17th Century Writers

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Find out more about the greatest 17th Century Writers, including Voltaire, John Milton, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe and Alexander Pope.
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 1 
John Locke
(English Philosopher and Physician, Popularly Known as the ‘Father of Liberalism’)
John Locke
11
Birthdate: August 29, 1632
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wrington, Somerset, England
Died: October 28, 1704
John Locke, also known as The Father of Liberalism, was a prominent Enlightenment Age philosopher. A qualified physician, Locke postulated the theory of mind, empiricism, and the idea of tabula rasa. His ideas influenced the social contract theory, the works of Kant and Rousseau, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence.
 2 
Walter Raleigh
(English Statesman, Soldier, Writer, Explorer and One of the Most Notable Figures of the Elizabethan Era)
Walter Raleigh
7
Birthdate: 1552 AD
Birthplace: Hayes Barton,United Kingdom, United Kingdom
Died: October 29, 1618
English explorer Walter Raleigh is best remembered for his involvement in the Siege of Smerwick and for colonizing North America. He made smoking tobacco popular in England. His accounts of his first voyage to South America led to the legend of El Dorado. He was executed to please the Spanish.
 3 
Thomas Hobbes
(English Philosopher and One of the Founders of Modern Political Philosophy)
Thomas Hobbes
10
Birthdate: April 5, 1588
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Westport, Wiltshire, England
Died: December 4, 1679

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher. Widely regarded as the co-founder of modern political philosophy, Hobbes is best known for his influential book Leviathan. Apart from political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes also contributed immensely to various other fields, such as ethics, theology, geometry, history, and jurisprudence.

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 4 
John Milton
(English Poet and Intellectual Known for His Epic Poem ‘Paradise Lost’)
John Milton
9
Birthdate: December 9, 1608
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheapside, London, England
Died: November 8, 1674

John Milton was an English poet whose epic poem Paradise Lost is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of literature. Milton's other celebrated work Areopagitica is counted among history's most impassioned and influential defenses of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. John Milton’s works have influenced other prominent writers, such as Thomas Hardy and George Eliot.

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 5 
Jonathan Swift
(Satirist & Author of 'Gulliver's Travels',' A Tale of a Tub' and 'A Modest Proposal')
Jonathan Swift
6
Birthdate: November 30, 1667
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: October 19, 1745

Eighteenth-century essayist, poet, and pamphleteer Jonathan Swift is remembered for his iconic works such as A Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, and Gulliver's Travels. One of the world’s greatest satirists, he gave rise to the deadpan Swiftian style. He had also been the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

 6 
John Donne
(17th Century English Poet Who is Considered the Preeminent Representative of the Metaphysical Poets)
John Donne
6
Birthdate: January 22, 1572
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 31, 1631
English metaphysical poet John Donne is best known for his touch of sensuality and spirituality in his poems. One of his best-known poems is The Canonization. He had also worked on Latin translations, elegies, sermons, and epigrams. He was known for his reckless lifestyle, that affected his financial status. 
 7 
Daniel Defoe
(Author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders)
Daniel Defoe
4
Birthdate: 1660 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 24, 1731
Daniel Defoe was an English trader, pamphleteer, and spy, who is best remembered for his 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. He also helped in popularizing the novel format of writing in Britain. He was a forerunner of business journalism, too, and also traded in hosiery, woollen goods, and wine.
 8 
Moliere
(French Playwright and One of the Greatest Writers of French Comedy)
Moliere
6
Birthdate: January 15, 1622
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rue Saint Honoré, Paris, France
Died: February 17, 1673

Moliere was a French poet, playwright, and actor. Considered one of the greatest French-language writers of all time, Moliere's plays are often performed at the Comédie-Française and have been translated into several languages. Moliere had a huge impact on the French language and is widely regarded as the creator of modern French comedy.

 9 
William Shakespeare
(English Playwright & Poet Who is Regarded as the Greatest Writer in the English Language)
William Shakespeare
104
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Died: April 23, 1616

English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is also often called England's national poet. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and his plays continue to be produced till day. Popular during his lifetime, he acquired an iconic status after his death.

