1605 – Charles Coypeau, French burlesque poet and musician who sometimes used the pen name D’Assouci or Dassoucy.
1745 – Olaudah Equiano, African writer, autobiographer, abolitionist, sailor, and merchant who was born in what is now Nigeria, enslaved as a child, and brought to the British West Indies and later to London, where he bought his own freedom and became a leader in the movement to abolish slavery; his autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, which depicts the horrors of slavery, went through nine editions and helped gain passage of the British Slave Trade Act of 1807, which abolished the African slave trade in Britain.
1758 – Noah Webster, U.S. lexicographer, textbook author, English-language spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author who has been called the Father of American Scholarship and Education, and whose name is synonymous with “dictionary.”
1783 – Jeanette Wohl, French writer and editor who was a longtime friend and correspondent of political writer and satirical poet Ludwig Börne; she inherited the rights to his literary works after his death and edited his works.
1803 – James Edward Alexander, Scottish naturalist, writer, memoirist, travel writer, soldier, geographer, and explorer.
1828 – Nikolay Strakhov, Russian writer, philosopher, journalist, translator, literary critic, and literary historian.
1831 – Lucy Stanton, U.S. African-American editor, short-story writer, librarian, lecturer, educator, and abolitionist and feminist writer and activist, notable for being the first African-American woman to complete a four-year course of a study at a college or university and the first African-American woman to publish a work of fiction.
1832 – Guðbergur Bergsson, award-winning Icelandic writer, poet, translator, and linguist.
1938 – Jorma Ojaharju, Finnish author who was described as a “boxer of rough prose” because of his background as a sailor and a boxer, but also because of his relaxed narrative; he is best known for his Vaasa-trilogy, which depicts history from the Finnish Civil War to the present day through the eyes of sailors; in his writing, he strove for a realistic narrative, but also left room for fantasy and myth, and has been compared with Columbian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.
1939 – Vera Feyder, award-winning Belgian writer, poet, and comedian living in France.
1942 – Flora Aurima-Devatine (born Flora Aurima), Tahitian writer and educator who publishes as Flora Devatine and has served as State Commissioner for Women’s Issues.
1843 – Arnold Dodel-Port, Swiss botanist, writer, socialist thinker, and professor who maintained correspondence with Charles Darwin and published works to further the cause of Darwinian evolution.
1943 – Paul Edwin Zimmer, U.S. poet, fantasy author, and accomplished swordsman who was a founding member of the Society for Creative Anachronism; his sister Marion Zimmer Bradley was a famed science-fiction and fantasy author.
1845 – Thomas Plantagenet Bigg-Wither, English engineer, author, and travel writer, best known for his works about Brazil.
1849 – George Washington Williams, U.S. historian, political activist, newspaper editor, and clergyman who was the first African-American to graduate from the Newton Theological Institution in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the first to serve in the Ohio State Legislature; his groundbreaking books include The History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880: Negroes as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens — which is considered to be the first overall history of African-Americans — and A History of Negro Troops in the War of Rebellion.
1854 – Oscar Wilde, Irish writer, playwright, and poet, well known for the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, for the play The Importance of Being Earnest, and for his witticisms.
1859 – Daisy Bates, Irish-Australian author, journalist, welfare worker, and anthropologist who wrote about Australian Aboriginal culture and society; some Aboriginal people referred to her by the courtesy name Kabbarli, or “grandmother.”
1864 – Vilhelm Rasmus Andreas Andersen, Danish author, literary historian, and intellectual who primarily focused on the study of Danish literature, and who was one of the first to use the term “Golden Age of Culture” to refer to the 1800s; his focus on bringing Danish literature to the public earned him great popularity.
1869 – Claude H. Van Tyne, U.S. historian and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his book The War of Independence.
1870 – Helge Rode, Danish writer, poet, playwright, journalist, and literary critic.
1885 – Isaac Dov Berkowitz, Belarusian-born Israeli author, journalist, and translator.
1885 – Mihail Sorbul (pen name of Mihail Smolsky), award-winning Romanian playwright, novelist, and magazine publisher.
1888 – Eugene O’Neill, Pulitzer Prize-winning and Nobel Prize-winning U.S. playwright who is remembered “for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy.”
1895 – Guadalupe “Lupe” Marín (born María Guadalupe Marín Preciado), Mexican novelist and model; her semi-autobiographical novel La Única (The Unique Woman) was banned in Mexico for many years because it was considered too erotic.
1902 – Fani Popova-Mutafova, Bulgarian author and translator who was arguably the bestselling Bulgarian historical-fiction author ever.
