Famous British Writers Of The 20th Century

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They have penned some of the most classic tales of romance that have kindled a feeling of love in the most brazen of hearts, created characters whose fame extends beyond the novel and tides, conceived plots that have captivated the minds and sense of many for decades, and written lines that have been the most quoted and the most recognized ones – British literary connoisseurs are not holding it back and giving British literature a new avenue with every passing decade and century. Though 19th century literature undoubtedly belonged to the British (with the greatest minds at pen, a counted few including Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde), they continued their dominance well into the 20th century as well. If you don’t believe us, here’s a sneak peek. JRR Tolkien, one of the greatest 20th century writers was a British. He was the man behind epic works of fantasy including ‘The Hobbit’, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and so on. Tolkien did not just create characters and plots but an entire mythology to go with them. Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie is a British who is credited for creating two of the most well-known literary sleuths, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. If you love the James Bond series of spy novels, you have a British to thank – Ian Fleming. Other famous British writers include William Golding, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and so on. Take a look at some of the famous British writers of the 20th century.
Vote for Your Favourite British Writers Of The 20th Century
 1 
J. R. R. Tolkien
(Author of 'The Hobbit' & 'The Lord of the Rings')
J. R. R. Tolkien
68
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.

 2 
Roald Dahl
(One of the World's Greatest Authors)
Roald Dahl
71
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.

 3 
Agatha Christie
29
Birthdate: September 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Torquay, Devon, England
Died: January 12, 1976

Even after four decades after her death, Agatha Christie remains an influential figure in the world of literature and entertainment as most of her books continue to serve as inspiration to films, TV series, and video games. With over two billion copies of her novels sold, she holds the Guinness World Records for best-selling fiction writer of all time.

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 4 
George Orwell
(Known for His Novels “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”)
George Orwell
14
Birthdate: June 25, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Motihari, Bihar, India
Died: January 21, 1950

The king of dystopia and satire, George Orwell, the pen name adopted by Eric Arthur Blair, was a well-known novelist and critic of the 20th century. A man with a strong mind of his own, Orwell never backed down from stating his views on the socio-political climate he lived in, which he expressed profusely through his influential essays and novels.

 5 
Virginia Woolf
(One of the Most Important Modernist 20th-Century Authors)
Virginia Woolf
22
Birthdate: January 25, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kensington, London, England
Died: March 28, 1941

Virginia Woolf was an English writer who pioneered a narrative mode called stream of consciousness to describe the thoughts and feelings of the narrator. Regarded as one of the most prominent modernist 20th-century writers, Woolf's works have gained much attention for inspiring feminism. Her life and work have inspired several films, novels, and plays.

 6 
C. S. Lewis
(Known for His Classic Series 'The Chronicles of Narnia')
C. S. Lewis
16
Birthdate: November 29, 1898
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belfast, Ireland
Died: November 22, 1963

C. S. Lewis was a British writer whose books have sold millions of copies worldwide after having been translated into over 30 languages. His works, such as The Chronicles of Narnia, have inspired the works of other famous authors. Lewis' work continues to attract readership and he was ranked 11th on The Times' 50 greatest British writers since 1945 list.

 7 
Ian Fleming
(Author of James Bond Series)
Ian Fleming
14
Birthdate: May 28, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mayfair, London
Died: August 12, 1964

Ian Fleming was a British writer, naval intelligence officer, and journalist. Fleming is credited with creating one of the most popular characters of all time, James Bond. His James Bond series of novels have sold more than 100 million copies, making them one of the best-selling fictional book series in history. Jamaica’s Ian Fleming International Airport is named after him.

 8 
H. G. Wells
(Writer)
H. G. Wells
10
Birthdate: September 21, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Bromley, Kent, England
Died: August 13, 1946

H. G. Wells was an English writer. Although he was prolific in many genres, he is best remembered for his work on sci-fi novels, for which he is often referred to as the father of science fiction. His 1901 novel The First Men in the Moon became so influential that a lunar impact crater is named after him.

 9 
Aldous Huxley
(Writer and Philosopher Best Known for His Novels: ‘Brave New World’, ‘Island’ and ‘Point Counter Point’)
Aldous Huxley
13
Birthdate: July 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Godalming, England
Died: November 22, 1963

English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley wrote countless books, including novels, short stories, non-fiction, and poems. He is best remembered for his science-fiction novels Brave New World and Island. The seven-time Nobel Prize nominee was also a Companion of Literature of the Royal Society of Literature and a Vedanta believer.

