1611 – Andreas Tscherning, German writer, poet, translator, university teacher, hymn writer, and literary theorist.
1752 – Peter Harboe Frimann (often known as P.H. Frimann), Norwegian and Danish poet and writer.
1768 – José Marchena Ruiz de Cueto (also known as Abate Marchena), Spanish author, writer, poet, translator, journalist, professor, and literary critic.
1777 – Jean-Pons-Guillaume Viennet, French writer, poet, playwright, librettist, soldier, and politician.
1797 – Sojourner Truth (born Isabella Baumfree), African-American U.S. abolitionist, women’s rights activist, orator, and autobiographer; born into slavery in New York, she escaped to freedom with her infant daughter in 1828 and won a court case to recover her son, making her one of the first Black women to win in court against a White man. Her famous speech to the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851 is commonly called the “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, but it was delivered extemporaneously, so no original written version exists, and she never actually asked that question; in fact, the line comes from later reconstructions that copied speech patterns of Southern slaves — patterns that were never part of Truth’s own way of talking, as a native New Yorker who spoke only Dutch until the age of 9.
1836 – W.S. Gilbert (William Schwenck Gilbert), British humorist, dramatist, librettist, poet, and illustrator who was the lyrical half of the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera-writing team.
1847 – Eliška Krásnohorská, Czech feminist author, children’s writer, poet, translator, literary critic, librettist, and founder of a school for girls.
1861 – Dorothy Dix (pen name for Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer), U.S. journalist and columnist who at the time of her death was America’s highest paid and most widely read female journalist.
1863 – Richard Fedor Leopold Dehmel, German poet, writer, autobiographer, and magazine founder who is considered one of the foremost German poets of the pre-World War I era.
1872 – Alejandro Guanes, Paraguayan poet, prose-writer, teacher, and journalist.
1874 – Clarence Day, U.S. author, short-story writer, cartoonist, and women’s suffragist, best known for his autobiographical book Life with Father and its sequels; he sometimes wrote under the pseudonym B.H. Arkwright.
1877 – Hede von Trapp, Croatian-born Austrian writer, illustrator, poet, painter, and graphic designer of the Art Nouveau movement; her younger brother was U-boat commander Georg Ritter von Trapp, father of the Trapp singing family portrayed in the musical The Sound of Music.
1882 – Wyndham Lewis, English novelist, autobiographer, critic, editor, and painter.
1884 – Rosa Rosà (born Edyth von Haynau), Austrian and Italian writer, illustrator, painter, sculptor, and science-fiction author who was associated with the inter-war Italian Futurist movement; she is particularly known for her first novel, Una donna con tre anime (A Woman with Three Souls.
1886 – Delio Tessa, Italian poet and lyricist who was one of the most renowned writers in the Milanese dialect; his work is notable for its expressionism and for its satirical way of depicting Death, as well as its World War I themes.
1888 – Frances Marion (born Marion Benson Owens), two-time Academy Award-winning U.S. screenwriter, journalist, war correspondent, author, memoirist, playwright, novelist, actress, and film director who is one of the most renowned screenwriters of the 20th century, with more than 325 scripts written.
1897 – Alfred Hubert Mendes, Trinidad and Tobago novelist and short-story writer who was a leading member of the 1930s “Beacon group” of writers (named after the literary magazine The Beacon); he is best known as the author of two novels, Pitch Lake and Black Fauns, which established social realism in Caribbean literature, and for his short stories written during the 1920s and 1930s. In his relocations to New York, Mallorca, and other places, he was “one of the first West Indian writers to set the pattern of emigration in the face of the lack of publishing houses and the small reading public in the West Indies.”
1898 – Poul F. Joensen, award-winning Faroese poet, writer, teacher, folklorist, and sheep farmer who is best remembered for his poems, both the satirical ones and his love poems.
1898 – Antun Branko Šimic, Croatian expressionist poet, writer, and essayist who is considered to be one of the most important poets of 20th century Croatian literature; his topics were pain, poverty, stars, Herzegovina, the poor, life, and death.
1906 – Klaus Mann, German writer, screenwriter, poet, translator, author, journalist, literary critic, novelist, and autobiographer.
1906 – Yōko Ōta, Japanese novelist who wrote several books based on her experiences as a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima.
1907 – Gwenyth Valmai Meredith (also known by her married name, Gwen Harrison), Australian author, playwright, and radio writer who is best known for her radio serials The Lawsons and the longer-running Blue Hills.
1907 – Halldis Moren Vesaas, Norwegian poet, writer, translator, and children’s book author who established herself as one of the leading Norwegian writers of her generation.
1909 – Johnny Mercer, Academy Award-winning U.S. lyricist and composer who wrote the lyrics for some of the most popular songs of his day, including “Moon River,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Hooray for Hollywood,” and “Days of Wine and Roses”; he also founded Capitol Records.
1911 – Salcia Landmann (born Salcia Passweg), Ukrainian-born Jewish writer who worked to preserve the Yiddish language.
