Widely considered one of the greatest British poets of all time, Lord Byron remains influential as his works are widely read even today. He was also one of the most important personalities of the Romantic Movement. He is also known for his role in the Greek War of Independence, for which the Greeks consider him a national hero.
Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poet and political activist. An important figure in the Indian Independence Movement, she was a proponent of anti-imperialistic ideas, women's rights, and civil rights. Her illustrious career as a poet earned her the nickname Nightingale of India. After India became independent, she became the first woman to hold the office of Governor in the Dominion of India.
Langston Hughes is best remembered as a prominent leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the first to write jazz poetry. He also wrote plays and short stories. He was a columnist for The Chicago Defender and wrote the iconic poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers.
German playwright, poet, and theater director, Bertolt Brecht, is best known for co-writing the play, The Threepenny Opera, with Kurt Weill. Growing up in war-torn Germany in the early 20th century, he had a difficult life. A hardcore Marxist, he lived in exile during the Nazi period. He returned to Germany after the war and established a theater company.
Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher, friar, mathematician, cosmological theorist, poet, and Hermetic occultist. Best remembered for his cosmological theories, Bruno insisted that the universe could have no center as it is infinite. In 2004, Herbert Steffen founded the Giordano Bruno Foundation in Bruno's honor.
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.
12 Charles Lamb
Renowned British essayist Charles Lamb was a major figure of the Romantic period. He is best remembered for his Essays of Elia and his book of abridged versions of Shakespeare’s plays, Tales from Shakespeare, which he co-wrote with his sister, Mary. He had also once spent time in a mental facility.
Derek Walcott was a Saint Lucian playwright and poet who was honored with the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was also the recipient of several literary awards like Obie Award, Royal Society of Literature Award, OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, and Queen's Medal for Poetry. In 2016, he was made Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Lucia.
14 Andre Breton
Born into a family of shopkeepers, French poet André Breton initially studied medicine and psychiatry. He then joined Dadaism and eventually branched out and became one of the pioneers of the surrealist movement. Known for his Surrealist Manifestos, Breton was also a collector of manuscripts, sculptures, and paintings.
Nikos Kazantzakis was a Greek writer whose works earned him nine nominations for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Regarded as a giant of modern Greek literature, Kazantzakis achieved international fame when his works, such as The Life And Times Of Alexis Zorba and The Last Temptation of Christ, were adapted into feature films.
Olga Tokarczuk is a Polish writer and public intellectual. She is one of the most critically acclaimed authors of her generation in Poland. She was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature, becoming the first female Polish writer to receive the honor. Her works have been translated into almost 40 languages. She is also a clinical psychologist.
19 Neal Cassady
August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, painter, essayist, novelist, and poet. He wrote over 30 works of fiction and more than 60 plays in an illustrious career that spanned 40 years. Widely regarded as the father of modern Swedish literature, Strindberg is best remembered for his work The Red Room, which is considered the first modern Swedish novel.
Remembered for the legendary poems Waltzing Matilda and The Man from Snowy River, Andrew Barton “Banjo” Paterson was an Australian bush poet who depicted rural life through his works. Initially a law clerk and a journalist, he later adopted the pseudonym Banjo, which was his favorite horse’s name.
Kumar Vishwas is a Hindi poet, politician and lecturer. He was an active member of the anti-corruption movement, Indian Against Corruption, and was also one of the founder members of Aam Aadmi Party. Kumar Vishwas is known for his comments on topical issues relating to India.
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.
27 Du Fu
Du Fu was a Chinese politician and poet. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Chinese poets of all time, Du Fu's works have influenced both Japanese and Chinese literary culture. While it is said that almost all Chinese poets have been influenced by him, the Japanese literature from the Muromachi period was greatly impacted by Du Fu's poetry.
A Soviet cultural icon, singer Vladimir Vysotsky was known for his social commentary in his songs. In his early years, he quit engineering to study acting. He later ruled the stage as an actor, before stepping into music. He even distributed his recordings after being banned in the country.
31 Vasco Rossi
32 Eliphas Levi
Saigo Takamori was a samurai and he is considered as one of the most influential samurais in Japanese history. He was one of the three great nobles who led the Meiji Restoration. Saigo Takamori lived during the late Edo and early Meiji periods and led the imperial forces at the Battle of Toba–Fushimi. He was dubbed "the true last Samurai" after his death.
Called the founder of experimental biology and father of modern parasitology, Italian physician, biologist, naturalist and poet Francesco Redi did the first major experiment to challenge spontaneous generation. His book Esperienze intorno alla generazione degl'insetti includes most of his famous experiments, while his poem book Bacco in Toscana is counted among the finest works of 17th-century Italian poetry.
Spanish Romantic poet Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer was orphaned at age 11. Inspired by his painter brother Valeriano, he embarked on a literary career, writing for El Contemporáneo in Madrid. His Rimas (Rhymes) and Leyendas (Legends) gained popularity only after his death at 34 due to tuberculosis.
Joaquín Sabina had begun writing lyrics at age 14. The legendary Spanish singer and songwriter mostly sings on heartbreak and love. Apart from releasing triple-platinum tracks such as Vinagre y Rosas, he has also penned books on poetry. He once went on a 4-year hiatus after a stroke.
Born to schoolteacher parents, Thomas MacDonagh initially aspired to be a missionary. However, he later taught English and French, and then focused on writing. The author of plays such as When the Dawn Is Come, MacDonagh later joined the Irish Volunteers and led the Easter Rising before being executed by shooting.
49 Muriel Spark
Known for her novels such as Memento Mori and The Driver’s Seat, Scottish author Muriel Spark was also one of the rare female editors of her time when she was associated with the Poetry Review. Though born to a Jewish father, she later converted to Catholicism.