1304 – Ibn Battuta, Moroccan Muslim Berber writer, scholar, geographer, cartographer, travel writer, merchant, and explorer who widely traveled the medieval world; his account of his journeys was called A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling.
1501 – Sixt Birck (also called Sixtus Birck or Xystus Betuleius), German author, playwright, theologian, and humanist who was called “a notable German scholar of the New Learning.” He wrote in both German and Latin.
1595 – Maciej Kazimierz Sarbiewski, Polish writer, poet, university teacher, and literary scholar who is regarded as Europe’s most prominent Latin poet of the 17th century, and a renowned theoretician of poetics.
1604 – Arcangela Tarabotti, Venetian nun and Early Modern Italian writer who was a “protofeminist writer” as well as an early political theorist; she wrote texts and corresponded with key cultural and political figures for most of her adult life, centering on the issues of forced enclosure, and what she saw as other symptoms and systems of patriarchy and misogyny in her works and discussions.
1749 – Mary Eleanor Bowes (Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne), British writer, playwright, and autobiographer who was known as “The Unhappy Countess”; Queen Elizabeth II is one of her descendants.
1763 – Anne Hume “Nancy” Shippen (married name Anne Livingston), U.S. journal writer who is remembered for the insights her journal can give modern historians about the social life of the times and about the difficulty a woman faced in trying to get a divorce.
1786 – Wilhelm Carl Grimm, German author, folklorist, librarian, and literary historian who was the younger of the Brothers Grimm.
1827 – Lydia Becker, award-winning British author, suffragist leader, magazine founder and publisher, lecturer, biologist, and astronomer who corresponded with Charles Darwin; after campaigning for the inclusion of women on school boards, she was one of four women elected to the Manchester School Board in 1870.
1830 – Karolina Světlá, Czech writer and novelist who was associated with the May literary school; one of her books was later adapted into a film.
1832 – Juan Clemente Zenea, influential Cuban writer, poet, and teacher who is credited with reintroducing Romanticism into Cuban literature, marking a new age in Hispano-American poetry.
1836 – Elias Blix, Norwegian writer, poet, politician, professor, translator, theologian, hymnwriter, and linguist; he was largely responsible for translating the New Testament into Norwegian.
1836 – Melusina Fay “Zina” Peirce (born Harriet Melusina Fay), U.S. author, feminist, teacher, music critic, organizer, and activist best known for spearheading the 19th century “cooperative housekeeping” movement. Believing that gender equality would come only with women’s economic independence, and identifying the cause of women’s economic and intellectual oppression as unpaid, unspecialized domestic work, she proposed as a solution “cooperative housekeeping,” a system in which women would do domestic chores together and profit from it via payment from their husbands; an important component of her plan was the spatial reorganization of neighborhoods and homes to accommodate domestic cooperation between women.
1837 – María Rosalía Rita de Castro (better known as Rosalía de Castro), Spanish Galician Romanticist writer and poet; her work is characterized by a combination of nostalgia, longing, and melancholy.
1842 – Janet Ann Ross, English historian, biographer, and Tuscan cookbook author.
1843 – Violet Fane (pseudonym of Lady Mary Montgomerie Currie, née Lamb), British novelist, poet, writer, essayist, and ambassador whose literary works were associated with the movements of Aestheticism and Medievalism; her friends and admirers included such literary and artistic notables as Robert Browning, Algernon Swinburne, James McNeil Whistler, Lillie Langtry, and Oscar Wilde.
1846 – Elena Ivanovna Apréleva (also known by her pseudonym E. Ardov), Russian prose writer, memoirist, playwright, translator, and children’s writer.
1848 – Grant Allen, Canadian novelist, essayist, and science-fiction writer.
1850 – Mary de Morgan, English writer, fairytale author, children’s writer, and suffragist; she is best known as the author of three volumes of fairytales: On a Pincushion, The Necklace of Princess Fiorimonde, and The Windfairies.
1852 – George More, Irish author best known for his early work in Paris and London as a struggling artist.
1859 – Susie Frances Harrison (née Riley, and also known by her pen name, Seranus), Canadian poet, novelist, music critic, music pedagogue, and music composer; she was also a well-known authority on folk music.
1864 – Ali bey Huseyn oglu Huseynzade, Azerbaijani writer, journalist, philosopher, artist, and doctor who created the modern flag of Azerbaijan.
1868 – Jennings Carmichael, Australian poet, prose writer, and nurse.
1870 – Izabela Sadoveanu-Evan (born Izabela Morțun; pen names I.Z.S.D. and Iz. Sd.), Romanian writer, poet, translator, biographer, literary critic, opinion journalist, essayist, literary historian, feminist, and anti-fascist activist.
1874 – Moshe Smilansky, prolific Ukrainian-born author of fiction and nonfiction; he was also a farmer and a Zionist leader who advocated peaceful coexistence with the Arabs in Mandatory Palestine.
1877 – Ettie Annie Rout, Australian-born New Zealand bestselling author, reporter, businessperson, and World War I nurse; her campaign against sexually transmitted infections led one bishop to call her, “The wickedest woman in Britain.”
