1750 – Robert Fergusson, Scottish poet and librettist who died at age 24 but whose career was influential, especially through his impact on poet Robert Burns; he is acclaimed for his vivid and masterly writing.
1764 – Henriette Herz, German writer and translator who was known for holding famous literary salons for prominent intellectuals of the day.
1896 – Heimito von Doderer, five-time Nobel Prize-nominated Austrian novelist and screenwriter.
1899 – Mary Helen Creighton, Canadian writer and folklorist who collected more than 4,000 traditional songs, stories, and beliefs and published many books and articles on Nova Scotia folk songs and folklore.
1905 – Arthur Koestler, Hungarian-born novelist, biographer, memoirist, essayist, and journalist, famous for his anti-totalitarian novel Darkness at Noon.
1913 – Topazia Alliata, Italian painter, curator, art dealer, and writer.
1915 – Astrid Hjertenæs Andersen, Norwegian poet, journalist, and travel writer; her poetry was modernist, but with a clear connection to the symbolism of the past, and were often inspired by music and visual art.
1916 – Frank Yerby, U.S. African-American, Seminole, and Scots-Irish poet, professor, and bestselling historical novelist, especially known for romances set in the antebellum southern U.S. that depicted slavery in a realistic way; he referred to himself as “a young man whose list of ancestors read like a mini-United Nations.”
1925 – Mária Földes, Romanian-Hungarian writer, playwright, and memoirist; after surviving several Nazi concentration camps during World War II, including Auschwitz, she returned to Romania, where she studied drama and theater arts and wrote several plays in Hungarian. She is also known for her memoir, The Stroll, published in Hungarian and in Hebrew; it was adapted as a one-woman play by the same name.
1925 – Justin Kaplan, U.S. biographer who won the Pulitzer Prize and two National Book Awards; he was also the general editor of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.
1927 – Joy Jobbins, Australian writer, memoirist, screenwriter, advertising specialist, and magazine publisher.
1931 – Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, Malaysian writer, historian, philosopher, and university teacher who is one of the few contemporary scholars who is thoroughly rooted in the traditional Islamic sciences and who is equally competent in theology, philosophy, metaphysics, history, and literature.
1933 – Lin Wenyue, Chinese scholar, writer, and translator.
1935 – Ward Just, U.S. journalist and author who wrote several novels about the Vietnam War.
1936 – Joan Givner, British essayist, biographer, and novelist, known for her biographies of women, short stories, and the Ellen Fremendon series of novels for younger readers.
1936 – Jonathan Kozol, U.S. nonfiction writer, educator, and activist, best known for his books on public education in the United States.
1937 – Muhammad Mansha Yaad, award-winning Pakistani novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and playwright who wrote in Urdu and Punjabi.
1941 – Rachid Boudjedra, award-winning Algerian writer, poet, screenwriter, and journalist who writes in both French and Arabic; he has routinely been called the greatest living North African writer.
1941 – Jairo Aníbal Niño, Colombian playwright, short-story writer, children’s author, poet, and artist who was director of the National Library of Colombia; he is best known for his contributions to children’s literature.
1942 – Werner Herzog, German film director, screenwriter, and author who is considered a figure of the New German Cinema; his work often features ambitious protagonists with impossible dreams, people with unique talents in obscure fields, or individuals who are in conflict with nature.
1943 – Sam Hamill, award-winning U.S. poet who co-founded Copper Canyon Press.
1944 – Dario Bellezza, award-winning Italian poet, author, playwright, and translator.
1946 – Lily Brett (born Lilijahne Brajtsztajn), Australian novelist, essayist, pop music journalist, poet, and nonfiction writer who was born in a displaced persons camp in Bavaria to parents who survived the Holocaust.
1948 – Jasminka Domaš, prolific Croatian Jewish writer, journalist, and scientist who is an expert in biblical and modern Judaism, and specializes in such issues as national minorities and interfaith relations.
1948 – Lydie Salvayre (born Lydie Arjona), award-winning French writer, playwright, and psychiatrist.
1948 – Murasaki Yamada (born Mitsuko Shiratori), Japanese feminist essayist, manga artist, writer, and poet.
1950 – Scarlet Moon de Chevalier, Brazilian writer, journalist, and actress.
1950 – Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Irish novelist and politician who has served in a wide range of positions, including European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Minister for Justice, and Minister for Tourism, Transport and Communications.
1950 – Cathy Guisewite, U.S. cartoonist and writer who created the popular, long-running comic strip Cathy, which focused on a career woman facing the issues and challenges of eating, work, relationships, and having a mother—or as the character put it in one strip, “the four basic guilt groups.”
1951 – Kauraka Kauraka, Cook Islands, New Zealand, writer and poet.
1952 – Paul Fleischman, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. children’s author and poet whose books are inspired, in part, by folklore and music and are characterized by multiple points of view. The importance of history, community, art, and imagination are frequent themes in his work.
1955 – Anibal João da Silva Melo, Angolan writer, journalist, poet, short-story writer, and politician.
1964 – Anna Fiske, Norwegian writer, illustrator, children’s writer, comics artist, and cartoonist.
1964 – Triyanto Triwikromo, award-winning Indonesian author, journalist, poet, and short-story writer.
1966 – Mariusz Szczygiel, award-winning Polish journalist, author, and writer.
1967 – Kavita Mahajan, award-winning Indian novelist, nonfiction author, and translator who wrote in Marathi.
1968 – Yuriy (Yuras) Uladzimiravich Kur’yanovich, Belarusian writer, popular science author, biographer, translator, historian, and artist.
1969 – Deeba Salim Irfan, Indian-born United Arab Emirates author, poet, and entrepreneur.
1972 – Albert Tam, award-winning Hong Kong writer, young-adult author, and science-fiction author who writes in Chinese.
1976 – Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder, Israeli-Arab sociologist, anthropologist, author, and feminist activist with a specialty in gender studies; she is the first Bedouin woman in Israel to receive a doctorate.
1976 – Jeff Rivera, award-winning U.S. novelist who writes books targeted at young adults. His novel Forever My Lady, about a Latino juvenile delinquent who transforms his life in prison boot camp in order to win back the love of the girl he lost, was originally self-published, before it was picked up by Warner Books; one reviewer called it “a terrific character driven redemption tale.”
1979 – Emelie Schepp, bestselling Swedish crime novelist whose books focus on public prosecutor Jana Berzelius.
1983 – Fatih Takmakli, Turkish author, poet, and photographer; many of his books are about ships.
1985 – Relebogile Mabotja, South African actress, writer, presenter, radio host, singer, producer, and musical director.