1540 – Joseph Justus Scaliger, French religious leader, writer, poet, professor, historian, translator, numismatist, classical scholar, and archaeologist who was known for expanding the notion of classical history from Greek and ancient Roman history to include Persian, Babylonian, Jewish, and ancient Egyptian history.
1647 – Anne Le Fèvre Dacier (better known during her lifetime as Madame Dacier), French scholar, translator, linguist, commentator. and editor of the classics, including the Iliad and the Odyssey; she championed ancient literature and used her great capabilities in Latin and Greek for this purpose as well as for her own financial support, producing a series of editions and translations from which she earned her living. Her birth year is sometimes listed as 1645.
1795 – Mary Anne Jevons, née Roscoe, English poet, writer, and editor.
1813 – Ivar Andreas Aasen, Norwegian philologist, lexicographer, playwright, and poet, best known for having assembled from dialects one of the two official written versions of the Norwegian language Nynorsk.
1844 – Elizaveta Vodovozova, influential Russian writer, educational theorist, children’s writer, memoirist, and activist for women’s rights; she was a pioneer in advocating for the use of music and games in educating children.
1846 – Alvilde Prydz, popular Norwegian novelist and short-story writer.
1850 – Guy de Maupassant, French writer who is known as one of the fathers of the modern short story; he also wrote travel books, novels, poetry, and horror.
1866 – Al-Ab Anastas Mari Al-Karmali (also known as Anastas the Carmelite, or Père Anastase-Marie de Saint-Élie), Lebanese Christian priest and linguist who made important contributions in Arabic linguistics and philology.
1868 – Marie Belloc Lowndes (full name Marie Adelaide Elizabeth Rayner Lowndes, née Belloc), prolific English novelist and screenwriter with a literary reputation for combining exciting incidents with psychological interest, and several of whose works were adapted for film, radio, and opera; her sister was author Hilaire Belloc.
1868 – Javier de Viana, Uruguayan short-story writer and journalist; much of his work centered on themes of rural life.
1871 – Georgiana Goddard King, U.S. art historian, writer, photographer, professor, Hispanist, and Medievalist who created the first university department of Art History that specialized in Spanish art.
1876 – Mary Ritter Beard, U.S. historian, author, women’s suffrage activist, and women’s history archivist who was a lifelong advocate of social justice.
1879 – Ole Kristian Hallesby, prolific Norwegian author, theologian, and educator; most of his books were on theology and ethics; an outspoken opponent of the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II, he was arrested and detained at Grini concentration camp for two years.
1880 – Gertrude Elzora Durden Rush, the first U.S. African-American female lawyer in Iowa, she helped found the National Bar Association and was also an author and playwright and an activist for civil rights and women’s suffrage.
1880 – Ruth Sawyer, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. storyteller, best known as the author of Roller Skates.
1881 – João do Rio (pseudonym of João Paulo Emílio Cristóvão dos Santos Coelho Barreto), Brazilian author, short-story writer, journalist, playwright, and translator of African descent.
1884 – Nilakantha Das, award-winning Indian writer, orator, autobiographer, activist, and politician.
1889 – Conrad Aiken, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist and poet.
1901 – Margarita Abella Caprile, Argentine poet who was also a novelist, short-story author, travel writer, editor, and journalist.
1904 – Janina Broniewska (née Kunig), Polish writer, publicist, communist activist, editor, and teacher who wrote many stories for children and young adults.
1906 – John Marcellus Huston, U.S. screenwriter, film director, and actor who wrote the screenplays for most of the 37 feature films he directed, many of which are considered classics.
1910 – Jacquetta Hawkes, British archeologist, public official, nature writer, playwright, poet, educator, and activist for nuclear disarmament. She was the daughter of Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, cousin of the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, wife of archeologist and writer Christopher Hawkes (her first husband), and wife of novelist and playwright Jack Priestley (though she disliked his work).
1910 – J. Erik Lindegren, Swedish author, poet, translator, librettist, editor, and opera critic.
1915- Clair Blank (full name Clarissa Mabel Blank), U.S. author and children’s writer, best known for the Beverly Gray mystery series.
1916 – Sadeq Chubak, Iranian naturalist, novelist, poet, playwright, and short-story writer; his short stories are characterized by their intricacy, economy of detail, and concentration on a single theme, leading some to compare them to Persian miniature paintings.
1916 – Nalini Das, Indian Bengali writer, professor, and editor of the Bengali children’s magazine Sandesh.
1916 – Peter Viereck, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. political writer, professor, and poet.
1920 – Selma Diamond, Canadian-born comedian, actress, comedy writer, and radio and television writer, known for her high-range, raspy voice and for her portrayal of Selma Hacker on the first two seasons of the NBC television comedy series Night Court.
1922 – Haim G. Ginott (originally Ginzburg), Israeli teacher, child psychologist, psychotherapist, parent educator, and author who pioneered parenting techniques for communicating with children that are still taught today; his book of parenting advice, Between Parent and Child, stayed on the bestseller list for more than a year and is still popular today.
1926 – Per Wahlöö, Swedish writer and journalist who with his wife Maj Sjöwall created the detective character Martin Beck
1929 – Al Alvarez, English poet, novelist, essayist, and critic.
1934 – Wendell Berry, U.S. writer and ecological activist, much of whose writing centers around his home state of Kentucky and the South in general.
1936 – Doris Debenjak (née Krisch), Slovene linguist, writer, lexicographer, and translator.
1942 – Sergio Ramírez Mercado, Nicaraguan writer, lawyer, politician, and intellectual who served as Vice-President of Nicaragua.
1947 – Élisabeth Vonarburg, award-winning French-born Canadian writer, translator, magazine editor, and science-fiction author.
1955 – Christine Harris, Australian writer of children’s and young adult books, with works of both speculative fiction and historical fiction.
1960 – David Baldacci, U.S. lawyer and author of blockbuster thrillers; his sister Sharon Baldacci is also an author.
1970 – Xeni Jardin, U.S. blogger, editor, digital media commentator, and tech culture journalist
1987 – William Kamkwamba, Malawian inventor and author who gained fame in his country when he was still in his teens for building a wind turbine using cast-off items to power multiple electrical appliances in his family’s house, eventually bringing electricity to his whole village; he has since built a solar water pump to bring the village safe drinking water, and has built more wind turbines for other localities, as well as a solar-powered water pump to bring safe drinking water to his village. He told his story in his bestselling book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind; in 2013, TIME magazine named him one of the “30 People Under 30 Changing The World.”