106 BC – Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher, author, and statesman who was a key figure in the politics of the late Roman Republic and one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists; his extensive writings include treatises on rhetoric, philosophy, and politics.
1518 – Hermann Weinsberg, German writer, autobiographer, diarist, and Cologne city councilor whose autobiographical writings, long obscure, are now considered to be of historical importance.
1533 – Jerónimo Bautista Lanuza, Spanish Dominican friar, bishop, and writer who wrote many religious works.
1698 – Pietro Antonio Domenico Trapassi (better known by his pseudonym Metastasio), Italian poet and librettist who is considered the most important writer of opera seria libretti.
1765 – Nguyễn Du (阮攸), celebrated Vietnamese poet who wrote in chữ nôm, the ancient script of Vietnam, and used the pen names Tố Như and Thanh Hiên; his best known work is the epic poem The Tale of Kiều.
1778 – Anna Barbara van Meerten-Schilperoort, Dutch novelist, writer, translator, educational reformer, newspaper editor, and women’s rights activist who is considered by many to be the founder of the women’s rights movement in the Netherlands.
1793 – Lucretia Mott (née Coffin) U.S. public speaker, writer, women’s rights activist, abolitionist, and social reformer who was part of the first major public gathering about women’s rights, the Seneca Falls Convention, for which she co-wrote the Declaration of Sentiments.
1803 – Douglas William Jerrold, English author, playwright, and magazine writer and editor, known for his liberal politics and satiric wit; at his funeral, author Charles Dickens was a pall bearer.
1805 – Melchor José Ramos, Chilean political figure and journalist who founded the El Cometa political newspaper.
1827 – Michel Rodange, Luxembourgish writer, poet, and teacher who is best known for writing Luxembourg’s national epic, Renert, a satirical work that is known for its insightful analysis of the unique characteristics of the people of Luxembourg, using regional and sub regional dialects.
1831 – Savitribai Phule, Indian poet, teacher, and educator who was married at the age of 9; at 17, she co-founded (with her husband) Pune’s first school for girls.
1850 – Sofya Vasilyevna Kovalevskaya, Russian mathematician, writer, novelist, physicist, and university teacher; as a mathematician, she made noteworthy contributions to analysis, partial differential equations, and mechanics, and was a pioneer for women in mathematics around the world.
1862 – Safi Lakhnavi (born Syed Ali Naqi Zaidi), prominent Indian Urdu poet whose work is characterized by the use of simple and sweet language.
1867 – Elsa Asenijeff (born Elsa Maria Packeny), Austrian writer and poet whose work often touched on themes of women’s lack of autonomy, drawing on her own experiences with men.
1870 – Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson (better known by her pen name, Henry Handel Richardson), Australian novelist, writer, and screenwriter.
1871 – Mina Thiis, Norwegian cook, cookbook writer, and educator.
1884 – Omar Racim, Algerian writer, painter, announcer, journalist, calligrapher, and art educator who wrote on art, politics, and religion; he founded several journals and co-founded the Algerian school of miniature painting.
1885 – Anna Lesznai (pen name for Amália J. Moskowitz, familiarly known as Máli), Hungarian-born writer, painter, designer, memoirist, and autobiographical novelist who was a key figure in the Hungarian avant-garde.
1886 – Geneviève Fauconnier, award-winning French novelist who was one of the most sensitive members of the so-called Groupe de Barbezieux.
1886 – John Gould Fletcher, U.S. Imagist poet who was the first Southern U.S. poet to win the Pulitzer Prize.1888 – James Bridie (pseudonym of Osborne Henry Mavor), Scottish playwright, screenwriter, and physician.
1887 – Harriet Ellen Siderowna von Rathlef-Keilmann, Latvian-born sculptor and writer of children’s books whose family fled Russian Latvia after the Revolution and settled in Germany; in 1925 she became a major proponent of Anna Anderson’s claim to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, befriending the claimant and writing a series of articles about her.
1892 – Cruz María Salmerón Acosta, Venezuelan poet whose sonnets were influenced by the movement of Modernismo.
1892 – J.R.R. Tolkien, English philologist, writer, linguist, and professor popularly considered the father of modern fantasy for his creation of Middle Earth in such books as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.
1893 – Nahum Benari, Israeli writer, historian, playwright, philosopher, translator, and children’s author.
1893 – Pierre Drieu La Rochelle, French novelist and essayist.
1894 – Sarina Cassvan, Romanian writer, translator, journalist, novelist, short-story writer, children’s writer, magazine editor, and founder of the European Thought Association; during World War II, her works were banned because she was Jewish.
1898 – Carolyn Haywood, U.S. children’s author and illustrator, best known for her Eddie and Betsy books.
1915 – Genoveva Dizon Edroza-Matute, award-winning Filipina author, essayist, short-story writer, radio and television writer, and teacher.
1920 – Sonia Wild Bicanic, English academic, author, travel writer, political educator, and translator whose numerous publications cover topics in the literature, history, and culture of both Great Britain and Croatia.
1922 – Sunwoo Hwi, award-winning South Korean writer, poet, novelist, politician, journalist, soldier, and philosopher.
1922 – Morten Nielsen, Danish poet and resistance fighter who became the symbol of his generation’s desire for freedom; he was killed at the age of 22 for his work with the Danish resistance to the German occupation during World War II.
1931 – Plantagenet Somerset Fry (born Peter George Robin Fry), British historian and author of more than 50 books; Plantagenet was a nickname he adopted at university, relating to his advocacy of Richard III.
1933 – Süleyman Ates, Turkish theologian, philosopher, writer, and educator who was Turkey’s Director of Religious Affairs.
1933 – Grace Edwards, U.S. mystery writer and former director of the Harlem Writers Guild.
1934 – Sugathakumari, award-winning Indian poet, writer, children’s author, environmental activist, and human-rights activist.
1935 – Kutlu Adali, Cypriot journalist, poet, socio-political researcher, and peace advocate who was assassinated in 1996.
1938 – Alma Flor Ada, Cuban-born author of children’s books, poetry, and novels; also a professor, she is recognized for her work promoting bilingual and multicultural education in the United States.
1946 – Rio Kishida, Japanese writer, playwright, translator, novelist, and theatrical director; several of her plays explored the problems women face in a patriarchal society.
1948 – Marjan Mancek, Slovene author, children’s book writer, illustrator, cartoonist, animator, and filmmaker.
1955 – Simone Bitton, award-winning Morrocan documentary filmmaker, writer, and producer.
1956 – Jegaatha, Indian Tamil author of more than 500 short stories, 40 novels, 100 poems, and more than 300 books other books; he also writes for periodicals and radio broadcasts.
1960 – Jeong Do-sang, South Korean novelist, short-story writer, and children’s author.
1963 – Alex Wheatle, Jamaican-British novelist, memoirist, lyricist, and DJ whose works tend to deal with the Brixton riots and the music scene.
1964 – Toshiyuki Horie (堀江 敏幸), Japanese author and translator.
1969 – Marie Darrieussecq, French Basque novelist who writes on themes of disappearance and absence, identity, and belonging.
1973 – Roderick ‘Rory’ James Nugent Stewart, Hong Kong-born British academic, author, and Conservative politician.
1975 – Jun Maeda (麻枝 准), Japanese scenario writer, lyricist, screenwriter, and musical composer for visual novels.
1975 – Danica McKellar, U.S. actress, author, and mathematician; best known for her role on The Wonder Years television show, she has also written several books aimed at popularizing mathematics, including Math Doesn’t Suck and Kiss My Math.
1993 – Troy Onyango, award-winning Kenyan writer, short-story author, lawyer, and magazine founder and editor.