1561 – Francis Bacon (1st Viscount St Alban), English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, and author who served as Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of England; he is credited with developing the scientific method, arguing for scientific knowledge based on inductive reasoning, careful observation, and a methodical approach; he has been called the father of empiricism.
1572 – John Donne, influential English poet of the Metaphysical school who was also a cleric in the Church of England; his works include sonnets, sermons, love poems, religious poems, epigrams, songs, elegies, and satires. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially compared to that of his contemporaries, and he is considered by many to be the greatest love poet in the English language.
1751 – Amabel Hume-Campbell (1st Countess de Grey and 5th Baroness Lucas), diarist political writer, and author who was a Countess in her own right; she wrote particularly about the French Revolution.
1788 – Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron), influential English poet, politician, and peer, and an important figure in the Romantic movement; he traveled throughout Europe, and while living in Italy spent time with his friend, poet Percy Bysshe Shelley; later he joined the Greek War of Independence fighting the Ottoman Empire, for which the Greeks revere him as a national hero. His only legitimate child, Ada Lovelace, is considered the founder of the field of computer programming.
1849 – August Strindberg, Swedish writer whose book The Red Room has been called the first modern Swedish novel.
1872 – Katai Tayama, Japanese author who established the Japanese literary genre of naturalistic novels that revolve around detailed self-examination; he also wrote about his experiences in the Russo-Japanese War.
1886 – Isabel Paterson, Canadian-American journalist, novelist, political philosopher, and leading literary and cultural critic; she is considered one of the three founding mothers of American libertarianism (along with Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand).
1891 – Antonio Gramsci, Italian writer, politician, theorist, economist, sociologist, literary critic, journalist, and linguist.
1904 – Arkady Gaidar, Russian Bolshevik soldier who retired from the military after being wounded, and turned instead to writing children’s stories, most of which described front-line camaraderie and the romanticism of the revolutionary struggle; later he became a war correspondent and was killed in battle.
1906 – Robert E. Howard, American author of pulp fiction novels, known primarily for creating the character Conan the Barbarian.
1909 – Abdilda Tazhibayevich Tazhibayev, Kazakh writer, poet, and playwright who was named a People’s Writer of Kazakhstan.
1911 – Mary Hayley Bell, Chinese-born English actress, screenwriter, playwright, and novelist; her husband was Sir John Mills and her daughter was actress Hayley Mills.
1920 – Ann Philippa Pearce, Carnegie Medal-winning English author of children’s books.
1922 – Howard Moss, National Book Award-winning American poet, editor, dramatist, and critic.
1924 – Mira Trailović, Serbian playwright, theatre director, and actress who was a pioneer of avant-garde theatre in Eastern Europe.
1925 – Katherine Anne MacLean, American science-fiction author best known for her short fiction of the 1950s, which explored the effects of technological advances on individuals and society.
1926 – Aurora de Albornoz, Spanish scholar, poet, professor, and literary critic whose work was inspired, in part, by her experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
1934 – Graham Kerr, Scottish chef, cookbook author, and television cooking show host who was known as the Galloping Gourmet; after a religious conversion and his wife’s health problems, Kerr turned to healthier cuisine and later renounced his earlier shows, saying “What I did wasn’t art, it was a crime,” given high rates of obesity.
1937 – Sallie Bingham, American author, playwright, poet, novelist, short-story writer, teacher, memoirist, feminist activist, and philanthropist; she is part of the Bingham family, which dominated the news media of Louisiville and the state of Kentucky for most of the 20th century.
1937 – Joseph Wambaugh, bestselling American author whose police fiction draws on his 14 years of experience with the Los Angeles Police Department.
1943 – James Carroll, American author, historian, journalist, and Roman Catholic reformer whose fiction and nonfiction center on religion and history.
1949 – Cilla McQueen (full name Priscilla Muriel McQueen), New Zealand poet and painter who is a three-time winner of the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry; her poems explore themes of homeland and loss, indigeneity, colonization, and displacement, and also reflects her engagement with the history and present reality of the Maori people.
1963 – Denise Dresser (Denise Eugenia Dresser Guerra), Mexican writer, journalist, editor, columnist, and university professor who has been named by Forbes magazine as one of the most powerful women in Mexico and one of the 50 most influential women in Twitter.
1978 – Delphine Lecompte, award-winning Belgian poet.
1980 – Subhash Ram Prajapati, Nepalese author, ethnomusicologist, and documentary filmmaker.