Famous 20th Century British Poets

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 Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes
5
Famous As: Poet and Children's Writer
Birthdate: August 17, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Mytholmroyd
Died: October 28, 1998
Poet and children’s author Ted Hughes is best remembered for his iconic poems The Hawk in the Rain, Birthday Letters, and Crow. He was married to poet Sylvia Plath, who eventually committed suicide at 30. Most people blamed him for mistreating Plath and indirectly causing her death.   

 2 W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden
9
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 21, 1907
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: York, England
Died: September 28, 1973

W. H. Auden was an Anglo-American poet. His poetry was noted for its technical achievement and versatility. He wrote poems on love, political and social themes, and cultural and psychological themes. Throughout his career, Auden was both influential and controversial. His personal life also attracted attention as he had sexual relationships with men, which was unusual at the time.

 3 Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 9, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Radford, Coventry, United Kingdom
Died: December 2, 1985
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 4 J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien
17
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 3, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bloemfontein, South Africa
Died: September 2, 1973

Considered one of the greatest authors, JRR Tolkien is popularly called the father of the modern fantasy literature. He is best known for his high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which is set in a conceived world called the Middle-Earth. Many years after his death, Tolkien continues to be one of the best-selling writers.

 5 Walter de La Mare

Walter de La Mare
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 25, 1873
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Charlton, London Charlton, Kent, England, UK
Died: June 22, 1956

 6 Enid Blyton

Enid Blyton
4
Famous As: Children's writer
Birthdate: August 11, 1897
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: East Dulwich, London, England
Died: November 28, 1968
Author Enid Blyton is best remembered for her iconic children’s book series such as Famous Five, Malory Towers, and Secret Seven, majorly focusing on mystery-based plots. Her works have made her the fourth-most-translated writer. She had supported animal and paediatric charities. Her story inspired the BBC film Enid.

 7 Donovan

Donovan
8
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Composer, Autobiographer, Writer, Poet, Record producer, Film score composer
Birthdate: May 10, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

Donovan is a Scottish guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for developing and popularizing a distinctive and eclectic style that blended many genres, such as folk, jazz, pop, calypso, and psychedelic rock. Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

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 8 Craig Charles

Craig Charles
7
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 11, 1964
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Liverpool, England, UK

 9 Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy
4
Birthdate: December 23, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow

 10 Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 3, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lambeth, Surrey, England
Died: April 9, 1917

Educated at Oxford, poet Edward Thomas spent a considerable time working rather reluctantly as a journalist and penning nature studies and critiques of 19th-century authors. An encounter with Robert Frost inspired him to write poems. He was killed in action in Arras, France, during World War I.

 11 Michael Rosen

Michael Rosen
7
Famous As: Writer, Children's writer, YouTuber, Novelist, Author, Poet
Birthdate: May 7, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Harrow, England

 12 C. Day Lewis

C. Day Lewis
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 27, 1904
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ballintubber
Died: May 22, 1972

C. Day-Lewis was an Anglo-Irish poet who also wrote many mystery stories. From 1968 to 1972, he served as the Poet Laureate. He also contributed as a publications editor during World War II, working for the Ministry of Information.

 13 Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr
9
Famous As: Guitarist, Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Record producer
Birthdate: October 31, 1963
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Manchester, England

 14 Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel
11
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 1, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England

 15 Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 13, 1893
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Witham, Essex, England
Died: December 17, 1957

 16 Angela Carter

Angela Carter
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 7, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eastbourne, England
Died: February 16, 1992

 17 Vita Sackville-West

Vita Sackville-West
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 9, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Knole, Kent, England, UK
Died: June 2, 1962

 18 Frieda Hughes

Frieda Hughes
6
Famous As: Painter, Poet, Writer, Children's writer
Birthdate: April 1, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London

 19 Benjamin Zephaniah

Benjamin Zephaniah
6
Famous As: Actor, Poet, Writer, Singer
Birthdate: April 15, 1958
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birmingham

 20 Charles Salvador

Charles Salvador
15
Famous As: Poet, Autobiographer, Boxer
Birthdate: December 6, 1952
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Luton

Former bare knuckle boxer Charles Salvador, also known as Charles Bronson, is also a highly infamous criminal, who was once convicted for an armed robbery. Known for his violent temper, he later penned several books, one of them on fitness. He is also a talented painter and poet.

 21 John Betjeman

John Betjeman
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 28, 1906
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 19, 1984

 22 John Berger

John Berger
6
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 5, 1926
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London Borough of Hackney

 23 Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 26, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Huddersfield, West Riding of Yorkshire, England

 24 Jeremy Lloyd

Jeremy Lloyd
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Danbury, England
Died: December 23, 2014

 25 Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis
6
Famous As: Poet, novelist and lecturer
Birthdate: April 16, 1922
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Clapham, London, England
Died: October 22, 1995

 26 William Ernest Henley

William Ernest Henley
5
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 23, 1849
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gloucester, England
Died: July 11, 1903

Best known for his short poem Invictus, William Ernest Henley was a Victorian-era British poet and author. A disease he contracted in childhood caused one of his legs to be amputated. It is believed, he was the inspiration behind the crippled character Long John Silver in RL Stevenson’s Treasure Island.

