British Male Essayists

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 
George Orwell
(Known for His Novels “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”)

George Orwell
6
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.

 2 
T. S. Eliot
(Best Known as a Leader of the Modernist Movement in Poetry)

T. S. Eliot
4
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.  

 3 

Samuel Johnson
5
Birthdate: September 18, 1709
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lichfield, England
Died: December 13, 1784

Essayist, biographer, lexicographer, and literary critic Samuel Johnson, or Dr. Johnson, is remembered for his A Dictionary of the English Language and Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets. He was also a poet, a playwright, and a staunch Tory. His mannerisms indicated he had Tourette syndrome.

 4 
Salman Rushdie
(Novelist)

Salman Rushdie
4
Birthdate: June 19, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist whose work Midnight's Children is widely considered the best novel of all Booker Prize winners. In 2007, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature. In 2008, he was ranked 13th in the 50 greatest British writers since 1945 list published by The Times.

 5 

W. H. Auden
4
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.

 6 
P B Shelley
(One of the Epic Poets of the 19th Century)

P B Shelley
4
Birthdate: August 4, 1792
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Warnham, United Kingdom
Died: July 8, 1822
Legendary English Romantic poetry P.B. Shelley is remembered for his masterpieces such as Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, and Prometheus Unbound. He was known for his poetic imagery, and his popularity soared after his premature death due to drowning while boating at age 29. 

 7 
Douglas Adams
(Author of the BBC Radio Comedy Series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy")

Douglas Adams
4
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.

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 8 
Jonathan Swift
(Satirist & Author of 'Gulliver's Travels',' A Tale of a Tub' and 'A Modest Proposal')

Jonathan Swift
4
Birthdate: November 30, 1667
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: October 19, 1745

Eighteenth-century essayist, poet, and pamphleteer Jonathan Swift is remembered for his iconic works such as A Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, and Gulliver's Travels. One of the world’s greatest satirists, he gave rise to the deadpan Swiftian style. He had also been the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

 9 
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.

 10 

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.

 11 

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
8
Birthdate: 1960 AD
Birthplace: Amioun, Lebanon
Lebanese-American scholar and statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb is known for his work on risk management through uncertainty and probability. His five-volume essay Incerto included his bestselling book The Black Swan. Named to Forbes’s Most Influential Management Gurus list, he is the co-editor-in-chief of the academic journal Risk and Decision Analysis.

 12 
Charles Lamb
(Essayist)

Charles Lamb
4
Birthdate: 1960 AD, 1775
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Inner Temple, London, England
Died: December 27, 1834

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.

 13 

Matthew Arnold
4
Birthdate: December 24, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Laleham, United Kingdom
Died: April 15, 1888

Iconic Victorian poet and literary critic Matthew Arnold is best remembered for his classic essay Culture and Anarchy, which was a social critique of the Victorian era. He also penned poems such as Dover Beach and Sohrab and Rustum. He had also been a school inspector for over 3 decades.

 14 
Joseph Addison
(Essayist & Poet)

Joseph Addison
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1672
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Milston, United Kingdom
Died: June 17, 1719
Best known for his articles in the iconic 18th-century periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator, English essayist Joseph Addison had a lifelong collaboration with Richard Steele. Educated at Oxford, he excelled in Latin and classics. A prominent Whig, he mostly wrote on the social and cultural trends of his time.

 15 

Anthony Burgess
4
Birthdate: February 25, 1917
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Harpurhey, Lancashire, England
Died: November 22, 1993

 16 
Maajid Nawaz
(Activist, Radio Presenter and Founding Chairman of 'Quilliam')

Maajid Nawaz
4
Birthdate: November 2, 1977
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England

As a young boy, Maajid Nawaz had frequent clashes with the skinheads of Essex. Born in England, the SOAS and LSE alumnus had a 4-year stint in an Egyptian jail for his association with the Islamic extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. He now promotes secular Islam and has also advised David Cameron.

 17 
China Miéville
(Speculative Fiction & Fantasy Author Known for Her Work 'Perdido Street Station')

China Miéville
4
Birthdate: September 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Norwich, England

 18 
Nick Hornby
(Author & Editor)

Nick Hornby
4
Birthdate: April 17, 1957
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Redhill

British author Nick Hornby is best known for his bestselling books Fever Pitch, High Fidelity, and About a Boy, all of which were later made into movies. A Cambridge alumnus, he had begun as a freelance journalist for publications such as GQ. He is also known for his music reviews.

 19 
Daniel Tammet
(Inspirational Author and Autistic Savant Known for His Memoir 'Born on a Blue Day')

Daniel Tammet
4
Birthdate: January 31, 1979
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Barking, London, England

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.

 20 

Thomas Babington Macaulay
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Leicestershire, England
Died: December 28, 1859

A prominent Whig and essayist Thomas Babington Macaulay is best remembered for his 5-volume History of England. Though a qualified lawyer, he never took it up as a career. As part of his administrative work in India later, he introduced English as the chief medium of instruction in schools.

