1469 – Niccolò Machiavelli, Italian historian, politician, philosopher, and writer who is widely considered the founder of modern political science and is best known for his handbook for unscrupulous politicians, The Prince.
1533 – Cheng Dawei, Chinese writer and mathematician who is known as “the most illustrious Chinese arithmetician,” mainly because he was the author of Suanfa Tongzong (General Source of Computational Methods).
1829 – Ellen Elizabeth Ellis, English-born New Zealand feminist and writer.
1843 – Edward Dowden, Irish critic, biographer, and poet, noted for his critical work on Shakespeare.
1849 – Jacob Riis, Danish-born “muck-raking” journalist, photographer, and social reformer who shocked his readers by shining a spotlight on the squalid living conditions in New York City tenements.
1853 – Edgar Watson Howe, U.S. novelist who was also a newspaper and magazine editor.
1854 – Joan Alcover, Spanish writer, poet, essayist, and politician.
1859 – Andy Adams, U.S. author of western fiction about cowboys.
1860 – Emily Coungeau, prolific English-born Australian poet, writer, and librettist.
1865 – Martha Margaret Mildred Simpson, Irish pedagogist, lecturer, and writer who pioneered new education methods in Australia, including kindergarten education, supervised playgrounds, and hospital schools.
1870 – Octavio Cordero Palacios, Ecuadorian writer, lawyer, poet, professor, inventor, mathematician, and translator.
1873 – Nini Roll Anker, Norwegian novelist and playwright whose books often concerned the lives of women within different social classes, as well as the women’s rights movement and the rights of the working class.
1896 – Dorothy Gladys “Dodie” Smith, English children’s novelist and playwright, known best for the novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians.
1898 – Septima Poinsette Clark, U.S. African-American educator, civil-rights activist, and autobiographer who developed the literacy and citizenship workshops that played an important role in the drive for voting rights and civil rights for African Americans. She became known as the Queen Mother or the Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, but Martin Luther King Jr. commonly referred to her as “The Mother of the Movement.” Clark wrote two autobiographies; the first, Echo In My Soul, is a combination of her life story, her work at the Highlander Folk School, and her views about the Jim Crow laws and the legitimacy of the Civil Rights Movement, while her second autobiography, Ready from Within, recollects her own life experiences.
1898 – Golda Meir (born Golda Mabovitch), Ukrainian-born Israeli politician, teacher, author, and autobiographer who was the first woman Prime Minister of Israel; she has been described as the “Iron Lady” of Israeli politics.
1902 – Mircea Gesticone, award-winning Romanian novelist and poet.
1903 – László Jávor, Hungarian poet who wrote the poem that was the basis for the jazz standard “Gloomy Sunday,” composed by Rezso Seress and later recorded by Billie Holiday.
1907 – Harvey Earl Wilson, U.S. journalist, gossip columnist, and author,
1912 – May Sarton (pen name for Eleanore Marie Sarton), Belgian-born U.S. poet, novelist, and memoirist.
1913 – William Motter Inge, Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. playwright and novelist whose works typically feature solitary protagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations. In the early 1950s he had a string of memorable Broadway productions, including Picnic, Come Back Little Sheba, and Bus Stop.
1914 – Itsuo Tsuda, influential Korean-born Japanese philosopher, author, and teacher of aikido and Seitai.
1917 – Betty Comden, U.S. screenwriter, songwriter, playwright, lyricist, and memoirist who began writing musicals with her working partner Adolph Green because they couldn’t find work as actors; their work includes some of the most celebrated musicals in history, including Singing in the Rain, Peter Pan, Auntie Mame, and On the Town.
1924 – Yehuda Amichai, German-born Israeli poet who is considered by many to be Israel’s greatest modern poet.
1929 – Jahanara Imam, Indian Bangladeshi writer and political activist; for her efforts to bring those accused of committing war crimes in the Bangladesh Liberation War to trial, she has been called “Shaheed Janani” (Mother of Martyrs).
1931 – Hamlet Bareh Ngapkynta, Indian writer, historian, and film director who was the first person from the Khasi tribe, an indigenous ethic group of the state, to secure a doctoral degree; he also made the first feature film in the Khasi language, Ka Synjuk Ri ki Laiphew Syiem (The Alliance of Thirty Kings).
1935 – Sujatha, pen name of S. Rangarajan, prolific Indian Tamil writer of novels, short stories, books on science, plays, columns, and poetry; he was one of the most popular authors in Tamil literature.
1937 – Mohammad Hoghooghi, Iranian poet, author, and critic; his book Modern Poetry, From Beginning Until Today is one of the leading encyclopedic sources on modern Iranian poetry.
1944 – Twins Seven Seven (born Omoba Taiwo Olaniyi Oyewale-Toyeje Oyelale Osuntoki), Nigerian painter, sculptor, writer, dancer, and musician who was one of the best known artists of the Osogbo School.
1947 – Aino Hivand, Norwegian-Sami visual artist and children’s book writer with an expressionist and abstract style.
1947 – Mavis Jukes, Newbery Medal-winning U.S. author of children’s fiction and nonfiction books who often writes on health-related issues.
1948 – Leslie Marmon Silko, U.S. Native American novelist, poet, and essayist who is a Laguna Pueblo Indian and one of the key figures in the First Wave the Native American Renaissance.
1951 – Tatyana Nikitichna Tolstaya, Russian writer, television host, publicist, novelist, and essayist who is the granddaughter of famous writer Leo Tolstoy.
1955 – Hailji, South Korean writer and poet whose series of “Racetrack” novels created controversy in Korea; many of his works have been made into movies or plays, making him a key figure in the development of modern Korean cinema.
1959 – Ben Elton, English comedian, author, actor, director, screenwriter, and playwright, known for political satire; his work includes writing for television series such as Blackadder, as well as a sequel to Phantom of the Opera.
1962 – Shukri Mabkhout, Tunisian writer, academic, and literary critic
1965 – Ninotchka “Nina” García, Colombian fashion journalist, editor, and critic
1972 – Reza Aslan, Iranian-born U.S. author, commentator, and religious scholar.
1977 – Maryam Mirzakhani (Persian: مریم میرزاخانی), award-winning Iranian mathematician, researcher, writer, and professor whose research topics included Teichmüller theory, hyperbolic geometry, ergodic theory, and symplectic geometry; in 2005, she was honored as part of Popular Science‘s fourth annual “Brilliant 10,” as one of the top 10 young minds who have pushed their fields in innovative directions.