Famous 19th Century French Novelists

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century French Novelists, including Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Guy de Maupassant, W. Somerset Maugham and George Sand.

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

Vote for Your Favourite 19th Century French Novelists

 1 
Victor Hugo
(French Writer of the Romantic Movement Best Known for His Novel 'Les Misérables' and Play 'Ruy Blas')

Victor Hugo
4
Birthdate: February 26, 1802
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Besançon, Doubs, France
Died: May 22, 1885

Victor Hugo was a French poet, dramatist, and novelist of the Romantic movement. Regarded as one of the best-known and greatest French writers of all time, Victor Hugo wrote abundantly during his career that spanned over six decades. Thanks to his works, such as Hernani and Cromwell, Victor Hugo was one of the leading figures of the Romantic literary movement.

 2 

Alexandre Dumas
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1802
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Villers-Cotterêts, France
Died: December 5, 1870

One of the most widely read French authors of all time, Alexandre Dumas was prolific in several genres. He joined the army as a young man and later became a full-time writer. Starting his writing career as a playwright, he moved on to writing novels. His novels have been adapted into nearly 200 films in the past century.

 3 
Jules Verne
(French Author Who Was One of the Pioneers of the Modern Science Fiction Genre)

Jules Verne
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1828
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Nantes, France
Died: March 24, 1905
French author Jules Verne, also known as the “Father of Science Fiction,” is best remembered for his legendary adventure novels Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He also became the world’s second most-translated writer since 1979.
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 4 
Marcel Proust
(Novelist)

Marcel Proust
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1871
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Neuilly-Auteuil-Passy, France
Died: November 18, 1922

Marcel Proust was a French novelist, essayist, and critic best known for writing the world-renowned novel In Search of Lost Time, which was published between 1913 and 1927 in seven parts. Many writers and critics regard him as one of the 20th century's most influential and important authors.

 5 
Guy de Maupassant
(Novelist & Short Story Writer)

Guy de Maupassant
4
Birthdate: August 5, 1850
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Tourville-sur-Arques, France
Died: July 6, 1893

Guy de Maupassant was a French author who wrote 300 short stories during his illustrious career. Widely regarded as the father of the modern short story, Maupassant's stories are characterized by economy of style and depicted human lives in pessimistic terms,

 6 

Gustave Flaubert
4
Birthdate: December 12, 1821
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: May 8, 1880

Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist best remembered for his first novel Madame Bovary, which was later adapted into an opera. One of the most influential French novelists of all time, Flaubert is widely regarded as the main exponent of literary realism in France. His work inspired his protégé and short story writer Guy de Maupassant, who later achieved much acclaim.

 7 
Stendhal
(Writer)

Stendhal
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1783
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grenoble, France
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.
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 8 
Marquis de Sade
(French Writer Whose Perverse Sexual Preferences and Erotic Writings gave Rise to the Term 'Sadism')

Marquis de Sade
6
Birthdate: June 2, 1740
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France
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. 

 9 
Colette
(Best Known for Her Novel 'Gigi')

Colette
4
Birthdate: January 28, 1873
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, France
Died: August 3, 1954

Colette was a French author who received a nomination for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. She is remembered for her novella Gigi, which inspired the 1958 movie and the 1973 musical of the same name. Her life and work have inspired several films, including the 2018 biographical drama film Colette, where Keira Knightley played the title role.

 10 
Emile Zola
(French Novelist & Playwright Known for His Works 'Les Rougon-Macquart' and 'Thérèse Raquin')

Emile Zola
5
Birthdate: April 2, 1840
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1902

Emile Zola was a French novelist, journalist, and playwright. He played a key role in the development of theatrical naturalism and was a well-known practitioner of the literary school of naturalism. He was also a political journalist and was influential in the political liberalization of France. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature twice.

 11 
Honoré de Balzac
(French Novelist and Playwright Known for His Magnum Opus 'La Comédie humaine')

Honoré de Balzac
4
Birthdate: May 20, 1799
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tours, France
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.

George Sand
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1804
Sun Sign: Cancer
Died: June 8, 1876
Nineteenth-century French author Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, better known as George Sand, became a leading figure of the Romantic era of Europe. She is best remembered for works such as La Petite Fadette and had numerous affairs, the most notable of them being the one with composer Frédéric Chopin.

