1564 – William Shakespeare, English playwright, poet, and actor widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s greatest playwright, and is often called the Bard of Avon. (April 23 is a probable birthdate, based on his April 26 baptism.)
1852 – Edwin Markham, U.S. poet, nonfiction writer, essayist, and educator who was Poet Laureate of Oregon.
1859 – Margaret Todd, Scottish medical doctor, schoolteacher, and novelist who is credited with coining the term isotope.
1865 – Luisa Piccarreta, Italian author and mystic known as the “Little Daughter of the Divine Will”; she is under consideration for canonization as a saint of the Catholic Church.
1875 – Élisabeth de Gramont Antoinette Corisande (Élisabeth, Duchess of Clermont-Tonnerre), French writer, translator, and salonnière who is remembered in part for her long-term lesbian relationship with Natalie Clifford Barney, an American writer, and for her close friendship with Marcel Proust; she became known as the “red duchess” for her support of socialism and feminism.
1895 – Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand crime writer, theater director, and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire; she is best known for her detective novels, mostly set in England.
1896 – Margaret Moore Kennedy, English novelist, screenwriter, and playwright.
1902 – Halldór Laxness, Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic writer, praised “for his vivid epic power which has renewed the great narrative art of Iceland.”
1919 – Silja Walter, Swiss novelist, poet, and Benedictine nun; her religious name was Maria Hedwig.
1922 – Fadil Hadzic, Bosnian journalist, playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker best known for his comedic work.
1923 – Cristina Campo (pen name of Vittoria Maria Angelica Marcella Cristina Guerrini), Italian writer, poet, columnist, radio writer, and translator who also published under the pseudonyms Puccio Quaratesi, Bernardo Trevisano, Giusto Cabianca and Benedetto P. d’Angelo.
1923 – Avram Davidson, U.S. writer of fantasy, science fiction, crime fiction, and mystery.
1924 – Margit Sandemo (née Underdal), Norwegian-Swedish author of historical fantasy who is the bestselling author in the Nordic countries; her plots are known for their complexity and for elements of history, romance, suspense, supernatural phenomena, and the fight between good and evil..
1926 – J.P. Donleavy, Irish and U.S. novelist and playwright; his best-known work, The Ginger Man, was initially banned for obscenity.
1930 – Shun Akiyama, Japanese writer, professor, and literary critic.
1935 – George Varghese Kakkanadan (commonly known as, simply, Kakkanadan), Indian short-story writer and novelist in the Malayalam language; his works made break from the neo-realism that dominated Malayalam literature and are credited with laying the foundation of modernism in Malayalam literature.
1937 – Victoria Glendinning, English critic, novelist, broadcaster, and biographer.
1939 – Ramakrishna Pillai Ramachandran Nair, prolific Indian writer and founding Vice Chancellor of Sri Sankaracharya University; he wrote in Sanskrit, Malayalam, and English, sometimes under the pseudonym Thulaseevanam. His compositions praise the deities of Kerala temples, and are credited with popularizing many temples in Kerala.
1947 – Ifi Amadiume, Nigerian writer, poet, author, essayist, university teacher, and anthropologist.
1948 – Charles R. Johnson, National Book Award-winning U.S. African-American scholar, novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter, cartoonist, and essayist; most of his work has a philosophical orientation.
1948 – Pascal Quignard, award-winning French literary novelist.
1954 – Michael Moore, U.S. documentary filmmaker, screenwriter, author, journalist, and activist; his written and cinematic works criticize globalization, large corporations, assault weapon ownership, the Iraq War, the American healthcare system, and other institutions. In 2005, Time named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
1969 – Arthur Phillips, bestselling U.S. novelist and five-time Jeopardy champion.
1981 – Jelena Veljaca, Croatian columnist, screenwriter, and actress.