1337 – Jeong Mong-ju, Korean writer, teacher, poet, politician, diplomat, philosopher, and scholar; he was also known by his pen name, Poeun.
1626 – John Saffin, English poet, writer, merchant, judge, and politician who emigrated to colonial New England and was best known for his A Brief and Candid Answer to Samuel Sewall’s The Selling of Joseph, and for a small collection of poetry.
1684 – Madeleine-Angélique de Gomez (née Poisson), French writer, novelist, and playwright who usually published as Madame de Gomez but sometimes used the pseudonym M.P.V.D.G.
1722 – Gregory Skovoroda, influential Ukrainian writer, poet, philosopher, teacher, and composer who wrote primarily in the Sloboda Ukraine dialect of the Russian language.
1731 – Katharine Greene Amory, U.S. writer and diarist; the journal she kept during the American Revolution is valued by historians for its record of daily life and for its window into the viewpoint of a Loyalist woman.
1764 – Barbara von Krüdener (née Freiin von Vietinghoff, called Scheel), Latvian German religious author, politician, salonnière, mystic, and Pietist Lutheran theologian who influenced European Protestantism, including the Swiss Reformed Church and the Moravian Church; her ideas also influenced Tsar Alexander I of Russia. She was often called by her formal French name, Madame de Krüdener.
1766 – Charlotte Luise Antoinette von Schiller (née von Lengefeld), German writer who was the wife of German poet Friedrich Schiller. Though unpublished during her lifetime, she was a novelist, author, and prolific letter writer, including letters to her husband and her sister, as well as to her literary friends, including the writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and the playwright Charlotte von Stein.
1772 – Francesco Lomonaco, Italian writer, politician, and patriot who was a key proponent of the Italian unification movement; as a writer, who was known as the “Italian Plutarch.”
1780 – José Cecilio Díaz Del Valle (nicknamed “The Wise”), Honduran writer, philosopher, politician, lawyer, and journalist who was one of the most important figures in Central America during the transition from colonial government to independence.
1782 – Anne Sophie Swetchine (née Sofia Petrovna Soymonova; known as Madame Swetchine), Russian writer, salonnière, diarist, mystic, and lady-in-waiting. She spent her early years at the court of Empress Catherine the Great, and in 1797, was made lady-in-waiting to Empress Maria Fedorovna. After she converted from Russian Orthodoxy to Catholicism, Russian law forced her to emigrate; she settled in Paris, where she became famous for her literary salon, with guests that included Alexis de Tocqueville and other well-known intellectuals.
1798 – Angeliki Palli, Italian poet, writer, novelist, playwright, translator, journalist, essayist, short-story writer, feminist, and salonnière.
1819 – George Eliot (pseudonym for Mary Anne Evans) English novelist who was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era; she used her real name for her work as a journalist, editor, and critic. Her book Middlemarch has been called the greatest novel in the English language.
1859 – Helene Böhlau, German writer and novelist who traveled extensively in Istanbul and other parts of the East.
1869 – André Gide, Nobel Prize-winning French author of fiction, nonfiction, autobiography, criticism, plays, short stories, and poetry.
1872 – Margarita Vladimirovna Rokotova, prolific Russian writer, biographer, novelist, and children’s book author. She adopted the male pseudonym Al Altaev because of the difficulty of getting published as a woman. Her writing career started well, but when her husband disapproved and burnt her stories intended for magazines, she left him and continued her literary career. She also helped write and edit two Bolshevik newspapers and met revolutionary leaders including Lenin.
1877 – Cecilio Apóstol, Filipino writer, poet, poet laureate, and journalist who wrote in English and Spanish.
1883 – Martin Flavin, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. novelist and playwright.
1884 – Jovan Hadži, award-winning Slovene zoologist, biologist, and writer who was best known for his theories on animal evolution. Several invertebrate species were named after him.
1893 – Masaharu Taniguchi, Japanese author, translator, mystic, and philosopher who wrote about faith and spirituality; he founded the magazine, Seicho-no-Ie (“Home of Infinite Life, Wisdom, and Abundance.”)
1894 – Josephine Bond Hebron, U.S. African-American writer, publisher, and businesswoman.
1896 – David J. Mays, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. biographer, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, nonfiction author, and lawyer.
1896 – Nikolai Tikhonov, Russian Soviet writer, poet, translator, and politician who was a member of the Serapion Brothers literary group.
1900 – Helen Tradusa “Helenka” Adamowska Pantaleoni, U.S. silent-film actress, humanitarian, and autobiographer who was the founding director of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF. Her granddaughter is actress Téa Leoni.
1904 – Fumio Niwa, Japanese novelist, essayist, and biographer.
