Famous 20th Century Russian Writers

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Vote for Your Favourite 20th Century Russian Writers

 1 
Leo Tolstoy
(One of the Greatest Authors of All Time)

Leo Tolstoy
16
Birthdate: September 9, 1828
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
Died: November 20, 1910

Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, is widely considered as one of the greatest authors ever. After experiencing a profound moral crisis in the 1870s, Tolstoy went through a phase of spiritual awakening, which had a great impact on his subsequent works that incorporated ideas on nonviolent resistance. These works influenced personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, thereby effectively changing the course of history.

 2 
Vladimir Nabokov
(Best Known For His Novels 'Lolita' and 'Pale Fire')

Vladimir Nabokov
6
Birthdate: April 23, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 2, 1977
Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, also known by his pen name, Vladimir Sirin, is best remembered for his controversial novel Lolita. His other works include the novel Pale Fire and his memoir, Speak, Memory. He was also an entomologist, specializing in lepidoptery. He also liked composing chess problems.

 3 
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
(Novelist & Writer Best Known for His Work 'The Gulag Archipelago')

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
8
Birthdate: December 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kislovodsk, Russia
Died: August 3, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, and political prisoner. An outspoken critic of Communism and the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn helped raise awareness of the Gulag, a government agency that oversaw forced labor camps set up in accordance with Vladimir Lenin's order. His non-fiction text The Gulag Archipelago was a highly influential work and sold millions of copies.

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 4 
Ayn Rand
(Writer)

Ayn Rand
16
Birthdate: February 2, 1905
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 6, 1982

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American philosopher and writer. Apart from publishing two best-selling novels, Ayn Rand is credited with developing a philosophical system called Objectivism. Over the years, Ayn Rand has been a major influence among American conservatives and libertarians. Some of the famous personalities influenced by her include Amber Heard, Vince Vaughn, Jimmy Wales, Ayelet Shaked, and Mary Ruwart.

 5 
Maxim Gorky
(Russian Writer Best Known for His Works 'The Lower Depths', 'Mother', 'Chelkash' and 'Children of the Sun')

Maxim Gorky
5
Birthdate: March 28, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Died: June 18, 1936

Maxim Gorky was a writer and political activist. He is best remembered for founding the socialist realism literary method. Gorky, who was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature on five occasions, published several novels that were later adapted into plays, films, and operas. In 1938, Valery Zhelobinsky adapted Gorky's novel Mother into an opera.

 6 

Andrei Tarkovsky
4
Birthdate: April 4, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zavrazh'ye, Russia
Died: December 29, 1986

Andrei Tarkovsky was a Soviet and Russian writer, theatre director, filmmaker, and film theorist. Renowned for making movies that explored metaphysical and spiritual themes, Tarkovsky is often regarded as one of the most influential and greatest directors in the history of world cinema. The recipient of many prestigious awards, Andrei Tarkovsky's work continues to influence several filmmakers around the world.

 7 

Boris Pasternak
5
Birthdate: February 10, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 30, 1960

Son of an artist father and a pianist mother, Boris Pasternak initially wished to become a musician. He is best known for his novel Doctor Zhivago, set against backdrop of the Russian Revolution. The Soviet Communists forced him to decline the Nobel Prize, which his descendants later accepted.

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 8 
Peter Kropotkin
(Anarchist, Socialist & Historian)

Peter Kropotkin
4
Birthdate: December 9, 1842
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1921

Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917. 

 9 
Mikhail Bulgakov
(Novelist and Playwright Best Known for His Novel 'The Master and Margarita')

Mikhail Bulgakov
4
Birthdate: May 15, 1891
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: March 10, 1940

Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian writer, playwright, and medical doctor best remembered for his work The Master and Margarita, a novel which has been acclaimed as one of the 20th century's masterpieces. Over the years, his works have inspired several other personalities, including Salman Rushdie and Mick Jagger.    

Vladimir Mayakovsky
3
Birthdate: July 19, 1893
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Baghdati, Georgia
Died: April 14, 1930

 11 

Anna Akhmatova
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Velykyi Fontan Cape
Died: March 5, 1966

One of the greatest Russian women poets, Anna Akhmatova had started writing poems at age 11. She was part of the Acmeists, who laid down their own style, Acmeism. Poema bez geroya and Requiem remain two of her finest works. She later wrote about the horrors of the Stalinist regime.

 12 
Eugene Mirman
(Comedian)

Eugene Mirman
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

 13 

Nicholas Roerich
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1874
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 13, 1947

Russian painter, writer, philosopher, theosophist and archaeologist, Nicholas Roerich, counted among the greatest Russian painters, is noted for initiating the modern movement for the defense of cultural objects. One of the greatest feats that he achieved during his lifetime was the Roerich Pact that was signed into law by the US and most nations of the Pan-American Union.

