0239 – Ennius, influential Roman writer, poet, historian, and playwright who has been called the Father of Roman Poetry.
1194 – Saint Clare of Assisi (Chiara Offreduccio), Italian nun, mystic, and the founder of the Order of Poor Clares; she wrote their Rule of Life, the first set of monastic guidelines known to have been written by a woman. She was one of the first followers of Francis of Assisi.
1313 – Giovanni Boccaccio, Italian author, poet, lyricist, biographer, translator, short-story writer, and diplomat who was an important Renaissance humanist who wrote his imaginative literature mostly in the Tuscan vernacular and his other works in Latin; he was noted for his realistic dialogue, in a time when writers tended to follow formulaic models for character and plot.
1677 – Angharad James, Welsh writer, poet, and farmer; she was also a skilled harpist who commanded workers to dance to her playing as they returned from the milking.
1821 – Mary Baker Eddy, U.S. writer, theologian, magazine and newspaper editor, and religious leader who founded the Christian Science movement (not associated with Scientology) and authored its main textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures; in her writings, she argued that the material world does not exist and, in particular, that sickness is a mental error that can be corrected by Christian Science prayer; she also founded The Christian Science Monitor, a newspaper that has won seven Pulitzer Prizes.
1860 – Otto Jespersen, Danish writer, autobiographer, philosopher, Esperantist, university teacher, and linguist who specialized in the grammar of the English language.
1862 – Ida B. Wells, U.S.African-American investigative journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, and early leader in the civil rights movement who was born a slave; she was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
1863 – Dwijendralal Ray (also known as D.L. Ray), Indian writer, poet, playwright, musician, composer, teacher, and civil servant who is known for his Hindu mythological and Nationalist historical plays and songs; he is regarded as one of the most important figures in early modern Bengali literature.
1872 – Roald Amundsen (full name Roald Engelbregt Gravning Amundsen), Norwegian writer and polar explorer who was a key figure of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration; he led the first expedition to traverse the Northwest Passage by sea and the first expedition to the South Pole, but disappeared while taking part in a rescue mission in the Arctic in 1928. He wrote an autobiography and several books about his expeditions.
1880 – Kathleen Norris, U.S. novelist and newspaper columnist whose writings capture upper-class life in the San Francisco area. (Not to be confused with modern poet Kathleen Norris).
1880 – Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Ukrainian Modernist writer, playwright, science-fiction author, artist, political activist, revolutionary, politician, and statesman who was the first Prime Minister of Ukraine; his works reflect his time spent among impoverished and working-class people, and among Russian emigres living in Western Europe.
1884 – Anna Alexandrovna Vyrubova (née Taneyeva), Russian lady-in-waiting, best friend of Tsarina Alexandra Fyodorovna, and memoir writer; she was imprisoned during the revolution but escaped with the help of family friends. Writer Maxim Gorky urged her to write her memoirs, and she followed his advice, recording her memories of life at court, which provided a rare glimpse of the home life of the Tsar and his family. She became a Russian Orthodox nun and spent the last years of her life in exile in Finland.
1889 – Arthur Bowie Chrisman, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. children’s author and short-story writer.
1889 – Lauri Pohjanpää (also known as Lauri Nordqvist), Finnish poet, theologian, memoirist, and novelist.
1896 – Katia Granoff, Russian-born French writer, poet, and art dealer.
1896 – Esther Popel, U.S. African-American poet, writer, and editor of the Harlem Renaissance; she was also an activist and educator.
1897 – Manuel Ortiz Guerrero, Paraguayan lyricist, poet, and musician who was a poet in both the Modernist and Romantic traditions and who wrote in both Spanish and Guarani. Sometimes he typed his poems and sold them door-to-door. He was exiled from his country and died in Argentina of leprosy.
1902 – Ho Jong-suk, South Korean writer, poet, journalist, autobiographer, philosopher, women’s rights activist, and politician.
1912 – Amelia Cabeza de Pelayo Patterson (also known as Amy Patterson), Argentine writer, poet, composer, singer, and teacher who wrote the anthem of the Province of Salta.
1913 – Carmen Acevedo Vega, Ecuadorian poet, writer, and journalist who is known for writing on social themes and protest through sensitive, rhythmic, and lyrical verses.
1919 – Mari Evans, U.S. African-American poet, playwright, nonfiction author, and editor whose poetry is known for its lyrical simplicity and the directness of its themes; she is associated with the Black Arts Movement.
1922 – Gnanananda Kavi (full name Suragali Timothy Gnanananda Kavi), award-winning Indian poet who is credited with forty anthologies.
1927 – Shirley Hughes, award-winning bestselling English children’s writer and illustrator.
1927 – Inge Israel, German and Canadian writer, poet, and essayist who writes in French and English.
1928 – Anita Brookner, Booker Prize-winning British novelist, professor, and art historian, her novels explore themes of emotional loss and typically depict intellectual, middle-class women who suffer isolation and disappointments in love.
1928 – Robert Sheckley, U.S. science-fiction author who has been nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula awards.
1929 – Sheri Tepper, U.S. author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels. Many of her books have an ecofeminist slant.
1941 – Dag Solstad, award-winning Norwegian writer, novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and short-story writer, some of whose works are considered controversial because of their Marxist-leaning political emphasis.
1943 – Reinaldo Arenas, Cuban poet, novelist, playwright, and librarian who was an early sympathizer and later critic of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution.
1948 – Ratna Sarumpaet, Indonesian playwright, novelist, theatrical producer, film director, actress, and human-rights activist who is especially known for her politically charged plays.
1950 – Frances Spalding, British art historian, writer, biographer, professor, critic, essayist, and editor; she is especially known as the author of Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision.
1951 – Esther Friesner (full name Esther Mona Friesner-Stutzman), award-winning U.S. science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist, and anthologist who is known for her humorous style of writing and her themes of gender equality and social justice.
1951 – Suki Lahav (real name Tzruya Lahav), Israeli violinist, vocalist, lyricist, poet, screenwriter, novelist, and actress who played with Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band in 1974 and 1975.
1952 – Richard Egielski, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. illustrator and writer.
1955 – Susan Wheeler, National Book Award finalist and Pushcart Prize-winning U.S. poet, essayist, and professor.
1956 – Tony Kushner, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Academy Award-winning U.S. playwright and screenwriter; he is best known for his play Angels in America.
1958 – Laura Freixas, Spanish novelist, short-story writer, translator, columnist, editor, journalist, art critic, and literary critic.
1961 – Mongsen Ching Monsin, award-winning Bangladeshi journalist, researcher, and writer.
1962 – Ross King, Canadian scholar, historian, historical novelist, and nonfiction writer best known for his books about art and architecture, including Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, Brunelleschi’s Dome: The Story of the Great Cathedral in Florence, and
The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism.
1962 – Ahmed Mansour, Egyptian writer, journalist, television presenter, and interviewer who is one of Arabic news channel Al Jazeera’s most prominent journalists.