 10 
Samuel Pepys
(Member of Parliament)
Samuel Pepys
6
Birthdate: February 23, 1633
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 26, 1703
 11 
Miyamoto Musashi
(Japanese Swordsman and Philosopher Who Became Popular Through His Unique Double-Bladed Swordsmanship)
Miyamoto Musashi
4
Birthdate: 1584 AD
Birthplace: Harima Province, Japan
Died: June 13, 1645

Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, writer, strategist, and philosopher. Widely regarded as a Kensei, Musashi became famous through his stories of bravery, which involves his undefeated streak of 61 duels. He is also credited with founding the Niten Ichi-ryū school of swordsmanship. His life has inspired several films, TV series, stage plays, and video games.

 12 
Aphra Behn
(Playwright)
Aphra Behn
6
Birthdate: July 10, 1640
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Canterbury, England
Died: April 16, 1689
 13 
William Penn
(Writer)
William Penn
6
Birthdate: October 14, 1644
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 30, 1718

William Penn was a writer and one of the earliest members of the Quakers. He is credited with founding the Province of Pennsylvania. He also oversaw the planning and development of the city of Philadelphia. Penn has several universities and schools named in his honor, including the William Penn University in Iowa. 

 14 
Charles Perrault
(Iconic French Author Who Laid the Foundations for a New Literary Genre, the 'Fairy Tale')
Charles Perrault
6
Birthdate: January 12, 1628
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 16, 1703

Most people have grown up reading fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots. However, they aren’t probably aware that these folk tales were first collated and presented under the genre fairy tales, as Tales of Mother Goose, by 17th-century French author Charles Perrault.

 15 
Jean Racine
(Dramatist)
Jean Racine
4
Birthdate: December 22, 1639
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: La Ferté-Milon, Kingdom of France
Died: April 21, 1699
 16 
Joseph Addison
(Essayist & Poet)
Joseph Addison
6
Birthdate: May 1, 1672
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milston, United Kingdom
Died: June 17, 1719
Best known for his articles in the iconic 18th-century periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator, English essayist Joseph Addison had a lifelong collaboration with Richard Steele. Educated at Oxford, he excelled in Latin and classics. A prominent Whig, he mostly wrote on the social and cultural trends of his time.
 17 
Cyrano de Bergerac
(Novelist and Playwright Known for His Play ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’)
Cyrano de Bergerac
4
Birthdate: March 6, 1619
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 28, 1655
Seventeenth-century author and duelist Cyrano de Bergerac was immortalized by Edmond Rostand’s drama Cyrano de Bergerac, based on Bergerac’s life, with its mix of myth and reality. Even Bergerac's death is shrouded in mystery, with some claiming he died of an injury and others believing he died of a disease.
 18 
Juana Inés de la Cruz
(Mexican Writer, Philosopher, Composer and Poet of the 'Baroque Period')
Juana Inés de la Cruz
6
Birthdate: November 12, 1648
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Tepetlixpa, Mexico
Died: April 17, 1695

Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz was one of the finest authors of the Latin American colonial era. Initially the lady-in-waiting of Mexico’s viceroy, she later took her vows. She built a huge library and penned masterpieces such as the poem Primero sueño and the religious drama El divino Narciso.

 19 
Andrew Marvell
7
Birthdate: March 31, 1621
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Winestead, England
Died: August 16, 1678
 20 
John Dryden
7
Birthdate: August 9, 1631
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, England
Died: May 12, 1700
 21 
Roger Williams
(Theologian)
Roger Williams
4
Birthdate: December 12, 1603
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1683 AD

Roger Williams was a 17th-century Puritan minister and theologian. He founded Providence Plantations, which later became the US state of Rhode Island. He advocated for fair dealings with Native Americans and believed in religious freedom. He disapproved of perpetual chattel slavery. After being expelled by the Puritan leaders, he founded the First Baptist Church in America. 

 22 
John Bunyan
(English Writer and Puritan Preacher Best Known as the Author of the Christian Allegory ‘The Pilgrim's Progress’)
John Bunyan
4
Birthdate: November 1, 1628
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Elstow, Bedfordshire, England
Died: August 31, 1688

John Bunyan, the noted author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, was known for his belief in Puritanism. The son of a brazier, he initially quit school to join his father’s trade. He was later inspired by chapbooks, to write his iconic works and has also become a preacher.

