18th Century Writers

Find out more about the greatest 18th Century Writers, including Benjamin Franklin, Lord Byron, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jane Austen and William Blake.

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.
9
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 16, 1775
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Steventon Rectory, 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 Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley.
5
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 30, 1797
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Somers Town, London, England
Died: February 1, 1851
An author who was admired for her exploration of the Gothic genre, Mary Shelley is best remembered for her novel Frankenstein. She also edited the works of her husband, Romantic poet P.B. Shelley. She lost her husband to a drowning accident and eventually passed away due to brain tumor.
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 3 William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth.
12
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.

 4 Adam Smith

Adam Smith.
4
Famous As: Economist and Philosopher
Birthdate: June 16, 1723
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kirkcaldy, Scotland
Died: July 17, 1790

Widely considered The Father of Economics, Adam Smith was a Scottish philosopher and economist. A pioneer of political economy, Adam Smith played a major role during the Scottish Enlightenment. His book The Wealth of Nations is regarded as the first modern work of economics and a forerunner of today's academic discipline of economics.

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 5 P B Shelley

P B Shelley.
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 4, 1792
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: England
Died: July 8, 1822
Legendary English Romantic poetry P.B. Shelley is remembered for his masterpieces such as Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and Prometheus Unbound. He was known for his poetic imagery, and his popularity soared after his premature death due to drowning while boating at age 29. 

 6 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
6
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 28, 1749
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Frankfurt, Germany
Died: March 22, 1832

Regarded as the greatest literary figure in Germany's modern era, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a statesman and writer. Apart from writing poetry and prose, he also wrote treatises on color, anatomy, and botany. Thanks to his literary genius, Goethe was made part of the Duke's privy council in Weimar and he implemented several reforms at the University of Jena.

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 7 John Keats

John Keats.
4
Famous As: Romantic poet
Birthdate: October 31, 1795
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moorgate
Died: February 23, 1821
John Keats was one of the leading 19th-century Romantic poets, along with Byron and Shelley, known for his natural imagery and emotions in his poems. Some of his best-known works are Ode on a Grecian Urn, To Autumn, and Ode to a Nightingale. He died of tuberculosis at age 25.
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 8 David Hume

David Hume.
4
Famous As: Philosopher & Historian
Birthdate: April 26, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: August 25, 1776

Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, and economist, David Hume, is considered one of the most important philosophers to write in English. His book, A Treatise of Human Nature, is counted among the most influential works in the history of philosophy. His works have influenced numerous thinkers, including German philosopher Immanuel Kant and Christian philosopher Joseph Butler.

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 9 Robert Burns

Robert Burns.
6
Famous As: Poet and Lyricist
Birthdate: January 25, 1759
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Ayrshire, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died: July 21, 1796
Scottish poet Robert Burns, also known as the National Bard and the Bard of Ayrshire, is considered a pioneer of the Romantic movement in English literature. He often drew inspiration from Scottish folk songs. Some of his most notable works include the poems Auld Lang Syne and Scots Wha Hae.

 10 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft.
5
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.

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 11 Washington Irving

Washington Irving.
4
Famous As: Author, Historian, Diplomat
Birthdate: April 3, 1783
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: November 28, 1859

Widely known as the first American man of letters, Washington Irving penned the legendary tales of Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which are also called the first short stories by an American author. He had also had a brief stint as a lawyer.

 12 Olaudah Equiano

Olaudah Equiano.
4
Famous As: Anti Slavery Activist
Birthdate: 1745 AD
Birthplace: Igboland
Died: March 31, 1797

Olaudah Equiano was a writer and abolitionist who was part of the abolitionist group, Sons of Africa, composed of Africans living in Britain in the 18th century. Enslaved as a child and sold to different “masters,” he eventually purchased his freedom and became one of the leaders of the anti-slave trade movement in the 1780s.  

 13 Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson.
6
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.

