Famous British Intellectuals & Academics

Intellectuals and academicians undoubtedly play a great role in shaping up a society or a country. One of the reasons why nations like the United States, Canada and Australia have developed by leaps and bounds over the years is the great contribution made by their intellectuals. Great Britain also boasts of many such eminent individuals who have played a vital role in the development of the nation. These individuals have been addressing various issues plaguing the society since time immemorial through their work. Yesteryear economist and philosopher Adam Smith, as well as philosopher Alan Watts are two of the many famous British intellectuals and academicians. Many of these individuals have also helped establish academies to encourage budding talents for their achievements in fields like art, sports and science. The lives of these eminent people continue to be a great source of inspiration for many even today. Take a look at the biographies of some of the most famous British academicians and intellectuals. Learn everything about their life stories, timelines and few interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

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 John Locke

John Locke
2
Famous As: Father of Classical Liberalism
Birthdate: August 29, 1632
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: October 28, 1704
John Locke, also known as The Father of Liberalism, was a prominent Enlightenment Age philosopher. A qualified physician, Locke postulated the theory of mind, empiricism, and the idea of tabula rasa. His ideas influenced the social contract theory, the works of Kant and Rousseau, and the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

 2 C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 29, 1898
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Irish, British
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.

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 3 Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall
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Famous As: Primatologist
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

 4 Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: May 18, 1872
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British, Welsh
Died: February 2, 1970

Bertrand Russell was a British polymath and Nobel laureate. His work, which is spread across various fields, has had a considerable influence on philosophy, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, mathematics, linguistics, and logic. Russell is also credited with leading the revolt against idealism in Britain and is regarded as one of the founders of analytic philosophy.

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 5 T. E. Lawrence

T. E. Lawrence
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Famous As: Archaeologist
Birthdate: August 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: May 19, 1935
T. E. Lawrence was a British army officer who participated in the Arab Revolt, against the Ottoman regime, during World War I. Nicknamed Lawrence of Arabia, he inspired a movie of the same name. His treatise of his war experiences was published as Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his best-known work.

 6 Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: January 22, 1561
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: April 9, 1626

Francis Bacon was a Renaissance philosopher and author who was known as the Father of Empiricism, because of his belief in the scientific method and theory that scientific knowledge can only be created through inductive reasoning and experience. He was later knighted and served as the first Queen's counsel.

 7 John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill
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Famous As: British Philosopher and Civil Servant.
Birthdate: May 20, 1806
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: May 8, 1873
Nineteenth-century philosopher John Stuart Mill is best remembered for his work On Liberty, which spoke of personal freedom and "the harm principle.” His The Subjection of Women was one of the first works written by a male author that promoted women's rights. He supported Jeremy Bentham's ethical utilitarianism.
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 8 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 27, 1759
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: September 10, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.

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 9 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British, Welsh
Died: January 21, 2020

 10 Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale
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Famous As: Founder of Modern Nursing
Birthdate: May 12, 1820
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: August 13, 1910
The Lady with the Lamp Florence Nightingale is remembered for her relentless efforts in nursing soldiers during the Crimean War. She founded London’s St Thomas' Hospital to train nurses. She also pioneered the use of the polar area diagram and was the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society.
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 11 Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 5, 1588
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: December 4, 1679

Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher. Widely regarded as the co-founder of modern political philosophy, Hobbes is best known for his influential book Leviathan. Apart from political philosophy, Thomas Hobbes also contributed immensely to various other fields, such as ethics, theology, geometry, history, and jurisprudence.

 12 Alan Watts

Alan Watts
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Famous As: Philosopher, Writer & Speaker
Birthdate: January 6, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British, American
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.

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 13 John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes
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Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: June 5, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
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.

 14 Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British

 15 Gerald Durrell

Gerald Durrell
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Famous As: Naturalist, Conservationist
Birthdate: January 7, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British
Died: January 30, 1995
Naturalist, author, TV presenter, and zookeeper Gerald Durrell, the youngest brother of author Lawrence Durrell, was the founder of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Jersey Zoo. His memoirs were made into the series My Family and Other Animals and The Durrells. He was also a skilled Illustrator.

 16 Karl Popper

Karl Popper
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 28, 1902
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: September 17, 1994
Austrian-British philosopher and academic Sir Karl Popper is remembered as one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century. He rejected the inductivist scientific method and advocated for the empirical falsification, detailing falsifiability in his book Logik der Forschung. He was also a supporter of liberal democracy. 

 17 Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 15, 1748
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: June 6, 1832
Philosopher and jurist Jeremy Bentham is remembered as the pioneer of modern utilitarianism. He believed in economic freedoms, women’s rights, animal rights, the separation of the church and the state, and freedom of expression. Bentham wished for his body to be dissected and then to be displayed as an auto-icon.

