1682 – Birgitte Christine Kaas Huitfeldt, Norwegian poet, writer, and translator who was best known for her translations of hymns; much of her original work was lost when her house burned down in 1746.
1710 – Françoise-Nicole Hus (née Gravillon), French playwright, writer, and actress.
1718 – Elizabeth Montagu, British writer, essayist, literary critic, social reformer, salonnière, philanthropist, and patron of the arts; she devoted her fortune to fostering English and Scottish literature and to relief for the poor.
1754 – Louis Gabriel Ambroise (Vicomte de Bonald), French writer, essayist, politician, and counter-revolutionary philosopher who is remembered for developing a set of social theories that influenced French sociology.
1755 – Hannah Adams, U.S. author of books on comparative religion and early United States history; she is the first woman in the U.S. known to have worked professionally as a writer, and also wrote an autobiography.
1800 – Lili Parthey (real name Elisabeth Parthey), German author whose vivid diaries are regarded as important historical testimonies of the times.
1808 – Marcos Sastre, Uruguayan-born Argentine writer and journalist who was one of the founders of the Salón Literario, which was the start of the Generation of ’37 literary movement.
1817 – Gunnar Wennerberg, Swedish writer, poet, composer, minister, and politician.
1824 – Amalie Struve (born Amalie Siegrist, also called Amalie Düsar), German author, feminist, and revolutionary who took part in the 1848 March Revolution. During her time in prison for insurrectionist activities, she wrote about French revolutionary hero Manon Roland; she later published a piece based on those sketches. While living abroad after fleeing Germany, she wrote memoirs, as well as novels and articles about topics including women’s rights and education, political uprisings, the Protestant Reformation, and the plight of immigrants.
1840 – Dmitry Pisarev, Russian journalist, writer, essayist, and social and literary critic.
1856 – Ángel Rivero Méndez, Puerto Rican author, journalist, engineer, soldier, and businessman who invented the “Kola Champagne” soft drink.
1857 – Arthur Edward Waite, U.S.-born British poet and scholarly mystic who wrote about the occult and co-created the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.
1866 – Isabelle Kaiser, award-winning Swiss writer and poet who produced works in French and German.
1867 – Božena Slancíková, Slovak novelist, playwright, and short-story writer who also wrote under the pen names Aunt Polichna and Timrava; the latter was taken from the name of a popular small lake with a fountain, where she liked to sit while writing.
1869 – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Indian lawyer, prolific writer, anti-colonial nationalist, activist, and political ethicist who employed nonviolent resistance to gain India’s independence from British rule; in turn, he inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across the world. One of his earliest publications, Hind Swaraj, published in the Gujarati language in 1909, became the intellectual blueprint for India’s independence movement; he also wrote books and essays on topics including politics, religion, vegetarianism, social reforms, and diet and health, and also wrote autobiographical works and edited a newspaper. (He is often referred to as Mahatma Gandhi; Mahatma is an honorific meaning “venerable” or “great-souled.”)
1877 – Toni Rothmund, German writer, biographer, novelist, journalist, and short-story writer.
1879 – Louis Notari, Monégasque writer, poet, and politician who wrote in the French and Monégasque languages. (Monégasque is the native language of Monaco.)
1879 – Wallace Stevens, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. modernist poet, essayist, and playwright who spent most of his career as an insurance executive.
1881 – Antón Villar Ponte, Spanish writer, journalist, and politician who was one of the most important advocates of his time for the autonomy of Galicia.
1886 – Majid Qodiri (Kadyrov), Uzbeki literary scholar, author, publicist, and textbook writer who was the author of the first Uzbek textbooks about literature, history, and mathematics.
1900 – Kim Dong-in, Korean writer who wrote literary short stories that combine exquisite aesthetic sensibilities with succinct prose style, but turned to more lucrative popular serialized historical novels when he needed money.
1900 – Hyun Jin-geon, Korean journalist, literary journal founder, and author of realistic contemporary fiction and historical novels.
1904 – Graham Greene, acclaimed British novelist, playwright, short-story writer, and literary critic.
1905 – Fumiko Enchi (pen name of Fumiko Ueda), award-winning Japanese writer, playwright, and novelist who was one of the most prominent Japanese writers of her time; many of her novels and short stories explored female psychology and sexuality, but the theme of shamanism and spiritual possession also appears repeatedly.
1906 – Willy Ley, German-born science writer, spaceflight advocate, and historian of science who helped popularize rocketry, spaceflight, and natural history.
1909 – Margita Figuli, Czechoslovak writer, poet, translator, and children’s author who is a key representative of the Slovak school of naturalism and often wrote about love, compassion, and social problems.
1909 – Jordán Bruno Genta, Argentine writer and educator who was widely considered the ideologue of the Argentine extreme right wing.
1910 – Yoshimi Takeuchi, Japanese writer, translator, and university teacher whose area of expertise was Chinese Studies.
