1628 – John Bunyan, English Christian writer and preacher who is known for his allegorical book The Pilgrim’s Progress, which is one of the most published books in the English language.
1695 – Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, French author noted for her original story of La Belle et la Bête, which is the oldest known variant of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast.
1757 – William Blake, English poet of the Romantic Age; his earlier poetry can be seen as a protest against dogmatic religion, while his later works describe a distinctive vision of a humanity redeemed by self-sacrifice and forgiveness. He was also a painter and printmaker who has been called “far and away the greatest artist Britain has ever produced.”
1821 – Nikolai Nekrasov, Russian poet, critic, journalist, and publisher whose compassionate poems about Russia peasants made him the hero in liberal and radical circles.
1822 – Nikolay Yakovlevich Danilevsky, Russian writer, biologist, naturalist, economist, ethnologist, philosopher, historian, politician, and ideologue of Pan-Slavism and the Slavophile movement; he expounded a circular view of world history and is remembered for his opposition to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
1832 – Leslie Stephen, English author, critic, historian, biographer, and mountaineer; he was the first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, but was perhaps best known as the father of writer Virginia Woolf.
1836 – Amelia Denis de Icaza, Panamanian romantic poet and writer who was the first Panamanian woman to have her poetry published.
1864 – James Allen, English philosophical author of inspirational books and poetry who is considered the founder of the self-help movement.
1881 – Stefan Zweig, Austrian-born German poet, translator, biographer, short-story writer, and novelist.
1896 – Dawn Powell, award-winning U.S. novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and short story writer who was known for her acid-tongued satirical prose.
1904 – Nancy Mitford, English novelist, journalist, and biographer who wrote about upper-class life in England and France and was regarded as one of the “Bright Young People” on the London social scene in the years between the world wars.
1907 – Alberto Moravia (born Alberto Pincherle), Italian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer; his novels explored matters of modern sexuality, social alienation, and existentialism.
1910 – Elsie Quarterman, prominent U.S. plant ecologist, author, and professor who is credited with rediscovering the native Tennessee coneflower, which was thought to be extinct; she is, perhaps, best known for her work on the ecology of Tennessee cedar glades. She was also the first woman to serve as an academic department chair at Vanderbilt University.
1912 – Hajime Nakamura (中村 元), Japanese writer, translator, philosopher, lexicographer, and academic of Vedic, Hindu and Buddhist scriptures.
1914 – Owen Vincent Dodson, African-American U.S. dramatist, poet, novelist, and longtime Howard University drama professor.
1919 – Lance Jeffers, African-American U.S. poet and novelist whose poetry explored Black endurance in the face of White oppression.
1924 – Dennis Brutus (also called John Bruin), Zimbabwe-born South African poet, journalist, educator, and activist who is best known for his campaign to have South Africa banned from the Olympic Games due to its racist policy of apartheid.
1931 – Dervla Murphy, Irish travel touring cyclist, travel writer, and author of adventure travel books; her best known work is the book Full Tilt: Ireland to India With a Bicycle, about an overland cycling trip through Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
1931 – Jean-Thomas “Tomi” Ungerer, prolific Alsatian French author, children’s writer and illustrator, cartoonist, autobiographer, poster designer, and artist who was known for sharp social satire and witty aphorisms.
1931 – Ed Young, three-time Caldecott Medal-winning Chinese-born U.S. author and illustrator of children’s books.
1936 – Carol Gilligan, award-winning U.S. writer, philosopher, psychologist, ethicist, professor, and feminist best known for her research and writing on ethical relationships; her work has been credited with inspiring the passage of the 1993 Gender Equity in Education Act. Time magazine has listed her among America’s 25 Most Influential People.
1942 – Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Irish poet, writer, translator, linguist, and academic who named the Ireland Professor of Poetry.
1944 – Rita Mae Brown, U.S. mystery author, feminist writer, novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and activist for gay rights whose main series is “coauthored” with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown; she is also known for her autobiographical coming-of-age novel, Rubyfruit Jungle.
1948 – Agnieszka Holland, Academy Award-nominated Polish writer, screenwriter, and film and television director who is one of Poland’s most eminent filmmakers; she is best known for her films Europa Europa and In Darkness.
1948 – Alan Lightman, U.S. physicist, novelist, essayist, science writer, and MIT professor whose book Einstein’s Dreams became a bestseller.
1958 – Doris Kareva, Estonian writer, poet, translator, editor, and journalist who serves as the head of the Estonian National Commission in UNESCO.
1961 – Alfonso Cuaron Orozco (born November 28, 1961) – four-time Academy Award-winning Mexican film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, and editor who was the first Latin American director to receive the Oscar for Best Director; some of his films include Gravity, Children of Men, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
1962 – Jon Stewart, U.S. political satirist, author, essayist, short-story writer, comedian, and television personality.
1966 – Tamayo Akiyama, Japanese novelist, illustrator, Manga artist, and children’s author.
1968 – Kenule “Ken” Bornale Tsaro-Wiwa (also known as Ken Saro-Wiwa, Jr.), Nigerian journalist, author, and presidential aide.
1969 – Hanne Ørstavik, award-winning Norwegian novelist who is considered one of the most remarkable and admired authors in Norwegian contemporary literature.
1971 – Mansour al-Nogaidan, Saudi-born Emarite writer, reformer, and journalist.
1973 – Kinoko Nasu (奈須 きのこ), Japanese graphic novelist and manga artist; renowned for his unique style of storytelling and prose, he is amongst the most prominent visual novelists in Japan.
1973 – Lucía Puenzo, Argentine novelist, screenwriter, and film director.
1975 – Eka Kurniawan, Indonesian writer, journalist, and graphic designer.
1976 – Trent Zelazny, U.S. author of crime, horror, and fantasy novels and short stories. Author Neil Gaiman said about him: “A powerful and good writer…someone who’s been through hell and come out, I hope, the other side.” Zelazny is the son of acclaimed author Roger Zelazny.
1978 – Ching-He Huang (also called Huáng Jìngyì, though often known in English-language media simply as Ching), Chinese food writer and TV chef who has appeared on television cooking shows and is the author of bestselling cookbooks.
1979 – Sarah Perry, award-winning English novelist who has been called “one of the finest fiction writers working in Britain today.”