Famous 18th Century British Writers

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century British Writers, including Lord Byron, Jane Austen, William Blake, Thomas Paine and William Wordsworth.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Jane Austen

Jane Austen
19
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 16, 1775
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hampshire, England
Died: July 18, 1817

Considered one of the greatest writers in English history, Jane Austen is best known for her six major novels - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Her writing was set among the British landed gentry and dealt with ordinary people in everyday ordinary situation. The author achieved great fame after her death. 

 2 John Locke

John Locke
6
Famous As: Philosopher
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.

 3 William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth
17
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 7, 1770
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingdom of Great Britain
Died: April 23, 1850

English poet William Wordsworth, along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, released Lyrical Ballads in 1798, which set the tone for the Romantic Age of English Literature. Wordsworth was known for his poems I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, The Prelude, and The Solitary Reaper. He also served as the Poet Laureate.

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 4 William Blake

William Blake
16
Famous As: Poet and Visual Artist of the Romantic Age
Birthdate: November 28, 1757
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Soho, London, England
Died: August 12, 1827
William Blake, author of The Songs of Innocence and of Experience, was a prominent figure of the early phase of the Romantic Age, known as the pre-Romantic era. Known for his visual artistry and poetry, he was also a staunch abolitionist and a forerunner of the "free love" movement.

 5 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft
7
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: April 27, 1759
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 10, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.

 6 Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift
5
Famous As: Satirist & Author of 'Gulliver's Travels',' A Tale of a Tub' and 'A Modest Proposal'
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.

 7 Samuel Coleridge

Samuel Coleridge
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 21, 1772
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Ottery St Mary, Devon, Great Britain, United Kingdom
Died: July 25, 1834

Samuel Coleridge was an English poet, philosopher, theologian, and literary critic. He is credited with co-founding the Romantic Movement in England along with his friend William Wordsworth. Despite struggling from bouts of depression and anxiety throughout his adult life, Samuel Coleridge had a major influence on American transcendentalism and writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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 8 Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson
9
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 18, 1709
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lichfield, England
Died: December 13, 1784

Essayist, biographer, lexicographer, and literary critic Samuel Johnson, or Dr. Johnson, is remembered for his A Dictionary of the English Language and Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets. He was also a poet, a playwright, and a staunch Tory. His mannerisms indicated he had Tourette syndrome.

 9 Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe
4
Famous As: Author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders
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.

 10 Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope
7
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 21, 1688
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 30, 1744

Alexander Pope was a satirist and poet whose works produced during the Augustan period made him one of the greatest artistic exponents of that period. Widely regarded as one of the most important English poets of the 18th century, Alexander Pope is best remembered for writing discursive poetry and heroic couplets.

 11 Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb
3
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: January 31, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Inner Temple, London, England
Died: December 27, 1834

Renowned British essayist Charles Lamb was a major figure of the Romantic period. He is best remembered for his Essays of Elia and his book of abridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays, Tales from Shakespeare, which he co-wrote with his sister, Mary. He had also once spent time in a mental facility.

 12 Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 8, 1737
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 16, 1794

Eighteenth-century historian and author Edward Gibbon is best remembered for his 6-volume historical work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a narrative that charted events from the 2nd century to the Fall of Constantinople. He had also been an MP, representing Lymington and Liskeard.

 13 Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 10, 1728
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: County Longford, Ireland
Died: April 4, 1774

Oliver Goldsmith was an Anglo-Irish novelist, poet, and playwright. Described by his contemporaries as a disorganized and impetuous person, Goldsmith is best remembered for his works, such as The Vicar of Wakefield, The Deserted Village, and She Stoops to Conquer. A respected writer, Goldsmith's statue has been erected in several places, including the Trinity College, Dublin.

 14 William Penn

William Penn
4
Famous As: Writer
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. 

