1350 – Manuel II Palaiologos (or Palaeologus), Byzantine emperor who was also the author of letters, poems, a Saint’s Life, treatises on theology and rhetoric, an epitaph for his brother Theodore I Palaiologos, and a “mirror of prince” for his son and heir John; this mirror of prince has special value, because it is the last sample of this Byzantine literary genre that usually took the form of a textbook meant to instruct a new ruler on governance, behavior, politics, and history.
1741 – Marie-Madeleine Jodin, French author and actress who is especially known for her treatise, “Vues Legislative Pour Les Femmes” (“Legislative Views for Women”), which she presented to the French National Assembly. It is considered to be the first feminist work to be written and signed by a woman in the French Revolutionary period and Enlightenment periods.
1812 – Anna Cabot Lowell Quincy Waterston, U.S. writer, poet, novelist, diarist, and hymnwriter who wrote under pen names A.C.Q.W. and W.A.C.Q.; she also published articles in the Atlantic Monthly magazine.
1838 – Bonkim Chondra Chattopadhyay (also known as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee), Indian writer, novelist, poet, editor, and journalist, best known for Vande Mataram, the Sanskrit poem that became the lyrics of India’s national anthem.
1850 – Lafcadio Hearn, Greek, Irish, and Japanese writer best known for his books about Japan, where he was known as Koizumi Yakumo, and for his writings about New Orleans, Louisiana; he was named after the island of Lefkada (a Greek Island in the Ionian Sea) where he was born.
1864 – Zoila Ugarte de Landívar, Ecuadorian writer, journalist, magazine founder, library director, suffragist, and feminist who was a key defender of women’s suffrage in Ecuador; she also wrote under the pseudonym Zarelia.
1868 – Adelaide Casely-Hayford, Sierra Leonean short-story writer, autobiographer, lawyer, activist, educator, and feminist.
1869 – Emma Goldman, Lithuanian-born writer, journalist, publisher, lecturer, political activist, philosopher, autobiographer, and nurse who played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in North America and Europe in the first half of the 20th century.
1872 – Paul Lawrence Dunbar, U.S. African-American poet, novelist, and playwright, much of whose work was written in dialect.
1875 – Nell St. John Montague (pen name of Eleanor Lilian Helene Lucie-Smith), Indian-born British writer, playwright, novelist, short-story writer, actress, and self-proclaimed clairvoyant.
1878 – He Xiangning, Chinese writer, poet, artist, politician, and human-rights activist; as Minister for Women’s Affairs, she advocated equal rights for women and organized China’s first rally for International Women’s Day; she also organized resistance against the Japanese invasion of China.
1880 – Helen Keller, U.S. author, educator, journalist, and political activist for the deaf and blind, for labor rights, and for women’s suffrage; her early autobiography was adapted into several works about her; she was the first deaf and blind person to earn a bachelor’s degree.
1892 – Zoilo Hilario, Filipino poet, playwright, lawmaker, and linguist who is known for his poems written in both the Spanish and Kapampangan; he was also a distinguished researcher of the Kulitan script and Kapampangan orthography.
1895 – Anna Banti, Italian novelist, writer, art historian, art critic, translator, and publisher.
1896 – Helen Sewell, Caldecott Honor-winning U.S. children’s book author and illustrator; among many other works, she illustrated the first editions of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books.
1902 – Leon Pichay, prolific Filipino writer, poet, essayist, novelist, playwright, and short-story writer who was known as the King of Ilocano Poets because he was one of the most active writers of his time who wrote in the Ilocano language.
1906 – Catherine Cookson, British novelist known for her fiction based in northeast England; she also wrote under the pen names Catherine Marchant and Katie McMullen, and was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; in her lifetime, she was the top-selling UK novelist ever.
1912 – E.R. Braithwaite, Guyanese writer, novelist, teacher, and diplomat who was best known for his stories of social conditions and racial discrimination against black people; he was the author of the 1959 autobiographical novel To Sir, With Love, which was made into a British film starring Sidney Poitier.
1921 – Yusuf Atilgan, Turkish novelist and dramatist who is best known for his novels Aylak Adam (The Loiterer) and Anayurt Oteli (Motherland Hotel); one of the pioneers of the modern Turkish novel, he wrote in a psychological style, digging into themes such as loneliness, questioning, and the meaning of life.
1924 – Efua Sutherland, Ghanaian writer, poet, playwright, theatrical director, children’s author, publisher, educator, and child advocate; she was an influential figure in the development of Ghanaian theatre and helped to introduce the study of African performance traditions at the university level.f
1928 – James Lincoln Collier, Newbery Honor-winning U.S. author of children’s historical fiction; he was also a musician.
1929 – Peter Maas, U.S. journalist and author of nonfiction books, notably several mafia biographies.
1936 – Lucille Clifton, National Book Award-winning U.S. poet, writer, educator, and Poet Laureate of Maryland.
1938 – Alan Coren, English humorist, writer, satirist, and panelist on television and radio quiz shows.
1939 – Ivan Doig, U.S. novelist, best known for regional historic fiction set in Montana.
1949 – James P. Hogan, Locus Award-winning British author of hard science fiction.
1951 – Anita Diamant, bestselling American author of nonfiction and fiction books; her works deal with issues of Jewish practice and the role of women; she is best known for her debut novel, The Red Tent.
1951 – Mary McAleese, Irish writer, journalist, lawyer, university teacher, and politician who was president of Ireland; when she was first elected in 1997, succeeding Mary Robinson as president, she became the first woman in the world to succeed another woman as president.
1953 – Alice McDermott, National Book Award-winning U.S. novelist, essayist, and professor who is best known for such books as Charming Billy and At Weddings and Wakes.
1956 – Scott Cunningham, U.S. author of books on Wicca, new age practices, and alternative religions.
1961 – Meera Syal, award-winning English novelist, screenwriter, comedian, writer, actor, and film producer.
1964 – Wojciech Cejrowski, Polish journalist, photographer, writer, journalist, sociologist, publicist, and explorer.
1966 – J.J. Abrams, American television and movie writer and producer, best known for his work on the television show Lost and for some of the “Star Wars” movies.
1970 – Cecily von Ziegesar, American author best known for the “Gossip Girl” books.
1971 – Jo Frost, English nanny, television personality, and author of books on child rearing.
1975 – Teju Cole, Nigerian-U.S. writer, photographer, and art historian.
1977 – Cyril Wong, award-winning Singaporean poet, novelist, short-story writer, and critic; his poems are said to “shimmer with language, art, religion, disaster, death, murder, adultery and, of course, love.”
1985 – Paul Downs Colaizzo, U.S. playwright, screenwriter, and film director.