1277 – Christina Ebner, German writer, autobiographer, diarist, mystic, and nun who wrote books about her religious visions and about historical and political events.
1516 – Conrad Gessner, Swiss writer, naturalist, physician, zoologist, beekeeper, biologist, ornithologist, university teacher, botanist, mountaineer, bibliographer, and linguist who compiled monumental works on bibliography and zoology and was working on a major botanical text at the time of his death from plague at the age of 49. He was the first to describe many species of plant or animal in Europe, including the tulip, and is regarded as the father of modern scientific bibliography, zoology, and botany.
1761 – Anne-Hyacinthe de Saint-Léger de Colleville, French novelist and dramatist.
1819 – Louise Otto-Peters, German journalist, suffragist, and women’s rights activist who wrote novels, poetry, essays, and libretti.
1833 – Betsy Perk, Dutch playwright, writer, journalist, and historical novelist who was a pioneer of the Dutch women’s movement; she wrote under the pen names Philemon, Liesbeth van Altena, and Spirito.
1847 – Annie Foore (pen name of Francisca Johanna Jacoba Alberta IJzerman-Junius), Dutch-born writer who lived in Dutch East Indies.
1859 – A.E. Housman (Alfred Edward Housman), English classical scholar and poet, best known for his lyrical “A Shropshire Lad” poems, which evoke the dooms and disappointments of youth in the English countryside.
1874 – Robert Frost, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. poet whose work is closely associated with the northern U.S. but was first published in England; known for realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, he examined complex social and political themes through observations about rural life in New England. He was also Poet Laureate of Vermont.
1885 – Florence Marian McNeill, Scottish folklorist, author, editor, suffragist, and political activist; she is best known for writing The Silver Bough, a four-volume study of Scottish folklore, as well as The Scots Kitchen and Scots Cellar: Its Traditions and Lore with Old-time Recipes.
1904 – Joseph Campbell, U.S. writer, professor, and lecturer who was known for his work in comparative mythology and religion.
1905 – Viktor Frankl, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist; his Man’s Search for Meaning chronicles his time in a Nazi concentration camp.
1907 – Mahadevi Verma, Hindi poet, freedom fighter, and professor; she was a major poet of the “Chhayavaad,” a literary movement of romanticism in modern Hindi poetry.
1908 – Maria Sergeyevna Petrovykh, Russian poet, writer, and translator.
1911 – Tenessee Williams (pen name of Thomas Lanier Williams III), U.S. playwright who created many classics of U.S. drama; along with contemporaries Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered one of the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.
1915 – Hwang Sun-wŏn, award-winning South Korean short-story writer, novelist, and poet.
1917 – Florence Ruth Gilbert, award-winning New Zealand poet.
1923 – Elizabeth Jane Howard, award-winning English novelist best remembered for The Cazalet Chronicles.
1930 – Gregory Nunzio Corso, U.S. poet who was part of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers.
1931 – Leonard Nimoy, U.S. actor, screenwriter, photographer, writer, poet, musician, voice actor, film director, and film producer; he is, of course, best known for playing Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.
1932 – Adewale Oke Adekola, Nigerian engineer, academic, author, and administrator who was the first Nigerian dean of engineering and head of civil engineering at the University of Lagos and the founding vice chancellor of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Bauchi.
1932 – Elena Meerovna Akselrod, Belarusian-born Russian writer, poet, translator, and biographer.
1940 – Fiona Kidman, New Zealand writer, poet, short-story writer, novelist, and scriptwriter.
1941 – Richard Dawkins, Kenyan-born English evolutionary biologist, ethologist, and author who is best known for his book The Selfish Gene and his outspoken views against religion.
1942 – Erica Jong, U.S. novelist, satirist, and poet who pushed the boundaries of female sexuality with her 1973 novel Fear of Flying.
1943 – Chinweizu Ibekwe (better known as simply Chinweizu), Nigerian poet, critic, essayist, columnist, and journalist who was influenced by the Black Arts Movement and is commonly associated with Black orientalism.
1943 – Sanmao (pen name for Chen Mao-ping), Taiwanese novelist, translator, screenwriter, and lyricist; her works range from autobiographical writing, travel writing, and reflective novels, to translations of Spanish-language comic strips; she also studied philosophy and taught German.
1943 – Bob Woodward, U.S. journalist and author who, with Carl Bernstein, did much of the investigative reporting for the Washington Post that exposed the Watergate scandal.
1949 – Patrick Süskind, German writer and screenwriter, known best for his novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer.
1952 – T.A. Barron, U.S. author of fantasy literature for children and young adults.
1954 – Dorothy Porter, Australian writer, poet, children’s author, and librettist.
1964 – Hai Zi, pen name of the Chinese poet Zha Haisheng, one of the most famous poets in Mainland China after the Cultural Revolution; he committed suicide by lying on a rail at the age of 25, lying beside a bag containing a Bible, a book of selected stories by Joseph Conrad, Thoreau’s Walden, and Heyerdahk’s Kon-Tiki, a death now regarded as an important event in modern Chinese literature.
1971 – Moyoco Anno, award-winning Japanese manga author and artist; she is also a leading fashion writer.
1979 – Adrian Igonibo Barrett, Nigerian writer of short stories and novels who was included on the Africa39 list of writers aged under 40 with the potential to define future trends in African literature.
1987 – Mahadevi Verma, Indian Hindi poet, academic, and freedom fighter; she was a major poet of the Chhayavaad, a literary movement of romanticism in modern Hindi poetry, and a prominent poet in Hindi Kavi sammelans (Gatherings of poets).