1443 – Rodolphus Agricola, Dutch author, poet, educator, musician, Hebrew scholar, and diplomat who built a church organ and was famous for his skillful use of Latin; today he is best known as the author of De Inventione Dialectica, which documents his pioneering work in teaching a deaf child how to communicate orally and in writing. He is considered the father of northern European humanism.
1517 – Abolnasr Sam Mirza Safavi, Iranian poet, author, art critic, and prince who was a son of King (Shah) Ismail I.
1639 – Anna Maria Mancini (known as Marie), Italian courtier and memoirist who was sent by her uncle, Cardinal Mazarin, to the court of the French “Sun King,” Louis XIV, along with her four sisters and two cousins, so they could marry well; she won the love of the king and he wanted to marry her, but her uncle and the king’s mother separated them by marrying both off to other people, in her case, an Italian prince; after false rumors circulated about her, she wrote a memoir to set the record straight. Marie and her sisters and cousins were known collectively at Louis’s court as the Mazarinettes.
1724 – Diamante Medaglia Faini, Italian poet and composer who was known for her love poems, and also composed sonnets and madrigals; she married the doctor Pietro Antonio Faini in a marriage arranged by her father because he disliked her fame, and the marriage forced her to stop using love as a theme of her poems. She was a controversial poet, and stopped taking part in the academies when they tried to force her to follow accepted conventions.
1749 – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer, artist, lawyer, and politician whose work includes poetry; plays; literary criticism; a biography; treatises on botany, anatomy, and color; memoirs; and four novels.
1814 – Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu, Irish writer of Gothic tales, mystery novels, and horror fiction; a leading ghost story writer, he was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era.
1844 – Katarina Milovuk, Serbian writer, educator, newspaper editor, and women’s rights activist who was principal and director of Serbia’s first institution of higher learning for women, the Women’s Grandes écoles in Belgrade, and founder of the first women’s organization in Serbia, the Žensko društvo (Women’s Society).
1855 – Swarnakumari Devi, Indian poet, novelist, musician, and social worker who was the first female Bengali writer to gain prominence.
1864 – Mark Antony De Wolfe Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author, biographer, and editor.
1874 – Annemarie von Nathusius (born Anna Maria Luise von Nathusius), German novelist who wrote boldly about issues of women’s sexuality and lived a distinctly unconventional life; in her books, she criticized the sexual ignorance and exploitative marriages imposed on young women of her class.
1875 – Maria Elizabeth Rothmann (pen name M.E.R.), South African writer who co-founded the Voortrekkers youth movement (in which groups of Dutch-speaking people migrated by wagon from the Cape Colony into the interior, in order to live beyond British rule); her unique contribution to Afrikaans literature was a cultural historic review of a bygone Afrikaans society.
1880 – Alice Dayrell Caldeira Brant, Brazilian writer who kept a diary as a teen and later had it published under the name Helena Morley; her diary is considered an important document by historians because of its detailed descriptions of daily life in the diamond-mining town of Diamantina.
1888 – Evadne Price, Australian-born British writer, journalist, novelist, children’s writer, columnist, astrologist, actress, and media personality; she also wrote under the pseudonym Helen Zenna Smith.
1892 – Tyyni Maria Tuulio (née Haapanen), award-winning Finnish short-story writer, biographer, travel writer, essayist, translator, memoirist, and literary scholar.
1896 – Raghupati Sahay (better known by his pen name Firaq Gorakhpuri), Indian writer and critic who is one of the most noted contemporary Urdu poets.
1896 – Jhaverchand Kalidas Meghani (also spelled Zaverchand), Indian poet, writer, translator, social reformer, and freedom fighter whose name is well known in the field of Gujarati literature; Mahatma Gandhi gave him the title Raashtreeya Shaayar (National Poet).
1898 – Cheng Shewo, Chinese journalist, publisher, educator, and university founder.
1903 – Bruno Bettelheim, Austrian-born U.S. child psychologist and writer who gained international fame for his work on Freud, psychoanalysis, and emotionally disturbed children.
1904 – Roger Duvoisin, Swiss-born U.S. writer and illustrator who was known for his picture books.
1904 – Madeleine Truel (full name Madeleine Blanche Pauline Truel Larrabure), Peruvian novelist of French ancestry who fought in the French Resistance during World War II and worked against the Nazis by forging documents; she was captured in 1944, tortured for information without success, and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. She died in 1945, after the so-called “death march,” a few hours before Russian troops arrived.
1906 – John Betjeman, English poet, writer, and broadcaster who described himself in Who’s Who as a “poet and hack,” despite being named U.K. Poet Laureate.
1907 – Eugenio Pucciarelli, Argentine writer, philosopher, and professor who was the president of the National Academy of Sciences of Buenos Aires.
1908 – Roger Tory Peterson, U.S. naturalist, ornithologist, author, artist, and educator who was one of the founding inspirations for the 20th-century environmental movement; his A Field Guide to Birds was first published in 1934 and has never been out of print.
1913 – Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor.
1915 – Claude Roy, French writer, poet, journalist, essayist, children’s writer, and French Resistance fighter.
