1165 – Ibn ʿArabī (full name: أبو عبد الله محـمـد بن علي بن محمـد بن العربي الحاتمي الطائي الأندلسي المرسي الدمشقي, or Abū ʻAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʻAlī ibn Muḥammad ibn al-ʻArabī al-Ḥātimī al-Ṭāʼī al-Andalusī al-Mursī al-Dimashqī), Arab Andalusian (modern-day Spain) Muslim scholar, mystic, poet, and philosopher who was extremely influential within Islamic thought. He is renowned among practitioners of Sufism by the honorific titles ash-Shaykh al-Akbar (the Greatest Shaykh) and Muḥyī ad-Dīn (Renewer of the Faith) and was considered a saint, while in medieval Europe, he was known as Doctor Maximus (Greatest Teacher).
1458 – Jacopo Sannazaro, Italian writer, poet, satirist, and humanist who wrote in Latin, Italian, and Neapolitan; he is best remembered for his humanist classic Arcadia, a masterwork that illustrated the possibilities of poetical prose in Italian, and instituted the theme of Arcadia, representing an idyllic land, in European literature. His elegant style inspired much courtly literature of the 16th century, including Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia.
1617 – Nicolás Antonio, Spanish writer, historian, librarian, and bibliographer.
1685 – Johann Bernhard Fischer, German doctor, author, poet, and autobiographer who served in Imperial Russia as medical adviser to the Empress Anna.
1750 – Fabre d’Églantine, French writer, poet, politician, playwright, and stage actor.
1804 – Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach, German philosopher and anthropologist best known for his book The Essence of Christianity, which provided a critique of Christianity that strongly influenced generations of later thinkers, including Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Engels, Richard Wagner, and Friedrich Nietzsche; many of his philosophical writings offered a critical analysis of religion.
1809 – John Stuart Blackie, Scottish professor, scholar, translator, and essayist.
1812 – Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Polish writer, poet, historian, playwright, novelist, translator, journalist, art critic, and painter; with 200 novels and 150 novellas, short stories, and art reviews, he is considered the most prolific writer in the history of Polish literature and the seventh most prolific in the world.
1819 – Louise Amelia Knapp Clappe (née Smith), U.S. author and teacher who took on the pen name of Dame Shirley and wrote her widely known Dame Shirley letters, which have been described as being both witty and disturbing, while giving insight into California mining life.
1837 – Flóra Majthényi, Hungarian writer, travel writer, poet, and journalist; she began publishing poetry at the age of 13.
1844 – Gerard Manley Hopkins, English Jesuit priest who was one of the leading Victorian poets.
1847 – Frances Campbell Sparhawk, U.S. book author writer of serialized stories; her most important contribution to serial fiction is entitled Elizabeth, is a romance of Colonial days, and describes New England and the siege of Louisburg.
1851 – Manuel Raimundo Querino, Brazilian writer, artist, and intellectual whose pioneering ethnographic works focused on the contributions of Africans to Brazilian history and culture; he was the first Black author to write Brazilian history.
1863 – Emily Underdown, English writer, novelist, and poet who is best known for popularizing Dante and for her children’s books; many of her works are written under the pseudonym Norley Chester.
1864 – Stephen Phillips, popular, award-winning English poet and playwright.
1866 – Beatrix Potter, beloved English children’s author and illustrator, famous for her children’s books, including the classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
1868 – Thomas Krag, Norwegian writer, screenwriter, poet, author, and short-story writer; his works were bestsellers in his day, but are seldom read today.
1868 – André Spire, French poet, writer, and Zionist activist.
1873 – Louisa Garrett Anderson, British author, biographer, physician, feminist, and social reformer; she was the daughter of founding medical pioneer Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, about whom she wrote a biography.
1874 – Alice Duer Miller, U.S. poet whose work influenced political opinion, especially in the areas of women’s suffrage and the U.S.’s entry into World War II.
1874 – Colette Yver, prolific, award-winning French novelist and essayist whose works are representative of the anti-feminist fictions of the Third Republic; intended for a female audience, these types of novels depicted emancipated women confronted with multiple misfortunes that they would not have suffered had they chosen life at home.
1883 – Gustaf-Otto Adelborg, Swedish writer and essayist who wrote religious meditations and other works with primarily psychological content.
1887 – Heranush (Nargiz) Arshagian, Turkish-born Armenian lyric poet, novelist, memoirist, and short-story writer; she died at the age of 18, and her writing was published after her death.