 23 
Thomas Browne
(English Polymath and Author Best Known for His Books 'Religio Medici' and 'Urne-Burial')
Thomas Browne
4
Birthdate: October 19, 1605
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 19, 1682

Thomas Browne was an English author and polymath who wrote several books on varied fields, such as religion, medicine, science, and the esoteric. Browne incorporated different styles of writing depending upon the genre he was working on. Over the years, his writing has influenced several other writers like Herman Melville. Browne's works have been admired by personalities like William Osler.

 24 
Basho
(The Most Famous Poet of the Edo Period in Japan)
Basho
3
Birthdate: 1644 AD
Birthplace: Iga Province
Died: November 28, 1694

Basho was a Japanese poet of the Edo period. Regarded as the greatest master of haiku, Basho's poetry is read all over the world; many of his works have been translated into English. Such is his popularity that in 1979 a crater on planet Mercury was named after him by the International Astronomical Union.

 25 
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
(philosopher, scientist, poet, science fiction writer)
Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
3
Birthdate: 1623 AD
Birthplace: Colchester, England
Died: December 15, 1673

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish was an English poet, philosopher, playwright, fiction writer, and scientist. Margaret, who had the audacity to publish her works without using a pen name at a time when female writers remained anonymous, was ahead of her time. Not surprisingly, she was considered eccentric and earned the nickname Mad Madge. Her works gained popularity in the 1980s.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
7
Birthdate: May 15, 1689
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 21, 1762
 27 
Anne Bradstreet
5
Birthdate: March 20, 1612
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Northampton, England
Died: September 16, 1672
 28 
Jean de La Fontaine
(French Fabulist and One of the Most Widely Read French Poets of the 17th Century)
Jean de La Fontaine
3
Birthdate: July 8, 1621
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Château-Thierry, Champagne, France
Died: April 13, 1695

Seventeenth-century French author Jean de La Fontaine is best remembered for his Fables. Initially a forest inspector, he later attended the salons of aristocratic patrons, where he met scholars, authors, and philosophers. Though he faced royal opposition, he was eventually made a part of the French Academy.

 29 
John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester
(Poet, Writer, Playwright)
John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester
3
Birthdate: April 1, 1647
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ditchley
Died: July 26, 1680
 30 
Isaac Watts
(Theologian)
Isaac Watts
3
Birthdate: July 17, 1674
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Southampton, Kingdom of England
Died: November 25, 1748
 31 
Tukaram
(Saint, Poet)
Tukaram
3
Birthdate: 1608 AD
Birthplace: Dehu, Near Pune, India
Died: 1650 AD

Marathi poet Sant Tukaram was one of the pillars of the Bhakti movement of Maharashtra. It is believed he began writing abhangas, or religious poetry, after being visited by Vitthal, an avatar of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna, in a dream. He is revered by the Varkari sampradaya.

 32 
Giambattista Vico
(Italian Philosopher Best Known for His 'Verum Factum' Principle)
Giambattista Vico
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1668
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Naples, Italy
Died: January 23, 1744

Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico is regarded as a pioneer of what is now known as cultural anthropology, or ethnology. He brought together history and the social sciences in his work Scienza nuova. A poor bookseller’s son, he studied by candlelight but grew up to be a major Counter-Enlightenment figure.

 33 
John Gay
(Dramatist & Poet)
John Gay
3
Birthdate: June 30, 1685
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Barnstaple
Died: December 4, 1732
 34 
Samuel Richardson
(Writer, Novelist)
Samuel Richardson
4
Birthdate: August 19, 1689
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mackworth
Died: July 4, 1761
 35 
John Harington
(English author)
John Harington
3
Birthdate: August 4, 1561
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kelston, United Kingdom
Died: November 20, 1612

Though a witty author, John Harington is better remembered as the inventor of the flush toilet. He was banished from the royal court for the cockiness of his language in his written works. He also earned a knighthood and later came to be known as Queen Elizabeth’s “saucy godson.”

 36 
Lope de Vega
(Writer and One of the Key Figures in the Spanish Golden Age of Baroque Literature)
Lope de Vega
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1562
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: August 27, 1635

Spanish Baroque dramatist Lope de Vega was one of the most significant figures of the Spanish Golden Age. He had initially aspired to be a priest but abandoned his plans after falling in love with a married woman. He is best remembered for works such as The Dog in the Manger.