1915 – Tasha Tudor, prolific, award-winning U.S. illustrator and writer of children’s books.
1916 – Frederick Knott, English playwright, writer, and screenwriter who was known for his complex, crime-related plots. Two of his plays have become classics: the thriller Dial M for Murder and the suspenseful Wait Until Dark. Both have been adapted for film.
1916 – Jack Vance, U.S. author of science fiction, fantasy, and mystery novels; he has also been published under the names John Holbrook Vance, Ellery Queen, Alan Wade, Peter Held, John van See, and Jay Kavanse; honors include multiple Hugo Awards, the World Fantasy Award, and designation by the Society of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers (SFWA) as a Grand Master.
1917 – Matt Christopher, prolific U.S. children’s writer, author, and short-story writer; much of his writing centers around sports.
1917 – Jack Kirby (born Jacob Kurtzberg), U.S. comic-book artist, writer, and editor who co-created the Captain America character and was one of the major innovators and most influential creators in comic books.
1920 – Giorgio Bocca, Italian writer, journalist, essayist, and politician.
1923 – William Modisane (better known as Bloke Modisane), South African writer, autobiographer, jazz critic, journalist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and actor.
1923 – Fernando Rielo Pardal, Spanish author philosopher, mystical poet, and metaphysician.
1924 – Janet Frame (real name Nene Janet Paterson Clutha), award-winning New Zealand writer who wrote novels, short stories, poetry, juvenile fiction, and an autobiography. Following years of psychiatric hospitalization, she was scheduled for a lobotomy that was cancelled when her debut publication of short stories won a national literary prize, a few days before the procedure; many of her novels and short stories explore her mental-health journey from a fictional perspective, and her award-winning three-volume autobiography was adapted into the film, An Angel at My Table, directed by Jane Campion
1924 – Ferdinand Nicolas “F.J.” Monjo, National Book Award-winning U.S. author of children’s books.
1925 – Francis Ebejer, award-winning Maltese novelist and dramatist whose plays experimented with language, forms, and themes.
1925 – Yury Valentinovich Trifonov, Russian writer who was a leading representative of the so-called Soviet “Urban Prose”; he was considered a close contender for the 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature.
1929 – Purushottama Lal (commonly known as P. Lal), Indian poet, essayist, translator, professor, and publisher.
1930 – Hugo Tolentino Dipp, Dominican historian, writer, politician, lawyer, and educator.
1930 – Kyoko Hayashi, award-winning Japanese short-story author and novelist who based many of her writing on her experiences in Nagasake when it was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945; she was seriously ill for two months after the attack, and suffered afterwards from fragile health.
1932 – Ram Sarup Ankhi, award-winning Indian Punjabi writer, novelist, and poet.
1934 – Tagu Meburishvili, Georgian poet, children’s writer, editor, and translator.
1937 – Allen Say, Japanese-born U.S. children’s author and illustrator, best know for his Caldecott award-winning picture book, Grandfather’s Journey.
1939 – Ari Jósefsson, Icelandic poet who published only one book of poetry before drowning at the age of 24 when he fell overboard from a ship on his way home after completing his studies in Bucharest.
1942 – Ali Podrimja, Albanian poet, writer, journalist, and literary editor.
1944 – Judit Vihar, Hungarian literary historian, Japanologist, haiku poet, translator, and professor who is active in relations between Japan and Hungary.
1948 – Vonda McIntyre, U.S. science-fiction author who has written in both the Star Wars and Star Trek universes and who won a Nebula Award for her novel The Moon and the Sun.
1949 – Yolande Villemaire, award-winning Canadian novelist, short-story writer, poet, and professor.
1951 – Barbara Hambly, award-winning U.S. novelist and screenwriter who writes fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction. She has written a bestselling mystery series featuring a free man of color in antebellum New Orleans, and also a novel about Mary Todd Lincoln; some of her science-fiction novels are set in previously existing settings (notably for Star Trek and Star Wars).
1952 – Rita Dove, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet, author, and professor who was U.S. Poet Laureate.
1956 – Cindy Kristin Haug, Norwegian writer, poet, and children’s author; she wrote in many different genres and experimented with a mix of styles.
1956 – Hossein Panahi (full name Hossein Panahi Dezhkooh), Iranian poet, screenwriter, writer, playwright, film director, and actor.
1957 – Ai Weiwei, Chinese artist, architect, critic, activist, writer, and blogger.
1958 – Erwin Raphael McManus, Salvadorean-U.S. church leader, lecturer, and author on spiritual topics.
1961 – Brian Pinkney, U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books; his mother, Gloria Jean Pinkney, was a children’s book writer, and his father, Jerry Pinkney, is a children’s book illustrator.
1962 – Melissa Anne Rosenberg, Emmy Award-nominated U.S. screenwriter who has won two Writers Guild of America Awards and a Peabody Award.
1973 – Maria Barnas, Dutch writer, poet, novelist, essayist, columnist, artist, sculptor, and literary critic; in both her visual work and her written work, she focuses on how description shapes and distorts reality.