0065 BC – Horace, Roman satirist and leading lyric poet of his day; famed orator Quintilian said of his work: “He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words.”
1021 – Wang Anshi, Chinese writer, poet, politician, economist, painter, and calligrapher.
1608 – Vendela Skytte (or Wendela Skytte), Swedish noblewoman, writer, poet, and salonist who once conducted a religious debate with learned Catholic Jesuits, “by which she with superior skill in Latin questioned the most sacred ideals of the Catholic religion” and won the debate in perfect Latin.
1832 – Björnstjerne Björnson, Nobel Prize-winning Norwegian novelist whose work has been called “noble, magnificent, and versatile.”
1845 – Dorila Castell de Orozco, Uruguayan poet, writer, and teacher who wrote under the pseudonym Una Oriental.
1860 – Anna Margaret Ross (née McKittrick, and known by her pen-name Amanda McKittrick Ros), Irish poet and novelist whose work is considered eccentric and overwritten; some critics have called it the worst prose and poetry ever written.
1861 – Blessed Concepción Cabrera de Armida, Mexican Roman Catholic mystic and writer who is also referred to as María Concepción Cabrera Arias de Armida, and sometimes as Conchita Cabrera Arias de Armida, and often simply as Conchita. Her religious writings and meditations total more than 60,000 handwritten pages.
1862 – Georges Feydeau, Belle Epoque French playwright who was a forerunner of absurdist theater.
1868 – George Norman Douglas (better known as Norman Douglas), Austrian-born British writer of travel books, zoological treatises, novels, and an autobiography; he also wrote under the pen names Normyx and Pilaff Bey.
1875 – Yonejiro Noguchi (also known as Yone Noguchi), influential Japanese writer, poet, translator, journalist, essayist, literary critic, novelist, and linguist who wrote in both English and Japanese; he was the father of noted sculptor Isamu Noguchi.
1876 – Hortensia Papadat-Bengescu, Romanian novelist and playwright of the interwar period.
1880 – Johannes Aavik, Swedish-born Estonian writer, poet, translator, violinist, university teacher, philologist, and linguist who played a significant role in the modernization of the Estonian language.
1881 – Padraic Colum, Irish poet, novelist and dramatist who was a leading figure of the Irish literary revival.
1889 – William Hervey Allen, Jr., U.S. educator, poet, and author whose most famous book, Anthony Adverse, is considered “the model and precursor of the contemporary American historical novel.”
1894 – Florbela Espanca (born Flor Bela d’Alma da Conceição), Portuguese poet known for her erotic and feminist writing.
1894 – James Thurber, U.S. author, journalist, playwright, fable writer, cartoonist, and humorist especially known for work published in the New Yorker magazine; his works celebrate the comic frustrations and eccentricities of ordinary people, and several have been made into films.
1903 – Katherine “Kitty” Muggeridge, Swiss-born British writer, translator, and biographer.
1906- Humberto Díaz Casanueva, award-winning Chilean poet, diplomat, and educator who was a representative to the United Nations.
1906 – Richard Llewellyn, Welsh novelist who wrote How Green Was My Valley, which was the basis for the Oscar-winning film.
1912 – Jura Soyfer, Austrian political journalist and satirist; died at Buchenwald in 1939.
1913 – Hilma Contreras Castillo, a Dominican novelist, essayist, and short-story writer who was the first woman to win her country’s National Literature Award; her work focused on the conditions of social, legal, and emotional subjugation of women.
1913 – Delmore Schwartz, award-winning U.S. poet, playwright, essayist, and short-story writer.
1925 – Carmen Martín Gaite, award-winning Spanish screenwriter, novelist, poet, short-story writer, translator, journalist, children’s writer, and essayist.
1928 – Moon Deoksu, early-modern Korean poet, writer, and professor.
1930 – John Morressy, U.S. science-fiction and fantasy novelist, short-story writer, and professor.
1936 – Zhang Xianliang, Chinese novelist, essayist, and poet who was president of the Chinese Writers Association in Ningxia; he was detained as a political prisoner during the Anti-Rightist Movement in 1957, until his political rehabilitation in 1979. His best known works were semi-autobiographical reflections on his life experiences in prison and in witnessing the political upheaval of China during the Cultural Revolution.
1939 – Juana Rosa Pita, Cuban-born poet, writer, editor, translator, and professor who is one of the most important contemporary Cuban and Latin American poets.
1943 – Jim Morrison, influential U.S. poet, songwriter, and rock musician who was lead singer of the Doors, one of the bestselling bands of all time.
1945 – John Banville, award-winning Irish novelist and screenwriter who also writes under the pen name Benjamin Black.
1946 – Olinda Beja, São Tomé and Príncipe poet, novelist, short-story writer, and children’s author who immigrated to Portugal and became a Portuguese citizen.
1947 – Kati-Claudia Fofonoff, Finnish author, poet, and translator who wrote in Skolt Saami and Finnish.
1948 – Vernita Gray, African-American U.S. women’s liberation activist and writer; in 2013, she and her partner became the first same-sex partners to wed in Illinois.
1949 – Mary Gordon, U.S. writer of novels, memoirs, and literary criticism who is also a professor; she has been named the Official State Author of New York.
1949 – Siti Zainon Ismail, award-winning Malaysian novelist, short-story writer, poet, artist, and professor who is best known for her multi-genre novel, Pulau Renik Ungu (The Island of Purple Crocus).
1951 – Bill Bryson, bestselling, award-winning U.S.-British columnist and author of humorous nonfiction books on travel, the English language, and science; he was appointed Chancellor of Durham University in the U.K., and is well known for many books, including A Short History of Nearly Everything, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, and his memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.
1954 – Louis de Bernières, award-winning British novelist whose most famous novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, was made into a film starring Nicolas Cage and Penélope Cruz.
1958 – Luís Cardoso, East Timorese writer whose works are written in Portuguese.
1962 – Louis-Philippe Dalembert, Haitian writer, poet, novelist, short-story writer, and nonfiction writer who writes in both French and Haitian creole.
1964 – Era Natarasan (known as Ayesha Natarasan), prolific, award-winning Indian author of science books, science-fiction books, and children’s books; he writes in both Tamil and English. His best known work, the novella Ayesha, has sold millions of copies in 12 languages.
1974 – Alfredo Tjiurimo Hengari, Namibian writer, columnist, political scientist, academic, and advisor to the Namibian government
1976 – Laura Sintija Cerniauskaite, award-winning Lithuanian novelist and playwright.
1978 – Najwan Darwish, Jerusalem-born Arabic-language writer, journalist, and poet whom the New York Review of Books has described as “one of the foremost Arabic-language poets of his generation.”
1981 – Carly Findlay, Australian writer, speaker, and activist for the rights of the disabled.