1508 – Alessandro Piccolomini, Italian writer, philosopher, poet, astronomer, playwright, and Catholic priest; he is remembered in part for promoting the popularization in the vernacular of Latin and Greek scientific and philosophical treatises.
1687 – Paolo Antonio Rolli, Italian writer, librettist, poet, satirist, and translator.
1752 – Frances Burney, English satirical novelist, playwright, and diarist, more commonly known as Fanny Burney.
1763 – José Bonifácio de Andrada, Brazilian writer, poet, naturalist, politician, diplomat, statesperson, geologist, and mineralogist who supported public education and the abolition of slavery, and is credited with discovering four minerals.
1808 – Wilhelm von Lenz, Russian writer, author, biographer, and musicologist who was a friend and student of many mid-century Romantic composers, including Franz Liszt, Frédéric Chopin, and Hector Berlioz; his most important and influential work was an early biography of the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven, entitled Beethoven et ses trois styles (Beethoven and his Three Styles), which promoted the idea that Beethoven’s music be divided into three characteristic periods, a framework that is still widely used today in discussing Beethoven’s music.
1838 – Elizabeth Otis Dannelly, U.S. writer, poet, and painter of the American South.
1839 – Modest Urgell i Inglada, Spanish Catalan comic playwright, cartoonist, illustrator, and landscape artist; he was also known by the nickname Katúfol, which he used for his cartoons and illustrations.
1848 – Cornélie Huygens, Dutch writer, social democrat, and feminist.
1863 – Maria Hrinchenko, Ukrainian writer, biographer, historian, and folklorist who played a significant role in the preservation and development of Ukrainian folklore.
1865 – William Butler Yeats, Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet who is one of the key figures of 20th century literature and a driving force behind the Irish Literature Revival; he is remembered for his “always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.”
1872 – Jessie Chrystal Macmillan (known as Chrystal Macmillan), Scottish writer, suffragist, peace activist, barrister, and feminist who was the first female science graduate from the University of Edinburgh, as well as that institution’s first female honors graduate in mathematics. She was the second woman to plead a case before the House of Lords, and one of the founders of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She is best known for leading the fight for the right of female graduates to vote for Scottish university seats; her case hinged on the definition of the word “persons” in the voting statutes as applying to both men and women. She lost the case and her appeals when the courts decided, bizarrely, that the word “persons” does not include women. Her response to the loss: “We’ll live to fight another day.”
1879 – Ganesh Damodar Savarkar (also called Babarao Savarkar), Indian Marathi writer, essayist, freedom fighter, and nationalist.
1883 – Tyler Dennett, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, educator and biographer.
1888 – Fernando Pessoa, Portuguese poet, writer, literary critic, translator, publisher, and philosopher
1893 – Dorothy Sayers, English crime writer, poet, short-story writer, novelist, essayist, translator, and advertising copywriter; she is best known for her mystery series featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.
1894 – Mark Van Doren, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet, writer, critic, and professor.
1896 – Oscar Efrén Reyes, Ecuadoran writer, historian, journalist, politician, researcher, and Ecuadorian teacher who is best remembered for his historic research on Ecuador.
1901 – Lode Zielens (full name Ludovicus Carolus Zielens), award-winning Belgian novelist and journalist.
1903 – Consuelo González Amezcua (known as Chelo or Chelito), Mexican-born writer, poet, and folk artist artist.
1903 – Elisabeth Augustin, German-born Dutch novelist, poet, short-story writer, and translator; the daughter of a Jewish mother who died in 1942 in the Sobibór extermination camp, she wrote work that was strongly influenced by Judaism and the Holocaust.
1914 – Anna Maria Ortese, award-winning Italian novelist, travel writer, poet, short-story writer, and journalist.
1917 – Odette Roy Fombrun, Haitian writer, children’s author, historian, teacher, and intellectual; she was associated with the drafting of her country’s new constitution.
1922 – Etienne Leroux, award-winning South African writer and novelist who was a member of the South African Sestigers literary movement.
1923 – Mia Berner, Norwegian writer, novelist, essayist, poet, nonfiction writer, philosopher, sociologist, and university lecturer; involved in resistance work during the German occupation of Norway, she had to flee to Sweden in 1943.
1926 – Elavunkal Joseph Philip (popularly known by his pen name Kanam EJ), Indian Malayalam novelist, short-story writer, and lyricist was known for a genre of sentiment-filled romantic fiction known as the painkili or janapriya novel in Malayalam literature; he also started the well known Malayalam weekly Manorajyam and served as its editor.
1927 – Aoki Yayoi, Japanese writer, scholar, and eco-feminist critic; she wrote extensively on sexuality, abortion rights, reproductive technologies, and women in the workplace.
1945 – Whitley Streiber, U.S. writer of horror novels and paranormal nonfiction.
1948 – Ahmad Tohari, Indonesian novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and editor.
1949 – Zurinah Hassan, Malaysian novelist, poet, and short-story writer who was the first female Poet Laureate of Malaysia.
1962 – Cathy Cassidy, English author of books for children and young adults.
1963 – Audrey Niffenegger, U.S. author and artist, best known for her debut novel The Time Traveler’s Wife.
1968 – Marcel Theroux, British novelist and broadcaster whose book Far North was a National Book Award finalist.