1543 – Sharaf al-Din Khan (also known as Shams al-Din and Sharaf Beg Bedlisi, influential Turkish-born Kurdish emir, historian, writer, and poet who wrote exclusively in Persian and was the author of Sharafnama, one of the most important works on medieval Kurdish history; in his writing, he created a detailed picture of Kurdish life and Kurdish dynasties in the 16th century.
1707 – Carlo Goldoni, Italian Venetian dramatist, librettist, and memoirist whose works include some of Italy’s best-loved plays, characterized by wit and honesty and by the dramatization of the lives, values, and conflicts of the emerging middle classes. He wrote in both French and Italian but made rich use of the Venetian language, regional vernacular, and colloquialisms. He also wrote under the pen name and title Polisseno Fegeio, Pastor Arcade.
1708 – Jane Colman Turell, prolific Colonial American poet, author, diarist, and essayist who wrote classic forms of poetry that usually focused on religion and family life.
1737 – August Wilhelm Hupel, Estonian author, linguist, lexicographer, and translator whose works included a dictionary, a medical textbook, and a grammar book.
1770 – Henriette-Lucy Dillon (Marquise de La Tour-du-Pin-Gouvernet, also known as Lucie), French aristocrat and lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette; she was famous for her posthumously published memoirs, which gave a firsthand account of her life through the Old Regime, the French Revolution, and the Imperial court of Napoleon, ending with Napoleon’s return from exile on Elba. Madame de la Tour du Pin, as she is frequently called, was a witness to the private lives of the royals, and her memoirs serve as a unique testimony to much unchronicled history.
1797 – Maria Abdy (née Smith, and also known as Mrs. Adby), English poet and writer; some of her poems were religious, some offered serious social comment, and others addressed social themes with a lighter satirical touch.
1806 – Emma Catherine Embury, U.S. writer, poet, journalist, children’s writer, and short-story writer who published under the pseudonym Ianthe.
1814 – Taras Shevchenko, Ukrainian poet, playwright, painter, anthropologist, and ethnographer.
1828 – Anne Gilchrist (née Burrows), English writer, biographer, and literary critic who lived for a time in the U.S. She is best known for writing “A Woman’s Estimate of Walt Whitman,” which was the first great review of Walt Whitman’s book Leaves of Grass; her analysis of his work led to a lasting friendship between her and Whitman.
1828 – Yamamoto Kakuma, Japanese writer, author, teacher, politician, political scientist, and samurai.
1831 – Jane Goodwin Austin, popular U.S. author and short-story writer, notable not only for her writing but for her friendships with some of the nation’s best-known writers of her day, including Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
1839 – Pyotr Polevoy, prolific Russian writer, historian, playwright, essayist, translator, editor, literary critic, and literary historian; among his most important works are the History of Russian Literature in Essays and Biographies and the three-volume History of Russian Literature From the Ancient Times to Our Days.
1848 – Anna Fisher Beiler, British-born U.S. writer, missionary, lecturer, newspaper editor, temperance proponent, and philanthropist.
1855 – Cesário Verde, Portuguese poet, writer, and merchant; though his writing was mostly ignored during his lifetime, he is today considered a key figure in Portuguese poetry, which his work widely taught in schools.
1862 – Helen Bannerman (full name Helen Brodie Cowan Bannerman, née Watson), Scottish writer, illustrator, and children’s author whose books were set in India. She is best known for her first book, Little Black Sambo, which at the time was considered progressive, as an early positive portrayal of a person of color as a hero in a Western children’s book; later it came to be seen as racist in both its text and illustrations, and both have since been dramatically revised.
1866 – Benedetto Croce, Italian writer, philosopher, politician, art historian, and literary critic.
1870 – Jelica Belović-Bernadzikowska, Croatian novelist, writer, poet, translator, journalist, editor, music and theatre critic, ethnographer, and feminist who was editor of the first Serbian women’s magazine; she wrote under multiple pseudonyms, including Ljuba T. Danicic, Hele, Jelica, Jele, Jasna, Aunt Jelica, and Young Lady Ana.
1884 – Else Feldmann, Austrian Jewish writer, playwright, poet, novelist, socialist journalist, and Holocaust victim; she was captured by the Gestapo in 1942 and sent to Sobibór extermination camp, where she was murdered.
1884 – Stephanie Vetter (full name Johanna Maria Stephanie Claes-Vetter), Dutch-born Belgian novelist, short-story writer, literary-magazine editor, and women’s rights advocate who wrote in Dutch.
