1574 – Claudio Achillini, Italian poet, writer, professor, and jurist.
1587 – Francesca Caccini, Italian writer, composer, poet, singer, musician, music teacher, and lute player of the early Baroque era; she was also known by the nickname “La Cecchina.” Her only surviving stage work, La Liberazione di Ruggiero, is widely considered the oldest opera by a woman composer.
1709 – Samuel Johnson, English author who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer and who has been called, “arguably the most distinguished man of letters in English history.”
1795 – Kondraty Fyodorovich Ryleyev (also spelled Kondraty Feodorovich Ryleev), Russian poet, writer, editor, and publisher who was a leader of the Decembrist Revolt of 1925; he first gained recognition in literary circles for penning a satirical ode, To the Favorite, addressing an unpopular Tsarist official.
1829 – Edna Dean Proctor, U.S. poet who also wrote sketches and short stories; she was known primarily as a master of pathos; her patriotic poems and battle songs were popular among Union soldiers during the Civil War.
1832 – Tomás Martín Feuillet, Panamanian writer and poet of the Romantic movement.
1845 – Rafael Hertzberg, Finnish and Swedish writer, poet, literary critic, theater critic, art critic, newspaper editor, translator, historian, lyrist, songwriter, businessperson, inventor, and publicist; he is well known for his translations of Finnish folk songs and for translating Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House into Swedish. He also designed a typewriter that was manufactured and marketed by Husqvarna under the trade name Sampo.
1850 – Mikelis Krogzemis (better known under his pen name Auseklis), Latvian poet, translator, and journalist who was a prominent member of the Young Latvians movement of nationalistic Latvian intellectuals.
1854 – Eufemia von Adlersfeld-Ballestrem, German novelist who was one of the few female writers in 19th century Germany who did not use a pseudonym.
1864 – Itō Sachio (pen name of Ito Kojiro), Japanese writer, poet, literary critic, novelist, and tanka poet.
1868 – Kodungallur Kunjikkuttan Thampuran (born Rama Varma, and commonly known as Kerala Vyasa, which means Vyasa, or “revered sage,” of Kerala), Indian Malayalam poet and Sanskrit scholar; he is famous for his singlehanded, word-by-word translation of the entire Mahabharata within 874 days. The Mahābhārata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India; it narrates the struggle between two groups of cousins in the Kurukshetra War.
1869 – Jagadananda Roy, eminent Indian Bengali author of popular science articles and science-fiction books and short stories; most of his fiction was written for teens.
1893 – William March, U.S. author and U.S. Marine who was known for his novel Company K.
1898 – Paul Vialar, French writer, poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, lyricist, and children’s writer.
1905 – Agnes George de Mille, important U.S. choreographer, dancer, author, biographer, and autobiographer; one of her most groundbreaking works was Black Ritual or Obeah, which she choreographed for the American Ballet Theatre; performed by 16 Black female dancers, it was the first representation of black dancers in a New York ballet performance of a dominantly white company. But she is better known for Rodeo, whose score was by Aaron Copland. De Mille revolutionized musical theatre by creating choreography that not only conveyed emotions but also enhanced plot through an awareness of acting, not just of physical technique. She is also known for her books, including, among others, a memoir and a biography of choreographer Martha Graham. She is the niece of acclaimed film director Cecil B. DeMille.
1908 – Virginia Brindis de Salas, Uruguayan poet and writer; the country’s leading Black woman poet, she is also considered the most militant among Afro-Uruguayan writers. Her poetry addresses the social reality of Black Uruguayans.
1912 – María de la Cruz Toledo, Chilean writer, journalist, political commentator, politician, political commentator, and activist for women’s suffrage who became the first woman ever elected to the Chilean Senate.
1916 – Mercedes Salisachs, award-winning Spanish Catalan writer and novelist who began writing as a teenager and published her final novel at the age of 97.
1920 – Doris Mühringer, award-winning Austrian poet, literary editor, short-story author, and children’s writer who is considered a major Austrian poet.
1921 – Maria Judite de Carvalho, Portuguese novelist, short-story writer, poet, and playwright.
1925 – Connie Frazer, U.K.-born Australian poet, writer, feminist, and anti-war activist.
1927 – Noel Perrin, U.S. columnist, rural essayist, and professor whose interests included poetry, children’s literature, farming, and the environment.
1933 – Sir Christopher Bruce Ricks, British literary critic and scholar whose books include Dylan’s Visions of Sin, Milton’s Grand Style, and Tennyson.
1934 – Richard Kluger, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. journalist and author who writes on society, politics, and history.
1935 – Govindaray H. Nayak, award-winning Indian Kannada poet, writer, and professor.
1938 – Olga Nolla (full name Olga Nolla Ramírez de Arellano), Puerto Rican poet, writer, journalist, and professor.
1941 – Michael Hartnett, Irish poet and translator who wrote in both English and Irish; he was one of the most significant voices in late 20th-century Irish writing and has been called “Munster’s de facto poet laureate.”
1945 – Francine Caron, prolific, award-winning French poet, writer, translator, and founder and editor of a quarterly poetry journal.
1947 – Drew Gilpin Faust, U.S. historian and first female president of Harvard; her books have been finalists for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. She has been ranked by Forbes as the 33rd most powerful woman in the world.
1948 – Lynn Abbey, U.S. fantasy novelist, short-story writer, and computer programmer who is best known for her bestselling “Thieves’ World” fantasy adventure series.
1949 – Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ (born Lệ Thủy, Quảng Bình), award-winning Vietnamese poet.
1950 – Anna Deavere Smith, U.S. playwright, professor, and actor.
1954 – Einar Már Guðmundsson, award-winning Icelandic author of novels, short stories, and poetry; his novel Englar alheimsins (Angels of the Universe) has been adapted as a film.
1954 – Steven Pinker, Canadian-born experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, linguist, and author of popular science books such as The Language Instinct and The Better Angels of Our Nature.
1956 – Christopher Lynn Hedges, award-winning U.S. journalist, author, and war correspondent.
1957 – Heinrich Stephen Samuel Willemse, South African literary critic, author, editor, professor, and anti-apartheid activist.
1959 – Maria João Mira, Portuguese screenwriter who has authored many successful telenovelas.
1968 – Kim Thúy, award-winning Vietnamese-born writer, lawyer, and restaurateur who fled Vietnam with her family as a child after the fall of Saigon, joining more than one million Vietnamese boat people and spending months at a refugee camp in Malaysia before emigrating to Canada.
1970 – Abdul Rahman Yusuf, Egyptian poet whose work focuses on issues facing Arab nations as well as the aesthetics of Arabic poetry.
1986 – Hayati Çitaklar, Turkish playwright, director, novelist, editor, poet, and actor.
1992 – Jidanun Lueangpiansamut, award-winning Thai author of fantasy stories and yaoi novels (in Asia, yaoi refers to manga that features sexual romance between men, specifically as created by and for women).