 10 
T. S. Eliot
(Best Known as a Leader of the Modernist Movement in Poetry)
T. S. Eliot
12
Birthdate: September 26, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: January 4, 1965
American-born British poet T. S. Eliot is best remembered for his poems The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, The Waste Land, and Ash Wednesday, and his plays such as Murder in the Cathedral. He won the Nobel Prize for literature and became a prominent figure of Modernist poetry.  
 11 
Richard Dawkins
(Evolutionary Biologist)
Richard Dawkins
14
Birthdate: March 26, 1941
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya

Richard Dawkins is a British ethologist, author, and evolutionary biologist. He first achieved popularity after publishing his book, The Selfish Gene, which is credited with popularizing the gene selection theory. The book is also credited with introducing the term meme. In 2006, he established the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science to promote secularism and scientific literacy.

 12 
John Le Carré
(Novelist)
John Le Carré
5
Birthdate: October 19, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Poole, Dorset, England
 13 
Douglas Adams
(Author of the BBC Radio Comedy Series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy")
Douglas Adams
8
Birthdate: March 11, 1952
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cambridge, England
Died: May 11, 2001

English author, screenwriter, and essayist, Douglas Adams, is most remembered for his comedy science fiction series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As a screenwriter, he wrote two stories for the TV series Doctor Who. He advocated for environmentalism and spoke about environmental issues in his non-fiction radio series Last Chance to See.

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke
6
Birthdate: December 16, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minehead, Somerset, England
Died: March 19, 2008
Sir Arthur C. Clarke is best known for his short story The Sentinel, which became the basis of the screenplay of Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Clarke spent the final years of his life in Sri Lanka and hosted shows such as Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.
 15 
Joseph Conrad
(Known for Short Stories and Novels Like Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness and the Secret Agent)
Joseph Conrad
6
Birthdate: December 3, 1857
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berdychiv, Ukraine
Died: August 3, 1924

Joseph Conrad was a Polish-British writer. Considered one of the greatest English-language novelists of all time, Conrad is credited with bringing a non-English sensibility into English-language literature. Many of his works have inspired several films, TV series, and video games. His anti-heroic characters and narrative style have influenced many authors like Salman Rushdie, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and T. S. Eliot.

 16 
John Maynard Keynes
5
Birthdate: June 5, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cambridge ,England
Died: April 21, 1946

John Maynard Keynes was an English economist. His ideas are credited with changing the theory and practice of the economic policies and macroeconomics of governments at a fundamental level. Counted among the 20th century's most influential economists, Keynes' ideas are the basis for Keynesian economics. In 1999, he was named in Time magazine's Most Important People of the Century list.

 17 
D. H. Lawrence
7
Birthdate: September 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eastwood, England
Died: March 2, 1930

English writer, D. H. Lawrence, was known for exploring sensitive issues, such as sexuality, emotional health,  and instinct. In his works, he often reflected upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. The sexual nature of his writings earned him many enemies. Even though he died at the relatively young age of 44, he left behind a rich literary legacy.

 18 
Ted Hughes
(Poet and Children's Writer)
Ted Hughes
8
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.   
 19 
Henry James
(British Author Who is Regarded as a Key Transitional Figure Between Literary Realism and Literary Modernism)
Henry James
5
Birthdate: April 15, 1843
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York City, United States
Died: February 28, 1916

Henry James was an author, regarded as one of the greatest novelists ever to write in the English language. One of his novellas titled The Turn of the Screw has been the most analyzed ghost story in the history of English language literature. While his works have been adapted into films, he has been the subject of several other stories.

 20 
Henry Graham Greene
5
Birthdate: October 2, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berkhamsted, England
Died: April 3, 1991

English author Henry Graham Greene, better known as Graham Greene, is remembered for his pathbreaking Catholic novels and thrillers. He was shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Literature. His works include The Third Man and The Human Factor, and his Academy Award-nominated script of the film The Fallen Idol.

 21 
W. H. Auden
(One of the Greatest Authors of 20th Century)
W. H. Auden
9
Birthdate: February 21, 1907
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: York, England, United Kingdom
Died: September 29, 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.

 22 
Martin McDonagh
(Playwright, Screenwriter, Filmmaker)
Martin McDonagh
10
Birthdate: March 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Camberwell

The director and writer of the Academy Award-winning short film, Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh is also well known as a playwright and stage director. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is one of the his noted works. The crime drama film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was another successful venture of McDonagh. He says he prefers films to plays.

 23 
Daphne du Maurier
6
Birthdate: May 13, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 19, 1989

Daphne du Maurier was an English playwright and author. Many of her works, which have been praised for narrative craft, have been adapted into films, including three of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Such was her popularity that she was selected along with four other Women of Achievement to be featured on a set of British stamps, which were issued in 1996.