1887 – Willard Price, Canadian-born U.S. author of adventure books for children.
1896 – Barbara La Marr (born Reatha Dale Watson), U.S. writer who was a successful Hollywood screenwriter until actress and producer Mary Pickford told her she was too beautiful and charismatic to be behind the camera and encouraged her to try acting; La Marr took her advice and became a major film star of the 1920s.
1900 – Edith Alice Unnerstad (née Tötterman), Swedish author who was particularly known for her children’s books.
1902 – Sir Karl Raimund Popper, Austrian-British philosopher and professor who was considered one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century.
1909 – Aenne Burda (born Anna Magdalene Lemminger), German publisher; one of her fashion magazines, Burda Moden, became the first Western magazine published in Soviet Union.
1909 – Malcolm Lowry, English poet and novelist who was best known for his book Under the Volcano, voted number 11 on the Modern Library 100 Best Novels list.
1923 – Andrew Henry Martin Scholtz, South African novelist and carpenter who, though he was Black, passed for five years as White in order to feed his family as a soldier in a Whites-only battalion.
1925 – George Klein (born Klein György), prolific, award-winning Hungarian-Swedish microbiologist, cancer researcher, physician, science writer, author, and university teacher; in 1944, he escaped from being loaded onto a train in Budapest during the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz. In the 1960s, he and his wife, immunologist Eva Klein, laid the foundation for modern tumor immunology. In addition to writings on cancer and experimental cell research, he wrote books on a wide range of topics, including essays on the Holocaust in Hungary.
1927 – John Ashbery, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet who was regarded as the most influential poet of his day; he tried to make his poems accessible to as many people as possible, but once joked that some critics still viewed him as “a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism.”
1929 – Yemi Ajibade, Nigerian playwright, actor, and director who made significant contributions to the British theatre and the canon of Black drama.
1929 – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. writer, photographer, and book editor who was U.S. First Lady during her first husband John F. Kennedy’s term as President.
1932 – Natalie Babbitt, U.S. author of books for children and teens, best known for her novel Tuck Everlasting.
1935 – Taeko Tomioka, award-winning Japanese novelist, screenwriter, poet, feminist essayist, short-story writer, and critic.
1937 – Francis Veber, French playwright, screenwriter, and film director.
1938 – Robert Studley Forrest Hughes, Australian-born art critic, writer, and TV documentary producer.
1940 – Anne Mollegen Smith, U.S. writer and editor who is the former editor of such national magazines as Redbook and McCalls; she also writes fiction and blogs about business and finance.
1945 – Jim Davis, U.S. cartoonist; best known for writing and drawing the Garfield cartoon strips and books.
1946 – Robert Asprin, U.S. author of humorous science fiction and fantasy.
1946 – Fahmida Riaz, Indian-born Pakistani Urdu feminist author, poet, human-rights activist, and translator who was controversial because of the erotic themes in some of her poetry, which were considered inappropriate for a woman poet.
1948 – Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane, South African author, poet, and academic; the late President Nelson Mandela described him as a “visionary leader and one of South Africa’s greatest intellectuals.”
1950 – Li Xiao (born Li Xiaotang), Chinese writer whose novel Rules of a Clan was adapted into the film Shanghai Triad.
1956 – John Feinstein, U.S. sportswriter who writes about basketball and golf.
1959 – William T. Vollman, National Book Award-winning U.S. novelist.
1960 – Jon J. Muth, U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books and comics.
1962 – Kwame Dawes, Ghana-born poet, actor, editor, critic, professor, and musician who grew up in Jamaica.
1963 – Michael Ruhlman, U.S. cookbook author who writes about food and restaurants.
1964 – Igbekele Amos Ajibefun, Nigerian economist, author, researcher, professor, and university vice-chancellor.
1970 – Ezekiel Adebiyi, Nigerian computational biologist, bioinformatics professor, writer, and research scientist.
1973 – Aya Nakahara, award-winning Japanese manga artist and writer; she is best known for Love Com, a romance manga about a tall high school girl who falls in love with a short guy.
1980 – Zoë Foster, Australian author, columnist, magazine editor, and cosmetics entrepreneur.
1984 – Maria Popova, Bulgarian-born writer of literary and arts commentary and cultural criticism, best known for her blog, Brain Pickings.