwin Wood, English-born South African astronomer, science writer, observatory director, and discoverer of minor planets; the asteroid 1660 Wood is named after him.
1883 – Clarence Mulford, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction author whose work focused on the Western United States; he wrote the Hopalong Cassidy novels.
1893 – Xu Dishan, Chinese author, translator, educator, and folklorist who was best known for novels that focus on the people of the southern provinces of China and Southeast Asia; he was also the first Chinese professor who taught Sanskrit at a Chinese university.
1899 – Lao She (pen name for Shu Qingchun), Chinese writer, politician, playwright, university teacher, and science-fiction author who is one of the most significant figures in 20th-century Chinese literature, best known for the novel Rickshaw Boy and the play Teahouse.
1905 – Herman Charles Bosman, South African writer, playwright, and journalist who is widely regarded as South Africa’s greatest short-story writer.
1907 – James Michener, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author of meticulously researched historical sagas.
1909 – Simone Weil, French essayist, philosopher, and Resistance fighter.
1916 – Luz Machado, award-winning Venezuelan writer, poet, journalist, and political activist; she also wrote under the pseudonym Ágata Cruz.
1922 – Mireya Cueto, Mexican writer, playwright, screenwriter, and puppeteer; she co-founded the national marionette museum Museo Nacional de Títeres (MUNATI).
1927 – Joan Lowery Nixon, popular, award-winning U.S. author of historical fiction and mysteries for children and young adults; she was also a journalist.
1928 – H. Tipperudraswamy, Indian Kannada writer, poet, children’s author, biographer, scholar, and literary critic.
1946 – Oyewale Tomori, award-winning Nigerian virologist, veterinarian, author, educational administrator, and university vice chancellor who has written extensively on virology and epidemiology.
1947 – Paul Auster, U.S. author of genre-bending fiction who is also a film director; many of his works have elements of detective stories, but also address existential questions of identity, space, language, and literature.
1948 – Henning Mankell, Swedish mystery writer, crime author, children’s writer, and screenwriter best known for his popular Kurt Wallander book series, which has been adapted into several television series, in Sweden and abroad.
1957 – Marlon Riggs, U.S. poet, documentary filmmaker, and activist.
1966 – Maksudul Ahsan, Bangladeshi poet, artist, illustrator, editor, and teacher.
1966 – Anel Townsend, Peruvian journalist, author, and politician; she has written books on politics and equality, and the elimination of poverty.
1976 – Isla Fisher, Omani-born Australian actress, writer, and young-adult novelist.
1979 – Mehrnoush Najafi Ragheb, Iranian lawyer, writer, and blogger; she is an activist for women’s rights and the preservation of antiquities and the environment, and a member of the city council of Hamedan.