 13 
Anatole France
(One of the Best-Selling French Poet and Novelist)

Anatole France
3
Birthdate: April 16, 1844
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 12, 1924

Anatole France was a French poet, novelist, and journalist. Renowned for writing many best-sellers, Anatole France was one of the most respected French writers of his generation. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1921 for his brilliant literary achievements.

 14 
Maurice Leblanc
(Novelist)

Maurice Leblanc
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1864
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rouen, French
Died: November 6, 1941

French author Maurice Leblanc is best known for creating the character Arsène Lupin, who has been part of 60 of Leblanc’s crime stories and novels. He quit his law studies to become an author. Several of his films have been turned into films. He also earned the Légion d'Honneur.

 15 
Robert W. Service
(Poet & Writer)

Robert W. Service
3
Birthdate: January 16, 1874
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Preston, Lancashire, England
Died: September 11, 1958

Robert W. Service was a British-Canadian poet and writer. Popularly called "the Bard of the Yukon," he wrote some of the most commercially successful poetry of his era. A bank clerk by profession, he often wrote while traveling for work. Besides poetry, he also wrote fiction and non-fiction. He was often compared to English writer and novelist Rudyard Kipling. 

 16 
Arthur de Gobineau
(French Aristocrat & Writer Best Known for Helping to Legitimise 'Racism' by the Use of Scientific Racist Theory)

Arthur de Gobineau
3
Birthdate: July 14, 1816
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Ville-d'Avray, France
Died: October 13, 1882

Arthur de Gobineau was a French aristocrat best remembered for his efforts to legitimize racism. He cited scientific racist theory as legitimate evidence in an attempt to coerce people into believing that the Aryan race is superior. He was also known as a novelist, travel writer, and diplomat among his contemporaries. 

 17 

Alexandre Dumas, fils
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1824
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 27, 1895

 18 
Alphonse Daudet
(Novelist)

Alphonse Daudet
3
Birthdate: May 13, 1840
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Nîmes, France
Died: December 17, 1897

Alphonse Daudet was a French novelist whose books are still widely read in France. He often collaborated with his wife Julia Daudet, a famous writer, poet, and journalist. Today, several schools and colleges in France are named in his honor.

 19 
Gaston Leroux
(Journalist)

Gaston Leroux
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 15, 1927

 20 
Joris-Karl Huysmans
(Art critic, Novelist)

Joris-Karl Huysmans
4
Birthdate: February 5, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 12, 1907

 21 

Théophile Gautier
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tarbes, France
Died: October 23, 1872

 22 
Alfred de Musset
(French Writer Best Known for His Autobiographical Novel ‘The Confession of a Child of the Century’)

Alfred de Musset
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1810
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 2, 1857

French playwright and author Alfred de Musset is best remembered for his autobiographical The Confession of a Child of the Century. Though he was supposedly part of the Romantic movement, many of his works satirized the movement. He stopped allowing his plays to be staged after The Venetian Night flopped.

 23 
Louis Aragon
(Former surrealist writer, co-founded with André Breton and Philippe Soupault the surrealist review Littérature)

Louis Aragon
3
Birthdate: October 3, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 24, 1982

 24 

Kathleen O'Meara
3
Birthdate: 1839 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 10, 1888

 25 
Alfred Jarry
(Playwright, Writer, Poet, Novelist)

Alfred Jarry
3
Birthdate: September 8, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Laval
Died: November 1, 1907

 26 
Prosper Mérimée
(Former writer in the movement of Romanticism, and one of the pioneers of the novella, a short novel or long short story)

Prosper Mérimée
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 23, 1870

Prosper Mérimée was a French writer and one of the pioneers of narrative prose, which came to be known as a novella. A multi-talented personality, Mérimée was also a historian and archaeologist; he played a key role in the development of the process of architectural preservation. He was responsible for safeguarding several historic sites, such as the Cité de Carcassonne. 

 27 
Romain Rolland
(Playwright, Essayist, Novelist)

Romain Rolland
3
Birthdate: January 29, 1866
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Clamecy, France
Died: December 30, 1944

Romain Rolland was a French novelist, essayist, dramatist, mystic, and art historian. In 1915, Rolland was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature. One of the most important supporters of Josef Stalin, Rolland is also remembered for his significant influence on Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud.

