Famous British Writers

Britain, with its rich literary heritage has produced more famous writers than any other country. The British literary tradition dates back to over a thousand years and has played a predominant role in shaping the development of English literature on the international scenario. The 14th century writer Geoffrey Chaucer is considered by many to be the Father of English Literature and the greatest poet of the Middle Ages. He was instrumental in developing the use of the vernacular Middle English. The most famous writer of all time is probably William Shakespeare. Also known as “The Bard”, the 16th century writer’s influence on the world literature has been so profound that his works are read even today. Another highly influential British writer was William Wordsworth who played a prominent role in the development of the literary movement called Romanticism. Britain has also produced a number of acclaimed female writers like Jane Austen, George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), and the Bronte sisters. In the contemporary era, British writers like Lauren Child and J. K. Rowling have emerged amongst the most popular writers of children’s books. This section provides you information about the life and works of famous British writers.

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 William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare
44
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: April 23, 1616

English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is also often called England's national poet. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and his plays continue to be produced till day. Popular during his lifetime, he acquired an iconic status after his death.

 2 J. K. Rowling

J. K. Rowling
13
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 31, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British

JK Rowling’s story is that of rags-to-riches. She is the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, which have sold more than 500 million copies and is the best-selling book series in history. She also writes crime fiction albeit under a pen name. Rowling supports many charities and has founded Lumos, an international NGO, working for children.

 3 J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien
7
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 3, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British, South African
Died: September 2, 1973

Considered one of the greatest authors, JRR Tolkien is popularly called the father of the modern fantasy literature. He is best known for his high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which is set in a conceived world called the Middle-Earth. Many years after his death, Tolkien continues to be one of the best-selling writers.

 4 Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl
26
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 13, 1916
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: November 23, 1990

British writer, Roald Dahl, is considered as one of the greatest children’s authors. He is one of the best-selling authors of all-time and had a career spanning decades. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, The Twits and Matilda are some of his classic works. He also wrote short stories and novels meant for adults.

 5 Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 7, 1812
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
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.

 6 Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: January 12, 1976

Even after four decades after her death, Agatha Christie remains an influential figure in the world of literature and entertainment as most of her books continue to serve as inspiration to films, TV series, and video games. With over two billion copies of her novels sold, she holds the Guinness World Records for best-selling fiction writer of all time.

 7 George Orwell

George Orwell
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 25, 1903
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British
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.

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 8 Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 25, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
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.

 9 C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis
0
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.

 10 Lord Byron

Lord Byron
2
Famous As: Poet, Politician
Birthdate: January 22, 1788
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: April 19, 1824

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.

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 11 Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming
0
Famous As: Author of James Bond Series
Birthdate: May 28, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: August 12, 1964

Ian Fleming was a British writer, naval intelligence officer, and journalist. Fleming is credited with creating one of the most popular characters of all time, James Bond. His James Bond series of novels have sold more than 100 million copies, making them one of the best-selling fictional book series in history. Jamaica’s Ian Fleming International Airport is named after him.

 12 Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie
0
Famous As: British-Indian novelist
Birthdate: June 19, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Indian, British

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.

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 13 Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman
0
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 10, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Author Neil Gaiman has written numerous novels, short stories, film scripts, and comics. He has won the Hugo, Bram Stoker, and Nebula awards, and the Carnegie and Newbery medals. Some of his best works are American Gods, Stardust, The Graveyard Book, and the comic series The Sandman

 14 Jane Austen

Jane Austen
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 16, 1775
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: July 18, 1817

Considered one of the greatest writers in English history, Jane Austen is best known for her six major novels - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Her writing was set among the British landed gentry and dealt with ordinary people in everyday ordinary situation. The author achieved great fame after her death. 

 15 H. G. Wells

H. G. Wells
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 21, 1866
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
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.

 16 William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 7, 1770
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: April 23, 1850

English poet William Wordsworth, along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, released Lyrical Ballads in 1798, which set the tone for the Romantic Age of English Literature. Wordsworth was known for his poems I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, The Prelude, and The Solitary Reaper. He also served as the Poet Laureate.

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 17 John Cleese

John Cleese
0
Famous As: Actor & Comedian
Birthdate: October 27, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Before stepping into sketch comedy with Monty Python's Flying Circus, John Cleese wrote scripts for Broadway and West End shows. A Cambridge law graduate, John has had a species of lemurs named after him, owing to his love for the animal. His dark humor is part of his signature style.

 18 Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 30, 1797
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: February 1, 1851
An author who was admired for her exploration of the Gothic genre, Mary Shelley is best remembered for her novel Frankenstein. She also edited the works of her husband, Romantic poet P.B. Shelley. She lost her husband to a drowning accident and eventually passed away due to brain tumor.
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 19 Mary Berry

Mary Berry
0
Famous As: Food Writer, TV Presenter
Birthdate: March 24, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British

Author of over 75 cookbooks, Mary Berry has also hosted several culinary shows, such as Mary Berry Cooks. The Guardian ranked her the second-best-dressed person over 50. A CBE and DBE recipient, she has also received the Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award and an honorary degree.

 20 William Blake

William Blake
5
Famous As: Painter
Birthdate: November 28, 1757
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: August 12, 1827
William Blake, author of The Songs of Innocence and of Experience, was a prominent figure of the early phase of the Romantic Age, known as the pre-Romantic era. Known for his visual artistry and poetry, he was also a staunch abolitionist and a forerunner of the "free love" movement.

 21 Zoe Kazan

Zoe Kazan
0
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British, American

 22 Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll
0
Famous As: Author, Mathematician and Photographer
Birthdate: January 27, 1832
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: January 14, 1898
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, is remembered for his iconic children’s fiction such as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. He explored the genre of literary nonsense with his poems such as Jabberwocky. He was also a photographer, a mathematician, and an inventor.

