1214 – Sturla Þórðarson, Icelandic chieftain, poet, historian, and writer of sagas and contemporary history.
1605 – Simon Dach, Prussian German lyrical poet and hymn writer.
1771 – Yun Zhu (or Wanglan Yun Zhu), Chinese poet, painter, and anthologist who gathered together and published thousands of poems written by hundreds of women; she was nicknamed “Adept of the Lotus Lake.”
1796 – Rasmus Villads Christian Ferdinand Winther, Danish lyric poet and writer of epic romance verse who has been called the “Singer of Zealand”; the king of Denmark appointed him to instruct German Princess Mariane, who was to marry the Crown Prince of Denmark, in the Danish language..
1805 – Alexis de Tocqueville, French historian, political thinker, and author, best known for his two-volume work Democracy in America.
1849 – Max Nordau, Hungarian-born author, physician, social critic, and Zionist leader.
1868 – Shahjahan Begum, Begum of Bhopal (the ruler of the Islamic principality of Bhopal, now part of Madhya Pradesh, India) who first became ruler at the age of six, with her mother acting as regent; in 1868 she became Begun with the death of her mother. As ruler, she is credited with improving the tax revenue system and increasing state intake, raising the salaries of her soldiers, modernizing military arms, building a dam and an artificial lake, improving the efficiency of the police force, initiating construction of one of the largest mosques in India, and undertaking the first census after the state suffered two plagues. She was also an author and autobiographer.
1869 – Booth Tarkington, U.S. novelist and dramatist best known for his novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams.
1878 – Don Marquis, U.S. poet, humorist, journalist, novelist, playwright, and columnist.
1883 – Miguel Ángel Osorio Benítez (better known by his pseudonym, Porfirio Barba-Jacob, though he also used the pseudonyms Marín Jiménez and Ricardo Arenales), Colombian poet, writer, biographer, and literary magazine founder whose most famous work was “Canción de la vida profunda” (“Song of the deep life”); his novel Virginia was never published because the manuscript was confiscated by the mayor of Santa Rosa for alleged immorality.
1890 – Marjory Lydia Nicholls, New Zealand poet, teacher ,and drama producer who was a key figure in New Zealand poetry and theatre.
1900 – Eyvind Johnson, Nobel Prize-winning Swedish author and short-story writer who is considered the most groundbreaking novelist in modern Swedish literature.
1900 – Teresa Noce, Italian journalist, labor leader, activist, and feminist who served as a parliamentary deputy and advocated broad social legislation benefiting mothers.
1900 – Antoine de Saint-Exupery (full name Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry), French aristocrat, writer, poet, and aviation pioneer who is best known for his children’s book, The Little Prince; the idea for the book came to him in dehydration-induced hallucinations after the plane he was piloting crashed in the Sahara Desert, stranding him and his navigator with no food and water except for the coffee and wine they had been carrying, until their rescue four days later.
1905 – Stanley Kunitz, National Book Award-winning U.S. poet who was twice named U.S. Poet Laureate.
1907 – Ille Toktash, Soviet Chuvash writer, poet, translator, and journalist.
1909 – Samm Sinclair Baker, U.S. author of many how-to and self-help books; notably The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet; he also wrote books on gardening.
1909 – Chester Himes, U.S. African-American writer who wrote a series of mystery novels with an African-American detective, a groundbreaking choice for the time; his books dealt with racism, and two of them have been made into movies.
1909 – Sujan Singh, Indian Punjabi short-story writer, bank clerk, and educator; he is associated with the Progressive literary movement.
1911 – Judah Waten, Ukrainian-born Australian Jewish writer whose best-known work is a collection of autobiographical short stories called Alien Son; he was involved in the Realist Writers Group.
1915 – Kay Dick (born Kathleen Elsie Dick), English journalist, writer, novelist, and autobiographer who sometimes wrote under the name Edward Lane.
1917 – George Campbell, Irish author, painter, flamenco guitarist, and stained-glass artist who wrote books about Ireland, especially Ulster, but also spent much of his career in Spain.
1918 – Edwin O’Connor, U.S. radio personality, journalist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.
1918 – Mary Lee Settle, National Book Award-winning U.S. author and educator who was founder of the PEN/Faulkner Award; she is best remembered for her series of five books of historical fiction, the Beulah Quintet.
