1414 – Jami, prolific Iranian-born writer, poet, philosopher, music theorist, and writer of mystical Sufi literature. He is recognized for his eloquence and for his analysis of the metaphysics of mercy. (His full name was Nur ad-Din ‘Abd ar-Rahman Jami, but he was also known as Mawlana Nur al-Din ‘Abd al-Rahman or Abd-Al-Rahman Nur-Al-Din Muhammad Dashti.)
1547 – Rudolf Hospinian (real name Rudolf Wirth), Swiss writer and theologian who wrote works that criticized Catholic doctrines and institutions and was a vocal opponent of the Jesuits.
1692 – Johann Gottfried Schnabel (pen name Gisander), German writer best known for his novel Insel Felsenburg. He was also a barber, serving as a military barber in the War of the Spanish Succession and court barber of Stolbert-Wernigerode.
1700 – Erdmuthe Dorothea of Reuss-Ebersdorf (Countess of Zinzendorf, née Countess of Reuss-Ebersdorf), German poet, writer, and author of Pietist hymns. She managed the town of Herrnhut, in Saxony, Germany, and her husband’s holdings in Berthelsdorf. She also ran an orphanage, in addition to raising her own twelve children.
1787 – Vuk Karadžić, Serbian writer, historian, translator, anthropologist, linguist, philologist, lexicographer, Bible translator, diplomat, and collector of fairy tales; he has been called “the father of Serbian folk-literature scholarship.”
1834 – Wlodzimierz Zagórski, Polish writer, novelist, and satirist who also wrote under the pseudonyms Chochlik and Publicola (or Publikola).
1867 – Marie Salomea Skłodowska Curie, Nobel Prize-winning Polish and French physicist, chemist, and professor who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity; she was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields.
1872 – Leonora Speyer, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet and violinist who is best known for her book Fiddler’s Farewell.
1878 – Lise Meitner, award-winning Austrian-Swedish physicist who was one of those responsible for the discovery of the element protactinium and nuclear fission; in 1905, she became the first woman from the University of Vienna and second in the world to earn a doctorate in physics.
1879 – Leon Trotsky, Russian writer, Marxist theorist, politician, and Bolshevik revolutionary who was one of the leaders of the Russian October Revolution; he wrote many books including The Revolution Betrayed, Their Morals and Ours, History of the Russian Revolution, and Fascism: What It Is and How to Fight It.
1886 – Mohammad-Taqi Bahar, Iranian poet, writer, essayist, politician, historian, translator, university teacher, and journalist; he has often been called Malek o-Sho’ara Bahar (“King of Poets.”)
1893 – Margaret Leech, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian, author, and biographer.
1897 – Emma Thomas “Ruth” Pitter, award-winning British poet and author who wrote in a traditional style with traditional meter and rhyme schemes, avoiding most of the experimentations of modern verse; writer C.S. Lewis and W.B. Yeats both praised her poetry.
1897 – Armstrong Sperry, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. children’s author and illustrator, historical-fiction writer, and biographer.
1901 – Cecília Meireles, Brazilian writer, poet, translator, journalist, novelist, and educational reformer who is a key figure in the Brazilian Modernist movement; she is considered one of the best Portuguese-language poets ever.
1908 – Zhou Yang (or Chou Yang), Chinese writer, literary critic, literary theorist, philosopher, politician, and Marxist thinker.
1913 – Albert Camus, Nobel Prize-winning Algerian-born French author, journalist, and philosopher praised “for his important literary production, with which clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times.” Though he is usually considered an existentialist, he hated the term, preferring to call himself an absurdist.
1914 – R.A. Lafferty, U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author known for his clever wordplay; he wrote novels, short stories, and autobiographical fiction.
1916 – Clementina Díaz y de Ovando, Mexican writer, researcher, and academic who specialized in New Spain’s art and architecture.
1920 – Elaine Morgan, Welsh writer, screenwriter, author, anthropologist, columnist, and feminist who wrote several books on evolutionary anthropology, especially the aquatic ape hypothesis; she has been named one of the 50 greatest Welsh men and women of all time.
1937 – Mary Daheim, U.S. author of romance and mystery novels whose books tend to be set near her home in the Pacific Northwest.
1940 – Antonio Skármeta, Chilean novelist, short-story writer, and television host.
1942 – Helen Garner, award-winning Australian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, and journalist.
1942 – Tom Peters, U.S. business writer, best known for the bestselling book In Search of Excellence.
1943 – Stephen Greenblatt, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning U.S. literary critic and scholar.
1946 – Chrystos, award-winning Native American writer, poet, artist, teacher, and activist of the Menominee people, who has published books and poems that explore indigenous Americans’ civil rights, social justice, and feminism.
1949 – Aishwarya Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah, Nepalese writer, poet, and songwriter who was Queen of Nepal from 1972 to 2001.
1954 – Guy Gavriel Kay, Canadian author of historical fantasy, radio scripts, and poetry, most of whose novels take place in fictional settings that resemble real places during real historical periods; he also assisted Christopher Tolkien in editing his father J.R.R. Tolkien’s work for publication.
1956 – Anna Ogino, award-winning Japanese writer, novelist, and professor.
1956 – Zhang Wei, Chinese writer and novelist who won the Mao Dun Literature Prize, the highest national literary award, for On the Plateau, a 10-volume work that took a decade to write.
1959 – Odete Semedo, Guinea-Bissaun writer, poet, linguist, educator, and government official who writes in both Portuguese and Guinea Creole.
1960 – Linda Nagata, Nebula Award-winning U.S. author of speculative fiction, science fiction, and fantasy novels, novellas, and short stories who frequently writes in the Nanopunk genre, which features nanotechnology and the integration of advanced computing with the human brain.
1960 – Olubayi Olubayi, Kenyan writer, scientist, and academic who was Vice-Chancellor and President of the International University of East Africa in Uganda; he has written on microbiology, biotechnology, social science, and education.
1968 – Yuyi Morales, Caldecott Medal-winning Mexican author and illustrator of books for children.
1975 – Danny Lim, Malaysian writer, journalist, and photographer.
1980 – María Clara Berenbau Giuria (also known as Clarita Berenbau), Uruguayan writer, columnist, journalist, actress, and television presenter.
1987 – Bwesigye bwa Mwesigire, Ugandan writer and lawyer who co-founded the Centre for African Cultural Excellence, which curates the pan-African Writivism literary initiative.