1664 – Silvio Stampiglia, Italian poet and opera librettist who used the pen name Palemone Licurio.
1743 – Hannah Cowley, English writer, poet, and playwright who has been called, “one of the foremost playwrights of the late eighteenth century,” and whose “skill in writing fluid, sparkling dialogue and creating sprightly, memorable comic characters compares favourably with her better-known contemporaries, Goldsmith and Sheridan.”
1776 – Eustahija Arsic, Serbian writer, translator, and salonnière who wrote thoughtful, eloquent, philosophical pieces but is better known for promoting the works of other Serbian and Romanian writers.
1801 – Kristian Jaak Peterson (also known as Christian Jacob Petersohn), Latvian-born Estonian poet who died of tuberculosis at the age of 21, yet is commonly regarded as a herald of Estonian national literature and the founder of modern Estonian poetry; his birthday is celebrated in Estonia as Mother Tongue Day.
1844 – Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy, British poet and herpetologist of Irish descent; he is most remembered for his poem “Ode,” from his collection Music and Moonlight, which begins with the words “We are the music makers, / And we are the dreamers of dreams.”
1847 – Castro Alves (full name Antônio Frederico de Castro Alves), Brazilian poet, writer, and playwright who was most famous for his abolitionist and republican poems.
1866 – Ng Poon Chew, Chinese author, journalist, publisher, and activist who published the first Chinese language daily newspaper to be printed outside of China.
1868 – Emily Murphy (born Emily Gowan Ferguson), Canadian author and women’s rights activist who was the first female magistrate in Canada and in the British Empire; best known for her contributions to Canadian feminism, specifically to the question of whether women were “persons” under Canadian law, she is counted among “The Famous Five” or “The Valiant Five” most influential Canadian women’s rights advocates.
1869 – Algernon Blackwood, English novelist and short-story writer, known for ghost stories and weird fiction.
1879 – Albert Einstein, Nobel Prize-winning German-born theoretical physicist whose name is synonymous with “genius.”
1887 – Sylvia Beach (born Nancy Woodbridge Beach), influential and visionary American-born Parisian bookseller, publisher, author, and memoirist who was one of the leading expatriate figures in Paris between the world wars; she is known for her English-language Paris bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, where she published James Joyce’s book, Ulysses, and encouraged the publication of and sold copies of Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories and Ten Poems.
1887 – Maria Messina, Italian writer, children’s author, novelist, and short-story writer.
1889 – Marguerite de Angeli, Newbery Award-winning U.S. children’s author and illustrator.
1890 – Rosa Bailly, French writer, poet, journalist, teacher and translator who was closely tied throughout her professional life to the cause of Poland and its literature.
1897 – Julián Marchena Valleriestra, award-winning Costa Rican poet.
1897 – Maria Valtorta, prolific Italian writer, poet, pamphleteer, and Christian mystic; at the age of 23, she was walking on a street with her mother, when a delinquent youth struck her in the back with an iron bar for no apparent reason; the injury confined her to bed for the remaining 28 years of her life, where she produced over 15,000 handwritten pages in 122 notebooks, mostly detailing the life of Jesus as an extension of the gospels. Her 5,000-page book, The Poem of the Man-God, was banned by Vatican officials who claimed it fictionalized Jesus’s life.
1910 – Genzo Murakami, Japanese author of historical novels.
1911 – Veronika Tushnova, Russian writer, journalist, poet, linguist, translator, and physician.
1912 – Mu Shiying, Chinese writer who is best known for his Modernist short stories.
1914 – Carolina Maria de Jesus, Brazilian writer, poet, and autobiographer; she is best known for her diary, which was first published as Quarto de Despejo (Dumping Room, published in English as Child of the Dark), which became a bestseller and is still the only document published in English by a Brazilian slum-dweller from that period.
1916 – (Albert) Horton Foote, Jr., U.S. playwright and screenwriter best known for writing the script for the film adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird.
1917 – José Osvaldo de Meira Penna, classical Brazilian writer and diplomat.
1918 – Abba Kovner, award-winning Russian-born Jewish poet, writer, and partisan leader who wrote in Hebrew and is considered one of the greatest poets of modern Israel; he attempted to organize an uprising in the Vilna Ghetto, but when it failed, he fled into the forest, became a Soviet partisan, and survived the war.
1919 – Max Shulman, U.S. writer and humorist best known for his character Dobie Gillis, who became a movie and TV character.
1920 – Hank Ketcham, U.S. cartoonist who was the creator of the comic strip character Dennis the Menace.
1923 – Shantaveri Gopala Gowda, Indian writer and politician who is considered one of India’s most important socialist leaders, and a pioneer of socialism in Karnataka; his work drew attention to the plight of Indian’s poor farmers.
1937 – Michael Joseph Chukwudalu Echeruo, Nigerian academic, professor, poet, lexicographer, and literary critic who has fought for an African literary viewpoint on Africa, instead of a Western viewpoint; he also wrote a pioneering study of Victorian Lagos and a dictionary of the Igbo language. He is currently based in the United States.
1939 – Abdelkader Alloula (Arabic: عبد القادر علولة), Algerian playwright who wrote in vernacular Algerian Arabic.
1940 – Mu Shiying, Chinese writer of modernist short stories.
1947 – Pam Ayres, English poet, songwriter and TV personality.
1951 – Mary K. (Katherine) Pershall, Australian author of children’s novels.
1954 – Willie T. Zingani, Malawian novelist, poet, playwright, short-story writer journalist, newspaper editor, and Presidential press secretary; he writes in both Chichewa and English.
1957 – W. Andrew Robinson, British author who wrote books about India.
1957 – Tad Williams, bestselling U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author, young-adult novelist, and comic-book writer.
1958 – Caryl Phillips, British and Caribbean novelist, screenwriter, and essayist.
1960 – Fiona McIntosh, Australian author of adult crime novels and children’s books; she has also written under the pseudonym of Lauren Crow.
1964 – Po Bronson, U.S. novelist and nonfiction author.
1968 – Radka Denemarková, Czech novelist, dramatist, screenwriter, translator, journalist, and essayist.
1973 – Martina Pilcerova (known professionally as simply, “Martina”), award-winning Slovak fantasy artist and author.
1978 – Anna Astvatsaturian Turcotte, Armenian-born U.S. writer, lecturer, activist, and politician whose work focuses on the plight of Armenians.