1157 – Alfonso II of Aragon, Spanish Aragonese monarch who was also a noted poet, composer, troubadour, and close friend of King Richard the Lionheart; Alfonso’s reign is best remembered for his plan to unite lands on both sides of the Pyrenees under the rule of the House of Barcelona
1347 – Saint Catherine of Siena, Tuscan Italian laywoman associated with the Dominican Order who was a mystic, activist, and author who had a great influence on Italian literature and the Catholic Church; she was born in the Republic of Siena, now part of Italy.
1562 – Sebastiano Bagolino, Sicilian Italian poet, scholar, painter, musician, and teacher who wrote his poetry in Latin but also knew Italian and Spanish.
1594 – Maria Tesselschade Roemers Visscher (also called Maria Tesselschade Roemersdochter Visscher), Dutch poet, writer, and glass engraver.
1611 – Dervis Mehmed Zillî (also known as Evliya Çelebi), Ottoman Turkish travel writer, explorer, and historian who spent forty years traveling through the Ottoman Empire and neighboring lands and recording his commentary in a travelogue called the Seyâhatnâme (Book of Travel).
1625 – Ann Fanshawe, English memoirist and cookbook author; in her 1665 book of recipes, she published the first known written recipe for ice cream (which she called “icy cream”).
1800 – Nasif al-Yaziji, Lebanese author, poet, translator, teacher, and philosopher who one of the leading figures of the Arab Enlightenment, or Nahda movement; he is credited with rediscovering the literary heritage of the Arabs. In 1847 he helped found the Syrian Association for the Sciences and Arts, the Arab world’s first literary society, to study and promote themes such as women’s rights, history, and the fight against superstition.
1821 – Isabella Varley Banks (also known as Mrs G. Linnaeus Banks, or Isabella Varley), English writer of poetry and novels; she is most widely remembered today for her book The Manchester Man.
1872 – Toson Shimazaki (pen name of Shimazaki Haruki), Japanese novelist and lyricist who began his career as a romantic poet but went on to establish himself as a major proponent of naturalism in Japanese fiction.
1880 – Mid’hat Frashëri (also known by his pen name, Lumo Skëndo), Albanian poet, politician, historian, translator, journalist, and diplomat who is considered a father of Albanian Nationalism.
1881 – Mary Gladys Webb, English Romantic novelist and poet whose work is set chiefly in the Shropshire countryside; several of her films have been made into film.
1885 – Mateiu Caragiale, Romanian poet, novelist, short-story writer, visual artist, and civil servant; his writing style was associated with Symbolism and Early Modernism.
1887 – Nanjanagudu Tirumalamba, Indian writer, newspaper editor, publisher, and printer who is considered the earliest new age Kannada author; her work focused on the upliftment of women.
1899 – Bella Cohen Spewack, Transylvania-born author of novels, short stories, articles, and Broadway plays and musicals (including Kiss Me, Kate).
1910 – Benzion Netanyahu, Polish-born Israeli writer, historian, pedagogue, professor, scholar of Judaic history, encyclopedia editor, and activist in the Revisionist Zionism movement; his field of expertise was the history of the Jews in Spain. He was the father of current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
1910 – Óscar Castro Zúñiga, Chilean writer, poet, and librarian who wrote in both the lyrical genre and the narrative genre.
1920 – Paul Scott, Booker Award-winning British novelist, playwright, and poet.
1925 – Flannery O’Connor, U.S. novelist, short-story writer, and essayist in the Southern Gothic style whose work often features disturbing elements, deals with questions of morality and ethics, and revolves around morally flawed characters, many of whom are disabled or interact with people with disabilities; her writing is noted for a grasp of the nuances of human behavior.
1926 – Jaime Sabines Gutiérrez, award-winning Mexican contemporary poet known as “the sniper of Literature”; his writings chronicle the experience of everyday people in places such as the streets, hospitals, and playgrounds.
1927 – Tina Anselmi, Italian writer, teacher, and politician who was a member of the Italian resistance movement during World War II and went on to become the first woman to hold a ministerial position in the Italian government.
1928 – Viriato Clemente da Cruz, Angolan poet and politician who is considered one of the most important Angolan poets of his time; he wrote in Portuguese and Angolan, and fought to free Angola from Portuguese rule.
1932 – Penelope Gilliatt, English novelist, short-story writer, nonfiction author, screenwriter, and film critic’ as one of the main film critics for The New Yorker magazine in the 1960s and 1970s, she was known for her detailed descriptions and evocative reviews. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for the film Sunday Bloody Sunday.
1934 – Hristo Konstantinov Fotev, Turkish-born Bulgarian poet and writer whose work dealt with the topic of love; the sea was also a key poetic element and inspiration.
1934 – Gloria Steinem, U.S. journalist, columnist, editor, feminist, and leader of the Women’s Liberation movement; best known as a co-founder of Ms. magazine.
1936 – Neelamperoor Madhusoodanan Nair, award-winning Indian writer and poet of the Malayalam language.
1939 – Toni Cade Bambara, U.S. African-American novelist, short story writer, essayist, documentary filmmaker, professor, and civil-rights activist whose work focused on the lives of African-Americans.
1939 – D.C. Fontana (Dorothy Catherine Fontana) – U.S. screenwriter, television producer, and story editor known for her work on the original Star Trek television series; she also wrote for Star Trek, the Next Generation, Star Trek DS9, and other popular television shows, as well as writing a Star Trek novel. She used her initials because women were not commonly accepted in writing science fiction for television at the time.
1939 – Myriam Warner-Vieyra, Guadeloupian novelist, poet, and librarian.
1941 – Udyavara Madhava Acharya, Indian poet, orator, short-story writer, actor, choreographer, and economics professor; he publishes his literary works under the pen name “UMA.”
1942 – Ana Blandiana, Romanian poet, essayist, journalist, children’s writer, and political figure.
1944 – Jack Mapanje, Malawian writer, poet, and professor who was imprisoned for his book of poetry, Of Chameleons and Gods, which was seen as indirectly criticizing the President Hastings Banda; after his release, Mapanje emigrated to the U.K., where he worked as a teacher.
1946 – Stephen Hunter, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. film critic and author of thrillers..
1948 – Bayyinah Bello, award-winning Haitian historian, teacher, writer and humanitarian worker.
1952 – Jung Chang, Chinese-born British writer, poet, historian, linguist, biographer, and autobiographer; she is best known for her family autobiography Wild Swans, which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide but was banned in the People’s Republic of China.
1953 – Lorna Byrne, Irish author and peace ambassador; she is best known for her bestselling memoir, Angels in My Hair.
1953 – Brigid Lowry, award-winning New Zealand novelist, poet, children’s author, and writing teacher; she now lives in Australia.
1958 – Susie Bright (a.k.a. Susie Sexpert), U.S. feminist, author, journalist, critic, editor, publisher, producer, and performer, often on the subject of sexual politics and sexuality.
1960 – Linda Sue Park, Newbery Award-winning U.S. author of teen fiction and children’s picture books.
1963 – Danton Remoto, award-winning Filipino writer, essayist, journalist,, editor, columnist, and professor who is the chairman emeritus of Ang Ladlad, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) political party in the Philippines.
1964 – Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Award-winning U.S. writer of children’s and young-adult fiction.
1965 – Melina Marchetta, award-winning Australian author, children’s writer, screenwriter, and teacher, best known for her young-adult novels.
1986 – Marina Orlova, award-winning Russian actress, writer, poet, lyricist, composer, singer, radio personality, and television presenter who is known as the Russian Marilyn Monroe.