 21 
William Hazlitt
(English Writer & Literary Critic)

William Hazlitt
6
Birthdate: April 10, 1778
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Maidstone, Kent, England
Died: September 18, 1830

English essayist and critic William Hazlitt is remembered for his characteristic humanism in his works. Initially aspiring to be a painter, he traveled to Paris but later deviated to philosophy and metaphysics. Though he penned iconic works such as The Spirit of the Age, he spent his later life in oblivion.

 22 

Peter Ackroyd
3
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.

 23 
Walter Bagehot
(Journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, literature and race.)

Walter Bagehot
3
Birthdate: February 3, 1826
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Langport, Somerset, England
Died: March 24, 1877

Born to Stuckey's Bank MD Walter Bagehot was initially part of his father’s shipping and banking business. He later became the editor-in-chief of The Economist and married the publication’s founder James Wilson’s daughter. He penned path-breaking works such as Lombard Street and The English Constitution and co-established National Review.

 24 
Joseph Conrad
(Known for Short Stories and Novels Like Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness and the Secret Agent)

Joseph Conrad
0
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.

 25 

Edward Thomas
3
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.

 26 
Leigh Hunt
(English Essayist, Poet & Critic)

Leigh Hunt
3
Birthdate: October 19, 1784
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Southgate, London, England
Died: August 28, 1859

Known for poems such as Abou Ben Adhem, 19th-century English poet, critic, and essayist Leigh Hunt had founded the newspaper The Examiner, with his brother. Apart from critiquing the politics, theater, and art of his time, he also criticized Prince Regent George, an act that put him behind bars briefly.

 27 
James Wood
(Writer, Literary critic, University teacher)

James Wood
3
Birthdate: November 1, 1965
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Durham, England

Harvard literary criticism professor and The New Yorker staff writer James Wood is known for his essay volumes such as The Broken Estate. He had started his career writing book reviews for The Guardian and slowly rose to be its chief literary critic. He was associated with The New Republic.

 28 
Walter Pater
(Essayist)

Walter Pater
3
Birthdate: August 4, 1839
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Stepney, London, England
Died: July 30, 1894

Nineteenth-century critic and essayist Walter Pater redefined aestheticism with his idea of "art for art’s sake." Though initially interested in a church career, he later studied classics and began writing reviews on Renaissance art. Marius the Epicurean remains his most notable work. Some of his works reveal his homosexuality.

 29 

Thomas De Quincey
3
Birthdate: August 15, 1785
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Manchester
Died: December 8, 1859

Essayist Thomas De Quincey is best remembered for his iconic book Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, which initially appeared in the London Magazine. The work was an autobiographical account of his own addiction to opium, which he had begun consuming to help him deal with the pain of his facial neuralgia.

 30 

Stephen Spender
3
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.

 31 
Alan Garner
(Author)

Alan Garner
3
Birthdate: October 17, 1934
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Congleton, United Kingdom

Best known for his children’s fantasy novels and retellings of British folk legends, Alan Garner grew up as a sickly child but was later drafted into the Royal Artillery. His best-known works include The Weirdstone of Brisingamen, which led to a trilogy. He has also been awarded the OBE.

 32 
Perry Anderson
(Intellectual, historian and essayist)

Perry Anderson
3
Birthdate: September 11, 1938
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

 33 
Elias Canetti
(Former author who received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1981)

Elias Canetti
3
Birthdate: July 25, 1905
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Ruse, Bulgaria
Died: August 14, 1994

Bulgarian-born author and Nobel laureate Elias Canetti interestingly became one of the greatest authors in German, his third language. Though equipped with a doctoral degree in chemistry, he gained fame for his iconic works such as The Tower of Babel and Crowds and Power, which focused on crowd psychology.

 34 
Timothy Garton Ash
(Journalist, Historian, Writer, Essayist)

Timothy Garton Ash
3
Birthdate: July 12, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London

Contemporary historian and Oxford professor Timothy Garton Ash dabbles in a variety of research interests, such as communism, free speech, and the EU’s dynamics with the rest of the world. He has penned works such as Facts Are Subversive and is a regular columnist at The Guardian.

 35 
Pico Iyer
(Essayist and Novelist Best Known for His Travel Writing)

Pico Iyer
3
Birthdate: February 11, 1957
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oxford, England

A descendant of Indian Gujarati author, Mahipatram Nilkanth, British-born author and travel writer Pico Iyer was educated at the prestigious Eton, Oxford, and Harvard. He is known for his contribution to Time magazine and for his bestselling travel-themed books such as The Open Road and The Art of Stillness.

 36 
Max Beerbohm
(Essayist)

Max Beerbohm
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1872
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 20, 1956

Renowned caricaturist and essayist Max Beerbohm was the younger half-sibling of popular stage actor Herbert Beerbohm Tree. The Oxford alumnus succeeded George Bernard Shaw as a drama critic of the Saturday Review. Zuleika Dobson remains his only novel. He had been a radio broadcaster, too. Rumors claimed he was homosexual.

