0010 – Claudius (full name Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), ancient Roman writer and historian who was the fourth emperor of Ancient Rome; born in Roman Gaul, where his father was stationed as a military legate, he was the first Roman emperor to be born outside Italy. As emperor, he was known for expanding the empire and building roads, canals, and aquaducts; as a writer, he was known for his twenty-volume Etruscan history and his eight-volume Carthaginian history, as well as an Etruscan dictionary, a defense of Cicero, and a book about dice-playing. He is believed to have been murdered by his wife, Agrippina the Younger.
0845 – Sugawara no Michizane, Japanese Kanshi poet, writer, and diplomat who is today revered in Shinto as the god of learning, Tenman-Tenjin.
0986 – ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Hawazin Abū al-Qāsim al-Qushayrī al-Naysābūrī, Arab Muslim scholar and theologian known for his works on Sufism; he was born in Nishapur, which is in present-day Iran.
1579 – Luis Vélez de Guevara, prolific Spanish writer, poet, playwright, novelist, and soldier.
1588 – François de La Mothe Le Vayer, French philosopher and writer who sometimes used the pseudonym Orosius Tubero.
1757 – Pedro Estala, Spanish writer, editor, translator, journalist, literary critic, and philologist who was also a Catholic priest.
1779 – Karl Otto Ludwig von Arnim, German travel writer and playwright.
1779 – Francis Scott Key, U.S. lawyer and poet who authored the lyrics to the national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”
1794 – Sophie Rostopchine, Countess of Ségur (born Sofiya Feodorovna Rostopchina), Russian-born French writer and children’s author who is best known today for her children’s novel Les Malheurs de Sophie (Sophie’s Misfortunes).
1815 – Marițica Bibescu (born Maria Vacarescu, and also known as Maria Ghica), Romanian writer, poet, and Princess Consort of Wallachia.
1815 – Richard Henry Dana, Jr., U.S. lawyer and politician, and author of the classic memoir Two Years Before the Mast.
1817 – Johannes Zahn, German writer, author, theologian, musicologist, and music theorist; he is remembered most for compiling a critical anthology of almost 9,000 hymn melodies developed and used in German Lutheran churches.
1819 – Herman Melville, U.S. novelist, poet, and short-story writer who is considered a key figure in American literature; he is best known for his masterpeice Moby Dick, but with his books Omoo, Typee, and Mardi, he is one of the authors whose works appear most often in crossword puzzles.
1823 – Rachel Simon (née Salaman), English author and diarist.
1834 – Mariane van Hogendorp, Dutch writer and activist for women’s suffrage.
1834 – Jadwiga Łuszczewska, Polish writer, poet, novelist, and science-fiction author; she wrote under the pen name Deotyma.
1834 – Sarah Robinson, British author and activist who was the founder of the Soldier’s Institute.
1837 – Mother Jones (real name Mary G. Harris Jones), Irish-born U.S. schoolteacher, writer, and dressmaker who became a prominent union organizer, community organizer, activist, and reformer of child labor laws; she helped coordinate major strikes and co-founded the Industrial Workers of the World. She turned to activism after her husband and four children all died of yellow fever in 1867 and her dress shop was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. She was called “the most dangerous woman in America.”
1870 – Catherine Ann Andersen, award-winning New Zealand writer, teacher, and community leader.
1881 – Rose Macauley (Dame Emilie Rose Macaulay), English writer, most noted for her award-winning novel The Towers of Trebizond, about a small Anglo-Catholic group crossing Turkey by camel; the story is seen as a spiritual autobiography, reflecting her own changing and conflicting beliefs. Her novels were partly influenced by Virginia Woolf; she also wrote biographies and travelogues.
1881 – Aizu Yaichi, award-winning Japanese poet, writer, historian, art and literary historian, calligrapher, and university teacher; much of his work focused on Buddhist art of the Asuka and Nara eras.
