Famous 19th Century Non-Fiction Writers

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 1 
Frederick Douglass
(American Social Reformer, Abolitionist, Orator, Writer, and Statesman)
Frederick Douglass
4
Birthdate: February 14, 1818
Sun Sign: Aquarius
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.

 2 
W. E. B. Du Bois
(Civil Rights Activists)
W. E. B. Du Bois
4
Birthdate: February 23, 1868
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Great Barrington, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 27, 1963

W. E. B. Du Bois was an American civil rights activist, sociologist, and Pan-Africanist. Du Bois played an instrumental role in fighting for full civil rights for people of color around the world. A co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Du Bois also played an important role as the leader of the Niagara Movement.

 3 
Henry David Thoreau
(Naturalist, Philosopher & Author Of 'Walden')
Henry David Thoreau
4
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.

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 4 
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.

 5 
John Stuart Mill
(The Most Influential English-Speaking Philosopher of the Nineteenth Century)
John Stuart Mill
4
Birthdate: May 20, 1806
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pentonville, London, England
Died: May 7, 1873
Nineteenth-century philosopher John Stuart Mill is best remembered for his work On Liberty, which spoke of personal freedom and "the harm principle.” His The Subjection of Women was one of the first works written by a male author that promoted women's rights. He supported Jeremy Bentham's ethical utilitarianism.
 6 
Mary Seacole
(Heroine of the Crimean War)
Mary Seacole
3
Birthdate: November 23, 1805
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
Died: May 14, 1881

Mary Seacole was a British-Jamaican nurse, businesswoman, and healer. She played a major role during the Crimean War, providing aid for wounded servicemen and nursing them back to health. In 1991, Seacole was posthumously honored with the Jamaican Order of Merit. In 2004, she was named the greatest black Briton for her contribution during the war.

 7 
Friedrich Nietzsche
(German Philosopher, Cultural Critic and Philologist)
Friedrich Nietzsche
4
Birthdate: October 15, 1844
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Röcken, Lützen, Germany
Died: August 25, 1900

German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, and poet Friedrich Nietzsche has had a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He held the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel. His work spanned philosophical polemics, poetry, cultural criticism, and fiction. He suffered from numerous health problems from a young age and died at the age of 55.

 8 
John Reed
(Journalist, Poet)
John Reed
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon, United States
Died: October 17, 1920
 9 
Elizabeth Gaskell
3
Birthdate: September 29, 1810
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chelsea, England
Died: November 12, 1865
 10 
John Ruskin
(Art Critic and Painter)
John Ruskin
4
Birthdate: February 8, 1819
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: England
Died: January 20, 1900

The leading English art critic of the Victorian era, John Ruskin was a hugely influential figure in the latter half of the 19th century. Also a philosopher and prominent social thinker, he wrote on varied subjects like geology, architecture, education, botany, myth, ornithology, literature, and political economy. He founded the charitable trust Guild of St George.

 11 
William Morris
(Textile Designer, Poet)
William Morris
4
Birthdate: March 24, 1834
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Walthamstow, England
Died: October 3, 1896

William Morris was a British poet, novelist, textile designer, translator, and socialist activist. He played a major role in reviving the traditional British textile arts and the various methods of production. As a novelist and poet, Morris helped establish the fantasy genre, which is prevalent today. He is counted among the most important cultural figures of the Victorian era.

 12 
Gertrude Bell
(Writer, Diplomat)
Gertrude Bell
4
Birthdate: July 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Washington, United Kingdom
Died: July 12, 1926

Born into a wealthy English family, Gertrude Bell was an explorer at heart and went down in history for her journeys across the Middle East and for helping establish the Hāshimite dynasty in Iraq. Though she graduated in history from Oxford, being a woman, she wasn’t awarded a degree.

 13 
Napoleon Hill
(Writer of personal-success literature)
Napoleon Hill
3
Birthdate: October 26, 1883
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Pound, Virginia
Died: November 8, 1970
 14 
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
(Independence Activist, Reformer)
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
4
Birthdate: May 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bhagur
Died: February 26, 1966

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.

