1321 – Banda Nawaz Gaisu Daraz (born Muhammad bin Yusuf Al-Hussaini), prolific Indian writer, scholar, and Sufi saint, he wrote 195 books in Arabic, Persian, and Urdu.
1533 – Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga, Spanish writer, poet, explorer, and soldier; his epic poem La Araucana is considered one of the greatest Spanish historical poems.
1592 – Arnauld de Oihenart, French-born Basque writer, poet, historian, lawyer, and politician.
1598 – Georg Stiernhielm, Swedish writer, poet, mathematician, historian, lawyer, archaeologist, philosopher, and linguist; his most famous work is “Hercules,” an allegorical, epic poem in hexameter, about Hercules in his youth being tempted by Fru Lusta (“Mrs. Lust”) and her daughters to choose an immoral lifestyle.
1664 – Sarah Savage (nee Henry), English writer and diarist who is best known for the diary she began writing at age 22 and continued until her 80s. Her writing is regarded as an important work because of the insights it provides into the daily spiritual life of 17th- and 18th-century women.
1779 – Pavle Solarić, Serbian writer, poet, historian, geographer, archaeologist, anthropologist, bibliographer, and linguist; his book Graždansko Zemljeopisanie (Geography in Civil Letters), was the first book written by a Serb in the language of the common people.
1831 – Frederic William Farrar, Indian-born cleric, schoolteacher, author, and poet; he was a pallbearer at the funeral of Charles Darwin in 1882.
1848 – Alice James, U.S. diarist; she was the daughter of theologian Henry James, Sr., and sister of psychologist William James and novelist Henry James.
1849 – Manuel Acuña, Mexican writer, poet, playwright, and novelist who committed suicide at the age of 24.
1854 – Hermione von Preuschen (also known as Erminia Preuschen, Hermine von Preuschen, and Hermine Preuschen), German-born Italian writer, author, and painter.
1859 – Emily de Burgh Daly, Irish nurse, writer, memoirist, and editor who traveled extensively, living in China for years, where she witnessed the run up to the Boxer Rebellion and the Russo-Japanese War, escaping the country with her children during both of those conflicts; her descriptions of conflicts in Manchuria are detailed, accurate, and harrowing. In her memoirs, An Irishwoman in China, she described the customs and people of China, the lifestyle of Europeans living there, and the plants and flowers of China.
1889 – Marah Roesli, one of the best-known Indonesian authors of the Balai Pustaka period; he is famous for his novel Sitti Nurbaya, about a teenage girl forced to marry a much older man to recompense her father’s debt.
1890 – Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, U.S. labor leader, activist, and feminist who played a leading role in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and was Chair of the Communist Party USA; she was a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union and a visible proponent of women’s rights, birth control, and women’s suffrage.
1894 – Maria Martins, Brazilian writer, poet, designer, musician, and visual artist who was particularly well known for her modern sculptures.
1896 – Nathan Agmon, Russian Ukrainian-born and Israeli writer, playwright, librettist, and translator who was best known for his dramatic works.
1899 – Anna Lacková-Zora, Slovak novelist, poet, and historical writer whose work often concerned the lives of women; she also published under the pseudonyms Zora-Lacková and Aunt Zora.
1899 – Dimbeswar Neog (also known as the Indradhenu Poet), prolific and renowned Indian writer, poet, critic, literary historian, playwright, and educator who is an important figure in Assamese literature.
1903 – Louis Leakey, British archaeologist and author who helped establish the theories of early human evolution beginning in Africa.
1920 – Beyle (or Bella) Schaechter-Gottesman, award-winning Austrian-born Yiddish poet, children’s writer, and songwriter.
1921 – Bohumila Grögerová, Czech experimental poet, writer, children’s author, playwright, and translator.
1923 – Ryotaro Shiba. Japanese author best known for his historical novels and cultural essays about Japan and its relationship to the rest of the world.
1928 – James Randi, Canadian-U.S. stage magician and skeptic, whose writings debunk pseudoscience and paranormal subjects.
1928 – Betsy Byars, U.S. author of children’s fiction who has won a Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and an Edgar Award; she is best known for her novel Summer of the Swans.
1928 – Dikran Tahta, British writer, mathematician, and author who was the teacher of renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
1929 – Arrigo Petacco, Italian historian, journalist, screenwriter, and biographer.
1933 – Jerry Pournelle, U.S. scientist, essayist, journalist, and science-fiction writer who also wrote in the technology and computer field; he is best known for his collaborations with Larry Niven, including The Mote in God’s Eye.