1910 – Kasymbek Yeshmambetov, award-winning Kyrgyzstani writer, playwright, and translator.
1911 – Jack Finney (real name Walter Braden Finney), U.S. author of science fiction and thrillers, including the The Body Snatchers, on which the movie was based.
1920 – Giuseppe Colombo, Italian writer, astronomer, engineer, mathematician, and astrophysicist who made significant contributions to the study of Mercury and the rings of Saturn.
1923 – Judith Hemmendinger, German-born Israeli researcher and author whose work focuses on child survivors of the Holocaust; she has authored books and papers on the Holocaust experiences and later lives of child survivors.
1923 – Sitor Situmorang, Indonesian poet, essayist, journalist, and short-story writer whose work was deeply influenced by French existentialism of the early 1950s.
1925 – José Cardoso Pires, award-winning Portuguese author of short stories, novels, plays, and political satire; many of his works have been made into films.
1925 – Kim Sok-pom (also spelled Kim Suok-puom), Japanese-born ethnic Korean novelist who writes in Japanese; major themes in his work include imperialism, notions of home, nationalism, identity politics, and state genocide.
1926 – Jan Morris, Welsh historian and travel writer; she is best known for her history of the British empire, the Pax Brittanica trilogy.
1927 – Uta Ranke-Heinemann, German author, theologian, and professor; she is especially known for her book Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, which criticized the Catholic Church’s stance on women and sexuality. In 1999 she was a candidate for President of Germany.
1930 – Mehrdad Bahar, prominent Iranian linguist, mythologist, lexicographer, and Persian historian.
1933 – Enn Nõu, Estonian writer, novelist, short-story author, and physician who was one of the leading organizers of the Estonian exile community in Sweden and was politically active against the Soviet occupation of Estonia; as a writer, he was known for his naturalistic and richly detailed prose.
1933 – Shankar Shesh, award-winning Indian novelist and playwright who wrote in Hindi; one critic said his work brought out “the anomalies and agony of life embedded in social and individual predicaments.”
1935 – Paul Goma, Moldovan-born Romanian novelist, essayist, diarist, and dissident.
1938 – Rex Reed, prominent U.S. film critic, columnist, and television personality.
1939 – Otto R. Salassi, U.S. professor and author of books for young adults; his books were set in the American South.
1939 – Göran Sonnevi, Swedish writer, poet, translator, and linguist.
1941 – Jeanne Betancourt, U.S. television screenwriter and author of children’s books; best known for her “Pony Pals” book series, she is also an accomplished painter.
1941 – Jennifer Owings Dewey, U.S. author and illustrator of natural history books for adults and children.
1943 – Pierre Veilletet, award-winning French journalist, newspaper editor, and novelist who has also helped to launch a magazine about bullfighting.
1943 – Dirk Zimmer, German-born author and illustrator of children’s books, known for his highly detailed etchings and drawings.
1944 – Vernor Vinge, U.S. mathematics, computer scientist, and science-fiction author who has won many Hugo Awards.
1946 – Rosie Swale-Pope, British author, adventurer, and marathon runner who successfully completed a five-year around-the-world run to raise money for charity; she also sailed single-handed across the Atlantic in a small boat, trekked 3,000 miles alone through Chile on horseback, and taken part in many marathons and other athletic events; she has written several books about her experiences and about the places she has traveled to.
1948 – Achmat Dangor, award-winning South African novelist, short-story writer, and poet who also headed up the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
1948 – Mehmet Eroglu, award-winning Turkish novelist whose best known work is Issizligin Ortasinda (In the Midst of Solitude).
1948 – Anna Mitgutsch, Austrian novelist, writer, translator, professor, and literary critic whose fiction deals with individuals who face difficulties in becoming part of a society that is indifferent or antagonistic to them; her work also explores the connections between the present and the past.
1959 – Bruce Balan, U.S. children’s book writer, technical writer, and multimedia script writer.
1959 – Isabelle Jarry, French writer, essayist, memoirist, biographer, and children’s author.
1959 – Thierry Laget, award-winning French novelist, essayist, literary critic, and translator.
1959 – Sharon Rotbard, award-winning Israeli architect, writer, historian, author, publisher, and educator.
1960 – Orlaith Carmody, Irish nonfiction author, news reporter, and businesswoman.
1960 – Joe Sacco, Maltese-born U.S. cartoonist and journalist.
1960 – Veena Verma, Indian Punjabi-language poet and short-story writer who is now based in the U.K.; she writes mostly about the problems of Asian women. Some of her work has been adapted for television and the stage.
1962 – Trần Vũ, Vietnamese short-story author who is now living in France; he arrived in Paris as a teenager via a “boat people” camp in the Philippines.
1976 – Mehdi Mousavi (also known as Mehdi Moosavi and as Seyed Mahdi), Iranian poet, writer, activist, and pharmacist whose poems are on social issues and who is a leading force in postmodern poetry in Iran.