Famous 19th Century French Novelists

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

Find out more about the greatest 19th Century French Novelists, including Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Guy de Maupassant, W. Somerset Maugham and George Sand.
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
5
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
(One of the Most Popular and Widely Read French Authors of the 19th Century)
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.
Recommended Lists:
 4 
Guy de Maupassant
(French Short Story Writer and Naturalist )
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,

 5 
Gustave Flaubert
(French Author Best Known for His Novels: ‘Madame Bovary’, ‘Sentimental Education’, ‘Salammbô’ and ‘Three Tales’)
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.

 6 
Marquis de Sade
(French Writer Whose Perverse Sexual Preferences and Erotic Writings gave Rise to the Term 'Sadism')
Marquis de Sade
7
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. 
 7 
Stendhal
(French Writer Best Known for His Novels 'The Red and the Black' and 'The Charterhouse of Parma')
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.
 8 
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.

 9 
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.

 10 
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.

 11 
George Sand
(One of the Most Popular Writers in Europe in Her Lifetime)
George Sand
4
Birthdate: July 1, 1804
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
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.
 12 
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.

 13 
Maurice Leblanc
(French Novelist Known as the Creator of the Fictional Gentleman Thief and Detective ‘Arsène Lupin')
Maurice Leblanc
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1864
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rouen, France
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.

 14 
Alexandre Dumas, fils
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1824
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: November 27, 1895
 15 
Robert W. Service
(Poet & Writer)
Robert W. Service
4
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 
Alphonse Daudet
(French Novelist Known for His Books ‘Le Petit Chose’ and ‘Fromont jeune et Risler aîné’)
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.

 17 
Gaston Leroux
(Journalist)
Gaston Leroux
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1868
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 15, 1927
 18 
Joris-Karl Huysmans
(Art critic, Novelist)
Joris-Karl Huysmans
4
Birthdate: February 5, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 12, 1907
 19 
Théophile Gautier
4
Birthdate: August 30, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Tarbes, France
Died: October 23, 1872
 20 
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. 

 21 
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
 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 
Benjamin Constant
(Swiss-French Statesmen, Political Thinker and Activist )
Benjamin Constant
3
Birthdate: December 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lausanne, Switzerland
Died: December 8, 1830

Swiss-French activist and author Benjamin Constant is best remembered for penning the classic French novel Adolphe, which was one of the earliest psychological novels. Initially the chamberlain to the duke of Brunswick, he later supported the French Revolution and became a Member of the Chamber of Deputies.

 24 
Romain Rolland
(French Playwright, Essayist and Novelist Who Won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1915)
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.

 25 
Kathleen O'Meara
3
Birthdate: 1839 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 10, 1888
 26 
Prosper Mérimée
(French Writer and One of the Pioneers of the 'Novella')
Prosper Mérimée
4
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. 

Henry Gauthier-Villars
3
Birthdate: August 8, 1859
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Villiers-sur-Orge, France
Died: January 12, 1931
 28 
Alfred Jarry
(Playwright, Writer, Poet, Novelist)
Alfred Jarry
3
Birthdate: September 8, 1873
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Laval
Died: November 1, 1907
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
3
Birthdate: November 24, 1808
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 29, 1890
 30 
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.

 31 
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
 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 
Octave Mirbeau
(Novelist)
Octave Mirbeau
2
Birthdate: February 16, 1848
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Trévières, France
Died: February 16, 1917
 40 
Frieda Lawrence
2
Birthdate: August 11, 1879
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Grand Est, France
Died: August 11, 1956
 41 
Eugène Sue
(Novelist)
Eugène Sue
2
Birthdate: January 26, 1804
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 3, 1857
 42 
Joseph Kessel
(Journalist)
Joseph Kessel
2
Birthdate: February 10, 1898
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Villa Clara, Argentina
Died: July 23, 1979
 43 
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
 44 
Raymond Roussel
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 14, 1933
 45 
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
 46 
Maurice Sand
(Writer)
Maurice Sand
2
Birthdate: June 30, 1823
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 4, 1889
 47 
Léon Bloy
(Novelist)
Léon Bloy
2
Birthdate: July 11, 1846
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Notre-Dame-de-Sanilhac, Sanilhac, France
Died: November 3, 1917
 48 
Henri Barbusse
(Novelist)
Henri Barbusse
2
Birthdate: May 17, 1873
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Asnières-sur-Seine, France
Died: August 30, 1935
 49 
Henry de Montherlant
2
Birthdate: April 20, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 21, 1972
 50 
Anna de Noailles
2
Birthdate: November 15, 1876
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 30, 1933