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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
13 Daniel Defoe
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
19 Charles Lamb
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.
21 Noah Webster
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.
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.
23 Walter Scott
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.
24 William Penn
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.
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 Thomas Gray
28 Edmund Burke
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.
30 Thomas Paine
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.
31 John Clare
32 Ethan Allen
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.
33 Robert Owen
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.
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais was a French polymath who had worked as a watchmaker, playwright, musician, financier, and diplomat. He was also an inventor and revolutionary. He was much respected in French society and held influence in the court of King Louis XV. He supported American independence and actively participated in the early stages of the 1789 French Revolution.
Italian-American bodybuilder Charles Atlas was known for co-creating a popular mail-order bodybuilding course. Beaten up and bullied as a skinny kid, he later used the Dynamic-Tension method to build his muscles. He then participated in vaudeville and later won titles such as the World’s Most Handsome Man.
38 Thomas Moore
Irish author Thomas Moore was chiefly branded a Whig ally. It is believed he had a role in burning the memoirs of his friend Lord Byron, an act now considered a literary crime. His iconic Irish Melodies contained his most popular works, such as The Last Rose of Summer.
E. T. A. Hoffmann was a German author, jurist, artist, composer, and music critic. His stories served as an inspiration and laid the foundation for The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. The Nutcracker by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is also based on Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. Hoffmann is among the most influential authors of the Romantic Movement.
43 Jacob Grimm
Part of the legendary folklorist duo known as the Brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm gave to the world Grimm’s Fairy Tales, along with his younger brother, Wilhelm Grimm. The son of a lawyer, he, too, had initially studied law. He also contributed immensely to Germanic linguistics, with his Grimm's law.
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.
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.
German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder is best remembered as a significant figure of the Sturm und Drang literary movement. Born into poverty and largely self-educated till 17, he later became a disciple of Immanuel Kant and was associated with Enlightenment and Weimar Classicism. He was eventually ennobled.
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.