 24 
J. K. Rowling
(Author of Children's Fantasy Series, 'Harry Potter')
J. K. Rowling
132
Birthdate: July 31, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Yate, England

JK Rowling’s story is that of rags-to-riches. She is the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, which have sold more than 500 million copies and is the best-selling book series in history. She also writes crime fiction albeit under a pen name. Rowling supports many charities and has founded Lumos, an international NGO, working for children.

 25 
Evelyn Waugh
(Writer)
Evelyn Waugh
4
Birthdate: October 28, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: West Hampstead, London, England
Died: April 10, 1966

Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh was an English author, known for his novels, biographies, and travelogues. Hailed as the most brilliant satirical novelist of his day, he wrote mostly satires before WWII. But during the war, his writings took a serious turn; he published Brideshead Revisited in 1945, a book that continues to appear on the best books list till now.

 26 
Neil Gaiman
(Best Known for His Comic Book Series ‘The Sandman’ and Novels: ‘The Graveyard Book’ and ‘Stardust’)
Neil Gaiman
7
Birthdate: November 10, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
Author Neil Gaiman has written numerous novels, short stories, film scripts, and comics. He has won the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and Nebula awards, and the Carnegie and Newbery medals. Some of his best works are American Gods, Stardust, The Graveyard Book, and the comic series The Sandman
 27 
William Golding
(Novelist)
William Golding
4
Birthdate: September 19, 1911
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newquay
Died: June 19, 1993

William Golding was a British playwright, novelist, and poet whose novel Rites of Passage earned him the Booker Prize in 1980. In 1983, Golding was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1988, William Golding was knighted for his contributions to literature. In 2008, he was mentioned in The Times' list of 50 greatest British writers since 1945

 28 
Raymond Chandler
(Novelist and Screenwriter)
Raymond Chandler
6
Birthdate: July 23, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: March 26, 1959
 29 
Alan Watts
(Writer)
Alan Watts
5
Birthdate: January 6, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chislehurst, Kent, England
Died: November 16, 1973

Alan Watts was a British writer, philosopher, and speaker. He is credited with popularizing Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism in the Western world. A prolific writer, Alan Watts wrote one of Buddhism's first bestselling books, The Way of Zen. He also explored psychedelics and human consciousness in his works, such as The Joyous Cosmology and The New Alchemy.

 30 
Mary Berry
(Food Writer, TV Presenter)
Mary Berry
6
Birthdate: March 24, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bath, Somerset

Author of over 75 cookbooks, Mary Berry has also hosted several culinary shows, such as Mary Berry Cooks. The Guardian ranked her the second-best-dressed person over 50. A CBE and DBE recipient, she has also received the Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award and an honorary degree.

 31 
Zoe Kazan
(American Actress Known for Her Role in the TV Series 'Olive Kitteridge')
Zoe Kazan
11
Birthdate: September 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
 32 
E. M. Forster
6
Birthdate: January 1, 1879
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Marylebone, London, England
Died: June 7, 1970

Best known for his iconic novels Howard’s End and A Passage to India, British author E. M. Forster dealt with themes such as class division and gender. Born in England and educated at Cambridge, he had also spent some time as a secretary to Maharaja Tukojirao III of India.

 33 
Richard Ayoade
7
Birthdate: June 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whipps Cross

English comedian, film director, screenwriter, and actor Richard Ayoade gained international fame for his role in Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd. Even though he studied law in college, he was more interested in working in the entertainment industry. He started working as a comedian and actor in the early 2000s and has since come a long way.

 34 
Lucy Hawking
(Journalist, Novelist, Writer)
Lucy Hawking
6
Birthdate: November 2, 1970
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: England
Lucy Hawking, daughter of legendary physicist Stephen Hawking, has been a journalist with New York Magazine, The Times, and The Telegraph. She has also authored several children's books, such as George's Secret Key to the Universe. She is the VP of National Star College and also works for autism research.
 35 
Philip Larkin
5
Birthdate: August 9, 1922
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Radford, Coventry, United Kingdom
Died: December 2, 1985
 36 
Jane Hawking
(Writer)
Jane Hawking
4
Birthdate: March 29, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St Albans, Hertfordshire, England

Jane Hawking is an English teacher and author. She is best known as the ex-wife of popular physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. She was married to Hawking for 30 years, during which she doubled up as his caretaker. Jane Hawking took good care of Stephen Hawking despite struggling from depression, for which she is much-respected in the scientific community.