Henry Gauthier-Villars
3
Birthdate: August 8, 1859
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Villiers-sur-Orge, France
Died: January 12, 1931

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
3
Birthdate: November 24, 1808
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1890

 30 
Pierre Loti
(French Naval Officer and Writer Known for His Exotic Novels and Short Stories)

Pierre Loti
2
Birthdate: January 14, 1850
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Rochefort, France
Died: June 10, 1923

French naval officer Pierre Loti had traveled to places such as the Middle East as part of his job, and this later helped him pen novels set in exotic locations. His works such as Madame Chrysanthème and Pêcheur d’Islande made him a favorite of critics such as Anatole France.

Robert de Montesquiou
2
Birthdate: March 7, 1855
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: December 11, 1921

 32 

Liane de Pougy
2
Birthdate: July 2, 1869
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: La Flèche, France
Died: December 26, 1950

Liane de Pougy was a French dancer and vedette who performed at the Folies Bergère in Paris. Remembered for her captivating looks, de Pougy was widely regarded as one of Paris's most notorious courtesans. She also served as the subject for many artists like Paul César Helleu and Jean Baptiste Guth.

 33 
Ouida
(Novelist)

Ouida
2
Birthdate: January 1, 1839
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bury Saint Edmunds, England
Died: January 25, 1908

 34 

Georges Bernanos
2
Birthdate: February 20, 1888
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 5, 1948

 35 
Alfred de Vigny
(French Poet and Early French Romanticist)

Alfred de Vigny
2
Birthdate: March 27, 1797
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Loches, France
Died: September 17, 1863

Alfred de Vigny was a French poet whose poem La Maison du berger is regarded by some as the greatest 19th-century French poem. One of the leaders of French Romanticism, Vigny also wrote philosophical novels. Also regarded as a thinker, Alfred de Vigny was one of the first French poets to develop a serious interest in Buddhism.

 36 
Maurice Barrès
(Novelist)

Maurice Barrès
2
Birthdate: August 19, 1862
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Charmes, France
Died: December 4, 1923

 37 

Pierre Louÿs
2
Birthdate: December 10, 1870
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ghent, Belgium
Died: June 6, 1925

 38 

Auguste Maquet
2
Birthdate: September 13, 1813
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 8, 1888

 39 
Joseph Kessel
(Journalist)

Joseph Kessel
2
Birthdate: February 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Villa Clara, Argentina
Died: July 23, 1979

 40 
Eugène Sue
(Novelist)

Eugène Sue
2
Birthdate: January 26, 1804
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 3, 1857

 41 
Octave Mirbeau
(Novelist)

Octave Mirbeau
2
Birthdate: February 16, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Trévières, France
Died: February 16, 1917

 42 

Raymond Roussel
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 14, 1933

 43 
Jules Renard
(Author and member of the Académie Goncourt)

Jules Renard
2
Birthdate: February 22, 1864
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Châlons-du-Maine, Mayenne, France
Died: May 22, 1910

 44 
Alain-Fournier
(Best remembered for his classic 1913 novel Le Grand Meaulnes)

Alain-Fournier
2
Birthdate: October 3, 1886
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: La Chapelle-d'Angillon, France
Died: September 22, 1914

 45 

Frieda Lawrence
2
Birthdate: August 11, 1879
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Grand Est, France
Died: August 11, 1956

 46 
Maurice Sand
(Writer)

Maurice Sand
2
Birthdate: June 30, 1823
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 4, 1889

 47 
Vernon Lee
(Writer)

Vernon Lee
2
Birthdate: October 14, 1856
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Boulogne-sur-Mer, France
Died: February 13, 1935

British author Violet Page wrote under the pseudonym Vernon Lee and dressed without inhibitions. Rumors claimed she was a lesbian, though she never stated so. The poet and critic is best remembered for her work on aesthetics, Belcaro. She was also a skilled harpsichord player and a true-blue feminist.

 48 
Henri Barbusse
(Novelist)

Henri Barbusse
2
Birthdate: May 17, 1873
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Asnières-sur-Seine, France
Died: August 30, 1935

 49 
Léon Bloy
(Novelist)

Léon Bloy
2
Birthdate: July 11, 1846
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Notre-Dame-de-Sanilhac, Sanilhac, France
Died: November 3, 1917

 50 
Julien Benda
(Philosopher)

Julien Benda
2
Birthdate: December 26, 1867
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: June 7, 1956