1903 – Cecile de Brunhoff, French storyteller who created the character of Babar the elephant as a bedtime story for her children; the boys liked the story of the little elephant who left the jungle for a city resembling Paris so much that they took it to their father Jean de Brunhoff, a painter, and asked him to illustrate it, and a classic picture book was born. She had her own name taken off the credits out of modesty, because she felt his husband’s contribution of the drawings was more important. He went on to write and illustrate six more Babar books.
1906 – Dino Buzzati, award-winning Italian screenwriter, writer, poet, playwright, comics artist, painter, journalist, children’s writer, novelist, librettist, short-story writer, and science-fiction writer. The Tartar Steppe, his most famous novel, tells the story of a military outpost that awaits a Tartar invasion, and has been compared to existentialist works, notably Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus. His writing is sometimes described as magical realism, with themes of social alienation and the fate of the environment and of fantasy in the face of unbridled technological progress.
1908 – Olivia Coolidge, award-winning British-born U.S. author of children’s history books and biographies.
1909 – Mohamed Fadhel Ben Achour, Tunisian theologian, writer, trade unionist, and intellectual.
1912 – Karl Ristikivi , Estonian writer, poet, and geographer who was one of the leading Estonian authors of historical novels.
1916 – George Turner, Australian science-fiction writer.
1919 – Kathleen Winsor, U.S. romance author who is best known for her novel Forever Amber.
1927 – Günter Grass, Nobel Prize-winning German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, and sculptor whose “frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten side of history.”
1928 – Mary Daly, controversial U.S. radical feminist author, philosopher, theologian, and professor who is best known for her book Beyond God the Father, which is her attempt to explain and overcome androcentrism in Western religion; it is regarded as a foundational work in feminist theology. Like much of her work, it is notable for its playful writing style and its attempt to build on the writing of existentialist theologians.
1931- Kabita Sinha, influential Indian Bengali writer, poet, novelist, teacher, and radio director who is known for her modernist views and rejection of traditional housebound roles for Bengali women.
1932 – Guðbergur Bergsson, award-winning Icelandic writer, poet, children’s author, linguist, and translator.
1938 – Jorma Ojaharju, Finnish author who was described as a “boxer of rough prose” because of his background as a sailor and a boxer, but also because of his relaxed narrative; he best known for his Vaasa-trilogy, which depicts history from the Finnish Civil War to the present day, through the eyes of sailors. In his writing, he strove for a realistic narrative, but also left room for fantasy and myth; his writing is often compared with that of Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez.
1939 – Vera Feyder, award-winning Belgian writer, poet, and comedian living in France.
1941 – Borislav Jovanovic, Montenegrin writer, poet, author, essayist, columnist, and literary critic who is considered to be the leading interpreter of recent trends in Montenegrin literature.
1942 – Joseph Bruchac, U.S. author of novels, poetry, and short stories relating to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a particular focus on northeastern Native American and Anglo-American lives and folklore; much of his work is for children and teens. He is of Abenaki, English, and Slovak descent.
1944 – Noëlle Châtelet, French novelist, nonfiction author, essayist, lecturer, and short-story writer.
1944 – Lakshmanayyar Rama Swamy, award-winning Indian author, translator, and short-story writer.
1945 – Paul Monette, U.S. author and poet best known for his essays about gay relationships.
1948 – Rachapalem Chandrasekhara Reddy, award-winning Indian writer and teacher.
1949 – Francine Allard, Canadian educator, novelist, young-adult writer, poet, short-story writer, and visual artist.
1949 – Frank Mkalawile Chipasula, Malawian writer, editor, and university professor who is one of the best known writers in Malawian literary study.
1950 – Elinor Lipman, U.S. novelist, essayist, and short-story writer.
1951 – Ai Nagai, Japanese playwright, stage director, and the co-founder and leader of the theater company Nitosha; she is known for adopting realism as her primary writing style and is currently one of the most sought-after playwrights in Japan because of her well-crafted plays, in which social issues are treated from a critical perspective.
1954 – Lorenzo Carcaterra, U.S. author whose book Sleepers was adapted into the film of the same name.
1960 – Pearl Abraham, Israeli novelist, essayist, short-story writer, and university teacher.
1968 – Olajumoke Adenowo, Nigerian author, architect, and radio host; she has lectured on the arts, architecture, gender issues, women’s empowerment, and entrepreneurialism in Africa.
1969 – Alafair Burke, U.S. crime novelist, professor of law, and legal commentator who is the daughter of novelist James Lee Burke; she is the author of two series of crime novels, featuring Detective Ellie Hatcher and prosecutor Samantha Kincaid, as well as several stand-alone novels.