1788 – Sara Josepha Hale, U.S. editor, and poet who was best known for writing the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” which has become a beloved nursery rhyme.
1868 – Alexandra David-Néel (born Louise David), Belgian-French explorer, spiritualist, Buddhist, anarchist, and writer, best known for her 1924 visit to Lhasa, Tibet, when it was forbidden to foreigners.
1871 – Christabel Gertrude Marshall (aka Christopher Marie St John), British author, playwright, and campaigner for women’s suffrage.
1886 – Delmira Agustini, Uruguayan poet who specialized in the topic of female sexuality during a time when the literary world was dominated by men; her writing style is best classified as early Modernism, with themes based on fantasy and exotic subjects.
1904 – Moss Hart, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. playwright, screenwriter, librettist, theatrical director, and television host.
1907 – László Ladányi, Hungarian poet, author, short-story writer, novelist, dramatist, and reporter. In 1944, during the Nazi occupation, he managed to escape and survived by hiding out in Romanian villages; he emigrated to Israel after the Hungarian Revolution of 1957.
1915 – Bob Kane, U.S. writer and comic book artist, credited along with Bill Finger as the creator of the DC Comics superhero Batman.
1921 – Veronica Porumbacu (pen name of Veronica Schwefelberg), Romanian writer, poet, translator, journalist, broadcaster, travel writer, memoirist, and children’s writer; she and her husband, the literary critic Mihail Petroveanu, both died in a 1977 earthquake.
1923 – Denise Levertov, National Book Award-nominated British-born American poet and essayist.
1925 – Rafael Díaz Ycaza, Ecuadorian poet, novelist, short-story writer, and columnist for the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo; he was the author of many books of poetry, and he also wrote novels.
1927 – Barbara J. Robinson, U.S. author best known for her children’s books.
1929 – César di Candia, Uruguayan journalist, editor, nonfiction author, and novelist who is best known for his interviews with notorious politicians involved in the civic-military dictatorship.
1930 – Elaine Feinstein, English poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright, biographer, and translator. Said one critic: “Alive to her family origins in the Russian-Jewish diaspora, she developed a close affinity with the Russian poets of this and the last century.”
1932 – Steven Covey, U.S. educator and author of business and self-help books.
1932 – Ziraldo Alves Pinto, Brazilian author, painter, comic creator, and journalist, usually known as, simply, “Ziraldo.”
1933 – Norman Rush, National Book Award-winning U.S. writer whose experiences in the Peace Corps influence his novels, which are set in Africa.
1939 – Paula Gunn Allen, Native American poet, literary critic, editor, biographer, activist, professor, and novelist; of mixed-race European-American, Native American, and Arab-American descent, she identified with her mother’s people, the Laguna Pueblo, and drew from that culture’s oral traditions for her fiction, poetry, and essays. She edited four collections of Native American traditional stories and contemporary works and wrote two biographies of Native American women, and published a major, influential study on the role of women in American Indian traditions, arguing that Europeans had de-emphasized the role of women in their accounts of native life because of their own patriarchal societies.
1940 – Tom Dawe, Canadian writer and editor from Newfoundland and Labrador who writes poetry and children’s literature that draws on folklore, mythology, Newfoundland culture, and autobiography, especially his experiences growing up in a Newfoundland port community; he is also a visual artist, teacher, and a co-founder of TickleAce magazine.
1941 – István Blazsetin, Croatian writer, poet, novelist, children’s author, cultural worker, and pedagogue who was also an important collector of the oral literature heritage of the Pomurje Croats.
1948 – K. Varalakshmi, Indian Telugu writer, poet, essayist, and novelist who is best known for her short stories; much of her work addresses the lives of women in rural areas.
1950 – Syed Kawsar Jamal, award-winning Indian poet, essayist, translator, radio broadcaster, and academic; some of his best known poems are “The Magician” and “The Pretense of Gathering Pebbles by the Shore.”
1950 – Gabriella Sica, award-winning Italian modernist poet who is also director of a poetry magazine.
1952 – David Weber, bestselling U.S. author of science-fiction and fantasy novels, best known for his Honor Harrington series; he has also been a game designer. His work includes epic fantasy, space opera, alternate history, and military science fiction and is known for its emphasis on strong characters.
1954 – Carmine Abate, Italian writer, poet, novelist, essayist, and short-story writer; much of his work focuses on issues of migration and the encounters between disparate cultures.
1954 – In Koli Jean Bofane, award-winning Congolese writer, publisher, and children’s author.
1954 – Wahome Mutahi, Kenyan writer, humorist, and satirical columnist who was popularly known as Whispers after the name of the column he wrote for The Daily Nation, which offered a satirical view of the trials and tribulations of Kenyan life.
1956 – Dale Maharidge, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. author and journalist, best known for his collaborations with photographer Michael Williamson.
1956 – Kerry Reed-Gilbert, award-winning Australian Wiradjuri poet, writer, author, collector of Aboriginal cultural pieces, and Aboriginal rights activist.
1958 – Nokugcina Elsie Mhlophe, South African poet, playwright, author, actress, storyteller, film director, and anti-apartheid activist; she tells her stories in four of South Africa’s languages — English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhosa — and works to preserve traditional African storytelling as a means of keeping history alive and encouraging South African children to read.
1959 – Aristide von Bienefeldt (pen name for Rijk de Jong), Dutch novelist whose first novel – Bekentenissen van een Stamhouder (“Confessions of a Son and Heir”) – was both praised and criticized by the Dutch and Flemish press because of its explicit homosexual passages.
1962 – Nujoom al-Ghanem, award-winning Emirati poet, journalist, and film director who has published six poetry collections and whose poems include recurring themes of longing, solitude, death, human suffering, loss, and the hardships of everyday life; she was also the Head of Culture and Art Department For Dubai and Northern Emirates.
1963 – Majid Naini, Iranian author, translator, lecturer, and academic who is a leading scholar of Rumi, the 13th century Persian mystic.
1965 – József Ács, award-winning Hungarian writer and programmer who writes poetry, prose, plays, and essays.
1965 – Zsuzsa Bánk, award-winner German writer and novelist.
1967 – Grant Cogswell, eccentric U.S. screenwriter, independent film producer, journalist, poet, and political activist.
1969 – Emma Donoghue, bestselling Irish-born playwright, literary historian, and novelist who was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize; she is best known for the novel Room.
1969 – Sunao Matsumoto (pen name Sunao Yoshida), Japanese novelist, writer, mangaka, and science-fiction writer; he was known primarily for “light novels,” a category in Japanese publishing that includes youth-oriented stories, often featuring anime-style cover illustrations.
1973 – Meelis Friedenthal, award-winning Estonian writer and theologian best known for his speculative fiction and science-fiction novels and short stories.
1983 – Katrine Linda Mathilda Marçal (née Kielos), award-winning Swedish writer, journalist, and correspondent for the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
1984 – Prajwal Parajuly (né Sharma), Indian author, novelist, and short-story writer whose works focus on Nepali-speaking people and their culture; his best-known works include the short-story collection The Gurkha’s Daughter and the novel Land Where I Flee.
1988 – Maria Lewis, New Zealand and Australian author, screenwriter, journalist, and pop-culture commentator.
1990 – Hemayel Michael Anthony Martina, Curaçaoan poet who began writing poems at the age of 17, exploring politics, music, sports, and the personalities who have made important contributions to Martina’s homeland of Curaçao; these were published in a book in 2010, with each poem appearing side by side in Papiamento and English. Martina died in January 2011 at the age of 20, from injuries suffered in a car crash.