1885 – Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski, Polish novelist and journalist.
1887 – Mary Ellen Chase, Maine-based U.S. educator, teacher, scholar, and novelist who is one of the most important regional literary figures of the early 20th century.
1891 – Mariano Brull Caballero, Cuban writer, poet, and diplomat who is usually associated with the French Symbolist movement.
1897 – Su Xuelin (also spelled Su Hsüeh-lin), Chinese author, scholar, editor, autobiographer, professor, and researcher of ancient texts; she received critical acclaim, especially for her essay “Green Skies” and her novel Thorny Heart.
1903 – Irène Némirovsky, Ukrainian novelist of Jewish origin who lived most of her life in France but was denied French citizenship; despite her conversion to Roman Catholicism, she was arrested as a Jew and died at Auschwitz in 1942.
1909 – August William Derleth, U.S. writer and anthologist who was the first book publisher of H.P. Lovecraft, and who contributed himself to the Cthulhu Mythos and the Cosmic Horror genre, as well as founding of the groundbreaking supernatural fiction publisher Arkham House. He was also a leading American regional writer of his day, writing fiction, historical fiction, poetry, and nonfiction about Wisconsin, and was prolific in other genres, including historical fiction, poetry, detective fiction, science fiction, and biography.
1912 – Zofia Chadzynska (also known by her pseudonym, Sophie Bohdan), influential Polish author and translator.
1916 – António Mascarenhas, Indian writer who is best remembered as the author of the book Goa from Prehistoric Times; he wrote in the English language.
1925 – Etel Adnan, Lebanese-born U.S. poet, essayist, filmmaker, and visual artist who now splits her time between the U.S. and France; she has been called, “arguably the most celebrated and accomplished Arab-American author writing today.”
1927 – David de Jesus Mourão-Ferreira, Portuguese writer and poet.
1928 – Carmina Useros Cortés, Spanish writer, ceramist, and painter who specialized in researching the gastronomic, artisan, and cultural traditions of the city of Albacete, Spain.
1932 – Mohamed Boudia, Algerian writer, playwright, journalist, politician, and terrorist.
1933 – Ali Al’amin Mazrui, Kenyan writer, professor, and political theorist whose work explored African and Islamic studies and North-South relations.
1935 – Ryhor Baradulin, Belarusian writer, poet, translator, literary critic, children’s writer, and essayist.
1938 – Manuel d’ Novas, Cape Verdean poet, writer, musician, and composer.
1942 – Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Indian writer, translator, professor, literary theorist, and feminist critic who is best known for her essay, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” and for her translation of and introduction to Jacques Derrida’s De la Grammatologie; she is a founding members of Columbia University’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and is considered one of the most influential postcolonial intellectuals.
1943 – Kent Haruf, U.S. novelist who wrote literary fiction set in the fictional eastern Colorado town of Holt.
1943 – Violeta Luna, award-winning Ecuadorian writer, poet, literary critic, essayist, and professor.
1948 – Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, bestselling Iranian historical novelist, nonfiction author, and professor who grew up in Uganda and now lives in France.
1952 – Judith Ortiz Cofer, Puerto Rican poet, novelist, essayist, autobiographer, and children’s writer.
1954 – Aurora Levins Morales, Puerto Rican Jewish writer, essayist, nonfiction writer, and poet who is a key figure within Latina feminism and Third World feminism, as well as other social-justice movements. Some of her major themes are feminism; multiple identities (Puerto Rican, Jewish, North American); the immigrant experience; Jewish radicalism and history; Puerto Rican history; and the importance of collective memory, history, and art in resisting oppression and creating social change. She lives with multiple disabilities and chronic illnesses, and has also become an activist for disability justice.
1956 – Judith Butler, U.S. writer, professor, journalist, sociologist, literary critic, philosopher, feminist, and gender theorist.
1959 – Stefano Bortolussi, Italian writer, poet, and translator.
1959 – Kasi (Karen) Lemmons, U.S. filmmaker, screenwriter, and actress.
1966 – Alain Mabanckou, Congolese-born French novelist, journalist, poet, and professor who is best known for novels and nonfiction depicting the experience of contemporary Africa and the African diaspora in France.
1967 – Hedi El Kholti, Moroccan-born writer, editor, and publisher.
1970 – Barbara Frale, award-winning Italian writer, essayist, author, historian, medievalist, and archivist who is a paleographer at the Vatican Secret Archives and the author of books about the Templars and the Shroud of Turin.
1971 – Gillian Flynn, U.S. screenwriter, writer, journalist, film critic, novelist, television critic
1973 – Rainbow Rowell, U.S. journalist and novelist best known for her young-adult books.
1976 – Yuval Noah Harari, Israeli historian and author of popular-science bestsellers.
1982 – Stella Young, Australian writer, broadcaster, comedian, and disability advocate; born with osteogenesis imperfecta, also known as brittle-bone disease, she “helped us understand disability issues by sharing with a raw honesty about her own life.… She took great delight in challenging conventional wisdom and lazy thinking.”