1552 – Paolo Sarpi, Venetian Italian writer, scholar, historian, lawyer, astronomer, anatomist, statesman, philosopher, and church reformer who was a defender of the liberties of Republican Venice and a proponent of the separation of Church and state; he attained fame as a hero of republicanism and free thought.
1645 – Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora, Mexican writer, poet, politician, mathematician, historian, cartographer, and philosopher.
1802 – Letitia Elizabeth Landon, English poet, novelist, and literary critic who wrote under her initials, L.E.L. and was highly regarded in her time. For example, novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote that, as a young college student, he and his classmates would “rush every Saturday afternoon for the Literary Gazette, [with] an impatient anxiety to hasten at once to that corner of the sheet which contained the three magical letters L.E.L. And all of us praised the verse, and all of us guessed at the author. We soon learned it was a female, and our admiration was doubled, and our conjectures tripled.”
1863 – Ernest Thayer, U.S. writer and poet who wrote the baseball poem “Casey at the Bat.”
1867 – John Galsworthy, Nobel Prize-winning English novelist and playwright.
1876 – Sibilla Aleramo (pseudonym of Marta Felicina “Rina” Faccio), Italian author, poet, and feminist writer, best known for her autobiographical depictions of life as a woman in late 19th century Italy.
1882 – Gisela Marie Augusta Richter, influential British author, classical archaeologist, art historian, and museum curator who was the first woman to hold the title of ‘curator’ at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
1892 – Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, prolific English music composer, writer, essayist, book author, music critic, and pianist who has been described as a descendant of a tradition of composer-pianists including Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt.
1899 – Alma Lucy Reville, prolific English and U.S. screenwriter and editor who married famed director Alfred Hitchcock and wrote many of the scripts for his films, as well as for other top directors.
1901 – Alice Rivaz, Swiss novelist, short-story writer, biographer, essayist, and diarist who was one of the foremost French-language writers in Switzerland; her writings dealt with women in art and in the family, and often had feminist themes.
1903 – Natalya Sats, Russian writer, playwright, theatre director, drama teacher, opera director, and opinion journalist.
1904 – Djamaluddin Adinegoro, influential Indonesian reporter, writer, and political analyst.
1904 – Kar de Mumma (birth name Erik Harald Zetterström), Swedish playwright and humorous writer.
1907 – Godavari Parulekar, Indian writer, freedom fighter, and independence activist; she was influenced by Marxist and Communist ideologies and spent her life fighting for the farmers and working class.
1910 – Nathan Alterman, Warsaw-born Israeli poet, playwright, journalist, songwriter, and translator who was influential in Socialist Zionist politics.
1914 – Stieg Ivar Trenter, Swedish journalist and popular crime writer, often described as the Agatha Christie of Sweden.
1921 – Julia Hartwig-Miedzyrzeck, Polish writer, poet, children’s author, and translator who is considered to be one of Poland’s most important poets.
1923 – Kuldip Nayar, Indian author, journalist, columnist, politician, diplomat, human-rights activist, left-wing political commentator, and High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom.
1925 – Russell Baker, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. writer of satirical commentary and self-deprecating prose, best known for his autobiography Growing Up.
1925 – Jaywant Dalvi, prominent Indian Marathi writer, newspaper editor, novelist, screenwriter, and playwright; he also wrote a humor column on Marathi literary personalities under the pseudonym ThanthanpaaL.
1926 – Alice Adams, U.S. short-story writer, journalist, and novelist who became the third author ever to receive the O. Henry Special Award for Continuing Achievement.
1926 – René Goscinny, French comics writer and editor.
1928 – Anatoly Fedorovich Kasheida, Ukrainian writer, poet, and journalist.
1933 – Bryce Courtenay, bestselling South African and Australian novelist whose first book, The Power of One, quickly became one of Australia’s bestselling books by any living author; most of his work was set in either his native country, South Africa, or his adopted country, Australia.
1940 – Alexei Panshin, U.S. science-fiction author and critic, winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards.
1941 – Vida Ognjenović, award-winning Serbian playwright, theater director, writer, drama professor, politician, and diplomat.
1941 – Lynne Ann Cheney, U.S. novelist, biographer, memoirist, nonfiction author, congresswoman, talk-show host, and conservative scholar who is the wife of former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.
1941 – Aïcha Chenna, Moroccan writer, nurse, social worker, civil servant, and women’s rights advocate.
1942 – Molefi Kete Asante (born Arthur Lee Smith Jr.), U.S. African-American author, editor, professor, and philosopher who is a leading figure in the fields of African-American studies, African studies, and communication studies.
1943 – Stephanie Laurens, best-selling Australian author of romance novels; she was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
1945 – Steve Martin, U.S. comedian, actor, musician, producer, and writer.
1947 – Wang Ping, Chinese-born U.S. novelist, poet, writer, photographer, performance and installation artist, dancer, singer, and professor.
1947 – Danielle Steel, the pen name of blockbuster U.S. romance novelist Danielle Fernandes Dominique Schuelein-Steel.
1950 – Gary Larson, U.S. syndicated cartoonist best known for “The Far Side.”
1952 – Alex van Warmerdam, Dutch screenwriter, film director, actor, and painter.
1955 – Mary E. Pearson, award-winning U.S. children’s writer best known for her young-adult fiction, especially the books A Room on Lorelei Street and The Adoration of Jenna Fox.
1956 – Khal Torabully, Mauritian poet who coined the concept “coolitude.”
1957 – Wang Ping, award-winning Chinese poet, novelist, children’s author, short-story writer, photographer, performance artist, dancer, singer, and professor who now lives in the United States.
1964 – Andrew Kevin Walker, U.S. screenwriter best known for writing the script for the film Se7en; he also did uncredited rewrites on parts of the movies Fight Club, Event Horizon, and others.
1965 – Brannon Braga, award-winning U.S. television producer, director, and screenwriter, best known for his work on Star Trek.
1967 – Vijay Prashad, Indian author, historian, journalist, commentator, and Marxist intellectual.
1971 – Guia Risari, Italian writer, journalist, children’s author, educator, and translator; much of her writing is characterized by elements of Surrealism, a sensitivity towards minorities, and her regard for children.