1903 – Paul Horgan, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author of fiction and nonfiction, much of it having to do with the southwestern U.S.
1904- Vivien Greene (nee Dayrell-Browning), Rhodesian-born British writer who was the world’s foremost expert on dollhouses and who married novelist Graham Greene.
1911 – Jackie Ormes, U.S. cartoonist, writer, columnist, and journalist who was the first African-American woman to create and produce a nationally appearing comic strip; her work was unprecedented in that her lead characters were not only women but were strong, elegant, intelligent, urbane, and opinionated Black women who challenged the derogatory caricatures of Black people, and especially Black women, that appeared in comics at that time.
1916 – Anne Hébert, French-Canadian novelist, poet, playwright, and short-story writer, noted for her examination of the Québécois.
1919 – Stanley Middleton, Booker Prize-winning British novelist, best known for his novel Holiday.
1923 – Thelma Honora Forshaw (also known as Thelma Korting), Australian short-story writer, book reviewer, and journalist who is best known for her autobiographical short stories.
1923 – Lee Wu-jong, South Korean writer, journalist, trade unionist, feminist activist, and politician who was the leader of South Korean radical feminists.
1931 – Fides Belza Cuyugan-Asensio, Filipina librettist, translator, teacher, actress, and coloratura soprano.
1939 – Robert James Waller, U.S. author and photographer who achieved fame with his book The Bridges of Madison County.
1939 – Vladimir Evgen’evich Zakharov, Soviet and Russian poet, mathematician, physicist, and professor.
1942 – Brianda Domecq, Spanish-Mexican novelist and memoirist who writes in Spanish, though her native language is English.
1945 – Ola Balogun, Nigerian documentary scriptwriter and director who is part of the first generation of Nigerian filmmakers.
1947 – Lorna Goodison, Jamaican poet, short-story writer, memoirist, visual artist, and professor who is a leading West Indian writer of the generation born after World War II and is Poet Laureate of Jamaica; her work explores Jamaican culture, issues of home and exile, and the power of art to reconcile opposites and contradictions in the Caribbean historical experience.
1947 – Kenji Tokitsu, Japanese author, biographer, and practitioner of Japanese martial arts; he is best known for a scholarly work about the legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto.
1948 – David Gemmell, British author of heroic fantasy, best known for his debut novel Legend, the first in the Drenai saga.
1948 – Milan Radulovic, Serbian literary critic, professor, and politician whose writing focused on Serbian modernism.
1952 – Bruna Lombardi, Brazilian writer, poet, novelist, blogger, and actress.
1954 – James Gleick, U.S. science writer whose books have been Pulitzer and National Book Award finalists.
1952 – Amy Friedman, U.S. and Canadian novelist, memoirist, journalist, editor, and teacher.
1957 – Madison Smartt Bell, award-winning U.S. novelist, nonfiction author, short-story writer, and professor.
1960 – Boris Cheendykov, award-winning Russian Chuvash playwright, novelist, poet, essayist, and translator.
1965 – Goretti Kyomuhendo, award-winning Ugandan novelist, children’s writer, graphic novelist, and literary activist; one of her novels, Waiting: A Novel of Uganda’s Hidden War, has been described as “a sensitive, slowly unraveling observation of daily life in a remote Ugandan village as Amin’s marauding soldiers approach,” and as “a complex and disturbing story told with almost a touch of sweetness to it, through the eyes of a young girl forced to grow up before her time.”
1966 – James St. James, U.S. novelist whose book Disco Bloodbath (now published under the title Party Monster) that chronicles the Manhattan club scene in the 1980s and 1990s and centers around a murder committed by a friend of his; St. James was notorious for a lifestyle of excess that included drug use, partying, and bizarre costumes.
1967 – Mona Eltahawy, Egyptian journalist, essayist, author, and nonfiction writer.
1976 – Lola Omolola, Nigerian journalist best known for founding an online forum where women can share their stories.