Famous British Non-Fiction Writers

Influential, aspirational and motivating are words that best describe non-fiction work. There are no fictional characters, no imaginary plots, no unreal world, no illusory consequences and no fictitious story – everything in fact is very much real, right from characters to plot, story to consequence. Most of the times non-fiction works are interpretations of real events through the eyes of the writer. As such, it is a greater task on part of non-fiction writers when it comes to writing – they have to be accurate with the information they provide. High precision and great intellect are strong characteristic features of non-fiction writers. Having said that, does non-fiction work seem like serious works of literature? In fact, just like any other genre of writing, non-fiction covers a wide range of topics, biographies to travel, history to self-help, parenting to gardening and so on. Britain has had the privilege of being the address of some of the most versatile and supremely talented non-fiction writers since centuries. These literary figures have left an ineffaceable mark on world literature with their works. James Burke, Anthony Burgess, Henry Bond, Stephen Hawking or Cedric Charles Dickens, steward of Dicken’s literary legacy, the country has predominantly produced some of the greatest non-fiction authors who enjoyed unprecedented global popularity for their works. Know in details about their life and works with this section.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite British Non-Fiction Writers

 1 Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin.
4
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: February 12, 1809
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: The Mount House, Shrewsbury, England
Died: April 19, 1882

Widely regarded as one of the most influential personalities in the history of mankind, Charles Darwin was an English biologist, naturalist, and geologist. He is credited with publishing the Theory of Evolution, which explains the evolution of life from a unicellular organism to human beings. A prolific writer, Charles Darwin also wrote important books on plants and barnacles.

 2 Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 25, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: South 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.

 3 C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis.
4
Famous As: Writer
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.

 4 John Locke

John Locke.
4
Famous As: Father of Classical Liberalism
Birthdate: August 29, 1632
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Wrington, Somerset, England
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.

 5 Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins.
4
Famous As: Evolutionary Biologist
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.

 6 Walter Raleigh

Walter Raleigh.
4
Famous As: Politician, Writer, Explorer, Aristocrat
Birthdate: January 22, 1554
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: East Budleigh
Died: October 29, 1618
English explorer Walter Raleigh is best remembered for his involvement in the Siege of Smerwick and for colonizing North America. He made smoking tobacco popular in England. His accounts of his first voyage to South America led to the legend of El Dorado. He was executed to please the Spanish.

 7 Thomas Hobbes

Thomas Hobbes.
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: April 5, 1588
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Westport, Wiltshire, England
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.

You May Like

 8 John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes.
4
Famous As: Economist
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.

 9 Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens.
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 7, 1812
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Landport, Hampshire, England
Died: June 9, 1870

Widely considered the greatest novelist of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens was an English writer famous for creating world-renowned fictional characters. Regarded by critics and scholars as a literary genius, most of his short stories and novels are read around the world even today. His distinctive style of writing is referred to as Dickensian.

 10 John Stuart Mill

John Stuart Mill.
4
Famous As: British Philosopher and Civil Servant.
Birthdate: May 20, 1806
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pentonville, London, England
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.

 11 John Milton

John Milton.
4
Famous As: Poet, Polemicist, and Civil Servant for the Commonwealth of England.
Birthdate: December 9, 1608
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheapside, City of London, United Kingdom
Died: November 8, 1674

John Milton was an English poet whose epic poem Paradise Lost is widely regarded as one of the greatest works of literature. Milton's other celebrated work Areopagitica is counted among history's most impassioned and influential defenses of freedom of the press and freedom of speech. John Milton’s works have influenced other prominent writers, such as Thomas Hardy and George Eliot.

 12 Geri Halliwell

Geri Halliwell.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Watford

Geri Halliwell is a British singer-songwriter who achieved international fame as part of the popular girl group, The Spice Girls, which has sold more than 85 million records worldwide. Also a well-known philanthropist, Geri Halliwell has worked closely with the United Nations Population Fund, becoming its goodwill ambassador in 1998. She is widely regarded as a girl power icon.

 13 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: April 27, 1759
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
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.

 14 Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson.
4
Famous As: Writer
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.

 15 Ted Hughes

Ted Hughes.
4
Famous As: Poet and Children's Writer
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.   

 16 H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells.
4
Famous As: Writer
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.

 17 David Icke

David Icke.
4
Famous As: Writer
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.