 15 
Friedrich Engels
(German Philosopher Who Developed 'Marxism' Together With Karl Max)
Friedrich Engels
4
Birthdate: November 28, 1820
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barmen, Germany
Died: August 5, 1895

Friedrich Engels was a German philosopher, political scientist, and revolutionary socialist. Along with Karl Marx, Engels helped develop Marxism, which has had a profound impact on fields like philosophy and anthropology. Engels is credited with helping Marx publish Das Kapital, a foundational theoretical work in politics, economics, and materialist philosophy. He also co-authored influential political documents like The Communist Manifesto.

 16 
Marcelo H. del Pilar
3
Birthdate: August 30, 1850
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bulakan, Bulacan, Captaincy General of the Philippines
Died: July 4, 1896

Marcelo H. del Pilar was a Filipino lawyer, writer, freemason, and journalist. Along with Graciano López Jaena and José Rizal, Del Pilar became known in Spain as the leaders of the Reform Movement. He is considered the Father of Philippine Journalism for his 66 editorials and 150 essays. He is also regarded as the Father of Philippine Masonry.

 17 
James Glaisher
(Meteorologists)
James Glaisher
3
Birthdate: April 7, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rotherhithe, London, England
Died: February 7, 1903

Renowned meteorologist and aeronaut James Glaisher was a pioneer of balloon flights and had penned the iconic book Travels in the Air. He had also contributed to the formation of the Meteorological Society and the Aeronautical Society of Britain. The 2019 movie The Aeronauts depicts his exploits as a balloonist.

 18 
Frances Burney
(Novelist)
Frances Burney
3
Birthdate: June 13, 1752
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: King’s Lynn, England
Died: January 6, 1840
 19 
Lewis Wallace
3
Birthdate: April 10, 1827
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brookville, Indiana, United States
Died: February 15, 1905
 20 
Aldo Leopold
(American Author & Environmentalist Who is Best Known for His Book 'A Sand County Almanac')
Aldo Leopold
3
Birthdate: January 11, 1887
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Burlington
Died: April 21, 1948
 21 
Jacob Grimm
(Discoverer of ‘Grimm’s Law of Linguistics' and Co-author of the Largest German Dictionary 'Deutsches Wörterbuch')
Jacob Grimm
3
Birthdate: January 4, 1785
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hanau, Germany
Died: September 20, 1863

Part of the legendary folklorist duo known as the Brothers Grimm, Jacob Grimm gave to the world Grimm’s Fairy Tales, along with his younger brother, Wilhelm Grimm. The son of a lawyer, he, too, had initially studied law. He also contributed immensely to Germanic linguistics, with his Grimm's law.

 22 
Vyvyan Holland
3
Birthdate: November 3, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 10, 1967
 23 
Gordon Allport
(Psychologist, Academic, University teacher, Non-fiction writer)
Gordon Allport
3
Birthdate: November 11, 1897
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Montezuma
Died: October 9, 1967
 24 
David Unaipon
(Preacher)
David Unaipon
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1872
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: South Australia
Died: February 7, 1967

David Unaipon was an Aboriginal Australian preacher, author, and inventor. He is best remembered for his significant contribution to Australian society, which helped break several stereotypes about Aboriginal Australians. Apart from establishing a couple of awards in his honor, the Australian government has also featured Unaipon on the Australian fifty-dollar note.

 25 
Gertrude Jekyll
(Horticulturist, Painter, Gardener, Non-fiction writer, Botanist, Architect)
Gertrude Jekyll
3
Birthdate: November 29, 1843
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: December 8, 1932

Landscape architect Gertrude Jekyll was born into an affluent family and grew up in a refined environment, learning music and traveling. Initially interested in painting, she gave it up to focus on gardening when she developed eyesight problems. She built around 400 gardens and also collaborated with Sir Edwin Lutyens.

 26 
Hudson Taylor
(Missionary)
Hudson Taylor
3
Birthdate: May 21, 1832
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Barnsley, Yorkshire, England
Died: June 3, 1905

Hudson Taylor was one of the most popular Christian missionaries in China. His 51-year stint in China witnessed him baptizing over 50,000 people. Apart from converting people, he also mingled with the Chinese at a personal level, adopting their clothing habits, contrary to what other missionaries practiced.

