1426 – Giovanni Pontano (later known as Giovanni Gioviano or, in Latin, Ioannes Iovianus Pontanus), poet, writer, humanist, and politician from the Duchy of Spoleto, now in Umbria in central Italy.
1711 – David Hume, Scottish historian, economist, and essayist; a key figure in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment.
1748 – Olympe de Gouges, (born Marie Gouze), French playwright, politician, journalist, philosopher, abolitionist, author, and women’s rights activist whose political writings reached a large audience, especially her most famous work, The Declaration of the Rights of Woman; she was executed by guillotine during the Reign of Terror for challenging the regime of the Revolutionary government.
1751 – Isabelle de Montolieu, Swiss novelist and translator who wrote in and translated to French; she is best known for writing the first French translations of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion and for her translation of Johann David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson.
1754 – Joseph Joubert, French moralist and essayist, unpublished until after his death.
1812 – Robert Browning, English poet and playwright, married to poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
1842 – Alaide Gualberta Beccari, Italian writer, journalist, editor, social reformer, and activist for feminism and pacifism; she published the feminist journal Woman.
1846 – Anna Radius Zuccari, Italian novelist, short-story writer, magazine writer, journal founder and editor, and author of a dictionary of family hygiene; she used the pen name Neera.
1861 – Rabindranath Tagore, Indian Bengali author; first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
1867 – Władysław Reymont, Nobel Prize-winning Polish epic novelist known for symbolism, socialist concepts, romantic portrayal of the agrarian countryside, and criticism of capitalism.
1868 – Kaia Bruland Nilssen, Norwegian novelist, poet, editor, and translator; her book Aagot Vangen – et livsbillede is a biographical novel about the Norwegian sculptress Aagot Vangen.
1880 – Azim Aslan oglu Azimzade, Azerbaijani writer, artist, and caricaturist who was awarded the title People’s Artist of the Azerbaijan SSR.
1883 – Evaristo Carriego, Argentine writer, poet, and journalist who was an important influence on the writing of tango lyrics; he is best known today for the biography written about him by Jorge Luis Borges.
1892 – Archibald MacLeish, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet who also served as Librarian of Congress.
1911 – Jean Iris Ross Cockburn, Egyptian-born British writer, journalist, political activist, war correspondent, and film critic; in her youth she lived in Germany, where she was a cabaret singer and model who inspired the fictional character Sally Bowles in Christopher Isherwood’s The Berlin Stories, later adapted into the long-running stage musical Cabaret.
1911 – Zabihollah Safa, Iranian writer, poet, historian, translator, professor, literary historian, encyclopedia writer, and leading Iranologist who has written extensively on the history of Persian literature.
1926 – Hữu Mai, award-winning Vietnamese novelist and biographer; many of his books were about war.
1927 – Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, two-time Academy Award-winning German-born British/U.S. novelist and screenwriter who is the only person to have won a Booker Prize and an Oscar.
1931 – Gene Wolfe, prolific, award-winning U.S. science-fiction and fantasy novelist and short-story writer noted for his dense, allusive prose and for the strong influence of his Catholic faith.
1932 – Nonny Hogrogrian, Armenian-U.S. children’s author who was a two-time Caldecott Medal winner.
1939 – Volker Braun, German poet, playwright, novelist, and short-story writer.
1939 – William Dempsey Valgardson, Canadian poet, novelist, and short story writer.
1940 – Angela Carter, pen name for Angela Olive Pearce (formerly Carter, née Stalker), English novelist, short-story writer, poet, and journalist who was known for her feminist, magical realism, and picaresque works.
1943 – Peter Carey, two-time Booker Prize-winning Australian novelist.
1946 – Michael Rosen, prolific British author of children’s books and poems who was Children’s Poet Laureate of Britain and a columnist and TV presenter.
1950 – Moshtaque Ahmad Noori, Indian Urdu short-story writer and critic who is a respected figure in the world of Urdu literature.
1950 – Tim Russert, U.S. journalist, lawyer, broadcaster, and author best known for his 16 years of serving as moderator for NBC’s news magazine show, Meet the Press.
1954 – Amy Heckerling, award-winning U.S. screenwriter, film director, producer, and author whose work includes such popular films as Clueless, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and National Lampoon’s European Vacation.
1954 – Elisabeth Rynell, Swedish screenwriter, poet, and novelist.
1957 – Sarah Mkhonza, Swazi writer, human-rights activist, lecturer, journalist, and linguist. Because her writing was critical of the authorities in Swaziland, she was ordered to stop writing; threats and assaults led her to seek political asylum in the United States.
1955 – Nguyễn Nhật Ánh, Vietnamese novelist, short-story writer, poet, teacher, and correspondent who writes for teenagers and adults and is regarded as one of Vietnam’s most successful writers for teens.
1960 – Almudena Grandes, award-winning Spanish writer, screenwriter, and journalist whose fiction is known for realism and intense psychological introspection; her novel Las edades de Lulú (The Ages of Lulu) was considered “a breakthrough for eroticism in women’s writing.”
1960 – Hisashi Nozawa, award-winning Japanese screenwriter and mystery novelist.
1964 – Elliot Perlman, Australian novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer, and barrister.