1885 – Sylvia Leonora Brett, English writer, biographer, autobiographer, novelist, and short-story writer who was the consort to Sir Charles Vyner de Windt Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak, the last of the White Rajahs. Born The Hon. Sylvia Leonora Brett, she became Lady Brooke, Ranee of Sarawak.
1895 – George Samuel Schuyler, U.S. African-American novelist, science-fiction writer, satirist, journalist, and essayist best known for his speculative novel, Black No More: Being An Account of the Strange and Wonderful Workings of Science in the Land of the Free, which examines what might happen if a machine could turn Black people permanently White.
1900 – Marina Yurlova, Russian child soldier and author who fought in World War I and later in the Russian Civil War; wounded several times, she won the Cross of Saint George for bravery three times before making her way to Japan and finally the US, where she performed as a dancer and published an autobiography in three volumes.
1905 – Perry Miller, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. historian and author who specialized in the history of early America; Margaret Atwood dedicated her book The Handmaid’s Tale to him.
1906 – Mary Coyle Chase, U.S. playwright, screenwriter, journalist, and children’s novelist, best known for her Broadway play Harvey, which was adapted into a popular film starring James Stewart.
1907 – Jean Malonga, Congolese writer and politician who is credited as one of the earliest of the modern Republic of Congo writers.
1915 – Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, Sri Lankan-born Singaporean short-story writer and Deputy Prime Minister who wrote the Singapore National Pledge.
1917 – Anthony Burgess, English author, essayist, comic writer, musician, and composer; he is best known as the author of the dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange.
1921 – Mariam Behnam, Iranian-born Emirati writer, novelist, autobiographer, teacher, arts advocate, and activist.
1926 – Russell Atkins, award-winning U.S. poet, playwright, composer, and musician who was known primarily for his contributions to American avant garde poetry; he was one of the first Concrete poets in the United States, arranging the words on the page in a way that enhanced poems’ meaning. He also cofounded the oldest Black-owned literary magazine, Free Lance, a publication of avant-garde writing that contributed to the development of New American poetry. Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes helped his work find a larger audience.
1930 – Sister Wendy Beckett, South African-born, Scottish-raised Roman Catholic nun, writer, educator, translator of Medieval Latin, and hermit who presented a series of programs and books on the meaning of art for the BBC.
1930 – Erica Pedretti (née Schefter), award-winning Czech-born Swiss author, novelist, painter, and sculptor.
1930 – Masao Yamakawa, Japanese novelist and short-story writer whose work is highly popular in Japan but largely unknown elsewhere.
1937 – Severo Sarduy, award-winning Cuban poet, novelist, editor, essayist, playwright, art critic, and literary critic.
1942 – John Saul, bestselling U.S. author of suspense and horror novels.
1942 – Cynthia Voigt, Newbery Award-winning U.S. educator and writer of young-adult novels; many of her books are realistic in tone and center around young people who are isolated from society.
1945 – Shiva Naipaul (born Shivadhar Srinivasa Naipaul), Trinidadian and British novelist and journalist who was the younger brother of novelist V.S. Naipaul.
1949 – Amin Maalouf, Lebanese-born French author who writes in French and is a winner of the Prix Goncourt for his novel The Rock of Tanios.
1949 – Jack Handey, U.S. humorist best known for “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey” — a large body of surrealistic one-liners popularized by National Lampoon and Saturday Night Live — and for his deadpan delivery. Although many people assume otherwise, Handey is a real person, not a pen name or character.
1951 – Juan Carlos Mondragón, award-winning Uruguayan writer, essayist, short-story writer, educator, and literary critic.
1952 – Bernadette Sanou Dao, French Sudan-born Burkinabé author, poet, children’s author, short-story writer, and politician who was Burkina Faso’s Minister for Culture.
1955 – Chiranan Pitpreecha (also konwn as Chiranan Prasertkul and Chiranan Phitpricha), award-winning Thai poet and feminist who has been named one of the 65 most influential women in Thailand.
1960 – Joyce Tyldesley, British archaeologist, egyptologist, anthropologist, writer, and broadcaster whose work focuses on women in Ancient Egypt.
1962 – Elin Ørjasæter, Norwegian author, children’s writer, journalist, columnist, lecturer, and publisher who was also a board member of the Norwegian Boxing Federation.
1975 – Chibuzor Obasi, Nigerian Igbo poet, playwright, novelist, short-story writer, journalist, and broadcaster.
1989 – Sofia von Porat, Swedish cookbook author, travel writer, blogger, and entrepreneur who writes about food, vegetarianism, and travel.