 27 Genesis P-Orridge

Genesis P-Orridge
12
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 22, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Manchester, England

 28 David Knopfler

David Knopfler
7
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 27, 1952
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

 29 Nik Kershaw

Nik Kershaw
7
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Composer, Singer, Poet
Birthdate: March 1, 1958
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bristol

 30 Daniel Tammet

Daniel Tammet
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 31, 1979
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Barking, Essex, England, UK

Daniel Tammet grew up having seizures and was later diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. A rare prodigious savant, he set a record by reciting the value of pi to 22,514 decimal places. He is best known for his memoir Born on a Blue Day and has also launched the language-learning site Optimnem.

 31 John Masefield

John Masefield
6
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: June 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ledbury, United Kingdom
Died: May 12, 1967

 32 Peter Ackroyd

Peter Ackroyd
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 5, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: East Acton, West (London sub region) London, England, United Kingdom

English author and critic Peter Ackroyd is mostly known for his novels that depict the history of London. The Cambridge and Yale alumnus had initially worked at The Spectator. Apart from writing award-winning novels such as Hawksmoor, he has also penned biographies of T.S. Eliot and Dickens, among others.

 33 John Webster

John Webster
4
Famous As: Playwright, Poet, Writer, Poet lawyer
Birthdate: 1578 AD
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: 1634 AD

 34 Stephen Spender

Stephen Spender
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 28, 1909
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kensington, London, England
Died: July 16, 1995

English poet and critic Stephen Spender mostly dealt with themes such as social issues and class struggle. He had also been an editor for Encounter and Horizon. He later taught at various institutes and also became the first non-American poetry consultant of the U.S. Library of Congress. He was knighted, too.

 35 Laurie Lee

Laurie Lee
6
Famous As: Screenwriter, Poet, Autobiographer, Journalist
Birthdate: June 26, 1914
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Stroud
Died: May 13, 1997

 36 Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 26, 1962
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Northampton, England, United Kingdom

 37 E. Nesbit

E. Nesbit
6
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: August 15, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kennington, London, United Kingdom
Died: May 4, 1924

 38 Radclyffe Hall

Radclyffe Hall
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 12, 1880
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Died: October 7, 1943

 39 Ford Madox Ford

Ford Madox Ford
9
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 17, 1873
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Merton, Surrey, England
Died: June 26, 1939

Best remembered for his novel The Good Soldier, author Ford Madox Ford was the grandson of Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown. He had been part of World War I. He spent his final years in France and the US, mostly authoring criticism. The tetralogy Parade's End remains one of his best-known works.

 40 Akala

Akala
6
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 1, 1983
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kentish Town, London, England

 41 Rumer Godden

Rumer Godden
5
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: December 10, 1907
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Eastbourne, Sussex, England
Died: November 8, 1998

 42 Alfred Douglas

Alfred Douglas
6
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Powick, Worcestershire, England
Died: March 20, 1945

Alfred Douglas was an English journalist and poet best remembered as one of the lovers of famous Irish poet Oscar Wilde. Douglas played an important role in Wilde's imprisonment for homosexuality. Alfred Douglas' father John Sholto Douglas abhorred his son's relationship with the Irish poet and publicly accused the latter of homosexuality, which was illegal at that time.

 43 Mervyn Peake

Mervyn Peake
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 9, 1911
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kuling, China
Died: November 17, 1968

 44 Lionel Johnson

Lionel Johnson
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 15, 1867
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Broadstairs, England
Died: October 4, 1902

Poet and critic Lionel Johnson was part of the 1890s’ tragic generation, with themes of decadence prevailing in his works. Best known for his study on Thomas Hardy, he was a closeted homosexual and was plagued by alcoholism. It is believed he died after falling and suffering a skull fracture.

 45 Leslie Bricusse

Leslie Bricusse
6
Famous As: Composer, Musician, Playwright, Lyricist, Screenwriter, Poet, Songwriter, Film score composer
Birthdate: January 29, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London

 46 Jake Thackray

Jake Thackray
3
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Poet
Birthdate: February 27, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Leeds
Died: December 24, 2002

 47 Roger McGough

Roger McGough
3
Famous As: Author, Writer
Birthdate: November 9, 1937
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Litherland

 48 Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl
20
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 13, 1916
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales
Died: November 23, 1990

British writer, Roald Dahl, is considered as one of the greatest children’s authors. He is one of the best-selling authors of all-time and had a career spanning decades. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, The Twits and Matilda are some of his classic works. He also wrote short stories and novels meant for adults.

 49 Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany

Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany
3
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: July 24, 1878
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 25, 1957

 50 Vivian Stanshall

Vivian Stanshall
6
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: March 21, 1943
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: March 5, 1995