 14 

Sergei Yesenin
3
Birthdate: October 3, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Konstantinovo, Russia
Died: December 28, 1925

Born into a peasant family, Russian lyrical poet Sergei Yesenin was a significant figure of Imaginism. Known as "the last poet of wooden Russia," Yesenin soared to fame with works such as Radunitsa. He later committed suicide in a hotel, having written his last poem in his own blood.

 15 
Eduard Limonov
(Writer and Founder of 'National Bolshevik Party')

Eduard Limonov
4
Birthdate: February 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dzerzhinsk, Russia
Died: March 17, 2020

The firebrand National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov gained fame with his first novel, It's Me, Eddie, which contained explicit sexual imagery and obscene language, and was written while he was in literary exile in New York. He was also part of The Other Russia, a group of Putin opposers.

 16 
Masha Gessen
(Journalist)

Masha Gessen
4
Birthdate: January 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Russian-American journalist and The New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen is known for his sharp criticism of political figures such as Donald Trump. The renowned author of the internationally popular books such as The Man Without a Face and The Future Is History, he identifies as nonbinary and trans.

 17 
Alexandra Kollontai
(Russian Revolutionary and Diplomat & First Woman in History to Become an Official Member of a Governing Cabinet)

Alexandra Kollontai
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 9, 1952

Alexandra Kollontai was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and diplomat. She served as the People's Commissar for Welfare in Lenin’s government. A powerful figure, she became the first woman in history to become an official member of a governing cabinet. She was also one of the few women to play a prominent role during the Russian Revolution. 

 18 

Gala Dalí
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kazan, Russian Empire [now Tatarstan, Russia]
Died: June 10, 1982

 19 
Vladimir Kramnik
(Chess Player)

Vladimir Kramnik
3
Birthdate: June 25, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tuapse, Russia

Vladimir Kramnik is a Russian chess player who was honored with the prestigious Grandmaster title in 1992. From 2000 to 2006, Kramnik held the Classical World Chess Championship title. From 2006 to 2007, he held the undisputed World Chess Championship title. He has also won three individual medals and three team gold medals at Chess Olympiads.

 20 
Joseph Brodsky
(Essayist & Poet)

Joseph Brodsky
6
Birthdate: May 24, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: January 28, 1996
Nobel Prize-winning Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky is remembered for his elegiac and lyric poems. While he had started writing poems soon after leaving school, he was sentenced to hard labor by the Soviets for his irregular work record. He later moved to the U.S., where he taught at various universities.

 21 

Boris Strugatsky
3
Birthdate: April 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: November 19, 2012

 22 
Vladimir Propp
(Folklorist)

Vladimir Propp
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 22, 1970

 23 

Sophia Tolstaya
3
Birthdate: August 22, 1844
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Northwestern Administrative Okrug, Russia
Died: November 4, 1919

Prince Dimitri Romanov
3
Birthdate: May 17, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cap d'Antibes, France
Died: December 31, 2016

 25 
P. D. Ouspensky
(Philosopher, Writer)

P. D. Ouspensky
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kharkiv, Ukraine
Died: October 2, 1947

 26 
Isaac Babel
(Journalist, Writer)

Isaac Babel
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Odesa, Ukraine
Died: January 27, 1940

 27 

Vladimir Bukovsky
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belebey, Russia
Died: October 27, 2019

Vladimir Bukovsky was a Russian-born British writer and human rights activist. An important member of the Soviet dissident movement, Bukovsky spent 12 years in prisons, psychiatric prison-hospitals, and labor camps of the Soviet Union. A neurophysiologist, Bukovsky is celebrated for his efforts to expose Soviet Union's political abuse of psychiatry. In 2001, he was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom.

 28 

Vasily Grossman
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berdychiv, Ukraine
Died: September 14, 1964

Russian author and journalist, Vasily Grossman, by training a chemical engineer, began writing fulltime at the age of twenty-five, eventually publishing several short stories and novels, including Life and Fate and Forever Flowing. Considered a threat, these works were later censured. A war correspondent during WWII, he was also one of the first journalists to write on Treblinka extermination camp.

 29 
Viktor Korchnoi
(Chess Player)

Viktor Korchnoi
3
Birthdate: March 23, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: June 6, 2016

Viktor Korchnoi was a writer and chess grandmaster. He is widely regarded as one of the best players never to have achieved the World Chess Championship title. He played chess until old age and became the oldest player to be ranked in the top 100 players list when he won the World Senior Chess Championship in 2006 at age 75.

