1517 – Li Shizhen, Chinese scientist, naturalist, writer, physician, pharmacist, and botanist whose major contribution to clinical medicine was his scientific book, Compendium of Materia Medica, which remains today the premier reference work for herbal medicine.
1799 – György Zádor, Hungarian writer and lawyer who wrote under the pen name Fenyéri Gyula.
1846 – Princess Kazu (renamed Lady Seikan’in-no-miya after she was widowed), Japanese royal who was a poet and calligrapher; she was the great-great-great aunt of Emperor Akihito, who reigned from 1989 to 2019.
1860 – Charlotte Perkins Gilman, U.S. sociologist, feminist, and writer of novels, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction; now remembered best for her semi-autobiographical short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”; she was a niece of author Harriet Beecher Stowe.
1876 – Ralph Barton Perry, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. philosopher and biographer.
1883 – Franz Kafka, German author of novels and short stories with themes of alienation, guilt, and psychological terror; he greatly influenced the existentialist literary movement and is best known for his novella The Metamorphosis.
1899 – Ernst Fischer, Bohemian-born Austrian journalist, writer, and politician; he also used the pseudonyms Ernst Peter Fischer, Peter Wieden, Pierre Vidal, and Der Miesmacher (“the Killjoy”).
1900 – Fuyuhiko Kitagawa (real name Tadahiko Taguro), Japanese poet and film critic who was a prominent figure in Japanese modernist poetry and a champion of neorealism.
1906 – Florence Gwendolen Rees, Welsh zoologist, parasitologist, and prolific scientific writer.
1908 – M.F.K. Fisher, (full name Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher), a prolific U.S. food writer whose books are mostly about traveling and eating in France and California.
1919 – Colin Legum, South African writer, author, and journalist who was an Anti-Apartheid activist and helped popularize African history and current affairs for a British audience.
1923 – Emmanuel Bankole Timothy, Sierra Leonean journalist, author, editor, and political biographer.
1926 – Sunita Deshpande, Indian Marathi novelist, memoirist, and actress.
1937 – Tom Stoppard, British playwright and screenwriter whose best-known work is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
1940 – Oya Baydar, Turkish writer, author, journalist, sociologist.
1943 – Elizabeth Morris “Lally” Graham Weymouth, U.S. journalist and editor who was the daughter of Washington Post publishers Katharine and Philip Graham.
1944 – Viiu Härm, Estonian poet, author, photographer, translator, and actress.
1947 – Dave Barry, U.S. Pulitzer Prize-winning humor columnist and author of fiction and nonfiction; he is largely responsible for the annual celebration of International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19. He also played lead guitar in the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band made up of published authors.
1950 – Zhang Kangkang, Chinese author , nonfiction writer, and short-story writer who was one of the “educated city youths” who as a teenager was sent to the Manchurian wilderness to be “re-educated” at the time of the Revolution; eight years later, after the death of Mao, she was finally allowed to return to the city and resume her studies. In 1979 she published her first significant work, The Right to Love, a reflection on freedom and resistance to forces that oppress the individual.
1952 – Rohinton Mistry, Indian-born Canadian novelist and short-story writer who writes mostly about life in India; his brother is playwright and author Cyrus Mistry..
1954 – Franny Billingsley, National Book Award finalist U.S. author of teen fantasy books.
1955 – Yogesh Joshi, award-winning Indian Gujarati-language poet, short-story writer, novelist, and editor.
1958 – Charlie Higson, English actor, comedian, screenwriter, and author, known for dystopian fiction and for writing the Young Bond series.
1959 – Dimas Arika Mihardja (pen name for Sudaryono), Indonesian poet, writer, scholar, and essayist.
1959 – Julie Burchill, controversial British novelist, journalist, and self-proclaimed militant feminist.
1964 – Joanne Harris, British author whose novel Chocolat was made into a feature film.
1968 – Alan Schwarz, U.S. journalist and sportswriter.
1971 – Julian Paul Assange, Australian publisher, journalist, and activist, best known as editor of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, which he co-founded after a career in programming and hacking.