 18 George Boole

George Boole
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher and Logician
Birthdate: November 2, 1815
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: December 8, 1864

 19 Katharine Gun

Katharine Gun
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Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Nationality: British

 20 Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 27, 1820
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: December 8, 1903

 21 Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson
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Famous As: Writer, Economic historian, Historian, University teacher, Journalist, Economist
Birthdate: April 18, 1964
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British

 22 Anthony Blunt

Anthony Blunt
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Famous As: Art Historian, University Teacher
Birthdate: September 26, 1907
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: March 26, 1983
Art historian Anthony Blunt is best remembered as part of the spy group Cambridge Five. His confession, revealed after years, stripped him of his knighthood. An expert on the works of Baroque painter Nicolas Poussin, he had also authored works such as Art and Architecture in France 1500–1700.

 23 Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: 1960 AD
Nationality: Lebanese, British, American
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.

 24 Howard Carter

Howard Carter
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Famous As: Archaeologist
Birthdate: May 9, 1874
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: March 2, 1939

 25 George Osborne

George Osborne
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Famous As: Politician, Economist
Birthdate: May 23, 1971
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British

 26 Samuel Coleridge

Samuel Coleridge
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 21, 1772
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: July 25, 1834

Samuel Coleridge was an English poet, philosopher, theologian, and literary critic. He is credited with co-founding the Romantic Movement in England along with his friend William Wordsworth. Despite struggling from bouts of depression and anxiety throughout his adult life, Samuel Coleridge had a major influence on American transcendentalism and writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 27 Thomas Robert Malthus

Thomas Robert Malthus
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Famous As: Political Economist
Birthdate: February 13, 1766
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: December 23, 1834

 28 William Penn

William Penn
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Famous As: Founder of the Province of Pennsylvania
Birthdate: October 14, 1644
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: July 30, 1718

William Penn was a writer and one of the earliest members of the Quakers. He is credited with founding the Province of Pennsylvania. He also oversaw the planning and development of the city of Philadelphia. Penn has several universities and schools named in his honor, including the William Penn University in Iowa. 

 29 William Tyndale

William Tyndale
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: 1494 AD
Nationality: British
Died: October 6, 1536

English scholar, William Tyndale, became a leading figure in the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. He is known for translating the Bible into English. An active writer, he wrote extensively on political issues and religion. He was accused of heresy and condemned to be burned to death. Executed in 1536, he is honored as a martyr.

 30 Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts
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Famous As: Anthropologist
Birthdate: May 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Biological anthropologist Alice Roberts has taught at the University of Birmingham and led the charity Humanists UK. She gained fame as the presenter of shows such as Dr. Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young and The Incredible Human Journey. She has also authored books such as The Complete Human Body.

 31 Gregg Wallace

Gregg Wallace
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Famous As: TV Presenters
Birthdate: October 17, 1964
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British

 32 John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe
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Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian
Birthdate: 1328 AD
Nationality: British
Died: December 31, 1384

 33 John Dee

John Dee
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: July 13, 1527
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British
Died: February 29, 1609

 34 Lord Frederick Windsor

Lord Frederick Windsor
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Famous As: Financial analyst
Birthdate: April 6, 1979
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British

 35 Suzannah Lipscomb

Suzannah Lipscomb
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Famous As: historian
Birthdate: December 7, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British

 36 David Ricardo

David Ricardo
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Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: April 18, 1772
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: September 11, 1823

 37 Roger Scruton

Roger Scruton
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 27, 1944
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British
Died: January 12, 2020

 38 Bettany Hughes

Bettany Hughes
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Famous As: historian
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Nationality: British

 39 John Henry Newman

John Henry Newman
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: February 21, 1801
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British
Died: August 11, 1890

 40 Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 8, 1737
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: January 16, 1794

 41 Roger Williams

Roger Williams
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: December 21, 1603
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British, American
Died: 1683 AD

 42 Mary Beard

Mary Beard
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Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: January 1, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British

 43 Simon Russell Beale

Simon Russell Beale
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 12, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: Malaysian, British

 44 Joseph Priestley

Joseph Priestley
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Famous As: Discoverer of Oxygen
Birthdate: March 24, 1733
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: February 6, 1804

 45 William of Ockham

William of Ockham
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 1287 AD
Nationality: British
Died: April 10, 1347

 46 Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead
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Famous As: Mathematician, Philosopher
Birthdate: February 15, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British, American
Died: December 30, 1947

 47 Thomas Babington Macaulay

Thomas Babington Macaulay
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: October 25, 1800
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: December 28, 1859

 48 John Winthrop

John Winthrop
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Famous As: Politician, Theologian
Birthdate: January 12, 1588
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British, American
Died: March 26, 1649

 49 Isaiah Berlin

Sir Isaiah Berlin
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Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: June 6, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: November 5, 1997

 50 Ronald Fisher

Ronald Fisher
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Famous As: Statistician
Birthdate: February 17, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: July 29, 1962