1546 – Cyriakus Schneegass, German writer, composer, poet, music theorist, theologian, and hymnwriter.
1674 – Nicolas Lenglet Du Fresnoy, French writer, scholar, historian, translator, geographer, philosopher, encyclopedist, and bibliographer of alchemy.
1703 – Jonathan Edwards, U.S. theologian, educator, philosopher, scholar, and journalist whose writings helped shape the course of Protestantism; he is best known for his sermon about “sinners in the hands of an angry God.”
1713 – Denis Diderot, French philosopher, art critic, encyclopedia editor, and Enlightenment Era writer.
1721 – William Wilkie, Scottish poet, professor, philosopher, and minister who is best known for his Moral Fables in Verse and for The Epigoniad, about the Epigoni, sons of seven heroes who fought against Thebes.
1728 – Chevalier d’Éon (full name Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont), French writer, diplomat, spy, and soldier who fought in the Seven Years’ War; she had androgynous physical characteristics and often presented in public as a man, but successfully infiltrated the court of Empress Elizabeth of Russia by presenting as a woman, and spent her later years identifying as female.
1745 – Barbara Schulthess, Swiss author and salon hostess. Her literary salon came to be regarded as the intellectual center of contemporary Zürich; she was also a friend and correspondent of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
1817 – Catherine Cooper Hopley (also known by her pen name, Sarah L.
Jones), British author, naturalist, herpetologist, artist, and governess known for her books on the American Civil War and her nature books for general audiences, including the first popular book on snakes in the English language.
1840 – John Addington Symonds, British historian and writer.
1840 – Vilhelm Christian Sigurd Topsøe, Danish novelist, short-story writer, and journalist who is remembered in particular for his novels Jason Ned Det Gyldne Skind (Jason and the Golden Fleece) and Nutidsbilleder (Images of Today).
1848 – Catherine Mary MacSorley, Irish writer and children’s book author who specialized in books for girls and books of a religious nature.
1850 – Aline Valette (née Alphonsine Goudeman), French feminist and socialist writer who believed that society should provide support to women engaged in motherhood, the most important of all occupations.
1857 – Smaranda Gheorghiu, Romanian poet, novelist, essayist, nonfiction writer, playwright, educator, feminist, and travel writer; she wrote under various pseudonyms but is perhaps best known under the moniker Maica Smara (Mother Smara). An early Romanian feminist, she wrote both fiction and nonfiction works with a feminist slant, arguing against the prevailing views of the time, which held women to be intellectually inferior to men. For her work as a teacher and her efforts to reform the education system, she is sometimes called ”Educator of the People.”
1859 – Helen Churchill Candee, U.S. novelist, nonfiction author, and journalist who survived the sinking of the Titanic. Her birth year is sometimes listed as 1858.
1862 – Thomas Henry Mahy, Guernsey poet, writer, and columnist.
1865 – Fukuda Hideko, Japanese author, educator, magazine founder, and activist for feminism and socialism. She was a participant in the Osaka Incident of 1885, in which 130 liberal activists were arrested on their way to attempt to incite revolution and liberate Korea.
1880 – Ze’ev Jabotinsky, influential Ukrainian-born writer, screenwriter, poet, translator, local historian, Jewish leader, journalist, orator, activist, military officer, and Jewish leader.
1889 – Teresa de la Parra, award-winning Venezuelan novelist, short story-writer, and lecturer. Her groundbreaking novel Iphigenia: Diary of a Young Lady Who Wrote Because She Was Bored was controversial, because some of the characters in the novel were maliciously close to caricatures of people who were well known in Caracas society; the government of dictator Juan Vicente Gómez would not allow it to be published in Venezuela, but the book was popular in France.
1892 – Richard Leslie Brohier, (commonly known as Dr. R.L. Brohier), Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) surveyor and author of nonfiction books about history, geography, and culture.
1895 – Edith Justine Øberg, Swedish-born Norwegian singer and popular novelist.
1900 – Xie Wanying, prolific Chinese writer; many of her works were written for young readers. She is better known by her pen name, Bing Xin (or Xie Bingxin), which translates literally as, “ice heart” but means “morally pure heart,” and is taken from a line in a Tang Dynasty poem by Wang Changling.
1903 – Yao Kitabatake, award-winning Japanese poet, novelist, and children’s literature writer.
1908 – Priscilla Napier (born Priscilla Hayter), English author who specialized in biographies but also wrote poetry and an autobiography.
1911 – Flann O’Brien, Irish novelist whose work combines folklore, poetry, and humor.
1916 – Stetson Kennedy, U.S. folklorist and author whose most famous work is an expose of the Ku Klux Klan.
1917 – Maria Laura Rocca, Italian author, screenwriter, and actress; she was sometimes credited as Manuela Kent.
