Famous 19th Century American Writers

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century American Writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Helen Keller and H. P. Lovecraft.

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 Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe
33
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 19, 1809
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: October 7, 1849

American writer Edgar Allan Poe is regarded as the architect of modern short story, the inventor of the detective-fiction genre and a major contributor towards science fiction genre. The influential writer is recognised for his tales of mystery and macabre. His notable works include The Raven (poem), The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher (short stories).

 2 Mark Twain

Mark Twain
11
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 30, 1835
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Florida, Missouri, United States
Died: April 21, 1910

Mark Twain, “the father of American literature,” was one of the world’s greatest 19-th century humorists and authors. His novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn were drawn from his childhood experiences in Missouri. In his later life, he sunk into bankruptcy and also recovered.

 3 F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald
7
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 24, 1896
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
Died: December 21, 1940

Novelist, essayist, screenwriter, and short-story writer F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. However, he wasn’t much popular during his lifetime. His works gained international acclaim only in the years following his untimely death at 44. Many of his works have been adapted into films.

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 4 Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson
16
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 10, 1830
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amherst
Died: May 15, 1886
Victorian-era poet Emily Dickinson apparently wrote around 1800 poems, mostly revolving around themes such as death and immortality. However, she was a recluse, dressed up in white, and mostly interacted with people through correspondence. Her poems were mostly without titles and had short lines, slant rhyme, and unconventional punctuation.

 5 Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass
6
Famous As: American orator
Birthdate: February 1, 1818
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Talbot County, Maryland, U.S
Died: February 20, 1895

Social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York. Born into slavery, he had a difficult early life. Eventually, he managed to escape and dedicated the rest of his life to promoting the cause of abolition. He was a great orator and writer.

 6 Robert Frost

Robert Frost
10
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 26, 1874
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Died: January 29, 1963

Robert Frost was an American poet. An influential poet, Frost was honored with four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, the only poet to receive four such awards. One of America's public literary figures, Robert Frost received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960. His works influenced other poets like Robert Francis, James Wright, Edward Thomas, Richard Wilbur, and Seamus Heaney.

 7 T. S. Eliot

T. S. Eliot
11
Famous As: Poet, Essayist, Playwright
Birthdate: September 26, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: January 4, 1965
American-born British poet T. S. Eliot is best remembered for his poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and Ash Wednesday, and his plays such as Murder in the Cathedral. He won the Nobel Prize for literature and became a prominent figure of Modernist poetry.  
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 8 Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 29, 1832
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Germantown, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: March 6, 1888
Novelist and short story writer Louisa May Alcott is best remembered as the author of the 1868 novel Little Women and its sequels, Little Men and Jo's Boys. She initially wrote using the pseudonym “A. M. Barnard.” She never married and remained a life-long feminist and abolitionist.

 9 Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau
5
Famous As: Writer and Philosopher
Birthdate: July 12, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, essayist, poet, and naturalist. He is credited with popularizing transcendentalism and simple living. His philosophy of civil disobedience, which was detailed in his essay of the same name, later influenced world-renowned personalities like Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.

 10 Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman
6
Famous As: Poet & humanist
Birthdate: May 31, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: West Hills, New York
Died: March 26, 1892

Walt Whitman was an American poet, journalist, and essayist. Also a humanist, Whitman played a crucial role in the shift between transcendentalism and realism. Often referred to as the father of free verse, Whitman is one of the most influential American poets of all time. Several decades after his death, Walt Whitman's poetry remains influential.

 11 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson
4
Famous As: American Lecturer, Philosopher, Essayist & Poet
Birthdate: May 25, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 27, 1882

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher who led the transcendentalist movement that developed in the eastern United States in the 1820s and 1830s. He is credited with popularizing individualism through his numerous lectures and essays. Emerson influenced many thinkers and writers that followed him; he mentored Henry David Thoreau, who went on to become a leading transcendentalist.

 12 Jack London

Jack London
5
Famous As: Novelist & Journalist
Birthdate: January 12, 1876
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: November 22, 1916

Jack London was an American novelist, social activist, and journalist. A pioneer of American magazines and commercial fiction, London was one of the first authors from the US to become an international celebrity. His life and work inspired several films, such as the 1943 movie Jack London and 1980 film Klondike Fever. He was also portrayed in several TV series.

