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.

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 1 Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo
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Famous As: Novelist & Poet
Birthdate: February 26, 1802
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Besançon, 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

Alexandre Dumas
4
Famous As: Writer
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.

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 3 Jules Verne

Jules Verne
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Famous As: Novelist
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.

 4 Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust
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Famous As: Novelist
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

Guy de Maupassant
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Famous As: Novelist & Short Story Writer
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

Gustave Flaubert
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Famous As: Novelist
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 Marquis de Sade

Marquis de Sade
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Famous As: Novelist, Philosopher
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. 
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 8 Stendhal

Stendhal
3
Famous As: Writer
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.

 9 Colette

Colette
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Famous As: Novelist
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

Emile Zola
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Famous As: Novelist, Playwright
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

Honoré de Balzac
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Famous As: Novelist and Playwright
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.

 12 George Sand

George Sand
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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 Andre Gide

Andre Gide
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 22, 1869
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: February 19, 1951

Nobel Prize-winning French author Andre Gide is remembered for exhibiting the conflict between sexuality and the puritanical standards of society through his works. Much of his work was autobiographical and used the confessional format. A homosexual himself, he defended homosexuality through works such as Corydon.

 14 Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 26, 1880
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Rome, Italy
Died: November 9, 1918

French poet Guillaume Apollinaire was a significant figure of the avant-garde movement. It is believed he had coined the terms Cubism, Surrealism, and Orphism. Known for his iconic poem Chanson du mal-aimé, written after being rejected by a lover, he also developed the typography-based concrete poetry in the collection Calligrammes.

 15 Anatole France

Anatole France
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Famous As: Poet
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.

 16 Maurice Leblanc

Maurice Leblanc
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Famous As: Novelist
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.

 17 Robert W. Service

Robert W. Service
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Famous As: Poet & Writer
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. 

 18 Arthur de Gobineau

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

 19 Romain Rolland

Romain Rolland
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Famous As: Writer, Playwright, Essayist, Historian, Novelist, Musicologist
Birthdate: January 29, 1866
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Clamecy, Nièvre
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.

 20 Gaston Leroux

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

 21 Alexandre Dumas, fils

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

 22 Alphonse Daudet

Alphonse Daudet
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Famous As: Novelist
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.

 23 Joris-Karl Huysmans

Joris-Karl Huysmans
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Famous As: Writer, Art critic, Novelist
Birthdate: February 5, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: May 12, 1907

 24 Théophile Gautier

Théophile Gautier
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Famous As: writer, journalist, playwright, literary critic, art critic
Birthdate: August 31, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tarbes
Died: October 22, 1872

 25 Kathleen O'Meara

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

 26 Alfred de Musset

Alfred de Musset
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Famous As: Dramatist, Poet, Novelist
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.

 27 Alfred Jarry

Alfred Jarry
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Famous As: Playwright, Writer, Poet, Novelist
Birthdate: September 8, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Laval
Died: November 1, 1907

 28 Louis Aragon

Louis Aragon
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Famous As: Writer, Journalist, Politician, Poet, Novelist, Art critic
Birthdate: October 3, 1897
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 24, 1982

 29 Prosper Mérimée

Prosper Mérimée
3
Famous As: Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Historian, Translator, Politician, Writer, Novelist, Painter, Playwright
Birthdate: September 28, 1803
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
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. 

 30 Henry Gauthier-Villars

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

 31 Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

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

 32 Pierre Loti

Pierre Loti
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Famous As: Novelist
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.

 33 Ouida

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

 34 Robert de Montesquiou

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

 35 Liane de Pougy

Liane de Pougy
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Famous As: Vedette
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.

 36 Georges Bernanos

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

 37 Léon Bloy

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

 38 Alfred de Vigny

Alfred de Vigny
2
Famous As: Poet
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.

 39 Auguste Maquet

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

 40 Pierre Louÿs

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

 41 Maurice Barrès

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

 42 Joseph Kessel

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

 43 Octave Mirbeau

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

 44 Raymond Roussel

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

 45 Pierre Drieu La Rochelle

Pierre Drieu La Rochelle
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 3, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 15, 1945

Born into a middle-class French family, Pierre Drieu La Rochelle wished to enter diplomatic service but was forced to interrupt his career when World War I broke out. He later got inspired by Surrealism and penned books such as The Fire Within. He was also an advocate for fascism.

 46 Eugène Sue

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

 47 Jules Renard

Jules Renard
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Famous As: writer, aphorist, playwright, novelist, diarist
Birthdate: February 22, 1864
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Châlons-du-Maine
Died: May 22, 1910

 48 Frieda Lawrence

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

 49 Leo Taxil

Leo Taxil
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Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: March 21, 1854
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Marseille, France
Died: March 31, 1907

 50 Vernon Lee

Vernon Lee
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Famous As: Writer
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.