1780 – Gustafva Sofia Hjärne, Finnish writer, poet, novelist, translator, and salon holder.
1804 – Nathaniel Hawthorne, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and biographer who is known for his classic books The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and Twice-Told Tales. Much of his writing centers on New England and features moral metaphors with an anti-Puritan inspiration; his fiction works are considered part of the Romantic movement — specifically, dark romanticism — with psychological complexity and themes that center on good and evil.
1804 – Therese von Lützow, German writer, novelist, and travel author.
1842 – Catherine Jane Prichard, Welsh poet, suffragist, and temperance activist who was also known by her pen name Buddug.
1868 – Henrietta Swan Leavitt, influential U.S. astronomer and writer who worked at the Harvard College Observatory as a grad student, around the same time that an illness left her permanently deaf. Women were not allowed to operate the telescopes, so she was given a job as a “computer” and was in charge of examining photographic plates to study the brightness of stars; when she realized there was no standard for accurately measuring a star’s magnitude, she devised a system, which was eventually adopted by the International Committee on Photographic Magnitudes. Her work in star magnitudes and Cepheid variables provided astronomers with a way to measure the distance to faraway galaxies; Edwin Hubble used her work to ascertain the age of the Universe.
1873 – Hemda Ben-Yehuda, Belarusian novelist, children’s writer, biographer, journalist, and lexicographer.
1880 – Leda Rafanelli, prolific Italian poet, publisher, and anarchist who work addressed individualism, futurism, religion, and women’s roles.
1883 – Rube Goldberg, U.S. cartoonist, author, sculptor, engineer, and inventor, known for drawings of overly complex devices that came to be named after him.
1896 – Mao Dun, Chinese novelist, short-story writer, and journalist.
1897 – Nanak Singh, Indian poet, novelist, and songwriter who wrote in the Punjabi language; he was arrested by the British because of his literary works in support of Indian’s independence.
1898 – Pilar Barbosa de Rosario, Puerto Rican author, professor, historian, and political activist who was the first female Official Historian of Puerto Rico.
1901 – Agnes Newton Keith, U.S. author best known for her three autobiographical accounts of life in North Borneo (now Sabah) before, during, and after the Second World War; the second of these, Three Came Home, tells of her time in Japanese POW and civilian internee camps in North Borneo and Sarawak, and was made into a film.
1904 – Siddavanahalli Krishna Sharma, Indian author, journalist, translator, social worker, and freedom fighter.
1905 – Lionel Trilling, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, essayist, literary critic, university teacher, and journalist who was one of the leading 20th century U.S. critics and social commentators.
1915 – Christine Lavant (born Christine Thonhauser), award-winning Austrian poet and novelist.
1918 – Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren (real names Esther “Eppie” Lederer and Pauline Phillips), U.S. twin sisters who both were wildly successful advice columnists with their syndicated columns “Ask Ann Landers” and “Dear Abby.” Abigail’s daughter Jeanne now writes the “Dear Abby” column.
1919 – Nicole Valéry Grossu (born Nicoleta Valeria Bruteanu), Romanian Christian writer, journalist, and anti-communist activist.
1924 – Sveinbjörn Beinteinsson, Icelandic writer, poet, singer, and neopaganist religious leader who was instrumental in gaining government recognition of the pre-Christian Heathenry in the country.
1924 – Delia Fiallo, Cuban author and screenwriter who is considered the “mother of the Latin American telenovela.”
1925 – Ciril Zlobec, Slovenian poet, writer, journalist, translator, linguist, and politician.
1926 – Amos Elon, Israeli author, journalist, historian, and opinion journalist.
1927 – Neil Simon, influential Pulitzer Prize-winning and three-time Tony Award-winning U.S. playwright, screenwriter, and memoirist whose style ranged from farce to romantic comedy to more serious dramatic comedy.
1928 – Blanca Eugenia Viteri Segura, Ecuadorian novelist, anthologist, and teacher.
1931 – Sébastien Japrisot, pen name (and anagram) of French author Jean-Baptiste Rossi; not well known outside of France, he has nevertheless been called “the French Graham Greene” and has won numerous awards there.
1933 – Fay Zwicky, Australian poet, short-story writer, and critic who is best known for her autobiographical poem “Kaddish,” about her identity as a Jewish writer.
1934 – Colin Welland, British actor and screenwriter who won an Oscar for his screenplay for the film Chariots of Fire.
1934 – Guram Rcheulishvili, Georgian novelist and short-story writer who died in 1960 while saving the life of a drowning child.
1937 – Tan Sri Abdullah bin Ahmad, Malaysian writer, journalist, editor, and politician.
1937 – Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. journalist, historian, and author who wrote The Making of the Atomic Bomb.
1940 – Janet Neel Cohen (Baroness Cohen of Pimlico), British lawyer and crime fiction writer.
1941 – Tomaž Šalamun, Slovenian poet who was a leading figure of postwar neo-avant-garde poetry in Central Europe and an internationally acclaimed absurdist.
1944 – Jaimy Gordon, National Book Award-winning U.S. novelist and professor.
1945 – Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, Indian-born writer, poet, and novelist who is the niece of the last King of Travancore, Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma.
1948 – Njabulo Simakahle Ndebele, South African fiction writer and professor.
1949 – Slavenka Drakulic, Croatian journalist, novelist, and essayist whose works on feminism, communism, and post-communism have been translated into many languages.
1954 – Lee Chang-dong, South Korean novelist, screenwriter, and film director.
1956 – Deon Meyer, South African novelist and screenwriter who writes in Afrikaans.
1958 – Cristina García, Cuban novelist, journalist, and professor; her first novel, Dreaming in Cuban, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
1965 – Rosie Malek-Yonan, Iranian-born Assyrian actress, historical novelist, director, human-rights activist, and pianist who now lives in the United States.
1968 – Polly Higgins, Scottish author, barrister, and environmental lobbyist who was described as, “one of the most inspiring figures in the green movement.”
1970 – Nura Amin, award-winning Egyptian novelist, short-story writer, translator, film and theater critic, and literary critic.
1976 – Jo Chen, Taiwan-born comic book artist and writer best known for her highly detailed painted comic book covers; in the Japanese comic industry she is also known by the pen name TogaQ.
1977 – Mark Sakamoto, Canadian lawyer and writer who is best known for his award-winning family memoir, Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents. The son of a Japanese-Canadian father and a Scottish-Canadian mother, he based the book on his grandparents’ experiences during World War II, when his paternal grandparents were interned by the Canadian government because of their Japanese background, while his maternal grandfather was captured by the Japanese as a prisoner of war.