1434 – Janus Pannonius, Croatian-Hungarian poet, writer, diplomat, judge, and Catholic priest who is considered the most significant Renaissance poet in Hungary.
1707 – George-Louis Leclerc (Comte de Buffon), influential and prolific French natural-history writer, naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedia writer; of his 36-volume Histoire naturelle, générale et particulière, it has been said, “Written in a brilliant style, this work was read … by every educated person in Europe.”
1769 – Karoline Pichler (also spelled Caroline Pichler), Austrian historical novelist, writer, composer, salonnière, and literary critic.
1791 – Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (full name Giuseppe Francesco Antonio Maria Gioachino Raimondo Belli), Italian poet and writer,famous for his sonnets in Romanesco, the dialect of Rome.
1807 – Louise Dittmar (full name Johanna Friederieke Louise Dittmar), German author, editor, and feminist philosopher who, “in a manner unique for her time repeatedly and brilliantly questioned the notion of ‘natural’ differences between the sexes.”
1826 – Rajnarayan Basu, Indian writer and intellectual of the Bengal Renaissance who was one of the best known prose writers in Bengali in the nineteenth century; he was given the title, “Grandfather of Indian Nationalism.”
1831 – Victorien Sardou, French writer, playwright, dramaturge, and librettist; several of his plays were made into popular 19th-century operas such as La Tosca, on which Giacomo Puccini’s opera Tosca is based.
1866 – Tristan Bernard, French writer, lawyer, playwright, poet, journalist, novelist, and lawyer.
1869 – Benjamin Johannes “Ben” Viljoen, South African farmer, soldier, Boer general, and memoirist who was born in a cave, where his family was living while their farm house was being constructed.
1876 – C.J. Dennis (full name Clarence Michael James Stanislaus Dennis), Australian poet known for his humorous poems, especially “The Songs of a Sentimental Bloke”; he has been called, “the Australian Robert Burns.”
1883 – Walter Oliver, Australian-born New Zealand naturalist, science writer, museum curator, botanist, ornithologist, and malacologist (mollusk expert) whose work includes a seminal ornithological guide, New Zealand Birds.
1885 – Elinor Wylie, U.S. poet, novelist, and editor whose poems were noted for being melodious, sensuous, articulate, and highly polished, and show the influence of both the metaphysical poets and the British Romantics.
1887 – Edith Sitwell, award-winning English poet whose work was praised for its solid technique and painstaking craftsmanship; she also wrote biographies of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria.
1889 – Elmer Hader, Caldecott Medal-winning U.S. author and illustrator whose most acclaimed book, created with his wife Berta, was the children’s picture book The Big Snow; he died on this day in 1973, his 84th birthday.
1895 – Jacques Vaché, French writer and poet who was one of the chief inspirations behind the Surrealist movement.
1900 – Taylor Caldwell, prolific and bestselling English-born U.S. novelist known for her intricately plotted and suspenseful stories of historical fiction, whose themes included family tensions, the immigrant experience of rags to riches, and the conflict between the desire for money and power and the longing for love and family.
1903 – Margaret Landon, bestselling U.S. author whose novel Anna and the King of Siam was adapted for stage and film many times, most famously by Rodgers and Hammerstein into the musical The King and I; Landon’s book is based on the true story of Anna Leonowens, the late-19th century governess to the Siamese royal family, but also drew heavily on Landon’s own experiences running a mission school in Siam (now Thailand).
1904 – C.B. (Carroll Burleigh) Colby, prolific U.S. writer of nonfiction books for children.
1905 – Kathleen Hazel Coburn, Canadian academic, writer, essayist, literary researcher, and leading authority on the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge; she discovered an extensive archive of documents written by Coleridge, and edited and published his personal notebooks.
1909 – Elia Kazan (born Elias Kazantzoglou), Constantinople-born Greek and U.S. screenwriter, film and theatre director and producer, actor, described by The New York Times as “one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history.”