 37 
Stan Laurel
(Comic Actor Who was Part of The Comedy Duo 'Laurel and Hardy'. and Appeared with His Comedy Partner Oliver Hardy in 107 Short Films)
Stan Laurel
5
Birthdate: June 16, 1890
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lancashire, England, United Kingdom
Died: February 23, 1965

Comedian Stan Laurel entertained audiences as part of the iconic duo Laurel and Hardy, along with Oliver Hardy, in over 100 films. He began his career with music-hall sketch comedy and worked as an understudy of Charlie Chaplin in Fred Karno's Army. He was known for his trademark bowler hat.

 38 
Mark Rylance
10
Birthdate: January 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ashford, United Kingdom

Mark Rylance is an English actor, playwright, and theatre director. He is one of the eight actors to have been honored twice with the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He is also one of the eight people to have won the British Triple Crown of Acting, having received the BAFTA Television Award, BAFTA Film Award, and Laurence Olivier Award.

 39 
Harold Pinter
(Playwright, Screenwriter)
Harold Pinter
10
Birthdate: October 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Metropolitan Borough of Hackney
Died: December 24, 2008
 40 
A. A. Milne
(Best Known for His Books About the Teddy Bear ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ and Children's Poetry)
A. A. Milne
5
Birthdate: January 18, 1882
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 31, 1956

A. A. Milne was an English author best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh. He joined the British Army as a young man and served in both World War I and World War II. In his career as a writer, he wrote several novels, non-fiction pieces, articles, poems, screenplays, and children’s stories.

 41 
Louis Theroux
(Documentary Filmmaker, Journalist, Broadcaster and Podcaster)
Louis Theroux
6
Birthdate: May 20, 1970
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Singapore

Renowned British-American documentary filmmaker, Louis Theroux began his career as a journalist with Metro Silicon Valley, Spy magazine and TV Nation series. He gained recognition with his documentary series When Louis Met..., and Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. The two time BAFTA Award winner has also received appreciation for his documentaries The Most Hated Family in America and My Scientology Movie.

 42 
Terry Pratchett
(Humorist)
Terry Pratchett
5
Birthdate: April 28, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Beaconsfield, England
Died: March 12, 2015
 43 
Robert Graves
(Poet & Novelist)
Robert Graves
8
Birthdate: July 24, 1895
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wimbledon, England
Died: December 7, 1985
 44 
David Icke
(Writer)
David Icke
7
Birthdate: April 29, 1952
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Leicester

A popular English conspiracy theorist, David Icke has written books and delivered lectures on various theories, such as infinite dimensions, reptoid humanoids, and the Illuminati. While he has faced criticisms and accusations, he also has a large following and has influenced people who support counter-cultural movement and ancient astronaut theories.

 45 
Joan Collins
(Actress)
Joan Collins
8
Birthdate: May 23, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paddington, London, United Kingdom
Joan Collins, sister of renowned author Jackie Collins, is best known for her Golden Globe-winning role of Alexis Carrington in Dynasty, an iconic soap of the 1980s. She has also written several books, including beauty books, memoirs, and novels. A seasoned theater actor, she also received the DBE and OBE.
 46 
Saki
(Writer)
Saki
4
Birthdate: December 18, 1870
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sittwe, Myanmar (Burma)
Died: November 14, 1916
 47 
Terry Jones
4
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Colwyn Bay, Denbighshire, Wales
Died: January 21, 2020
Starting his career as a comedy writer, actor-director Terry Jones later soared to fame as part of the Monty Python comedy team. An avid historian, too, he wrote several books and presented TV documentaries on the topic. In his later years, the BAFTA Cymru award winner struggled with dementia. 
 48 
Michaela Coel
(British Actress and Screenwriter Known for Her TV Series: 'Chewing Gum' and 'I May Destroy You')
Michaela Coel
12
Birthdate: October 1, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
 49 
Kazuo Ishiguro
(Nobel Prize Winner in Literature)
Kazuo Ishiguro
6
Birthdate: November 8, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nagasaki, Japan
Nobel Prize-winning British-Asian author Sir Kazuo Ishiguro also won the Man Booker Prize for the novel The Remains of the Day. Time named his Never Let Me Go the best novel of 2005. He has also penned several screenplays and songs, and is known for his signature first-person narrative style.
 50 
Alan Moore
(Writer)
Alan Moore
5
Birthdate: November 18, 1953
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Northampton, England

Alan Moore is an English writer best known for his contributions to popular comic books, such as Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen, and The Ballad of Halo Jones. Some consider him to be the best comic book writer in the English language. His works have influenced several literary and television figures, such as Damon Lindelof, Joss Whedon, and Neil Gaiman.