Famous 19th Century American Writers

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Find out more about the greatest 19th Century American Writers, including Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Helen Keller and H. P. Lovecraft.
Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century American Writers
 1 
Edgar Allan Poe
(Writer and Poet - Widely Regarded as a Central Figure of Romanticism in the United States)
Edgar Allan Poe
42
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
(Lauded as the 'Greatest Humorist' the United States Has Produced)
Mark Twain
22
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 
Frederick Douglass
(Abolitionist, Social Reformer)
Frederick Douglass
10
Birthdate: 1818 AD
Birthplace: Talbot County, Maryland, United States
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.

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 4 
Emily Dickinson
19
Birthdate: December 10, 1830
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Amherst, Massachusetts, United States
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 
Robert Frost
(American Poet Who was Known for His Realistic Depictions of Rural Life)
Robert Frost
14
Birthdate: March 26, 1874
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
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.

 6 
Henry David Thoreau
(Naturalist, Philosopher & Author Of 'Walden')
Henry David Thoreau
7
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.

 7 
Louisa May Alcott
5
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.
 8 
Walt Whitman
(One of the Most Influential Poets in the American Canon, Regarded as the 'Father of Free Verse')
Walt Whitman
6
Birthdate: May 31, 1819
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: West Hills, New York, United States
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.

 9 
Ralph Waldo Emerson
(Famous For his Essay 'Nature' and Speech Entitled 'The American Scholar')
Ralph Waldo Emerson
4
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.

 10 
Jack London
(Novelist & Journalist)
Jack London
11
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.

 11 
Herman Melville
(Novelist & Short Story Writer of the American Renaissance Period Best Known for His Works 'Moby-Dick' & 'Typee')
Herman Melville
4
Birthdate: August 1, 1819
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
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.  

 12 
Nathaniel Hawthorne
(Novelist and Short Story Writer)
Nathaniel Hawthorne
6
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.

 13 
O. Henry
(Short Story Writer)
O. Henry
6
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. 
 14 
Henry James
(British Author Who is Regarded as a Key Transitional Figure Between Literary Realism and Literary Modernism)
Henry James
5
Birthdate: April 15, 1843
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York City, United States
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.

 15 
L. Frank Baum
(Best Known for His Children's Books Like 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' and its Sequels)
L. Frank Baum
5
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.

 16 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
(First American poet to translate Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
5
Birthdate: February 27, 1807
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Portland, Maine, United States
Died: March 24, 1882
 17 
E. E. Cummings
6
Birthdate: October 14, 1894
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 3, 1962
 18 
Helen Keller
(American Author and First Deaf-Blind Person to Earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree)
Helen Keller
6
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.

 19 
Ambrose Bierce
(Journalist & Writer, soldier)
Ambrose Bierce
5
Birthdate: June 24, 1842
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Meigs County, Ohio, United States
Died: December 1, 1914
 20 
Laura Ingalls Wilder
(American Author Known for Her Children's Book Series ‘Little House on the Prairie’)
Laura Ingalls Wilder
4
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.
 21 
Carl Sandburg
(Writer & Editor)
Carl Sandburg
3
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.

 22 
Upton Sinclair
(American writer)
Upton Sinclair
4
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.
 23 
Frances Hodgson Burnett
3
Birthdate: November 24, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheetham, Manchester, England
Died: October 29, 1924
 24 
Zora Neale Hurston
(Folklorist, Anthropologist)
Zora Neale Hurston
5
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.

 25 
Harriet Beecher Stowe
4
Birthdate: June 14, 1811
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Litchfield, Connecticut, United States
Died: July 1, 1896
 26 
John Reed
(Journalist, Poet)
John Reed
4
Birthdate: October 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States
Died: October 17, 1920
 27 
Thornton Wilder
(Playwright)
Thornton Wilder
3
Birthdate: April 17, 1897
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Died: December 7, 1975
 28 
Edgar Rice Burroughs
(Creator of Tarzan)
Edgar Rice Burroughs
4
Birthdate: September 1, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: March 19, 1950
 29 
Douglas Fairbanks
4
Birthdate: May 23, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Denver, Colorado, United States
Died: December 12, 1939
 30 
Gertrude Stein
(American Novelist, Poet and Playwright)
Gertrude Stein
10
Birthdate: February 3, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: 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.