1917 – Magda Szabó, Hungarian writer who is considered one of Hungary’s foremost novelists; she also wrote dramas, essays, studies, memoirs, and poetry.
1919 – Charles Bertin, Belgian poet, writer, playwright, lawyer, and trade unionist.
1922 – Bil Keane, U.S. cartoonist who was best known for his long-running comic strip, “The Family Circus.”
1924 – Frederic Morton (pen name Fritz Mandelbaum), Austrian Jewish writer who emigrated to the U.S.
1928 – Louise Fitzhugh, U.S. author and illustrator of children’s literature, notably Harriet the Spy.
1930 – Madhurantakam Rajaram, award-winning Indian author who is one of the foremost modern writers of short stories in the Telugu language.
1931 – Olja Ivanjicki, Serbian writer, poet, architect, painter, and sculptor; her name has also been written as Olga.
1932 – John Arthur Mogale Maimane (better known as Arthur Maimane), South African journalist, writer, editor, novelist, and playwright.
1933 – Ágnes Gergely (born Ágnes Guttmann), award-winning Hungarian writer, poet, novelist, educator, journalist, and translator.
1933 – Zina Mahjoub (literally translated to The Snake), Sudanese poet and songwriter who became the mistress and muse of poet Rashad Hashim, inspiring his famous poem “The One Who Makes The Sun Shine.”
1934 – Oktyabrina Vladimirovna Voronova (née Matryokhina), Russian writer and poet who was the first Soviet poet of Sámi origin and the first person to write a poetry collection in the Sámi language in Russia; she also wrote in Russian.
1936 – Maria Laura Devetach, Argentinian author and poet who specializes in writing for children.
1936 – Václav Havel, Czech playwright who in 1989 became the president of Czechoslovakia, continuing on after the country became the Czech Republic.
1937 – Mohammad Yousf Azraq, Afghani historian and writer who wrote about Afghanistan’s history and as well as cultural and theological works about South Asia and the Middle East.
1939 – Marie-Claire Blais, French-Canadian writer, poet, playwright, novelist, and short-story writer.
1940 – Eldrid Lunden, award-winning Norwegian poet who was Norway’s first professor in creative writing; she belonged to the literary circle surrounding the modernist literary magazine Profil.
1943 – Lani Ka’ahumanu, Canadian and U.S. bisexual and feminist writer, poet, author, editor, and activist who serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Bisexuality and helped found the San Francisco State Women Studies Department. Her article “The Bisexual Movement: Are We Visible Yet?” appeared in the official Civil Disobedience Handbook for the 1987 March On Washington For Gay and Lesbian Rights and was the first article about bisexuals and the emerging bisexual movement to be published in a national lesbian or gay publication. She is the co-editor of the anthology Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out, which is considered one of the seminal books in the history of the modern bisexual rights movement.
1943 – Michael Morpurgo, English author, poet, playwright, and librettist who is best known for his children’s novels; he was a British Children’s Laureate.
1946 – Zahida Hina, noted Pakistani Urdu columnist, essayist, short-story writer, novelist, columnist, television writer, and playwright.
1948 – Zoran Živković, Serbian author and professor who has written both fiction and nonfiction books; his fiction is known for fantasy and surrealism and has won him the World Fantasy Award.
1949 – Bill James, U.S. baseball writer and statistician.
1951 – Bob Geldof, Irish singer-songwriter, author, and political activist who rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band the Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s; he is widely recognized for his activism, especially anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa and his work in the fathers’ rights movement.
1951 – Edward P. Jones, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist, best known for his book The Known World.
1951 – Harriet A. Washington, U.S. writer, academic, and medical ethicist whose best known book is the award-winning Medical Apartheid, which has been described as the only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans.
1952 – Clive Barker, English author known for his fantasy and horror fiction.
1956 – Fahrettin Çiloglu, Turkish writer, poet, journalist, editor, nonfiction author, explorer, opinion journalist, and translator.
1958 – Neil deGrasse Tyson, U.S. astrophysicist, author, science writer, television personality, and science popularizer who has written books about space.
1959 – David Shannon, U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books; his bestselling Caldecott Honor-winning picture book, No, David! was based on one he wrote when he was five years old in which every page showed a picture of him misbehaving and contained the only words he knew how to spell at the time: “No, David!”
1963 – Nick Robinson, British political journalist and editor.
1968 – Ketmani Kouanchao, Laotian-born U.S. writer, columnist, and educator.
1970 – Laura Borràs i Castanyer, Spanish Catalan writer, university teacher, philologist, and politician who writes books and articles on contemporary literature, theatre, and cinema.
1983 – Jesse Eisenberg, U.S. actor and playwright.
1992 – Rupi Kaur, bestselling Canadian poet, writer, illustrator, and performer of Indian descent; her work deals with themes of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.