 27 
Alexander Berkman
3
Birthdate: November 21, 1870
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vilnius
Died: June 28, 1936

Alexander Berkman was a Russian-American anarchist and author. He was famous for both his political activism and his writing and was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century. He served as the editor of fellow anarchist Emma Goldman's anarchist journal, Mother Earth. He suffered from ill-health in his later years and died by suicide. 

 28 
Luther Burbank
(Horticulturist, Geneticist, Botanist, Gardener, Academic, Non-fiction writer)
Luther Burbank
3
Birthdate: March 7, 1849
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Santa Rosa
Died: April 11, 1926

Luther Burbank was an American horticulturist and botanist. A pioneer in agricultural science, Luther Burbank developed over 800 varieties of plants and strains in an illustrious career that spanned 55 years. He is also credited with developing a spineless cactus that served as cattle feed. In 1986, Luther Burbank was made an inductee of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

 29 
Eliphas Levi
(French Ceremonial Magician, Occultist and Author of 19th Century Book 'Transcendental Magic')
Eliphas Levi
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1810
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 31, 1875
Alphonse Louis Constant, better known by his pseudonym, Eliphas Levi, had abandoned his wish to become a Catholic priest to become a famed magician, occultist, and author of the 19th century. He is best remembered for his iconic work Transcendental Magic, its Doctrine and Ritual and his theory of magic. 
 30 
Paul Langevin
(Physicist, Professor, Chemist, Philosopher of science, Educationist, Non-fiction writer)
Paul Langevin
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1872
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 19, 1946

Best known for developing the Langevin dynamics and the Langevin equation, physicist Paul Langevin was also a staunch Communist. Having worked on his doctoral thesis under Pierre Curie, he had formed a connection with Curie’s wife, Marie Curie, which developed into a full-blown love affair after Pierre’s death.

 31 
Ernest Thompson Seton
(American Author, Wildlife Artist, Founder of the 'Woodcraft Indians' and Founding Pioneer of the 'Boy Scouts of America')
Ernest Thompson Seton
3
Birthdate: August 14, 1860
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: South Shields, County Durham, England
Died: October 23, 1946

Ernest Thompson Seton was a wildlife artist and author. He is credited with founding a youth program called the Woodcraft Indians in 1902. A pioneer of the Boy Scouts of America, Seton also had a huge influence on the founder of the Scout Movement, Lord Baden-Powell. His life and career inspired several works of art like TV series and literature.

 32 
Isabella Beeton
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1836
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London
Died: February 6, 1865
 33 
Ernest Renan
(Known as the Author of the Enormously Popular Life of Jesus)
Ernest Renan
3
Birthdate: February 28, 1823
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Tréguier, France
Died: October 2, 1892

Ernest Renan was a French Semitic and Orientalist scholar. A multi-talented personality, Renan was also an expert of Semitic civilizations and languages, philologist, philosopher, historian of religion, critic, and biblical scholar. Ernest Renan is credited with writing pioneering and influential works on the origins of Christianity. Ernest Renan is also credited with writing the extremely popular book, Life of Jesus.

 34 
Henry Ossian Flipper
(Military Leader)
Henry Ossian Flipper
3
Birthdate: March 21, 1856
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thomasville, Georgia, United States
Died: April 26, 1940

Then first Black to have graduated from West Point’s Military Academy, Henry Ossian Flipper was born to slave parents. He also became the first African-American to command US Army troops. He was dismissed unjustly on embezzlement charges and later worked as a civil engineer. His name was cleared posthumously.

Leo Tolstoy bibliography
3
Birthdate: 1828 AD
Birthplace: Russia
Died: 1910 AD

Legendary Russian author Leo Tolstoy was one of the greatest novelists of the world. Best known for his realistic fiction and cult novels such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, he had also penned plays such as The Power of Darkness and was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times.

 36 
William Graham Sumner
(Anthropologist, Political scientist, Writer)
William Graham Sumner
3
Birthdate: October 30, 1840
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paterson, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 12, 1910

William Graham Sumner was an American social scientist who held America's first professorship in sociology; he served as a professor of social sciences at Yale. Sumner, who wrote several essays and books on American history, political theory, sociology, and economic history, was one of the most popular and influential teachers at Yale. He also had an influence on American conservatism.

