0836 – Ibn al-Rumi, popular poet of Baghdad in the Abbasid-era (now Iraq).
1427 – Zuster Bertken (also called Sister Bertken), Dutch writer, poet, songwriter, hymnwriter, and anchorite who wrote about her passion for God and lived an extremely ascetic life even for an anchorite; she was one of few Medieval Dutch women to become part of the traditional Dutch literary canon. Her days were spent attending church from a window in her cell, meditating, praying, and writing; she also never wore shoes, had no furniture in her cell except for a chair, desk, and mattress, and followed a vegan diet.
1713 – Marie-Marguerite Brun, French poet, writer, and lexicographer.
1728 – Ali Gohar (historically known as Shah Alam II), Indian Mughal emperor (present-day India) who wrote poetry under the pen name Aftab and who authored Ajaib-ul-Qasas, considered one of the earliest and the most prominent books of prose in Urdu.
1814 – François Fertiault, French novelist, poet, essayist, and children’s author.
1828 – Friederike Kempner, German-Polish-Jewish poet, novelist, pamphlet writer, and playwright; she also became an activist for prison reform.
1852 – Vera Figner, Russian writer, biographer, memoirist, politician, and political activist.
1882 – Yanka Kupala (also spelled Jánka Kupála or Janka Kupala), pen name of Iván Daminíkavich Lutsévich (or Lucevic), Belarusian poet, writer, playwright, journalist, opinion journalist, translator, and politician who is considered one of the greatest Belarusian-language writers of the 20th century.
1885 – Eloy Fariña Núñez, award-winning Paraguayan writer and poet whose works often deal with Paraguayan themes; he still remains an important figure in early 20th-century Paraguayan literature.
1886 – Shigeru Kuzuhara, prolifice Japanese poet, songwriter, fairytale writer, children’s writer, and educator; he wrote 4,000 nursery songs, stories, and other works.
1903 – George Orwell (born Eric Arthur Blair), English science-fiction novelist who is known for his lucid prose, biting social criticism, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism; Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm are his most popular books. He was also a journalist, essayist, and nonfiction writer.
1905 – Junichi Yoda, Japanese poet, writer, and children’s author who was a key figure in Japanese literature during the Showa period.
1910 – Elizabeth Orton Jones, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books.
1912 – Virginia Lacy Jones, award-winning U.S. librarian, educator, and author who was one of the first African-Americans to earn a PhD in Library Science, and who became the dean of Atlanta University’s School of Library of Science; throughout her 50-year career, she pushed for the integration of public and academic libraries.
1913 – P.H. Newby, English novelist and nonfiction author who was the first winner of the Booker Prize; he has been called “one of the best English novelists of the second half of the century.”
1923 – Dorothy Gilman, U.S. mystery author who is known for the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries.
1923 – Nicholas Mosley (Sir Nicholas Mosley, 3rd Baron Ravensdale, 7th Baronet Anclats), British novelist and biographer; his book Beyond the Pale: Sir Oswald Mosley and Family 1933–1980 was a scathing attack on his father, questioning his father’s motives and understanding of politics.
1925 – Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, award-winning New Zealand poet, playwright, and novelist known for a lyrical and romantic style tempered by a darkness borne out of his difficult childhood and struggles with mental health; his mother was a Cook Island Māori, and he often wrote about Māori culture, especially in his earlier works.
1926 – Ingeborg Bachmann, Austrian poet, author, screenwriter, playwright, journalist, translator, philosopher, librettist, and essayist.
1928 – Peyo (pen name of Pierre Culliford), Belgian comics artist, publisher, and creator of the Smurfs.
1929 – Eric Carle, prolific U.S. and German children’s book author and illustrator, known for The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other children’s books illustrated with his distinctive collage work.
1932 – Mohammad Jan Fana, Afghan writer, poet, artist, and illustrator; he wrote poetry in three languages: Pashto, Dari, and English.
1935 – Taufiq Ismail, award-winning Indonesian poet, activist and literary magazine editor; he figured prominently in Indonesian literature of the post-Sukarno period and is considered one of the pioneers of the “Generation of ’66.”
1935 – Charles Sheffield, Nebula and Hugo Award-winning English-born mathematician, physicist, and science-fiction author.
1936 – Bert Hölldobler, Pulitzer Prize-winning German sociobiologist who co-wrote The Ants with Edward O. Wilson.
1936 – A.J. Quinnell, (pen name of Philip Nicholson), British author whose best-known work is Man on Fire.
1942 – Hanus Kamban, award-winning Faroese short-story writer, essayist, biographer, poet, and translator.
1942 – Ry (or Rea) Nikonova (real name Anna Aleksandrovna Tarshis), Russian artist, poet, writer, and editor who was a key figure in the Transfurism movement and in Mail Art history; she also founded the “Uktuss School” art movement.
1955 – Patricia Smith, two-time Pushcart Prize-winning U.S. poet, playwright, author, children’s writer, professor, spoken-word performer, and journalist who was the first African-American woman to publish a weekly metro column for the Boston Globe.
1956 – Anthony Bourdain, U.S. chef, author, travel-show host, and television personality, known for his nonfiction book Kitchen Confidential.
1959 – Barbara Rosiek, Polish writer, novelist, poet, and clinical psychologist who made her literary debut in 1985 as the author of Pamiętnik Narkomanki (Diary of a Drug Addict), a book she started when she was 14 and finished as a student, describing her life dominated by her struggle with drug addiction until she broke the cycle and went on to college.
1963 – Yann Martel, Spanish-born Canadian author whose best-known novel, Life of Pi, won the Booker Prize and was made into a film.
1964 – Martha McPhee, U.S. novelist who is the daughter of literary journalist John McPhee.
1973 – Rukmini Callimachi, Romanian-born U.S. writer, journalist, and poet.
1974 – Anne van Amstel, Dutch writer, poet, and psychologist.
1979 – Aydilge Sarp, Turkish novelist, short-story writer, poet, composer, and singer-songwriter.