 14 Voltaire

Voltaire.
23
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 21, 1694
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 30, 1778
18th-century historian, author, philosopher, and advocate of freedom of speech Voltaire was a leading figure of the French Age of Enlightenment. He often ran into trouble for his criticism of the French nobility and the Roman Catholic Church. He once went to Britain on voluntary exile, fearing imprisonment in France.

 15 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. 

 16 Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich Schiller.
4
Famous As: Poet, Playwright, Historian & Philosopher
Birthdate: November 10, 1759
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Marbach am Neckar, Germany
Died: May 9, 1805

Friedrich Schiller was a German poet, physician, philosopher, playwright, and historian. Schiller is best remembered for his friendship with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the two discussed issues concerning aesthetics. Schiller's discussions with Goethe paved the way for a period, which came to be known as Weimar Classicism. Friedrich Schiller is also widely regarded as Germany's most prominent classical playwright.

 17 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
6
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, & Composer
Birthdate: June 28, 1712
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: July 2, 1778

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, composer, and writer. His political philosophy influenced aspects of the French Revolution. He also helped develop modern economic, political, and educational thought. His writing inspired a transformation in French drama and poetry. His works also influenced such writers around the world as Tolstoy. His works as a composer were acknowledged by composers like Mozart.

 18 Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb.
3
Famous As: Writer & Essayist
Birthdate: February 10, 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.

 19 Marquis de Sade

Marquis de Sade.
8
Famous As: Erotic Novelist
Birthdate: June 2, 1740
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 2, 1814
Marquis de Sade is remembered for his erotic books such as The 120 Days of Sodom. He was known for his peculiar way of deriving sexual pleasure by torturing his victims, now known as “sadism.” He was jailed for several years for sexual abuse against men, women, and children. 

 20 Edward Gibbon

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

 21 Stendhal

Stendhal.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 23, 1783
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grenoble
Died: March 23, 1842
French author Marie-Henri Beyle, better known by his pseudonym, Stendhal, had used a number of other pseudonyms, too. He had lost his mother early in life and had also served in the French army briefly. He is remembered for novels such as The Red and the Black.

 22 Giacomo Casanova

Giacomo Casanova.
4
Famous As: Womanizer
Birthdate: April 2, 1725
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: June 4, 1798
Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova is best remembered for his memoir, Histoire de ma vie, which serves as a mirror of 18th-century European lifestyle. His countless affairs made him synonymous with the word "womanizer." He also befriended the European royalty and church authorities, and was quite fond of gambling.

 23 Noah Webster

Noah Webster.
3
Famous As: Lexicographer
Birthdate: October 16, 1758
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States
Died: May 28, 1843

Noah Webster was an American textbook pioneer, lexicographer, political writer, English-language spelling reformer, author, and editor. Dubbed the Father of American Scholarship and Education, Webster's books have been credited with teaching the art of spelling and reading to five generations of American children. Thanks to his work as a spelling reformer, his name became synonymous with dictionary in the US.

 24 John Wesley

John Wesley.
4
Famous As: Anglican Cleric and Christian Theologian
Birthdate: June 17, 1703
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Epworth, England
Died: March 2, 1791

John Wesley was an English cleric, evangelist, and theologian. He is best remembered for leading a revival movement called Methodism within the Church of England. He is credited with founding societies that eventually became the dominant form of the Methodist movement, which remains relevant today. He continues to be the main theological influence on Methodists all over the world.

 25 Walter Scott

Walter Scott.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 15, 1771
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: September 21, 1832

Walter Scott was a Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and playwright. Scott's ability as a writer and his knowledge of history made him a pioneering figure in the formation of the historical novel genre. An influential writer, many of his works remain classics of Scottish as well as English-language literature. Scott was admired by other prominent writers like Letitia Elizabeth Landon.

 26 Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith.
3
Famous As: Novelist, Playwright, Poet
Birthdate: November 10, 1728
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ballymahon
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.