1913 – Alexander Yakovlevich Lerner, Russian scientist, engineer, and mathematician who researched and wrote about the field of cybernetics. He was the first prominent Soviet scientist to seek to emigrate to Israel, but his request was denied, resulting in a loss of his positions and privileges; years later, he was finally granted permission to relocate.
1919 – Louise Bennett-Coverley, Jamaican author, poet, folklorist, singer, actress, television presenter, radio personality, and teacher who worked to preserve the practice of presenting poetry, folk songs, and stories in patois, establishing the validity of local languages for literary expression.
1921 – Madhav Vittal Kamath, Indian journalist, editor, biographer, and broadcasting executive.
1923 – Nancy Keesing, Jewish Australian poet, writer, editor, and promoter of Australian literature.
1924 – Wanda Cowley, New Zealand children’s writer.
1925 – Bhanumathi Ramakrishna, Indian author, songwriter, actress, film director, music director, singer, and producer who is widely known as the first female super star of Telugu cinema and the South Indian film Industry; she is also known for her works in Tamil cinema.
1925 – Khin Hnin Yu, prolific Burmese novelist known for her realistic portrayal of life in Burma (now Myanmar); many of her books involve young heroines struggling to survive.
1927 – Eric Hill, British author and illustrator of children’s books, especially his “Spot the Dog” series; he started writing about Spot for his own son, and devised a new kind of book design, in which Spot was hidden behind little flaps that children could lift to see the dog.
1932 – Malcolm Bradbury, British author, literary critic, biographer, television writer, and academic who is remembered mostly for his novels.
1934 – Sunil Gangopadhyay (also known as Sunil Ganguly), Indian poet, novelist, and children’s writer in the Bengali language.
1941 – Surendra Verma, award-winning Indian Hindi novelist, playwright, satirist, and short-story writer.
1944 – Martin Booth, British poet, novelist, biographer, teacher, screenwriter, and children’s book writer.
1944 – Houshang Moradi Kermani, Iranian novelist, young-adult author, short-story writer, and screenwriter.
1946 – J.J. Benítez, Spanish journalist, writer, science-fiction author, and ufologist.
1946 – Joe Klein, U.S. journalist, columnist, political commentator, and author of bestselling novel Primary Colors, a thinly fictionalized story about the first Clinton presidential campaign that was first published anonymously.
1950 – Peggy Noonan, U.S. political author, columnist, and presidential speechwriter who was also a consultant on the television series, The West Wing; while writing speeches for president Vice President and then President George H. W. Bush, she coined three phrases that became catchphrases: “A kinder, gentler nation,” “A thousand points of light,” and “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
1959 – Vuong Trung Hieu, Vietnamese novelist, anthologist, journalist, translator, and interdisciplinary scholar; many of his works are published under the pseudonym Thoai Son.
1959 – Rona Munro, Scottish writer, playwright, screenwriter, and radio scriptwriter.
1960 – Michelle Paver, award-winning British novelist and children’s writer, probably best known for the fantasy series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.
1961 – Lois-Ann Yamanaka, U.S. poet and novelist who has written much of her literary work in Hawaiian Pidgin; her writing sometimes dealt with controversial ethnic issues, sometimes touching on themes of Asian-American families and the local Hawaiian culture.
1962 – Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. modernist and post-modernist short-story writer and novelist who is best known for the book A Visit From the Goon Squad, which straddles the distinction between a novel and a collection of short stories.
1964 – María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Ecuadorian poet, essayist, politician, and diplomat who was the president of the United Nations General Assembly.
1972 – David Levithan, U.S. young-adult fiction editor and award-winning author.
1977 – Nalini Singh, New Zealand author of paranormal romance novels.
1979 – Claudia Ulloa Donoso, Peruvian short-story writer, blogger, and teacher who was considered one of the most promising young writers in Latin America, but is now based in Norway.
1981 – Ibrahim Halil Baran, Turkish Kurdish poet, writer, editor, and designer.