 13 William Faulkner

William Faulkner
5
Famous As: Writer, Nobel Laureate
Birthdate: September 25, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Albany, Mississippi, U.S
Died: July 6, 1962
Nobel Prize-winning Southern author William Faulkner is remembered for works The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily, and As I Lay Dying. He immortalized Mississippi as the fictional "Yoknapatawpha County" in his works. He also won two Pulitzers, one each for A Fable and The Reivers.

 14 Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne
6
Famous As: American Novelist
Birthdate: July 4, 1804
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Salem, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 19, 1864

Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American writer, known for dark romanticism and moral-themed novels and short stories. A descendant of judge John Hathorne of the Salem witch trials infamy, the writer was a friend of late American president Franklin Pierce. His well-known books include Twice-Told Tales, The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Nathaniel was married to painter Sophia Peabody.

 15 Herman Melville

Herman Melville
4
Birthdate: August 1, 1819
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York City
Died: September 28, 1891

Herman Melville was an American short story writer, novelist, and poet. One of his best-known works, Moby-Dick is widely regarded as one of the great American novels, although it did not garner much attention during his lifetime. Livyatan melvillei, a species of an extinct sperm whale, which was discovered in 2010, was named in his honor.  

 16 Henry James

Henry James
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 15, 1843
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City
Died: February 28, 1916

Henry James was an author, regarded as one of the greatest novelists ever to write in the English language. One of his novellas titled The Turn of the Screw has been the most analyzed ghost story in the history of English language literature. While his works have been adapted into films, he has been the subject of several other stories.

 17 O. Henry

O. Henry
5
Famous As: Short Story Writer
Birthdate: September 11, 1862
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Greensboro, North Carolina
Died: June 5, 1910
William Sydney Porter, better known by his pseudonym, O. Henry, is remembered as one of the world’s greatest short story writers. One of his most notable works is The Gift of the Magi. His signature style included plot twists in the end. He was once jailed for embezzlement. 

 18 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
5
Famous As: Poet & Educator
Birthdate: February 27, 1807
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, U.S.
Died: March 24, 1882

 19 L. Frank Baum

L. Frank Baum
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 15, 1856
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chittenango, New York, United States
Died: May 6, 1919

L. Frank Baum was an author remembered for writing children's books including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which inspired the 1902 Broadway musical and the 1939 live-action film of the same name. His works anticipated the invention of gadgets like TV that would be invented later. In 2013, Baum was made an inductee of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

 20 E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 14, 1894
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 3, 1962

 21 Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler
4
Famous As: Novelist and Screenwriter
Birthdate: July 23, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago
Died: March 26, 1959

 22 Helen Keller

Helen Keller
6
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 27, 1880
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States
Died: June 1, 1968

A prolific author, having written 12 published books and several articles, Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, made Keller famous and was adapted for film and stage. She was also an activist and campaigned for women's suffrage, labour rights, socialism and other such causes.

 23 Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce
5
Famous As: Journalist & Writer, soldier
Birthdate: June 24, 1842
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Meigs County, Ohio, United States
Died: December 1, 1914

 24 Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder
4
Famous As: American writer
Birthdate: February 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pepin County, Wisconsin, United States
Died: February 10, 1957
Laura Ingalls Wilder authored the iconic Little House children’s book series, including the novel Little House on the Prairie, based on her family’s life in Wisconsin, which was later adapted for many stage and screen versions. She is also known for her autobiography, Pioneer Girl, and many posthumously published books.

 25 E. B. White

E. B. White
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 11, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mount Vernon, New York, United States
Died: October 1, 1985

 26 Carl Sandburg

Carl Sandburg
3
Famous As: Writer & Editor
Birthdate: January 6, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Galesburg, Illinois, United States
Died: July 22, 1967

Carl Sandburg had begun working since age 11 and been employed in various odd jobs, such as a truck driver, a harvester, and a brickyard hand, before being part of the Illinois Infantry. The two-time Pulitzer-winning poet and biographer late also won a Grammy for his recording of Lincoln Portrait.