 27 HonorĂ© de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac.
6
Famous As: French Novelist and Playwright
Birthdate: May 20, 1799
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tours
Died: August 18, 1850

Honoré de Balzac was a French playwright and novelist. Since his works gave a detailed, unfiltered representation of society, Honoré de Balzac is generally considered one of the founders of realism and an important figure in European literature. Renowned for creating multi-faceted characters, Balzac influenced several popular writers like Charles John Huffam Dickens, Émile Zola, Henry James, and Gustave Flaubert.

 28 Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat.
5
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: May 24, 1743
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boudry, Switzerland
Died: July 13, 1793

French political theorist, scientist, and physician Jean-Paul Marat was a key figure of the French Revolution. He published his radical views in pamphlets and newspapers, such as L'Ami du people. He was held responsible for the September massacres. His assassination by a Girondin supporter made him a Jacobin martyr.

 29 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.

 30 Phillis Wheatley

Phillis Wheatley.
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 8, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: West Africa
Died: December 5, 1784

 31 John Clare

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

 32 James Fenimore Cooper

James Fenimore Cooper.
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 15, 1789
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Burlington, New Jersey
Died: September 14, 1851

 33 Robert Owen

Robert Owen.
4
Birthdate: May 14, 1771
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales
Died: November 17, 1858
While working as an apprentice to a clothes manufacturer, Robert Owen often spent hours reading at his employer’s library. He later explored the textile industry and led a Manchester firm. Remembered as a pioneer of the co-operative movement and utopian socialism, he improved the working conditions of factory workers.

 34 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.

 35 Denis Diderot

Denis Diderot.
6
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: October 5, 1713
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Langres, France
Died: July 31, 1784

Denis Diderot revolutionized the Age of Enlightenment as the co-founder of Encyclopédie, which was banned for questioning religion. He had flirted with the idea of joining the theater and becoming a priest, and even studied law, but later devoted himself to languages, literature, and philosophy.

 36 Ethan Allen

Ethan Allen.
4
Famous As: Revolutionary War Hero
Birthdate: January 21, 1738
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Litchfield, Connecticut
Died: February 12, 1789

As a child, Ethan Allen was fond of deciphering passages from the Bible. He grew up to co-establish Vermont and led the Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolutionary War. After failing to achieve Vermont’s separation from New York, he tried to unite Vermont with Canada.

 37 Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine.
0
Famous As: Founding Father of the United States
Birthdate: January 29, 1737
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Thetford, England
Died: June 8, 1809

English-born American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Thomas Paine, is credited to have penned some of the most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution. His works inspired the common people of America and motivated them to fight for independence from British rule. He was ostracized for criticizing Christianity and died a lonely man.

 38 Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
3
Famous As: Polymath
Birthdate: January 24, 1732
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 18, 1799

 39 Olympe de Gouges

Olympe de Gouges.
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: May 7, 1748
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montauban, France
Died: November 3, 1793

Olympe de Gouges was an 18th-century French playwright and political activist. Her writings on women's rights and abolitionism were popular in various countries. She was an outspoken advocate against the slave trade in the French colonies. She demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. She was executed during the Reign of Terror.

 40 Frances Burney

Frances Burney.
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 13, 1752
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lynn Regis, England
Died: January 6, 1840

 41 Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 22, 1707
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Sharpham
Died: October 8, 1754

 42 Thomas Gray

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

 43 William Godwin

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

 44 Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 15, 1689
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 21, 1762

 45 Charles Atlas

Charles Atlas
3
Famous As: Bodybuilder
Birthdate: October 30, 1893
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Acri Acri, Cosenza, Italy
Died: December 24, 1972

 46 Carlo Goldoni

Carlo Goldoni
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: February 25, 1707
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Venice, Italy
Died: February 6, 1793

 47 William Cowper

William Cowper.
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 26, 1731
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berkhamsted
Died: April 25, 1800

 48 Gilbert White

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

 49 Louis Antoine de Saint-Just

Louis Antoine de Saint-Just
3
Famous As: Politician, Writer
Birthdate: August 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Decize
Died: July 28, 1794

 50 Isaac Watts

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