September 9 is reportedly the most popular date for babies to be born, and September is the busiest month for birthdays. But that doesn't mean it's a month for commoners. Here are a few notable (and noble) people who were born in September.
1. September 7, 1533: Queen Elizabeth
England’s first Queen Elizabeth had a bit of a complicated path to the throne. When her father, King Henry VIII, died in 1547, the throne passed to his 9-year-old son Edward VI (from his third marriage to Jane Seymour). Edward died six years later at age 15, but in that time he'd already changed the order of succession and named his cousin Lady Jane Grey as his successor. Grey ruled for just nine days before the Privy Council declared Mary (daughter of Henry and first wife, Catherine of Aragon) queen instead. Mary I, also known as Bloody Mary, reigned for five tumultuous years until she died at age 42 without heirs. Elizabeth finally ascended the throne in 1558 at age 25 and ruled for 45 years. Like her siblings, she died without an heir and her reign was the last of the Tudor dynasty.
2. September 9, 1890: Colonel Harland Sanders
Colonel Sanders will always be known as the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but he was 40 years old before he even began selling food at his gas station in Corbin, Kentucky. Before that, he worked as a farmhand, a painter, a streetcar conductor, a blacksmith’s assistant, a railroad fireman, a lawyer, an insurance salesman, a secretary, a midwife, and a ferry operator. He didn't own his first KFC franchise until age 62.
3. September 13, 1916: Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl, the British author who gave us Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and many other memorable stories, did some of his most profound writing outside the realm of fiction. In 1962, Dahl's eldest child, Olivia—the apple of his eye—died after contracting measles that developed into measles encephalitis. Dahl wrote about the loss in his private diary, an entry which was uncovered by his family long after the writer's death. While that prose stayed private during Dahl's life, in 1988 he wrote an open letter to parents about the measles vaccine, which was published in a pamphlet from the Sandwell Health Authority. You can read the entire heart-wrenching letter here.
4. September 15, 1890: Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Christie holds the world record as the best-selling novelist ever. While much credit can be given to her pure talent and imagination, Christie was also influenced by her time spent working at a Red Cross hospital during World War I. She was trained in pharmacy work for the job, but became obsessed with the fear of accidentally poisoning someone. No wonder so many of her fictional victims—83 in all—were poisoned.
5. September 16, 1924: Lauren Bacall
Anyone who has seen one of Lauren Bacall's more than 70 movie and television appearances knows that the legendary actor was magnetic—a fact that didn't escape those around her during her very first movie. Bacall was only 20 years old when she was cast in To Have and Have Not (1944). On set, she met and fell in love with Humphrey Bogart, who was 44 years old and married at the time. The chemistry between the two was so evident that the filmmakers worked to expand her screen time until she had a lead role. A year later, she and Bogart were married, and went on to make three more films together—1946's The Big Sleep, Dark Passage (1947), and Key Largo (1948).
6. September 18, 1905: Greta Garbo
Greta Garbo was a bit of an unlikely movie star; she was a notorious introvert who stopped giving interviews early in her career, making 32 movies and then retiring from Hollywood at age 35. Her enigmatic nature was one of the reasons she was recruited to work for the British intelligence agency MI6 during World War II. The exceedingly-recognizable Garbo couldn’t go undercover, but she socialized with persons of interest and reported evidence of their sympathies back to headquarters. She also helped talk the king of Sweden, Gustav V, into meeting with physicist Niels Bohr, which ultimately led the king to offer asylum to Danish Jews. She was criticized in public for not doing enough for the war effort, but in typical Garbo fashion, she kept silent about her espionage activities.
7. September 22, 1791: Michael Faraday
Among other scientific breakthroughs, English chemist and physicist Michael Faraday gave us the concept of an electromagnetic field and invented devices that paved the way for our everyday use of electricity. He was quite an educator, too. In addition to his work for the Royal Institution, Faraday inaugurated a series of science lectures designed for children in 1825, when such curriculum was rare. He gave 19 of the so-called Christmas Lectures (the last in 1860), and the series continues to this day.
8. September 23, 1838: Victoria Woodhull
Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States, despite the fact that, at the time (1872), she couldn’t legally vote! Women in office was a radical idea, but Woodhull was a radical woman in many ways. She divorced twice, invested in the stock market, published a newspaper, and worked as a clairvoyant. Woodhull ran for president on the Equal Rights Party ticket, but spent election night in jail on indecency charges for calling out the hypocrisy of a local minister.
9. September 24, 1936: Jim Henson
Jim Henson was the genius behind The Muppets, but he didn’t grow up with grand aspirations of puppeteering. As a high school senior in 1954, he landed a position with a local television station that wanted a show with puppets. Henson—then only an amateur puppet maker and operator—decided he could learn as he went along. The show only lasted for two episodes, but that was enough time for Henson to make some contacts and an impression. More television appearances soon followed.
10. September 25, 1930: Shel Silverstein
Beloved children's author Shel Silverstein has quite the claim to fame in the music world, though few people know about it: He wrote the Johnny Cash hit "A Boy Named Sue." Silverstein first played the ditty for the country crooner at a party in 1969, and days later, Cash played it during the live recording of At San Quentin. Columbia Records then released the song, and it went to #2 on the pop charts, becoming Cash's biggest-selling single. Silverstein nabbed a Grammy for the tune and a year later, he appeared on The Johnny Cash Show to perform it with the Man in Black himself. In 1978, Silverstein followed up with a sequel called "The Father of a Boy Named Sue," which recounted the saga from dear old dad's perspective.
An earlier version of this story ran in 2016; it has been updated for 2021.