 37 
Emilia Lanier
5
Birthdate: 1569
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bishopsgate, London, England
Died: March 31, 1645
 38 
George Fox
(Author)
George Fox
2
Birthdate: 1624
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, England
Died: January 13, 1691

Born to a weaver, George Fox had little formal education and left home at 18, in pursuit of some religious experience. The English missionary later founded the Society of Friends, or Quakers, which is a Protestant branch. He was married to Margaret Fell, known widely as "the mother of Quakerism."

 39 
Pierre Corneille
(Tragedian)
Pierre Corneille
3
Birthdate: June 6, 1606
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: October 1, 1684

Born into a family of lawyers, Pierre Corneille, too, initially studied law. However, both he and his younger brother, noted playwright Thomas Corneille, deviated from their family profession. Part of the Society of Five Authors, selected by Cardinal de Richelieu, Corneille later grew into one of the greatest 17th-century tragedians.

 40 
Thomas Nashe
(Playwright)
Thomas Nashe
5
Birthdate: 1567
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lowestoft, United Kingdom
Died: 1601 AD
 41 
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
(French Moralist of the Era of French Classical Literature and Author of 'Maximes' and 'Memoirs')
Francois de La Rochefoucauld
3
Birthdate: September 15, 1613
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rue des Petits-Champs, Paris, France
Died: March 17, 1680

French classical author Francois de La Rochefoucauld is best known for his use of the maxime, a French epigram. He had initially been part of the army that fought against the Spanish. He later grew up to be the quintessential 17th-century nobleman. His Mémoires and Maximes are his most-talked-about works.

 42 
Samuel Butler
3
Birthdate: February 14, 1613
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Strensham, England
Died: September 25, 1680
 43 
William Congreve
(Playwright, Poet, Writer, Translator)
William Congreve
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1670
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Leeds
Died: January 19, 1729
 44 
Izaak Walton
(British Writer Best Known as the Author of 'The Compleat Angler')
Izaak Walton
4
Birthdate: August 9, 1593
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Stafford, England
Died: December 15, 1683

One of the greatest biographers of the 17th century, Izaak Walton was also a lover of fishing and had penned one of the most detailed treatises on fishing, The Compleat Angler. His notable works also include his biographies on John Donne and Henry Wotton. He was also a staunch Royalist.

Abdul Rahim Khan-I-Khana
4
Birthdate: December 17, 1556
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Delhi, Mughal empire
Died: October 1, 1627

Abdul Rahim Khan-i-Khana was an Indian poet who served in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was counted among the Navaratnas, Akbar's nine important ministers. Rahim is best remembered for his couplets and books on astrology.

 46 
James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose
(Poet, Viceroy and Captain General of Scotland)
James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1612
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: May 21, 1650

Known as The Great Montrose, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose was not just a Scottish nobleman and military leader but also a talented poet. He won many battles for Charles I but was defeated in the Battle of Carbisdale, following which he was hanged to death in the Edinburgh marketplace.

 47 
Francisco de Quevedo
(Spanish Politician and One of the Greatest Poets of the Spanish Golden Age)
Francisco de Quevedo
3
Birthdate: September 14, 1580
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: September 8, 1645

Spanish nobleman, politician and writer Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas, KOS of the Baroque era is counted among the most prominent writers of Spain's Golden Age. Quevedo adhered to the conceptismo style compared to his lifelong rival, Luis de Góngora’s culteranismo style. His notable works include the picaresque novel El Buscón and the satirical prose Los Sueños.

 48 
Ninon de l'Enclos
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1620
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 17, 1705
John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
3
Birthdate: September 8, 1647
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 24, 1721
 50 
Baltasar Gracian
(Spanish Jesuit and Baroque Prose Writer and Philosopher)
Baltasar Gracian
3
Birthdate: January 8, 1601
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belmonte de Gracián, Spain
Died: December 6, 1658

Spanish baroque author and philosopher Baltasar Gracian was a leading proponent of the conceptismo style. Inspired by his priest uncle, he took Jesuit vows. His notable works include Subtlety and the Art of Genius and the three-part novel The Critick, with the latter written under a pseudonym.