1544 – Torquato Tasso, Italian poet, author, and playwright who died a few days before the Pope was to crown him as the King of Poets; his work was widely translated and adapted, and until the 20th century, he remained one of the most widely read poets in Europe.
1549 – Henric Spieghel, Dutch Renaissance poet whose unusual spiritual beliefs set him apart from his contemporaries; his strong religious faith was based on both Christian and Platonic ideas, combined with an underlying pantheism that saw God in all things. He died at the age of 62 of chicken pox because he could not bear to be separated from his children when they contracted it and insisted on being with them, despite his wife’s efforts to keep him away.
1712 – Siraj Aurangabadi (full name Siraj-Uddin Aurangabadi), Indian mystic poet and Sufi ascetic who initially wrote in Persian and later switched to Urdu.
1843 – Pearl Rivers (pen name of Eliza Jane Nicholson, formerly Holbrook; née Poitevent), U.S. poet, writer, journalist, editor, and publisher who took her pen name from the Pearl River, which was near her home in Mississippi. As managing editor, owner, and publisher of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, she was the first female editor of a major American newspaper.
1884 – Ömer Seyfettin, Turkish writer who is considered to be one of the greatest modern Turkish authors and is praised for his contributions to the development of the Turkish language.
1893 – Wanda Gág, U.S. children’s author and illustrator, artist, printmaker, and translator; she is best known for the Newbery Medal-winning Millions of Cats, which is the oldest American picture book still in print.
1904 – Hilde Bruch, German-born psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, medical doctor, and author who is known foremost for her groundbreaking work on eating disorders and obesity. Because she was Jewish, she emigrated to the U.K. and then the U.S. in the 1930, as the Nazi party rose in power; she later became a U.S. citizen. Her seminal book, Eating Disorders: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the Person Within, was based on several decades of observations and treatments of eating disorders; it and her other books have become the standard references on the subject.
1907 – Lydia Chukovskaya, award-winning Russian writer, poet, editor, literary critic, children’s writer, memoirist, and dissident; her deeply personal writings reflect the human cost of Soviet totalitarianism, and she devoted much of her career to defending dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov.
1908 – Sagara Palansuriya (real name Palansuriya Mohottalalage Dingiri Mahaththaya), Sri Lankan poet, teacher, and Member of Parliament.
1911 – Alba de Céspedes y Bertini, Cuban-Italian novelist, journalist, radio broadcaster, resistance member, and feminist who was jailed for anti-fascist activities in Italy and saw several of her books banned.
1912 – Olga Nikolaevna Anstei (also known as Olga Anstey), Jewish Ukrainian émigré poet and translator who is best remembered for her writings about the Holocaust.
1915 – Alejandro Carrión, award-winning Ecuadorian poet, novelist, journalist, and short-story writer, and magazine founder; as a journalist, he sometimes wrote under the pen name Juan Sin Cielo.
1916 – Ezra Jack Keats, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. children’s book writer and illustrator, best known for his beloved picture book, The Snowy Day.
1917 – Nancy Cato, Australian writer, poet, biographer, and historical novelist who is also known for her work campaigning on environmental and conservation issues.
1917 – Jack Davis, Indigenous Australian playwright, poet, memoirist, magazine editor, children’s writer, and activist for Aboriginal rights; his work is often read as part of the curriculum in Australian schools.
1923 – Alice von Hildebrand, Belgian philosopher, author, professor, and Catholic theologian.
1927 – Michiko Ishimure, award-winning Japanese writer, poet, novelist, and activist.
1927 – Nevenka Petric, Serbian writer, poet, educationalist, and expert in the fields of family planning and gender relations; when Germany invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, she joined the Partisans and became a resistance fighter at the age of 14 and was actively engaged in creating anti-fascist youth organizations in both free and occupied territories, among civilians and the army.
1939 – Taif Ajba, poet and translator who wrote in the Abkhaz language and was born in the Georgian breakaway republic of Abkhazia; in 1992, after the Georgian military invasion of Abkhazia, he was arrested by Georgian soldiers, tortured, and executed.
1944 – Nalini Prava Deka, Indian author, poet, short-story writer, storyteller, magazine editor, children’s writer, actress, and playwright who promoted Assamese literature, heritage, traditional customs, weaving and fabric art, cooking, and folk music.
1952 – Douglas Adams, English writer, science-fiction author, radio writer, humorist, screenwriter, and dramatist, best known for his influential Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series of humorous science-fiction books; he also wrote for Monty Python and Doctor Who.
1952 – Norah McClintock, Canadian author who was known for crime or detective fiction and for her work for children and young adults.
1955 – D.J. MacHale, U.S. television writer, director, and producer who has also authored several popular young-adult book series.
1955 – Myriam Moscona, Mexican journalist, writer, translator, and poet who comes from a Bulgarian Sephardi Jewish family.
1956 – Jean “Binta” Breeze, Jamaican poet, novelist, screenwriter, storyteller, theater director, choreographer, actor, and teacher.
1964 – Libba Bray, U.S. author of young-adult novels, including the popular Gemma Doyle trilogy, and short stories.
1964 – Lea Hernandez, U.S. comic-book author and web comic creator, known for her manga-influenced style.
1964 – Leena Lehtolainen, award-winning Finnish author and literary critic who is best known for her crime novels about policewoman Maria Kallio; her first novel was released when she was 12 years old.
1967 – John Barrowman, award-winning Scottish-born writer, actor, singer, dancer, television host, and competitor in a celebrity ice skating show; he is best known for the role of Captain Jack Harkness in the Doctor Who and Torchwood franchises, but has also written novels, comic books, children’s books, and memoirs.
1969 – Eran Ben-Shahar, Israeli author, philosopher, journalist, lecturer, and inventor who now lives in New Zealand.
1972 – Eugenia Romanelli, Italian novelist, essayist, and journalist who founded and directs the Writers Factory, a writer’s school dedicated to American author Ursula Le Guin.
1973 – Sylvia Day, bestselling Japanese-U.S. romance author who also writes under the pseudonyms S.J. Day and Livia Dare.
1974 – Kate Brian, Pen name of Kieran Scott, U.S. chick-lit and young-adult novelist.
1978 – Christopher Rice, U.S. author of suspense, crime novels, supernatural thrillers, and erotic romance; he is the son of the late bestselling vampire novelist Anne Rice.
1983 – Yasir Jaswal, Pakistani screenwriter, photographer, writer, composer, singer, songwriter, music director, film director, and music journalist who was lead singer for the bands Irtaash and Call.