1602 – Mary of Jesus of Ágreda (also known as the Abbess of Ágreda), Spanish Franciscan abbess, spiritual writer, and mystic, known especially for her extensive correspondence with King Philip IV of Spain and reports of her bilocation between Spain and its colonies in New Spain; she wrote fourteen books, including a series of revelations about the life of the Virgin Mary. In popular culture she is called the Lady in Blue and the Blue Nun, after the color of her order’s habit.
1647 – Maria Sibylla Merian, influential German-born scientific illustrator, author, and naturalist who was one of the first Europeans to study insects directly, to document the process of their metamorphoses, and to depict them in their natural habitats, working in both Europe and Surinam; her work was groundbreaking and is considered by some to have formed the basis for the field of entomology.
1725 – Giacomo Casanova, Italian adventurer and author whose autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (Story of my Life) — written while he was a Bohemian librarian — is one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century; he was so famous for his complicated and elaborate affairs with women that his name is now synonymous with “womanizer.”
1805 – Hans Christian Anderson, Danish author who was best known for his fairy tales but also wrote plays, novels, travelogues, and poems.
1840 – Émile Zola, influential French novelist, journalist, and playwright who was a key figure in the school of literary and theatrical naturalism.
1920 – William W. Warner, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. biologist and writer best known for his nonfiction book, Beautiful Swimmers, and animal life in the Chesapeake Bay.
1925 – George MacDonald Fraser, Scottish author and screenwriter best known for his “Flashman” series of swashbuckling historical novels.
1932 – Joanna Chmielewska (pen name of Irena Kuhn), Polish screenwriter, essayist, and author of detective fiction.
1939 – Erich Bloch, South African-born Zimbabwean writer, columnist, accountant, and banking advisor who spent much of his career analyzing Zimbabwe’s complex economic and political challenges.
1945 – Anne Waldman, U.S. poet, performer, professor, editor, scholar, and activist long connected with the Beat poets and the Outrider experimental poetry community.
1946 – Sue Townsend (full name Susan Lillian Townsend, née Johnstone), English writer, humorist, novelist, playwright, radio writer, and journalist. She was best known for creating the character Adrian Mole, who first appeared (as Nigel) as part of a comic diary in an arts magazine, and afterward in a radio play and a series of books that were written in the form of a diary that appealed to readers as a realistic and humorous treatment of the inner life of an adolescent boy.
1947 – Camille Paglia, U.S. author, professor, social critic and “dissident feminist.”
1948 – Jennifer Rowe, Australian author of, children’s fiction, mystery, and fantasy; she writes under her own name as well as using the pseudonyms Emily Rodda and Mary-Anne Dickinson.
1948 – Joan D. Vinge, Hugo Award-winning U.S. science-fiction and fantasy writer who is also known as the author of The Random House Book of Greek Myths.
1953 – Malika Oufkir, Moroccan writer and autobiographer who advocated for the rights of political prisoners; after her father, General Mohammad Oufkir, was assassinated for his alleged role in a coup attempt, she and the rest of her family were “disappeared,” sent to a secret prison in the desert, which she wrote about in her memoir, Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail.
1955 – Sirindhorn (also known as Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, or the Princess Debaratanarajasuda), Thai princess who is a writer, poet, historian, translator, linguist, illustrator, comics artist, children’s writer, photographer, diplomat, musician, and philanthropist.
1962 – Mark Shulman, U.S. author of books for children and young adults.
1963 – Ekerete Udoh, award-winning Nigerian journalist, columnist, politician, and press secretary.
1979 – Gaurav Keerthi, Indian-born Singaporean author, television personality, and air force brigadier general who grew up in Nigeria and Germany.