1386 – John of Capestrano, Italian Franciscan friar, writer, theologian, Catholic priest, and saint, who at age 70 led a crusade against the invading Ottoman Empire.
1542 – John of the Cross, Spanish monk, mystical philosopher, poet, and saint.
1789 – Silvio Pellico, Italian writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and patriot who played a role in the Italian unification.
1790 – Helena Sophia Ekblom, Swedish religious writer and preacher also known as Predikare-Lena (Preacher-Lena) and Vita jungfrun (The White Maiden); after spending time in a mental institution, she wrote a book of the religious revelations she had there.
1801 – Caroline Clive (born Caroline Meysey-Wigley) English writer who was sometimes known as Caroline Wigley Clive but who used the pseudonym “V.”
1824 – Agnes of Anhalt-Dessau (full name Frederica Amalia Agnes), German writer and princess who was the eldest daughter of Leopold IV, Duke of Anhalt; in addition to being a talented painter, she is known for her book, Ein Wort an Israel (A Word to Israel), which dealt with antisemitism and Christianity in Germany.
1831 – Rebecca Blaine Harding Davis, U.S. author, short-story writer, and journalist who was a pioneer of literary realism in American literature; through her writing, she sought to effect social change for blacks, women, Native Americans, immigrants, and the working class.
1832 – Nakamura Masanao, Japanese writer, translator, educator, philosopher, and politician; he also went by the pen name Nakamura Keiu.
1842 – Ambrose Bierce, U.S. journalist and writer best known for his short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”
1846 – Samuel Johnson, Sierra Leonean-born priest and historian of the Yoruba people; his fear that his people were losing their history led him to write a history of the Yoruba people; ironically, this work was misplaced by his British publishers and had to be recompiled after his death by his brothers, using his copious notes.
1862 – Emilio Bobadilla, Cuban writer, poet, novelist, journalist, travel writer, nonfiction author, and literary critic; he also wrote under the pseudonym Fray Candil.
1874 – Agnes O’Farrelly, Irish writer, poet, novelist, and academic who was an activist for revival of the Irish language.
1889 – Dorothy Rice Sims, U.S. writer, correspondent, journalist, aircraft pilot, bridge player, artist, and sportswoman.
1899 – Madelon Szekely-Lulofs, Indonesian-born Dutch writer, translator, and journalist, best known for her novels set in the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.
1901 – Mary John Thottam (also called Sister Mary Benigna), Indian poet and Catholic nun who was one of the pioneer women writers in the Malayalam language; Pope Paul VI honoured her with the Benemerenti medal.
1911 – Ernesto Sabato, Argentine writer, painter, and physicist who has been called “the last classic writer in Argentine literature.”
1912 – Mary Wesley, English novelist whose successes included 10 bestsellers in the last 20 years of her life.
1914 – Cecile Pearl Witherington Cornioley, French-born British spy who was an agent for the U.K.’s clandestine Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War, where she used Marie and Pauline as code names; she later wrote an autobiography, Codename Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent.
1915 – Francisco Arriví (all known as Paco), Puerto Rican writer, poet, essayist, and playwright who is regarded as the Father of the Puerto Rican Theater. He wrote in both Spanish and English.
1915 – Norman Cousins, U.S. political journalist, author, professor, and world peace advocate.
1915 – Fred Hoyle, English astronomer, screenwriter, physicist, mathematician, short-story writer, nonfiction author, and science-fiction author; he coined the term “Big Bang.”
1916 – Lakshmi Kumari Chundawat, award-winning Indian author, memoirist, and politician from Rajasthan who wrote books in Hindi and Rajasthani and was known for her bold decision on abandoning “purdah” (veil) system and for her contributions to Rajasthani literature and folk tales.
1917 – Jean Aziz, Lebanese poet, writer, orator, lawyer, and politician who was elected to the Lebanese Parliament. His poetry was strongly influenced by French literature.
1918 – Mildred Ladner Thompson, U.S. journalist, writer, and columnist who was best known as one of the first female reporters at the Wall Street Journal.
1921 – Amanda Berenguer, award-winning Uruguayan poet and autobiographer who is remembered as a member of the Generation of 45, a Uruguayan intellectual and literary movement.
1923 – Yves Bonnefoy, French poet, essayist, art critic, translator, writer, philosopher, art historian, and university teacher.
1936 – Phra Dhammavisuddhikavi, Thai writer, teacher, and meditation master.
1937 – Anita Desai, award-winning Indian novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer, and professor; she grew up speaking mostly Hindi and German, but writes in English.
1938 – Lawrence Block, U.S. crime and mystery writer, both of whose main series are set in New York.
1939 – Samad Behrangi, Iranian writer, poet, journalist, children’s writer, essayist, translator, and social critic
1939 – Brigitte Fontaine, French poet, artist, novelist, playwright, short-story writer, lyricist, songwriter, actor, and singer.
1940 – Walter Ofonagoro, Nigerian scholar, writer, politician, and businessman who is a former Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture; he writes on African business, political, and economic issues.
1941 – Sutardji Calzoum Bachri (known as Tardji), well-known Indonesian poet and native Malay speaker who successfully launched a credo of ‘freeing words of their meanings.” His style of reading has been described as mantra-like, and compared to the incantation-like quality of the old Indonesian dukun, chants stemming from Indonesian pre-Islamic shamanistic practice. He has been called the Bottle Poet for a preference, early in his career, for accompanying readings of his work with bottles of alcohol, and has also been called the President of Indonesian Poets.
1941 – Julia Kristeva, award-winning and influential Bulgarian/French philosopher, novelist, literary critic, psychoanalyst, and professor.
1942 – David Hill, New Zealander author, playwright, journalist, children’s writer, and novelist who is especially well known for his young-adult fiction.
1944 – Kathryn Lasky, popular, award-winning U.S. author of children’s and young adult fiction, including the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series; she has also written under the names Kathryn Lasky Knight and E.L. Swann.
1945 – Suchart Sawatsi, award-winning Thai editor, teacher, and short-story writer who has been described as “the single most influential figure in the contemporary Thai literary world.”
1946 – Robert Bernard Reich, U.S. political economist, professor, author, and political commentator who served as Secretary of Labor under President Bill Clinton.
1947 – Mark Helprin, U.S. novelist, journalist and conservative commentator.
1947 – Clarissa Dickson Wright, English television chef and author, half of the Two Fat Ladies team.
1949 – Alireza Nourizadeh, Iranian writer, historian, scholar, and journalist.
1950 – Sueli Carneiro, Brazilian writer, philosopher, and anti-racism activist who is a leading author on Black feminism in Brazil.
1950 – Mercedes Lackey, U.S. fantasy and young-adult author, most of whose novels and intertwining series take place on the fictional world of Velgarth.
1951 – Erika Rosenberg, German writer, translator, biographer, and journalist.
1955 – Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (born Malti Shetty), Indian writer, translator, and spiritual head of the Siddha Yoga path; she has written poetry, spiritual discourses, and children’s books.
1969 – Susan Nalugwa Kiguli, Ugandan poet, professor, and literary scholar who has been an advocate for creative writing in Africa.