 15 Thomas Gray

Thomas Gray
3
Famous As: Poet, Writer, Literary critic
Birthdate: December 26, 1716
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London
Died: July 30, 1771

 16 Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke
5
Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: January 12, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: July 9, 1797

Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, was a member of parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of Great Britain for several years. He supported  Catholic emancipation and strongly opposed the French Revolution. He felt revolution destroyed the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society. He is considered the philosophical founder of modern conservatism. 

 17 John Clare

John Clare
8
Famous As: English poet
Birthdate: July 13, 1793
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Helpston, England
Died: May 20, 1864

 18 James Boswell

James Boswell
3
Famous As: Biographer
Birthdate: October 18, 1740
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: May 19, 1795

Best known for his biography of his friend Samuel Johnson, 18th-century biographer and diarist James Boswell was also a qualified lawyer. Know for his reckless lifestyle and his trysts with prostitutes, he had contracted gonorrhea and had also fathered many children, including two illegitimate ones.

 19 Frances Burney

Frances Burney
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 13, 1752
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: King’s Lynn, England
Died: January 6, 1840

 20 William Godwin

William Godwin
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: March 3, 1756
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wisbech
Died: April 7, 1836

 21 Thomas De Quincey

Thomas De Quincey
3
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: August 15, 1785
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Manchester
Died: December 8, 1859

Essayist Thomas De Quincey is best remembered for his iconic book Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, which initially appeared in the London Magazine. The work was an autobiographical account of his own addiction to opium, which he had begun consuming to help him deal with the pain of his facial neuralgia.

 22 William Cowper

William Cowper
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 26, 1731
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berkhamsted
Died: April 25, 1800

 23 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
7
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 15, 1689
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 21, 1762

 24 William Hazlitt

William Hazlitt
5
Famous As: English Writer & Literary Critic
Birthdate: April 10, 1778
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Maidstone, Kent, England
Died: September 18, 1830

English essayist and critic William Hazlitt is remembered for his characteristic humanism in his works. Initially aspiring to be a painter, he traveled to Paris but later deviated to philosophy and metaphysics. Though he penned iconic works such as The Spirit of the Age, he spent his later life in oblivion.

 25 John Burgoyne

John Burgoyne
3
Famous As: General, dramatist and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1761 to 1792
Birthdate: February 24, 1722
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sutton, Bedfordshire, England
Died: August 4, 1792

 26 Gilbert White

Gilbert White
2
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: July 18, 1720
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Selborne, Hampshire, England
Died: June 26, 1793

 27 Isaac Watts

Isaac Watts
3
Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: July 17, 1674
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Southampton, Kingdom of England
Died: November 25, 1748

 28 Robert Southey

Robert Southey
3
Famous As: Former poet of the Romantic school, and Poet laureate from 1813 until his death
Birthdate: August 12, 1774
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Died: March 21, 1843

 29 William Blackstone

William Blackstone
3
Famous As: Jurist
Birthdate: July 10, 1723
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 14, 1780

William Blackstone was a British politician, jurist, and judge of the 18th century. Best remembered for authoring the Commentaries on the Laws of England, Blackstone is credited with influencing prominent American personalities like Abraham Lincoln, James Kent, Alexander Hamilton, and John Marshall among others. His Commentaries, which were cited often in Supreme Court cases, were repeatedly republished throughout the 1770s.

 30 Samuel Richardson

Samuel Richardson
3
Famous As: Writer, Novelist
Birthdate: August 19, 1689
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mackworth
Died: July 4, 1761

 31 Laurence Sterne

Laurence Sterne
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 24, 1713
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Clonmel, Ireland
Died: March 18, 1768

 32 Walter Savage Landor

Walter Savage Landor
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 30, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Warwick, England
Died: September 17, 1864

 33 Henry Fuseli

Henry Fuseli
3
Famous As: Former painter known for Painting, draughtsmanship
Birthdate: February 7, 1741
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: April 17, 1825

Swiss artist Henry Fuseli is remembered for the drama and sensuality showcased in his paintings. Though born to a landscape and portrait painter, he was initially taught theology. After leaving the country due to political risks, he made it to Britain and Italy. He later contributed to the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery.