1907 – Dora Maar (born Henriette Theodora Marković) Argentinian-raised poet, painter, and photographer of French and Croatian descent; she is most widely known as Pablo Picasso’s muse.
1917 – Jon Cleary, Australian writer of detective fiction and other novels; many of his works have been adapted for film and television.
1922 – María Salas Larrazábal, Spanish journalist and writer who specialized in writing about adult education; she co-founded the Seminar on Women’s Sociological Studies, the precursor of modern gender studies in Spain.
1922 – Lutpulla Mutellip, influential Chinese writer, poet, and playwright who was renowned for the beauty of his language; despite his death at age 23, he is considered one of the most important figures in modern Uyghur literature.
1929 – Xohana Torres Fernández, Spanish writer, poet, playwright, children’s author, and member of the Royal Galician Academy; her best known works included the award-winning novel, Adiós, María; she was part of a generation of writers who championed Galician language and literature during the Francoist era, a time when regional languages were routinely suppressed.
1930 – Mohan Kalpana (born Mohan Bulchand Lala), Indian novelist and short-story writer who was one of the foremost writers of fiction in the post-independence era of Sindh and India.
1938 – Waris Mir, Pakistani journalist, writer, and academic known for his struggle to uphold democracy, freedom of the press, and the basic human rights of freedom of thought and expression.
1940 – Terry Gilliam, U.S.-born British screenwriter, film director, animator, actor, comedian, and member of the Monty Python comedy troupe.
1940 – Harish Hansraj Vaswani, award-winning Sindhi writer, poet, professor, and critic who was an influential writer of Sindhi literature; he was known as a pioneer of new Sindhi poetry.
1942 – Françoise Lefèvre, award-winning French writer whose books tell about different episodes of her life.
1943 – William Kotzwinkle, U.S. novelist, screenwriter, and children’s book author, best known for his children’s series about Walter the Farting Dog, as well as for writing the novelization of the movie E.T.
1943 – Roger L. Simon, U.S. novelist and Oscar-nominated screenwriter.
1945 – Marta Aponte Alsina, Puerto Rican storyteller, novelist. and literary critic.
1946 – Sriraj Ginne, Indian screenwriter who has written blockbuster films for “Tollywood,” the cinema of Andhra Prades, as well as television scripts; he also writes plays, short stories, and translations.
1947 – Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, Puerto Rican educator, biographer, and author of notable and award winning books for children and young adults; most of her books are written in verse and reflect her Puerto Rican heritage, and she has also written picture book biographies about prominent Latin Americans.
1947 – Valerie Wilson Wesley, U.S. author of mysteries, adult-theme novels, magazine articles, and children’s books; she was also executive editor of Essence magazine.
1951 – Adamou Idé, award-winning Nigerien poet and novelist who writes in both French and Zarma.
1953 – Marit Nicolaysen, bestselling Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, young-adult writer, and children’s writer; she made her literary debut in 1985 with the novel I Frøyas tegn, where the protagonist “Sol” is a traveler who asks how Freyja in Norse mythology could be a goddess for both war and love; the film Svein and the Rat is based on one of her books.
1962 – Victor Olegovich Pelevin, award-winning Russian novelist whose books are multi-layered postmodernist texts fusing elements of pop culture and esoteric philosophies while carrying conventions of the science-fiction genre.
1965 – Arwa Othman, Yemeni writer, journalist, human-rights activist, women’s rights activist, and former Minister of Culture; Human Rights Watch has called her one of the “most outspoken activists calling for human rights and gender equality” during the 2011 Yemeni Revolution.
1966 – Akiko Itoyama, award-winning Japanese novelist and short-story writer who has been praise for her ability to describe provincial scenery and depict regional accents and dialects, even though she was brought up in Tokyo; some of her work has been adapted for film.
1969 – Marjane Satrapi, Iranian-born French graphic novelist, illustrator, film director, and children’s book author.
1970 – Lisa Genova, U.S. neuroscientist and author; her debut novel Still Alice, is about a Harvard University professor who suffers early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
1974 – Gilbert Tuhabonye, Burundian long-distance runner, coach, author, and motivational speaker who is best known for his memoir about surviving a massacre during the Burundian Civil War, This Voice in My Heart: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Escape, Faith, and Forgiveness; he currently lives in the U.S.
1977 – Ana Stojanoska, Macedonian writer, poet, theatre researcher, essayist, editor, and theater critic.
1985 – Simon Ssenkaayi, Ugandan author and motivational speaker who has been selected as one of Africa’s top 30 inspirational young people.
1985 – Muhammad Jailani Abu Talib, award-winning Singaporean poet, short-story author, and writer.