1933 – Wilma Johanna Stockenström, South African writer, translator, and actress who is one of the leading writers in the Afrikaans language.
1934 – Bholabhai Patel, Indian Gujarati-language author, essayist, translator, editor, travel writer, educator, and literary critic who was fluent in Gujarati, Hindi, Bengali, Assamese, Oriya, German, French, Marathi, Puria, and Sanskrit.
1942 – Garrison Keillor, U.S. author, poet, and radio personality, best known for his long-running show A Prairie Home Companion.
1944 – Fatima Gallaire, award-winning Algerian writer, playwright, and novelist who writes in French.
1944 – Nancy Morejón, award-winning Cuban poet, critic, and essayist whose work is known for its playful observations about her own people, her effective use of particularly Cuban forms of humor, and her regular “indulgence” in highly lyrical, intimate, spiritual, or erotic poetry; she writes on a wide range of themes including the mythology of the Cuban nation, the lives of Black Cubans, women’s experiences, and the fusion of Spanish and African cultures into a new, Cuban identity.
1948 – Vilmundur Gylfason, Icelandic politician, historian, and poet.
1949 – Matthew Francis Parris, South African/British journalist and politician.
1950 – Alan Lee Keyes, U.S. conservative political activist, author, diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office.
1950 – Terry Randolph Hummer, U.S. poet, critic, essayist, editor, and professor.
1951 – Ajahn Brahm, English writer, theoretical physicist, and Buddhist monk who is currently based in Australia.
1952 – Roger Boyes, British journalist, columnist, and author who is the diplomatic editor for the British newspaper The Times.
1952 – Larry J. Sabato, U.S. political scientist, analyst, and prognosticator who is a University of Virginia professor.
1953 – Anne Fadiman, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning U.S. author.
1954 – Linda Aksomitis (née Linda Demyen), Canadian author, travel writer, children’s writer, photojournalist, and teacher who has also written nonfiction about the history of the snowmobile.
1955 – Vladimir Sorokin, popular Russian poet and dramatist.
1955 – Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, award-winning Liberian-born poet, writer, and professor who is a survivor of the Liberian Civil War; she is now based in the United States.
1957 – Paul Dini, U.S. comic-book author, screenwriter and producer who works in the television and comic-book industries.
1958 – Rieko Matsuura, award-winning Japanese novelist and short-story writer.
1959 – Shigeko Uchida (better known by her pen name, Shungicu Uchida), Japanese manga artist, novelist, essayist, actress, and singer.
1960 – David Duchovny, U.S. actor, writer, producer, director, children’s author, and novelist; he is best known for his role as Fox Mulder in the TV series, The X-Files.
1960 – Deborah Ellis, bestselling Canadian author and anti-war activist who often writes about the children coping with difficult decisions in troubled parts of the world; her best known book is The Breadwinner.
1963 – Rochelle Alers, U.S. writer of romance novels who has also written under the pen names Susan James and Rena McLeary.
1967 – Leroy Young, Belizean poet and musician whose nickname is “The Grandmaster.”
1968 – Francesca Gregorini (born Countess Francesca McKnight Donatella Romana Gregorini di Savignano di Romagna), Italian screenwriter and film director; she is the daughter of former Bond girl Barbara Bach and the stepdaughter of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
1969 – Idris Azad, Pakistani author, philosopher, novelist, poet, journalist, dramatist, columnist, critic, and educator.
1969 – Scott Hanford Stossel, U.S. journalist and author who is editor of The Atlantic magazine.
1970 – Yu Godai, Japanese writer, fantasy novelist, short-story writer, and game writer.
1974 – Mohd Faizal Musa (also known under the pen name Faisal Tehrani), award-winning Malaysian author and playwright whose writer has been called, “full of vision.”
1978 – Yulia Dmitrievna Chicherina (often known as, simply, Chicherina), Russian pop-rock singer, guitarist, composer, poet, and writer who is part of the wave of Uralic rock.
1983 – Brit Heyworth Marling, U.S. actress, screenwriter, and film producer.
1984 – Yun Hyon-seok, South Korean poet, writer, autobiographer, columnist, singer, and LGBT activist who committed suicide in 2003 in protest against discrimination against homosexuals in South Korea; he also wrote under several pen names: Yook Woo Dang, Seolheon, Midong, and Donghwa. His death led to the passage of the South Korean Youth Protection Act, which took steps to protect homosexual and transgender people.