1279 – Al-Nuwayri, Egyptian writer, poet, historian, encyclopedist, and calligrapher; he is best remembered for his 9,000-page encyclopedia of the Mamluk era, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (Nihayat al-arab fi funun al-adab), which covered zoology, anatomy, history, chronology, and more, as well as for his extensive work on the Mongols’ conquest of Syria.
1588 – Thomas Hobbes, English philosopher, physicist, and historian who laid the foundations of western political philosophy.
1744 – Eliza Draper, Indian-born British writer and letter-writer who is best known as muse to Anglo-Irish novelist Laurence Sterne and for the long, interesting letters she wrote from India, vividly describing the life and customs there.
1817 – Hansine Pouline Andræ (née Schack), early Danish feminist and writer who proposed changes to Denmark’s marriage liturgy for the benefit of women; her diaries, reflecting her opinions on politics and parliamentary debates, provide a significant historical account of the times.
1825 – Mary Jane Holmes, bestselling U.S. novelist and short-story author whose book sales in her lifetime were second only to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s; portraying domestic life in small-town and rural settings, she examined gender relationships, as well as those of class and race, and dealt with slavery and the American Civil War.
1837 – Algernon Charles Swinburne, English lyric poet, playwright, novelist, and contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
1856 – Booker T. Washington, U.S. author, educator, orator, Tuskegee Institute founder, activist, and African-American leader who was born into slavery and was considered a leading voice of former slaves and their descendants.
1866 – Rosemonde Gérard (real name Louise-Rose-Étiennette Gérard), French writer, poet, and playwright whose play A Good Little Devil, co-written with her son Maurice Rostand, was made into a film; actress Mary Pickford starred in both the play and the movie. Gérard was married Cyrano de Bergerac author Edmond Rostand and was a granddaughter of French Prime Minister Étienne Maurice Gérard.
1872 – David Pinski, Belarus-born Yiddish-language writer who was best known as a playwright; at a time when Eastern Europe was only beginning to experience the industrial revolution, Pinski was the first to introduce to its stage a drama about urban Jewish workers; he was also notable also for writing about human sexuality with a frankness previously unknown to Yiddish literature.
1876 – František Lexa, Czech academic, Egyptologist, archeologist, professor, translator, and science writer; he was the first person to translate and publish Egyptian texts into Czech.
1885 – Dimitrie Cuclin, Romanian classical music composer, librettist, poet, playwright, writer, musicologist, professor, translator, and philosopher who wrote in Romanian, English, and French.
1885 – Amalia Guglielminetti, Italian poet, playwright, novelist, and children’s author.
1900 – Josefina Passadori, Argentinian writer, poet, textbook writer, politician, and educator who also used the pen name Fröken Thelma.
1904 – Richard Eberhart, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning U.S. poet.
1904 – Stella Marjorie Jones (née Claridge), New Zealand playwright, short-story author, and writer who is best known for her play The Tree, the story of aging parents and their three daughters, which was performed in England to critical acclaim, becoming one of the first New Zealand plays to reach a wide audience. The New Zealand Herald newspaper wrote that it was a “compelling and first-class piece of work”
1908 – Ernestine Moller Gilbreth, U.S. author who was the daughter of pioneering industrial-management consultants Frank B. and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, who ran their unconventional 12-children household according to their groundbreaking time-and-motion-study principles; Ernestine and her brother Frank Jr. co-wrote the book Cheaper by the Dozen, as well as a sequel, based on their unusual childhood.
1913 – Anne Eleanor Scott-James (Lady Lancaster), English journalist and author who was one of Britain’s first women career journalists, editors, and columnists; she later wrote a series of gardening books.
1914 – Elsie Lessa, Brazilian journalist and novelist who was known both for her mastery of journalistic writing and for being one of the most beautiful women of her day in Rio de Janeiro.
1917 – Robert Bloch, U.S. writer of horror and science fiction; best known as the author of Psycho, the basis of the Hitchcock film.
1920 – Arthur Hailey, bestselling British/Canadian novelist known for his meticulously researched books.
1923 – Ernest Mandel, Belgian revolutionary Marxist theorist and writer.
1926 – Liang Yusheng (pen name for Chen Wentong), influential Chinese novelist who pioneered the “New School” of the wuxia genre in the 20th century.
1928 – Katharina von Arx (full name Edith Catherine Drilhon-von Arx), Swiss writer, journalist, and artist known for her travel writing and for promoting utopian visions.
1929 – Hugo Claus, Belgian novelist, poet, and playwright; also a painter and theatrical director.
1934 – Richard Peck, prolific, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author of young-adult fiction and nonfiction.
1937 – Joseph Lelyveld, U.S. journalist, New York Times Executive Editor, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who often set his books in South Africa.
1938 – Lourdes Casal, important Cuban poet, editor, and activist who was internationally known for her contributions to psychology, writing, and Cuban politics.
1944 – Dalbir Chetan (born Dalbir Singh Jhand), award-winning Indian writer and air force officer who was one of the foremost short-story writers of contemporary Punjabi literature; his stories are marked by tragedy and irony, with characters who are the downtrodden and the innocent rural folk with suppressed desires and passions.
1944 – Lurlene McDaniel, U.S. author who has written more than 70 young-adult books; her work often deals with young people who struggle with mortality and chronic illness, a career that began as a therapeutic way to deal with the trauma when her son, then 3, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes.
1946 – Vann Nath, award-winning Cambodian writer, painter, sculptor, and human-rights activist; he was one of only seven known adult survivors of S-21 camp, where 20,000 Cambodians were tortured and executed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
1949 – Zhong Acheng (often known by his pseudonym Ah Cheng), Chinese author and screenwriter who helped found the Stars Group (XingXing), an assembly of untrained, experimental artists who challenged the strict tenets of Chinese politics.
1950 – Ann Carol Crispin, U.S. science-fiction writer who authored 23 published novels, including several Star Trek and Star Wars novelizations, as well as original work.
1951 – Lillian Allen, award-winning Jamaican-born Canadian writer, dub poet, and reggae musician.
1951 – Nedim Gürsel, award-winning Turkish novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and professor.
1956 – Anthony Horowitz, English novelist and screenwriter, known for children’s novels and his work for British television.
1957 – Anu Garg, Indian-American U.S. author whose works explore the intricacies of the English language; founder of Wordsmith.org.
1961 – Jane Thynne, Venezuelan-born British novelist, journalist, and broadcaster.
1965 – Deborah Harkness, award-winning U.S. novelist, scholar, and wine expert, best known as a historian and as the author of the bestselling “All Souls Trilogy,” which consists of the novel A Discovery of Witches and its sequels Shadow of Night and The Book of Life. She is also the executive producer of a television series based on the famous trilogy.
1969 – Ravindra Prabhat, Indian Hindi novelist, journalist, poet, short-story writer, editor, and screenwriter.
1971 – Charles Cumming, Scottish author of spy fiction whose work was inspired by his own experiences with the U.K.’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.
1973 – Selva Almada, Argentine writer of poetry, short stories, novels, and nonfiction.
1974 – Nguyễn Thụy Anh, Vietnamese author, poet, and translator.
1975 – Caitlin Moran, British broadcaster, television critic, journalist, columnist, and author.
1984 – Indre Valantinaite, award-winning Lithuanian poet, writer, and singer.