1912 – Hilda Nickson, Prolific British author of romance novels, many of them set in Italy or Spain; she also wrote under her maiden name, Hilda Pressley.
1913 – Aisha Abd al-Rahman, Egyptian author, poet, and professor of literature who published under the pen name Bint al-Shaṭi (“Daughter of the Riverbank”).
1917 – Mathias E. Mnyampala, Tanzanian writer, poet, autobiographer, and lawyer who wrote in Swahili; as national chairman of the association of Kiswahili poets called Usanifu wa Kiswahili na Ushairi Tanzania (UKUTA) he promoted the diffusion of Kiswahili, the official language of the new Tanzanian Nation, by teaching to the Tanzanian masses the classical forms of Kiswahili poetry.
1918 – İlhan Berk, influential Turkish writer, poet, translator, and author who was a dominant figure in postmodern Turkish poetry.
1919 – Jenaro Gajardo Vera, Chilean writer, poet, lawyer, artist, and painter who became famous for his 1953 claim of ownership of the Moon.
1924 – Iordan Chimet, Romanian writer, poet, translator, biographer, film critic, literary critic, children’s writer, essayist, memoirist, literary historian, critic, and linguist whose work was inspired by surrealism and onirism.
1931 – Shrikant Verma, award-winning Indian poet and member of Parliament.
1934 – Sara Japhet (sometimes called Sarah Yefet), Israeli writer, professor, and biblical scholar.
1934 – Vassilis Vassilikos, Greek writer, poet, screenwriter, journalist, politician, and diplomat.
1936 – Domenicangela Lina Unali, award-winning Italian writer, poet, essayist, listerary critic, and professor who has combined combined scientific research with the writing of poetry and narratives and who has done extensive research into the relationship between Asia and the West.
1936 – Suzette Haden Elgin, U.S. novelist, poet, science-fiction writer, short-story writer, nonfiction author, and linguist who was a key figure in the field of science-fiction constructed languages.
1936 – Zia Haider, award-winning Bangladeshi writer, poet, playwright, translator, and professor; his full name Sheikh Faisal Abdur Rouf Mohammad Ziauddin Haider.
1939 – Margaret Atwood, bestselling, award-winning Canadian novelist, poet, nonfiction author, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist, and inventor, best known for her speculative fiction, especially the dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been adapted into a film and an award-winning television series.
1940 – Alfonsas Andriuškevicius, award-winning Lithuanian poet, writer, essayist, politician, art critic, and art historian.
1940 – James Welch, award-winning Native American U.S. novelist and poet who was a founding author of the Native American Renaissance.
1941 – Jennifer Rankin (born Jennifer Mary Haynes), award-winning Australian poet and playwright.
1943 – Freydoon Rassouli, Iranian-born U.S. author and abstract surrealist artist.
1944 – Suzanne Brøgger, Danish author, screenwriter, poet, essayist, journalist, naturalist, actor, and singer.
1945 – Petru Dugulescu, Romanian poet, writer, politician, and Baptist pastor.
1945 – Wilma Pearl Mankiller U.S. Cherokee tribal leader, author, autobiographer, social worker, community developer, and activist who was the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
1946 – Alan Dean Foster, U.S. science-fiction and fantasy author, known for movie novelizations as well as multiple book series of his own.
1948 – Sonia Corrêa, Brazilian writer, researcher, and feminist activist who works primarily on issues of gender equality, health, and sexuality.
1948 – Frances Fyfield (pseudonym of Frances Hegarty), award-winning English lawyer, crime writer, and screenwriter whose Helen West book series has twice been adapted for television.
1950 – Michael Swanwick, award-winning U.S. science-fiction novelist, short-story writer, and essayist.
1953 – Alan Moore, award-winning English comic-book author known for his works Watchmen and V is for Vendetta; many consider him to be the best comics writer in the English language.
1963 – Joost Zwagerman, Dutch writer, poet, essayist, television presenter, columnist, and nonfiction author.
1964 – Fatima Naoot, Egyptian writer, poet, journalist, and translator who was sentenced to three years in jail for “insulting Islam” after she wrote about killing sheep for the Eid holiday.
1965 – Michael Crummey, Canadian poet who also writes historical fiction; his work often draws on the history and landscape of Newfoundland and Labrador.
1971 – Terrance Hayes, National Book Award-winning U.S. poet, nonfiction author, and educator about whose it has been said, “First you’ll marvel at his skill, his near-perfect pitch, his disarming humor, his brilliant turns of phrase. Then you’ll notice the grace, the tenderness, the unblinking truth-telling just beneath his lines, the open and generous way he takes in our world.”
1981 – Maggie Stiefvater, bestselling U.S. author of young-adult and urban fantasy novels.
1982 – Qais Akbar Omar, Afghan-American U.S. writer known for the bestselling autobiography, A Fort of Nine Towers, which describes his childhood in Afghanistan during the years of the civil war and the Taliban from 1992–2001.