 31 
Francis Scott Key
9
Birthdate: August 1, 1779
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Frederick County, Maryland, United States
Died: January 11, 1843
Alice Roosevelt Longworth
6
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. 
 33 
Napoleon Hill
(Writer of personal-success literature)
Napoleon Hill
5
Birthdate: October 26, 1883
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pound, Virginia
Died: November 8, 1970
 34 
H. L. Mencken
(One of the Greatest and Most Influential American Literary Critic in the 1920s)
H. L. Mencken
4
Birthdate: September 12, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: January 29, 1956

H. L. Mencken was an American journalist, cultural critic, essayist, satirist, and scholar of American English. His reporting on the Scopes Trial earned him national recognition. The trial came to be known as the Scopes Monkey Trial as Mencken had nicknamed it Monkey Trial in accordance with his satirical reporting of the trial.

 35 
Ellen G White
4
Birthdate: November 26, 1827
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Gorham, Maine, United States
Died: July 16, 1915
 36 
Edith Wharton
4
Birthdate: January 24, 1862
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York City
Died: August 11, 1937
 37 
Robert Stroud
4
Birthdate: January 8, 1890
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: November 21, 1963
 38 
Sinclair Lewis
(Nobel Prize Winner in Literature)
Sinclair Lewis
4
Birthdate: February 7, 1885
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sauk Centre
Died: January 10, 1951
 39 
Pearl Buck
(American Writer Known for Her Novels on Chinese Lifestyle and Culture, Winner of 1938 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Pearl Buck
4
Birthdate: June 26, 1892
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hillsboro
Died: March 6, 1973
 40 
Rose Wilder Lane
(Journalists)
Rose Wilder Lane
4
Birthdate: December 5, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: De Smet, South Dakota, USA
Died: October 30, 1968
 41 
Jack Frost
(Composer)
Jack Frost
4
Birthdate: November 25, 1893
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Died: October 21, 1959
 42 
Willa Cather
(Author)
Willa Cather
4
Birthdate: December 7, 1873
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Winchester
Died: April 24, 1947
 43 
Katherine Anne Porter
(Journalist, Essayist, Writer, Novelist)
Katherine Anne Porter
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Indian Creek, Texas, U.S.
Died: September 18, 1980
 44 
George S. Kaufman
(Theatre director, Screenwriter, Journalist, Playwright, Bridge player, Writer)
George S. Kaufman
4
Birthdate: November 16, 1889
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pittsburgh
Died: June 2, 1961
 45 
Kate Chopin
(Author)
Kate Chopin
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1850
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: St. Louis
Died: August 22, 1904
 46 
Henry Darger
(Novelist, Artist, and Writer)
Henry Darger
4
Birthdate: April 12, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died: April 13, 1973
Henry Darger was an American novelist, artist, and writer. He achieved posthumous fame when a 15,145-page fantasy novel of his was discovered after his death. Along with the novel, watercolor illustrations and several hundred drawings for the story was discovered. Henry Darger's artwork is now considered a fine example of outsider art.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
3
Birthdate: July 3, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut
Died: August 17, 1935

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an American novelist, humanist, poet, and short-story writer. Best remembered as a utopian feminist, Gilman served as an inspiration for several generations of feminists. A National Women's Hall of Fame inductee, Charlotte Perkins Gilman is also remembered for her semi-autobiographical work, The Yellow Wallpaper.

 48 
Sara Teasdale
(Poet, Writer)
Sara Teasdale
3
Birthdate: August 8, 1884
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: St. Louis
Died: January 29, 1933
 49 
Stephen Crane
(Writer, Journalist, Poet, Baseball player, Novelist, Screenwriter)
Stephen Crane
4
Birthdate: November 1, 1871
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Newark
Died: June 5, 1900
 50 
Lewis Wallace
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1827
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brookville, Indiana, United States
Died: February 15, 1905