 37 
Robert Faurisson
(British-born French academic who became best known for Holocaust denial.)

Robert Faurisson
3
Birthdate: January 25, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Shepperton, England
Died: October 21, 2018

British-born Robert Faurisson was interested in classical languages since his early days and had taught French literature at the University of Lyon. He later gained notoriety as a chief Holocaust denier. He also raised questions on the authenticity of Holocaust victim Anne Frank’s memoir and was later banned from teaching.

 38 

Auberon Alexander Waugh
3
Birthdate: November 17, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dulverton, England
Died: January 16, 2001

Novelist Auberon Alexander Waugh was the second-born child and eldest son of author Evelyn Waugh. While working for the Royal Horse Guards in Cyprus, he almost died due to a gun accident. He had also worked for The Spectator and The Telegraph Group and gained fame for his Private Eye diaries.

 39 

Benjamin Jowett
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1817
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Camberwell, London, England
Died: October 1, 1893

Proving himself to be a brilliant classical scholar in school, Benjamin Jowett gained a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford, where he was eventually elected a master and vice-chancellor. The 19th-century academic and Anglican theologian is remembered for his translation of The Dialogues of Plato and other classical texts.

 40 
Al Alvarez
(Author of Many Non-Fiction Books)

Al Alvarez
3
Birthdate: August 5, 1929
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 23, 2019

Best known for works such as The Savage God, which spoke about suicide, and the psychological thriller Day of Atonement, Al Alvarez was educated at Oxford and later became the youngest Christian Gauss lecturer at Princeton. His poems and other works carried themes of love and loss.

 41 

Keith Waterhouse
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hunslet, Leeds,, England, United Kingdom
Died: September 4, 2009

English novelist and playwright, Keith Spencer Waterhouse is noted for his ability to create comedies even out of unpleasant situations. Leaving school at fifteen, he eventually became a columnist in established London papers like Punch and Daily Mirror. He earned international fame with his second novel, Billy Liar. He is also known for his campaigning against color bar and  against decline in the standards of modern English.

 42 
Charles Caleb Colton
(Known for His Eccentricities)

Charles Caleb Colton
3
Birthdate: December 11, 1777
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: England
Died: April 28, 1832

 43 

John Middleton Murry
2
Birthdate: August 6, 1889
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 12, 1957

Author and essayist John Middleton Murry had penned countless essays and about 40 books in his lifetime. Better known as the husband of author Katherine Mansfield and a friend of D.H. Lawrence, he was inspired by both. He had also been an editor of Rhythm and had co-launched The Adelphi.

 44 

Lionel Johnson
2
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 

Thomas Overbury
2
Birthdate: June 18, 1581
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Compton Scorpion, Warwickshire, England
Died: September 14, 1613

Sir Thomas Overbury, English poet and essayist, is probably best known for his 1614 poem Wife, which describes the virtues one should demand of the woman he is going to marry. Interpreted as an indirect attack on Lady Essex, a divorcee whom his mentor, Viscount Rochester, was to marry, it led to his imprisonment and ultimate murder by slow poisoning.

 46 
A. C. Benson
(English essayist)

A. C. Benson
2
Birthdate: April 24, 1862
Sun Sign: Taurus
Died: June 17, 1925

Born to the archbishop of Canterbury, Edward White Benson, author and critic A. C. Benson is best known for penning the song Land of Hope and Glory, which was played at the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. He also served as the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

 47 
Thomas Heywood
(Playwright)

Thomas Heywood
2
Birthdate: 1575 AD
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: August 16, 1641

Noted Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatist Thomas Heywood is best remembered for his iconic tragedy A Woman Killed with Kindness and his prose work An Apology for Actors. Though it is generally believed he was a University of Cambridge alumnus, there are no records of the fact.

 48 

Michael Arlen
2
Birthdate: November 16, 1895
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ruse, Bulgaria
Died: June 23, 1956

Michael Arlen was born in Bulgaria, into an Armenian merchant family that had escaped to avoid persecution in the Ottoman Empire. The family then moved to England, where he later penned his iconic novel The Green Hat. Apart from romances, he also wrote thrillers, one of which was adapted by Hitchcock.

Guillermo Cabrera Infante
2
Birthdate: April 22, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gibara, Cuba
Died: February 21, 2005

Guillermo Cabrera Infante was a Cuban novelist, essayist, translator, and screenwriter. He initially planned to become a doctor but ditched his plans to become a writer instead. He had a successful career and eventually became the editor of the magazine Carteles and director of the Instituto del Cine. He received the Premio Cervantes in 1997. 

Frederic W. H. Myers
2
Birthdate: February 6, 1843
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Keswick, England
Died: January 17, 1901

Frederic W.H. Myers was a 19th-century classicist and a Victorian psychical researcher. The essayist’s best-known work remains his posthumously published 2-volume collection Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. He also penned award-winning poems. Rumors claim he was homosexual but also had a relationship with his cousin's wife.