 27 Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill
5
Famous As: Hunter
Birthdate: February 26, 1846
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Scott County
Died: January 10, 1917
William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody was a legendary showman and bison hunter who had also been a Union soldier. He began working as a freight carrier at 11 and later performed in Wild West-themed shows. He later formed Buffalo Bill's Wild West and toured across the U.S. and Europe.

 28 Edna St. Vincent Millay

Edna St. Vincent Millay
4
Famous As: Poetess and Playwright
Birthdate: February 22, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rockland
Died: October 19, 1950

 29 Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair
4
Famous As: American writer
Birthdate: September 20, 1878
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland
Died: November 25, 1968
Pulitzer Prize-winning author and political activist Upton Sinclair is best remembered for his novels such as The Jungle and The Brass Check, which mirrored the exploitative and unjust nature of various sectors. He was also an occult and telepathy enthusiast. He was actively involved with the Socialist and Democratic parties.

 30 Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 24, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheetham, Manchester, England
Died: October 29, 1924

 31 Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston
5
Famous As: Folklorist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

 32 Harriet Beecher Stowe

Harriet Beecher Stowe
4
Famous As: American author
Birthdate: June 14, 1811
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Litchfield
Died: July 1, 1896

 33 John Reed

John Reed
4
Famous As: Journalist, Poet
Birthdate: October 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States
Died: October 17, 1920

 34 Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: April 17, 1897
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Died: December 7, 1975

 35 Edgar Rice Burroughs

Edgar Rice Burroughs
4
Famous As: Creator of Tarzan
Birthdate: September 1, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: March 19, 1950

 36 P G Wodehouse

P G Wodehouse
4
Famous As: Playwright and Author
Birthdate: October 15, 1881
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Guildford, England
Died: February 14, 1975

 37 Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill
4
Famous As: Writer of personal-success literature
Birthdate: October 26, 1883
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pound, Virginia
Died: November 8, 1970

 38 Alice Roosevelt Longworth

Alice Roosevelt Longworth
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 12, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: February 20, 1980
Author and socialite Alice Roosevelt Longworth was the eldest child of American president Theodore Roosevelt, and his only child with his first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee. Though Alice was married to Republican leader Nicholas Longworth III, she had a child through an affair with Senator William Edgar Borah. 

 39 Francis Scott Key

Francis Scott Key
9
Famous As: Lawyer
Birthdate: August 1, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Frederick County, Maryland, United States
Died: January 11, 1843

 40 W. C. Fields

W. C. Fields
4
Birthdate: January 29, 1880
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Darby
Died: December 25, 1946

 41 Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 24, 1862
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: August 11, 1937

 42 Ellen G White

Ellen G White
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 26, 1827
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gorham, Maine, United States
Died: July 16, 1915

 43 John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa
4
Famous As: Conductor, Composer
Birthdate: November 6, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C.
Died: March 6, 1932

 44 Douglas Fairbanks

Douglas Fairbanks
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 23, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States
Died: December 12, 1939

 45 Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein
10
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 3, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Allegheny, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: July 27, 1946

Gertrude Stein was an American playwright, novelist, poet, and art collector. She is remembered for publishing works about lesbian sexuality, which was considered a taboo at that time. Over the years, Gertrude Stein has been the subject of several works of art. In the 2011 movie Midnight in Paris, Stein was portrayed by Kathy Bates.

 46 Robert Stroud

Robert Stroud
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: November 21, 1963

 47 Pearl Buck

Pearl Buck
4
Famous As: American writer
Birthdate: June 26, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hillsboro
Died: March 6, 1973

 48 Jack Frost

Jack Frost
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: November 25, 1893
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: October 21, 1959

 49 Henry Morton Stanley

Henry Morton Stanley
5
Famous As: Explorer
Birthdate: January 28, 1841
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Denbigh
Died: May 10, 1904

Henry Morton Stanley was a Welsh-American explorer, journalist, colonial administrator, soldier, politician, and author. He is remembered for his exploration of central Africa and his search for the source of the River Nile. Stanley received an honorary title of knighthood in 1899. His life and career inspired the 1939 movie Stanley and Livingstone, where Stanley was played by Spencer Tracy.

 50 Sinclair Lewis

Sinclair Lewis
4
Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Literature
Birthdate: February 7, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sauk Centre
Died: January 10, 1951