 30 
Ivan Bunin
(Writer)

Ivan Bunin
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Voronezh, Russia
Died: November 8, 1953

Ivan Bunin was a Russian writer whose stories and poems are regarded as one of the richest collection of works in the Russian language. In 1933, Ivan Bunin became the first Russian writer to be honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature. Subsequently, he donated 100,000 francs to a charity fund.

 31 
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
(Writer Best Known for 'Babiyy Yar', a Political Poem)

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Nizhneudinsk, Russia
Died: April 1, 2017

Russian author Yevgeny Yevtushenko, known for works such as Wild Berries and Bratsk Station, is also remembered for his advocacy of artistic freedom in Russian literature rather than a reliance on political overtones. Following the death of Stalin, he focused on using unadulterated language and lyrics with a personal touch.

 32 

Marina Tsvetaeva
3
Birthdate: October 8, 1892
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: August 31, 1941

 33 

Chinghiz Aitmatov
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sheker village, Kirghiz ASSR, Soviet Union
Died: June 10, 2008

 34 

Ilya Ehrenburg
4
Birthdate: January 26, 1891
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: August 31, 1967

 35 
Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
(Writer Who Specialized in Science Fiction and Historical Novels)

Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy
3
Birthdate: January 10, 1883
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pugachyov, Russia
Died: February 23, 1945

Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy, also known as Comrade Count, initially tasted fame with the novel Nikita’s Childhood and then redefined the science-fiction, thriller, and historical novel genres. As part of the Extraordinary State Commission, he was the first to ascertain that the Nazis had used gas vans during World War II.

 36 

Vasily Nikitich Mitrokhin
3
Birthdate: March 3, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ryazan Oblast, Russia
Died: January 23, 2004

Best known as the coauthor of a collection of works, entitled Mitrokhin Archives, Vasily Nikitich Mitrokhin was the First Chief Directorate of the KGB before his defection to the United Kingdom. The 25,000 pages of files he had handed over became the basis of these books, the most significant of them being The KGB in Europe and the West.

 37 
Victor Pelevin
(One of the Most Interesting Writers to Have Come Out of Contemporary Russia)

Victor Pelevin
3
Birthdate: November 22, 1962
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Russian Little Booker Prize-winning author Victor Pelevin is known for his unique style of mingling pop culture and science fiction in his works. A qualified engineer, he worked as a journalist and a copywriter before he began writing. His works such as Omon Ra mirror the despair of the Russian youth.

 38 
Igor Gouzenko
(Cipher clerk known for exposing Joseph Stalin's efforts to steal nuclear secrets)

Igor Gouzenko
0
Birthdate: January 26, 1919
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dmitrov, Russia
Died: June 25, 1982

 39 

Mikhail Sholokhov
4
Birthdate: May 24, 1905
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Veshenskaya, Russia
Died: February 21, 1984

 40 
Sergei Dovlatov
(Writer, Journalist)

Sergei Dovlatov
3
Birthdate: September 3, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ufa, Russia
Died: August 24, 1990

 41 
Sergei Bodrov
(Film director, screenwriter, and producer)

Sergei Bodrov
3
Birthdate: June 28, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Khabarovsk, Russia

 42 

Yevgeny Zamyatin
3
Birthdate: February 1, 1884
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lebedyan, Russia
Died: March 10, 1937

 43 
Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia
(Grandson of Emperor Nicholas I of Russia, and a poet)

Grand Duke Constantine Constantinovich of Russia
4
Birthdate: August 22, 1858
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Strelna, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: June 15, 1915

 44 

Viktor Shklovsky
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1893
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 6, 1984

 45 

Osip Mandelstam
3
Birthdate: January 14, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: December 27, 1938

 46 

Hayim Nahman Bialik
3
Birthdate: January 9, 1873
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Volhynia, Russian Empire
Died: July 4, 1934

 47 

Daniil Kharms
4
Birthdate: December 17, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 2, 1942

 48 
Constance Garnett
(English translator)

Constance Garnett
2
Birthdate: December 19, 1861
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brighton, England
Died: December 17, 1946

 49 

Varlam Shalamov
3
Birthdate: June 18, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vologda, Russia
Died: January 17, 1982

 50 

Lyubov Dostoevskaya
2
Birthdate: September 14, 1869
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: November 10, 1926

Lyubov Dostoevskaya was a Russian memoirist and writer. The daughter of popular Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and his wife Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina, Lyubov Dostoevskaya is best remembered for her work, Dostoyevsky as Portrayed by His Daughter. Many of her memoirs, which were written in French, were translated into other European languages.