 18 Lady Colin Campbell

Lady Colin Campbell.
5
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 17, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: St. Andrew Parish, Jamaica

Jamaican-born British writer, socialite, and TV personality, Lady Colin Campbell, is known for publishing four books about the British royal family, including a biography of Diana, Princess of Wales. While her books about the royal family made her popular, she also faced criticism for some of her claims. She once kindled controversy for supporting sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, on TV.

 19 John Donne

John Donne.
4
Famous As: Poet, lawyer, satirist
Birthdate: January 22, 1572
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: March 31, 1631
English metaphysical poet John Donne is best known for his touch of sensuality and spirituality in his poems. One of his best-known poems is The Canonization. He had also worked on Latin translations, elegies, sermons, and epigrams. He was known for his reckless lifestyle, that affected his financial status. 

 20 Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe.
4
Famous As: Novelist, Journalist & Merchant
Birthdate: September 13, 1660
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 24, 1731
Daniel Defoe was an English trader, pamphleteer, and spy, who is best remembered for his 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe. He also helped in popularizing the novel format of writing in Britain. He was a forerunner of business journalism, too, and also traded in hosiery, woollen goods, and wine.

 21 Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke.
4
Famous As: Statesman
Birthdate: January 12, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: July 9, 1797

Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, was a member of parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of Great Britain for several years. He supported  Catholic emancipation and strongly opposed the French Revolution. He felt revolution destroyed the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society. He is considered the philosophical founder of modern conservatism. 

 22 Jill Ireland

Jill Ireland.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: April 24, 1936
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London
Died: May 18, 1990

Jill Ireland was an English singer and actress. She is best known for working with her husband Charles Bronson in 15 films. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, Ireland started writing books chronicling her fight with cancer. She also started working with the American Cancer Society. Her fight with cancer inspired the movie Reason for Living: The Jill Ireland Story.

 23 Cilla Black

Cilla Black.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: May 27, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Vauxhall, Liverpool, Lancashire, England
Died: August 1, 2015
Priscilla Maria Veronica White, better known as Cilla Black, is best remembered for her chart-topping hits You're My World and Anyone Who Had a Heart. She had her own show, Cilia, and also acted as a comedy actor. She later presented shows such as Blind Date and Surprise Surprise.

 24 Karl Pilkington

Karl Pilkington.
4
Famous As: Television Presenter, Radio Producer
Birthdate: September 23, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manchester

Karl Pilkington is an English comedian, television presenter, radio producer, and actor. He achieved popularity as the producer of Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais' radio program on Xfm. Pilkington is credited with co-founding a TV production company called RiSK Productions. Also known for his charity work, Pilkington designed and signed a card to benefit the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children.

 25 Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys.
3
Famous As: Member of Parliament
Birthdate: February 23, 1633
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 26, 1703

 26 Mary Seacole

Mary Seacole.
3
Famous As: Heroine of the Crimean War
Birthdate: November 23, 1805
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
Died: May 14, 1881

Mary Seacole was a British-Jamaican nurse, businesswoman, and healer. She played a major role during the Crimean War, providing aid for wounded servicemen and nursing them back to health. In 1991, Seacole was posthumously honored with the Jamaican Order of Merit. In 2004, she was named the greatest black Briton for her contribution during the war.

 27 Phillip Schofield

Phillip Schofield.
4
Famous As: Television Presenter
Birthdate: April 1, 1962
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oldham, Lancashire, England

Phillip Schofield is an English TV presenter. Over the years, Schofield has been playing an important role in the success of ITV's This Morning and Dancing on Ice. He is also a humanitarian as he has been serving as a patron of Shooting Star Children's Hospices, which aids families of children with terminal illnesses.

 28 Thomas Cranmer

Thomas Cranmer.
3
Famous As: First Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury
Birthdate: July 2, 1489
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Aslockton
Died: March 21, 1556

Thomas Cranmer was the first Protestant to be the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was instrumental in the annulment of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which led to the separation of the English Church from the See of Rome. He was eventually burnt at the stake for preaching Protestantism.

 29 John Ruskin

John Ruskin.
4
Famous As: Art Critic and Painter
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.

 30 William Morris

William Morris.
4
Famous As: Textile Designer, Poet
Birthdate: March 24, 1834
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Walthamstow, England
Died: October 3, 1896

William Morris was a British poet, novelist, textile designer, translator, and socialist activist. He played a major role in reviving the traditional British textile arts and the various methods of production. As a novelist and poet, Morris helped establish the fantasy genre, which is prevalent today. He is counted among the most important cultural figures of the Victorian era.

