1402 – Nezahualcoyotl (meaning “Coyote who fasts”), Mexican poet, philosopher, warrior, and architect who ruled the city-state of Texcoco in pre-Columbian era Mexico; he is best remembered for his poetry.
1541 – Mustafa Âlî (full name Gelibolulu Mustafa Âlî bin Ahmed bin Abdülmevlâ Çelebi), Ottoman Turkish poet, historian, bureaucrat, and major literary figure.
1669 – Aurora Sanseverino, Italian poet, writer, actress, salonnière, and patron of the arts who was one of the most celebrated women in the highest rank of Neapolitan aristocracy.
1731 – Jean-François Cailhava de L’Estandoux, French dramatist, poet, short-story writer, and literary critic.
1829 – Guillermo Blest Gana, Chilean writer, poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright, professor, and diplomat who is regarded as one of his country’s leading exponents of Romantic literature; his younger brother Alberto Blest Gana was also a writer, and is considered the greatest Chilean novelist of the era.
1854 – Hertha Ayrton (born Phoebe Sarah Marks; full name Phoebe Sarah Hertha Ayrton), award-winning British engineer, mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and suffragette who was honored for her work on electric arcs and ripple marks in sand and water.
1857 – Alberto de Oliveira (pen name for Antônio Mariano de Oliveira), Brazilian writer, poet, professor, and pharmacist
1882 – L. Onerva (real name Hilja Onerva Lehtinen), Finnish poet, novelist, translator, critic, and short-story writer whose works often dealt with the tension in women’s lives concerning freedom and commitment.
1896 – Kim Iryeop, Korean writer, poet, journalist, autobiographer, activist, and Buddhist nun.
1919 – Antonio Frasconi, Caldecott Honor-winning Uruguayan-U.S. artist and author of children’s books.
1923 – Josefina García-Marruz Badía (pen name Fina García Marruz), award-winning Cuban poet and literary researcher.
1926 – Harper Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author known for her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird; in 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature. The book was loosely based on events that happened in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, when she was 10. The character Dill is based on author Truman Capote, her childhood friend; she also helped him research his acclaimed true-crime novel In Cold Blood.
1928 – Kavalam Narayana Panicker , award-winning Indian poet, dramatist, and theatre director who wrote plays in Malayalam plays, many of them adapted from classical Sanskrit drama and from Shakespeare.
1929 – Shathel Taqa, Iraqi poet, diplomat, and politician who was one of the pioneering founders of the School of Modern Arabic Poetry, which emerged in Iraq in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
1934 – Lois Duncan, U.S. writer, novelist, poet, and journalist, best known as a bestselling author of children’s and young-adult books and a pioneer in the development of the young-adult fiction genre.
1934 – Diane Johnson (born Diane Lain), U.S. satirical novelist and essayist whose novels often feature American heroines living abroad in France; she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
1936 – Kenneth White, Scottish poet, writer, essayist, nonfiction author, university teacher, philologist, translator, and traveler.
1941 – Iryna Zhylenko, prolific and award-winning Ukrainian poet, writer, essayist, journalist, and children’s author.
1944 – Alice Waters, U.S. chef, restaurateur, activist, and author who is a national public policy advocate for school lunch reform and universal access to healthy, organic foods.
1946 – Kit Williams, English author, artist, and illustrator best known for his treasure-hunt picture book Masquerade, with illustrations that included clues to the location of a real-life treasure, a golden, jeweled pendant hidden somewhere in the U.K.
1947 – Humayun Azad, prolific, award-winning Bangladeshi poet, novelist, short-story writer, critic, researcher, linguist, and professor.
1947 – Christian Jacq, French Egyptologist and author who has written novels set in ancient Egypt, as well as nonfiction.
1948 – Terry Pratchett (Sir Terence David John Pratchett), British author of satire and humorous fantasy, particularly the Discworld series and (with Neil Gaiman) Good Omens. The U.K.’s bestselling author of the 1990s, he received the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 2010.
1949 – Paulo César Pinheiro, Brazilian poet, author, composer, and lyricist who wrote lyrics for many songs performed by some of the best-known entertainers in Brazil.
1950 – Carolyn Forché, award-winning U.S. poet, editor, professor, translator, and human-rights advocate.
1953 – Roberto Bolaño, Chilean novelist, short-story writer, poet, and essayist; The New York Times described him as “the most significant Latin American literary voice of his generation.”
1953 – Abena Busia, Ghanaian writer, poet, feminist, professor, and diplomat who is Ghana’s ambassador to Brazil; she is the daughter of former Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia and the sister of actress Akosua Busia.
1960 – Ian Rankin, Scottish crime writer, television presenter, and singer.
1965 – Jennifer Rardin, U.S. author of urban-fantasy novels.
1977 – Siân Melangell Dafydd, award-winning Welsh novelist, poet, editor, educator, and translator.
1986 – Hedoi Etxarte, Spanish Basque writer, poet, translator, and violinist.