1920 – Philippe Ebly, Belgian writer, children’s author, fantasy writer, and science-fiction writer.
1927 – Jean Karl, U.S. author and editor, best known for science-fiction books for young adults.
1927 – Harry Kurt Victor Mulisch, Dutch writer of novels, essays, plays, and poems who often wrote about war, especially the Holocaust, and incorporated myths and legends into his work. Along with Willem Frederik Hermans and Gerard Reve, he is considered one of the “Great Three” (De Grote Drie) of Dutch postwar literature; in a 2007 poll, readers voted his book The Discovery of Heaven as the greatest Dutch book ever written.
1930 – Manuel Mantero, Spanish writer, poet, novelist, essayist, literary critic, and professor.
1931 – George Carver Clerk, Ghanaian botanist, plant pathologist, writer, and professor whose research focused on West African mycology and ecology.
1932 – Katerina Taikon, Swedish Roma writer and activist who dedicated her life to improving conditions for Romani people in Sweden and throughout the world. Because Roma children had little access to education, she didn’t learn to read until she was in her teens, but through her tireless work, debating, writing, and advocating with authorities, she played a large part in seeing the Romani granted the same rights to housing and education as other Swedes.
1933 – Habib Boularès, Tunisian journalist, writer, diplomat, and politician.
1938 – Peter Jennings, Canadian/U.S. journalist, author, and television news anchor.
1940 – Ole Lund Kirkegaard, Danish children’s writer, young-adult writer, illustrator, and teacher; he died at the age of 38 when he drank too much one night and froze to death after he fell in the snow on his way home and could not get up.
1940 – Solita Garduno Collás-Monsod (better known as Mareng Winni), Filipina broadcaster, economist, writer, and professor who was Director-General of the National Economic and Development Authority and Socio-economic Planning Secretary of the Philippines.
1941 – Goenawan Mohamad, Indonesian poet, columnist, and magazine editor.
1945 – Sharon Creech, U.S. author of children’s fiction who has won both the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal.
1948 – Meir Shalev, Israeli writer, columnist, children’s author, television presenter, and journalist.
1951 – Susan Blackmore, British writer, lecturer, and broadcaster on topics dealing with psychology and the paranormal.
1952 – Kathleen Krull, U.S. author and editor of children’s books, best known for her biographies.
1957 – Aleksey Ivanovich Slapovsky, award-winning Russian novelist, journalist, and playwright.
1959 – Ruud Janssen, Dutch artist, writer, and interviewer who specializes in Mail Art.
1959 – Connie Porter, U.S. author of books for children and young adults; she wrote the “Addy” books in the American Girl series.
1960 – Didier van Cauwelaert, bestselling French author and libretto writer.
1960 – Mercedes Arriaga Flórez, Spanish writer, professor, and philologist with expertise in modern and contemporary Italian literature.
1960 – Salim Safurdeen Abdool Karim, award-winning South African epidemiologist, infectious diseases researcher, writer, professor, and public health specialist.
1963 – Caroline Paul, U.S. firefighter, journalist, and author of fiction and nonfiction; her identical twin sister is Baywatch actress Alexandra Paul; her brother Jonathan Paul is an activist who is considered a domestic terrorist by the U.S. government for his militant animal-rights activities.
1965 – Chang-Rae Lee, South Korean-born U.S. novelist and professor whose books often deal with the experiences of Asian immigrants in the United States; he won the PEN Award for his first novel, Native Speaker.
1966 – Thórarinn Leifsson, award-winning Icelandic author, children’s and young-adult writer, autobiographical novelist, playwright, illustrator, and street artist; his debut novel, Father’s Big Secret, is a dark tale for children about a cannibal father and his complicated relationship with his children.
1969 – Nathalie Handal, Haitian-born French-U.S. writer, poet, and playwright.
1970 – Adele Griffin, two-time National Book Award finalist U.S. author of young-adult fiction.
1970 – Lisi Harrison, Canadian author of young-adult novels.
1972 – Wil Wheaton, U.S. actor, writer, memoirist, blogger, web-series host, and general internet good guy; he is best known for the roles of Wesley Crusher in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Gordie in the Rob Reiner film, Stand By Me.