 34 Ignatius Sancho

Ignatius Sancho
3
Famous As: Composer, Writer
Birthdate: 1729 AD
Birthplace: Atlantic Ocean
Died: December 14, 1780

 35 Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 22, 1707
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sharpham
Died: October 8, 1754

 36 Leigh Hunt

Leigh Hunt
3
Famous As: English Essayist, Poet & Critic
Birthdate: October 19, 1784
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Southgate, London, England
Died: August 28, 1859

Known for poems such as Abou Ben Adhem, 19th-century English poet, critic, and essayist Leigh Hunt had founded the newspaper The Examiner, with his brother. Apart from critiquing the politics, theater, and art of his time, he also criticized Prince Regent George, an act that put him behind bars briefly.

 37 Elizabeth Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire

Elizabeth Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 13, 1758
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Horringer, England
Died: March 30, 1824

 38 Robert Knox

Robert Knox
3
Famous As: Military physician
Birthdate: September 4, 1791
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: December 20, 1862

 39 David Garrick

David Garrick
3
Famous As: Actor, Playwright, Film producer, Writer, Screenwriter, Stage actor
Birthdate: February 19, 1717
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hereford
Died: January 20, 1779

 40 Tobias Smollett

Tobias Smollett
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 19, 1721
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dalquhurn (now part of Renton, Scotland Renton), Scotland
Died: September 17, 1771

Best known for his picaresque novels such as The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett was born into a family of lawyers and soldiers and initially attended medical training. Some believe he quit university without a degree, while it is also said he had served as a navy surgeon.

 41 Maria Edgeworth

Maria Edgeworth
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 1, 1768
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Blackbourton, England
Died: May 22, 1849

 42 Hannah More

Hannah More
3
Famous As: Writer, Poet, Essayist
Birthdate: February 2, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fishponds
Died: September 7, 1833

English religious author Hannah More soared to literary fame with the release of Village Politics, penned under the pseudonym Will Chip. Its popularity made her write an entire series of tracts that educated the poor. She also established clubs and schools, apart from opposing slavery along with the Clapham Sect.

 43 William Whewell

William Whewell
3
Famous As: Economist, Physicist, Historian, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Mathematician
Birthdate: May 24, 1794
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lancaster
Died: March 6, 1866

William Whewell was an English polymath, scientist, philosopher, theologian, and historian of science. He worked in a wide range of fields, publishing works in the disciplines of physics, mechanics, geology, economics, and astronomy. He also wrote poetry, sermons, and theological tracts. He is credited with coining the terms linguistics, physicist, consilience, scientist, catastrophism, and uniformitarianism.

 44 Eleanor Hibbert

Eleanor Hibbert
3
Famous As: British author
Birthdate: September 1, 1906
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 18, 1993

 45 John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby

John Sheffield, 1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby
3
Famous As: Former Lord Privy Seal
Birthdate: September 8, 1647
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: February 24, 1721

 46 Dorothy Wordsworth

Dorothy Wordsworth
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: December 25, 1771
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cockermouth, England
Died: January 25, 1855

 47 Thomas Chatterton

Thomas Chatterton
3
Famous As: Former Poet whose best known poem, O synge untoe mie roundelaie was set to a five-part madrigal by Samuel Wesley
Birthdate: November 20, 1752
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Died: August 24, 1770

 48 Thomas Hood

Thomas Hood
2
Famous As: Writer, Poet
Birthdate: May 23, 1799
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London
Died: May 3, 1845

 49 Colley Cibber

Colley Cibber
2
Famous As: Former Actor and Poet Who Was a Theater Artist and a Manager
Birthdate: November 6, 1671
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 11, 1757

 50 Thomas Love Peacock

Thomas Love Peacock
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 18, 1785
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Weymouth, England
Died: January 23, 1866