 37 
Anna Julia Cooper
(One of the Most Important African-American Scholars in US History)
Anna Julia Cooper
2
Birthdate: August 10, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Raleigh, North Carolina, U.S.A.
Died: February 27, 1964

Anna Julia Cooper was an American author, sociologist, educator, Black liberation activist, and speaker. She was one of the most important African-American scholars in US history. In 1924, Anna Julia Cooper earned her PhD from the University of Paris, becoming only the fourth African-American woman to receive a doctoral degree.

Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1823
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: near Stateburg, South Carolina, U.S.
Died: November 22, 1886
 39 
Alexander Herzen
(Russian Writer and Thinker Known as the ‘Father of Russian Socialism’)
Alexander Herzen
3
Birthdate: April 6, 1812
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: January 21, 1870

Alexander Herzen was a Russian thinker and writer. Regarded as the father of Russian socialism, Herzen played an influential role in the political set up of the 19th and 20th century. He also influenced personalities like Isaiah Berlin, who regarded Herzen as his hero. Herzen's book My Past and Thoughts is considered one of the best autobiographies in Russian literature.

 40 
Alexandra David-Néel
(Belgian–French Explorer, Anarchist, Spiritualist, and Writer)
Alexandra David-Néel
3
Birthdate: October 24, 1868
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Saint-Mandé, France
Died: September 8, 1969

Alexandra David-Néel was a Belgian–French explorer, anarchist, spiritualist, Buddhist, writer, and opera singer. She is best remembered for traveling to important spiritual centers, including Lhasa, Tibet in 1924, when foreigners were forbidden from entering Lhasa. Alexandra David-Néel wrote more than 30 books and her teachings influenced people like Allen Ginsberg, Benjamin Crème, Jack Kerouac, Ram Dass, and Alan Watts.   

 41 
Ōkawa Shūmei
2
Birthdate: December 6, 1886
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Yamagata, Japan
Died: December 24, 1957
 42 
Theodor Mommsen
(German Historian and Writer Famous for His Masterpiece 'Römische Geschichte')
Theodor Mommsen
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1817
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Garding, Germany
Died: November 1, 1903

One of the most influential 19th-century classicists, Theodor Mommsen donned many hats and was at the same time a historian, a philologist, a legal scholar, and an archaeologist. His legendary A History of Rome won him a Nobel Prize in Literature. He had also fathered 16 children.

 43 
Georg Büchner
(German Dramatist and Writer of Prose and Poetry)
Georg Büchner
3
Birthdate: October 17, 1813
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Riedstadt, Germany
Died: February 19, 1837

Part of the Young Germany movement, German dramatist and author Georg Büchner was a revolutionary and a master of Expressionist plays. Born to an army doctor, he studied medicine but also simultaneously participated in pamphleteering for social issues. He is remembered for works such as Danton’s Death and Woyzeck.

 44 
Robert Erskine Childers
(Former Teachta Dála of Ireland)
Robert Erskine Childers
3
Birthdate: June 25, 1870
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mayfair, London, England
Died: November 24, 1922
 45 
John Humphrey Noyes
(American Preacher, Radical Religious Philosopher, and Utopian Socialist)
John Humphrey Noyes
2
Birthdate: September 3, 1811
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Brattleboro, Vermont, United States
Died: April 13, 1886

John Humphrey Noyes was an American preacher, religious philosopher, and utopian socialist. He was the founder of the Putney, Oneida, and Wallingford Communities. He decided to devote his life to religion at a young age and studied at the Yale Theological Seminary. He was also involved in political activism and helped organize an anti-slavery society in the United States. 

 46 
David Garnett
2
Birthdate: March 9, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Brighton, England
Died: February 17, 1981
 47 
Mary Prince
(Autobiographer of The History of Mary Prince (1831))
Mary Prince
0
Birthdate: October 1, 1788
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bermuda
Died: 1833 AD
 48 
Edward Whymper
(Mountaineer)
Edward Whymper
2
Birthdate: April 27, 1840
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: September 16, 1911
 49 
Karl Haushofer
(Geopolitician, Political scientist, Educationist, Officer, University teacher, Non-fiction writer)
Karl Haushofer
3
Birthdate: August 27, 1869
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Munich
Died: March 10, 1946
 50 
Elsa Maxwell
(Writer)
Elsa Maxwell
2
Birthdate: May 24, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Keokuk, Iowa, United States
Died: November 1, 1963