1756 – Benedikt Naubert (born Christiana Benedicta Hebenstreit), prolific German writer who published more than 50 historical novels; she is considered a pioneer of the genre. All but her final book were published under pseudonyms, including Verfasser des Walther von Montbarry, Verfasser der Alme, Verfasserin des Walther von Montbarry, and Fontanges. Her works were widely praised when people thought they were written by a man, but criticized after her identity was revealed.
1761 – Santo Kyoden, Japanese poet, writer, essayist, and artist; his real name was Iwase Samuru, but he was also known popularly as Kyoya Denzo.
1792 – Gino Capponi, Italian politician, historian, and writer who founded a literary journal; he is best known for his book Storia della Repubblica di Firenze, which was the first comprehensive Italian book on the subject.
1801 – Stefan Witwicki, Polish poet, prose writer, and lyricist of the Romantic period; he was a friend of composer Frédéric Chopin, who dedicated his Mazurkas, Op. 41, to him, and who set ten of his texts to music.
1803 – Maurycy Mochnacki, Polish literary, theatre, and music critic who was also a publicist, journalist, pianist, historian, activist, and one of the main theorists of Polish Romanticism; he joined the November Uprising in 1830, taking part in several battles and being decorated with Poland’s highest military honor.
1813 – Valérie Boissier (comtesse de Gasparin), award-winning Swiss woman of letters who was a prolific writer on religion, social topics, and travel, and a spokeswoman on topics such as freedom, equality, and creativity.
1830 – Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Austrian countess, novelist, and playwright who is known for her psychological novels and is considered one of the most important German-language writers of the late 19th century.
1848 – Diane de Guldencrone (née Gobineau), French writer and historian who wrote books on the history of Medieval Greece and of Byzantine Italy.
1860 – John J. Pershing, U.S. Army general and Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographer.
1867 – Helene Migerka, Austrian poet, novelist, and feminist.
1873 – Israel Isidor Elyashev, Lithuanian-born Jewish neurologist who was the first Yiddish literary critic; he is best known for introducing the world to the works of the great contemporary Yiddish classical writers.
1876 – Sherwood Anderson, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, poet, and memoirist who was one of the first American novelists to introduce new insights from Freudian psychology, and who influenced Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Wolfe.
1883 – Avraham Ben-Yitzhak, Polish-born Israeli poet who has been called “the great poet of silence”; he wrote in Hebrew and was a friend of writer James Joyce.
1885 – Aquilino Gomes Ribeiro, Nobel Prize-nominated Portuguese writer and diplomat who is considered to be one of the great Portuguese novelists of the 20th century.
1886 – Ellen Dahl, Danish writer and philanthropist who was the younger sister of author Karen Blixen (Blixen is better known by her pseudonym, Isak Dinesen).
1886 – Alain Leroy Locke, U.S. writer, philosopher, essayist, educator, and anthologist who was Alain Leroy Locke was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts who was the first African-American Rhodes Scholar and the “Dean of the Harlem Renaissance.”
1889 – Pierre Reverdy, French poet whose works were inspired by and influenced the art movements of Surrealism, Dadaism, and Cubism; he wrote that in his work, he sought “the sublime simplicity of reality.”
1894 – J.B. Priestly, English novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and social commentator; in 1940 he broadcast a series of short propaganda radio talks that helped strengthen civilian morale during the Battle of Britain.
1903 – Amado Vera Hernandez (known as Amado V. Hernandez), Filipino writer, journalist, and labor leader who was known for his criticism of social injustices in the Philippines and was later imprisoned for his involvement in the communist movement.
1904 – Syed Mujtaba Ali, Indian, Pakistani, and Bengladeshi author, journalist, essayist, travel writer, short-story writer, academic, and linguist; he knew fourteen languages but is best remembered for his contributions to Bengali literature.
1912 – Renée Brock, award-winning Belgian poet and short-story writer who took part in the Resistance during the German occupation of Belgium.
1916 – Roald Dahl, Welsh-born fighter pilot, historian of chocolate, medical inventor, screenwriter, and beloved writer of fiction for children and adults; he has been called “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century” and is best known as the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and other children’s classics.
1917 – Carol Kendall, Newbery Honor-winning U.S. children’s author, best known for her fantasy books.
1919 – Mary Beatrice Midgley (née Scrutton), British philosopher, author, autobiographer, and lecturer who was known for her work on science, ethics, and animal rights.
1920 – Else Minarik, Danish and U.S. author of the Little Bear series of children’s books, most of which were illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
1923 – Natália de Oliveira Correia, Portuguese writer, poet, politician, journalist, essayist, and social activist.
1923 – Sharif Hatata, Egyptian doctor, novelist, and communist activist.
1925 – Verna Susannah Coleman (née Scott), Australian writer, biographer, and librarian whose work focused on controversial literary and political figures.
1927 – Samira Azzam, Palestinian writer, broadcaster, and translator who is known for her collections of short stories, which explore Palestinian identity, women’s roles, and other Palestinian social structures.
1931 – Adrienne Kennedy, influential, award-winning U.S. African-American playwright known for her surrealistic, lyrical plays that explore the violence of racism and express poetic alienation.
1942 – Joy Williams (born Eileen Williams, and also known as Joyce Riley Williams, Joy Williams Wiradjuri, and Janaka Wiradjuri), Aboriginal Australian poet and writer.
1943 – Mildred D. Taylor, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. African-American author most famous for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry; her work is based in part on oral history recounted by her father, and explores themes of family and racism in the southern U.S.
1951 – Mira Widjaja Wong, popular Indonesian author and screenwriter who is also a medical doctor; she is often referred to simply as Mira W.
1955 – Hiromi Ito, prominent, award-winning Japanese novella writer, poet, essayist, and professor; common themes in her work are motherhood, women’s sexuality, and shamanism.
1961 – Tom Holt (Thomas Charles Louis Holt), British novelist who is known for historical novels written under his own name and fantasy written under the pseudonym K. J. Parker; much of his work parodies mythology, history, or literature, including a satirical autobiography of Margaret Thatcher, coauthored with Steve Nallon.
1967 – E. Lockhart, pen name of Emily Jenkins, U.S. writer of children’s picture books, young-adult novels, and adult fiction.
1980 – Scofray Nana Yaw Yeboah, Ghanaian author, columnist, speaker, and media analyst.