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 
C. S. Lewis
(Writer)

C. S. Lewis
4
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.

 2 
John Locke
(Philosopher)

John Locke
4
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.

 3 
Richard Dawkins
(Evolutionary Biologist)

Richard Dawkins
4
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.

 4 
Thomas Hobbes
(Philosopher)

Thomas Hobbes
4
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.

 5 
Walter Raleigh
(Politician, Writer, Explorer)

Walter Raleigh
4
Birthdate: 1552 AD
Birthplace: Hayes Barton, England
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.

 6 

John Maynard Keynes
4
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.

 7 

John Milton
4
Birthdate: December 9, 1608
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheapside, London, England
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.

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 8 
John Stuart Mill
(Philosopher, Economist, Politician)

John Stuart Mill
4
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.

 9 

Mary Wollstonecraft
4
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.

 10 

Samuel Johnson
4
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.

 11 

Geri Halliwell
4
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.

 12 
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.

 13 
Ted Hughes
(Poet and Children's Writer)

Ted Hughes
4
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.   

 14 
David Icke
(Writer)

David Icke
4
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.

 15 

Lady Colin Campbell
5
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.

 16 

John Donne
4
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. 

 17 
Daniel Defoe
(Author of Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders)

Daniel Defoe
4
Birthdate: 1660 AD
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.

 18 
Karl Pilkington
(Television Presenter, Radio Producer)

Karl Pilkington
4
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.

 19 
Gerald Durrell
(Naturalist, Conservationist)

Gerald Durrell
4
Birthdate: January 7, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jamshedpur, India
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.

 20 
Mary Seacole
(Heroine of the Crimean War)

Mary Seacole
3
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.

 21 
Sara Pascoe
(Comedian)

Sara Pascoe
4
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.

 22 
Samuel Pepys
(Member of Parliament)

Samuel Pepys
3
Birthdate: February 23, 1633
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: May 26, 1703

 23 
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.

 24 
William Morris
(Textile Designer, Poet)

William Morris
4
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.

 25 
David Irving
(Author)

David Irving
4
Birthdate: March 24, 1938
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hutton, Brentwood, England

David Irving is an English Holocaust denier and author whose works pertaining to the political and military history of World War II have depicted Adolf Hitler in a favorable light. Due to his stance on Hitler, Irving's reputation as a historian has been discredited. He has also been accused of deliberately manipulating historical evidence.

 26 
Edd China
(Television Presenter)

Edd China
4
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.

 27 
Eddie the Eagle
(Ski jumper)

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

 28 
Gertrude Bell
(Writer, Diplomat)

Gertrude Bell
4
Birthdate: July 14, 1868
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Washington, United Kingdom
Died: July 12, 1926

Born into a wealthy English family, Gertrude Bell was an explorer at heart and went down in history for her journeys across the Middle East and for helping establish the Hāshimite dynasty in Iraq. Though she graduated in history from Oxford, being a woman, she wasn’t awarded a degree.

 29 

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

 30 

V. S. Naipaul
3
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.

 31 

Elizabeth Gaskell
3
Birthdate: September 29, 1810
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chelsea, England
Died: November 12, 1865

Princess Michael of Kent
4
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

 33 

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

 34 
Mary Soames
(Youngest Child of Winston Churchill)

Mary Soames
3
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.

 35 
Edward Gibbon
(Historian)

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

Eighteenth-century historian and author Edward Gibbon is best remembered for his 6-volume historical work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a narrative that charted events from the 2nd century to the Fall of Constantinople. He had also been an MP, representing Lymington and Liskeard.

 36 
Alain de Botton
(Philosopher, Author)

Alain de Botton
3
Birthdate: December 20, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland

Swiss-born British philosopher and author, Alain de Botto,n is best known for his work, Essays in Love, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. He is one of the founders of the educational company, The School of Life, launched in 2008. He is a recipient of  "The Fellowship of Schopenhauer", an annual writers' award from the Melbourne Writers Festival. 

 37 
Edmund Burke
(Statesman)

Edmund Burke
4
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. 

 38 
Coleen Nolan
(Singer)

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

 39 
Ted Koppel
(Journalists)

Ted Koppel
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1940
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lancashire, England, UK

Ted Koppel is an American broadcast journalist who contributed immensely to the success of the popular late-night television news program Nightline, working as its anchor from 1980 to 2005. Considered one of the most remarkable among the serious-minded interviewers on TV, Ted Koppel has won several prestigious awards, including 42 Emmy Awards and nine Overseas Press Club awards.

 40 
Isaiah Berlin
(Philosopher)

Isaiah Berlin
3
Birthdate: June 6, 1909
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia
Died: November 5, 1997

British historian and philosopher Isaiah Berlin is best remembered for his concepts of liberal theory and value pluralism. He is also considered a pioneer of intellectual history. Initially a philosophy lecturer, he later deviated to political science. He also penned iconic works such as The Hedgehog and the Fox.

 41 
Oliver Sacks
(Scientist, Neurologist, Educator, Psychiatrist)

Oliver Sacks
4
Birthdate: July 9, 1933
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cricklewood, London, England
Died: August 30, 2015

Born to doctor parents, Oliver Sacks followed in their footsteps to become a neurologist. His successful treatment of people suffering from sleeping sickness in the 1920s inspired the book Awakenings and the Academy Award-nominated movie based on it. He also studied complexities involved in Tourette syndrome.

 42 
Carlton Leach
(Author, Former Doorman, Former Football Hooligan & Bodybuilder)

Carlton Leach
3
Birthdate: March 12, 1959
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Canning Town, Essex

 43 
Kenneth Clark
(Art Historian)

Kenneth Clark
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mayfair, London, England
Died: May 21, 1983

 44 
George Orwell
(Novelist)

George Orwell
0
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.

 45 
Jeremy Thorpe
(Politician)

Jeremy Thorpe
4
Birthdate: April 29, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Surrey, England, UK
Died: December 4, 2014

British MP from North Devon and Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe was born into a family of Conservative MPs. His political career was marred by a murder conspiracy charge. He had apparently planned to kill his homosexual partner, model Norman Scott, but had shot his dog by mistake.

 46 

John Nettles
4
Birthdate: October 11, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Austell, Cornwall, England, UK

 47 
James Boswell
(Biographer)

James Boswell
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1740
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: May 19, 1795

Best known for his biography of his friend Samuel Johnson, 18th-century biographer and diarist James Boswell was also a qualified lawyer. Know for his reckless lifestyle and his trysts with prostitutes, he had contracted gonorrhea and had also fathered many children, including two illegitimate ones.

 48 
E. P. Thompson
(Historian)

E. P. Thompson
3
Birthdate: February 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: August 28, 1993

British historian E. P. Thompson is best remembered for his iconic works such as The Making of the English Working Class. He was also a poet, a novelist, and a biographer. An anti-nuclear activist, too, he played a significant role in the formation of the New Left.  

 49 
Thomas Cranmer
(First Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury)

Thomas Cranmer
3
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.

 50 
Stephen Hawking
(Theoretical Physicist - First to Set Out a Theory of Cosmology)

Stephen Hawking
0
Birthdate: January 8, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oxford, England
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.