 31 Edd China

Edd China.
4
Famous As: Television Presenter
Birthdate: May 9, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Edd China is best known as the host of the Discovery Channel show Wheeler Dealers. He has also been part of Fifth Gear and Top Gear. He established Cummfy Banana Limited. After racing a motorized sofa at 148 km/h, China set a Guinness record for the fastest furniture.

 32 Sara Pascoe

Sara Pascoe
4
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: May 22, 1981
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dagenham, London, England

Born to musician Derek Pascoe, comedian Sara Pascoe was raised by her mother amid poverty after her parents’ divorce. Initially a tour guide, she later stepped into comedy and never looked back. She is known for shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Twenty Twelve.

 33 Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell.
4
Famous As: Writer, Diplomat
Birthdate: July 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Washington, United Kingdom
Died: July 12, 1926

 34 W. H. Auden

W. H. Auden.
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 21, 1907
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: York, England
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.

 35 Eddie the Eagle

Eddie the Eagle
4
Famous As: Ski jumper
Birthdate: December 5, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheltenham, England

 36 Jane Asher

Jane Asher.
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: April 5, 1946
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Willesden, London
Jane Asher gained fame as a child actor and later worked in movies such as Alfie and Deep End. She has also appeared in series such as Wish Me Luck and Holby City. She supports autism-related charities, has authored three novels, and owns a cake-making company and a kitchenware brand.

 37 Princess Michael of Kent

Princess Michael of Kent.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 15, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Karlovy Vary

Princess, Michael of Kent, is one of the members of the British royal family. Princess Michael, who is of Hungarian, Austrian, and German noble descent, worked as an interior designer before shifting her focus towards writing. Having held a long time fascination for cheetahs, Princess Michael serves as a patron for Namibia's Cheetah Conservation Fund

 38 Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 28, 1903
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: West Hampstead, London, United Kingdom
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.

 39 Gemma Collins

Gemma Collins.
3
Famous As: Businesswoman
Birthdate: January 31, 1981
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Romford, England

Reality star and entrepreneur Gemma Collins soared to fame with reality shows such as The Only Way Is Essex, I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, Celebrity Big Brother, and Dancing on Ice. She later launched her own reality franchise, Gemma Collins: Diva, and her own BBC podcast.

 40 V. S. Naipaul

V. S. Naipaul.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 17, 1932
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Trinidad and Tobago
Died: August 11, 2018

Born to Indian descendants in Trinidad, V. S. Naipaul grew up to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. The author of iconic novels such as Half a Life and A House for Mr. Biswas, Naipaul was also knighted. His realistic depiction of developing countries and their miseries won hearts worldwide.

 41 Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking.
0
Famous As: Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist
Birthdate: January 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford
Died: March 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking was an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who despite being afflicted motor neurone disease that severely limited his physical abilities, was able to build a phenomenally successful career. He was the first to set out a theory of cosmology explained by a union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics. Hawking was ranked 25 in the BBC's poll of the 100 Greatest Britons, in 2002.

 42 Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell.
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 29, 1810
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chelsea
Died: November 12, 1865

 43 Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon.
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: April 8, 1737
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 16, 1794

 44 Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill.
0
Famous As: Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Birthdate: November 30, 1874
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Blenheim Palace
Died: January 24, 1965

The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdoms, Winston Churchill, is known for successfully leading his country during the Second World War against the Nazi Germany. An officer in the British army, he also served as a war correspondent before venturing into politics. One of the most influential peoples in British history, Churchill was also an accomplished painter.

 45 John Le Mesurier

John Le Mesurier
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: April 5, 1912
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bedford, Bedfordshire, England, UK
Died: November 15, 1983

 46 George Orwell

George Orwell.
0
Famous As: Novelist
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.

 47 Oliver Sacks

Oliver Sacks
4
Famous As: Scientist, Neurologist, Educator, Psychiatrist
Birthdate: July 9, 1933
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cricklewood, London, England
Died: August 30, 2015

 48 Mary Soames

Mary Soames.
3
Famous As: Youngest Child of Winston Churchill
Birthdate: September 15, 1922
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chartwell
Died: May 31, 2014

Mary Soames was a British author and the youngest child of Winston Churchill and Clementine. From 1939 to 1941, Soames worked for several public organizations, such as the Women's Voluntary Service and Red Cross. She then joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1945, she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), in recognition of meritorious military services.

 49 Vera Brittain

Vera Brittain.
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 29, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Newcastle Under Lyme, Staffordshire, England
Died: March 29, 1970

 50 Coleen Nolan

Coleen Nolan
3
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 12, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Blackpool, England, UK