 23 Lucy Hawking

Lucy Hawking
0
Famous As: Journalist, Novelist, Writer
Birthdate: November 2, 1970
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Lucy Hawking, daughter of legendary physicist Stephen Hawking, has been a journalist with New York Magazine, The Times, and The Telegraph. She has also authored several children's books, such as George's Secret Key to the Universe. She is the VP of National Star College and also works for autism research.

 24 Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: April 21, 1816
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: March 31, 1855
Charlotte Bronte, remembered for her iconic novel Jane Eyre, was one of the most significant literary figures of the 19th century. She was the eldest of the Bronte sisters who survived into adulthood. She and her sisters Emily and Anne wrote under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.

 25 P B Shelley

P B Shelley
0
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 4, 1792
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
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. 

 26 Sophie Hunter

Sophie Hunter
0
Famous As: Theatre Director
Birthdate: March 16, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British

Sophie Hunter is an English playwright, opera director, and former performer. She is credited with co-founding and popularizing a theatre company called Boileroom, which was honored with the Samuel Theatre Trust Award in 2007 for its play The Terrific Electric, which marked Sophie Hunter's directorial debut.

 27 John Le Carré

John Le Carré
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 19, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British

 28 Sir Arthur Charles Clarke

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 16, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: March 19, 2008
Sir Arthur C. Clarke is best known for his short story The Sentinel, which became the basis of the screenplay of Stanley Kubrick’s science-fiction movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Clarke spent the final years of his life in Sri Lanka and hosted shows such as Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World.

 29 Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel
0
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 1, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Ghanaian, British

 30 Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett
0
Famous As: Humorist
Birthdate: April 28, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: March 12, 2015

 31 Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine
0
Famous As: Founding Father of the United States
Birthdate: January 29, 1737
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British, American
Died: June 8, 1809

English-born American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Thomas Paine, is credited to have penned some of the most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution. His works inspired the common people of America and motivated them to fight for independence from British rule. He was ostracized for criticizing Christianity and died a lonely man.

 32 John Milton

John Milton
2
Famous As: Poet, Polemicist, and Civil Servant for the Commonwealth of England.
Birthdate: December 9, 1608
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
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.

 33 Terry Prachett

Terry Prachett
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Birthdate: April 28, 1948
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British

 34 Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 24, 1957
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British

One half of the famous comedy duo Fry and Laurie, Stephen Fry is an English actor and comedian. Considered a living legend by many, Stephen Fry has made major contributions to the field of entertainment and literature. An openly gay man, Fry serves as an inspiration to the LGBT community. He is also known for his charitable activities.

 35 Sarah Ferguson

Sarah Ferguson
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 15, 1959
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British

Sarah Ferguson is one of the members of the British royal family. She started working with several charity organizations after marrying Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Even after her divorce, she has continued working with organizations like the American Cancer Society. In 2020, she set up her own foundation called Sarah's Trust.

 36 Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 11, 1952
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British, American
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.

 37 John Keats

John Keats
0
Famous As: Romantic poet
Birthdate: October 31, 1795
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British
Died: February 23, 1821
John Keats was one of the leading 19th-century Romantic poets, along with Byron and Shelley, known for his natural imagery and emotions in his poems. Some of his best-known works are Ode on a Grecian Urn, To Autumn, and Ode to a Nightingale. He died of tuberculosis at age 25.

 38 Lady Colin Campbell

Lady Colin Campbell
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 17, 1949
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British

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.

 39 Joan Collins

Joan Collins
0
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: May 23, 1933
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Joan Collins, sister of renowned author Jackie Collins, is best known for her Golden Globe-winning role of Alexis Carrington in Dynasty, an iconic soap of the 1980s. She has also written several books, including beauty books, memoirs, and novels. A seasoned theater actor, she also received the DBE and OBE.

 40 David Thewlis

David Thewlis
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 20, 1963
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British
David Thewlis gained fame with his role in Naked, a film that won him a Cannes Film Festival Award. Fans loved him as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter film franchise and Sir Patrick Morgan/Ares in Wonder Woman. He has also written a novel and directed a BAFTA-nominated short film. 

 41 Geri Halliwell

Geri Halliwell
0
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: August 6, 1972
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British

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.

 42 Jane Hawking

Jane Hawking
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 29, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British

 43 Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
0
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 6, 1809
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: October 6, 1892

 44 Sharon Osbourne

Sharon Osbourne
0
Famous As: Television host
Birthdate: October 9, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne’s wife, Sharon Osbourne is a music manager. She rejuvenated Ozzy’s career by organizing the Ozzfest tour. She was the star of the reality show The Osbournes, wrote several books, was a panelist on Loose Women, and judged America's Got Talent and The X Factor.

 45 Richard Ayoade

Richard Ayoade
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British

English comedian, film director, screenwriter, and actor Richard Ayoade gained international fame for his role in Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd. Even though he studied law in college, he was more interested in working in the entertainment industry. He started working as a comedian and actor in the early 2000s and has since come a long way.

 46 Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 28, 1866
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: December 22, 1943
Born into an affluent English family, Beatrix Potter grew up amidst nature and developed a love for animals. She grew up to be a natural scientist, conservationist, and illustrator, and is best remembered for her children's books such as The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which featured animals.

 47 Terry Jones

Terry Jones
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British, Welsh
Died: January 21, 2020

 48 Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy
0
Famous As: Novelist & Poet
Birthdate: June 2, 1840
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: January 11, 1928
Victorian novelist and poet Thomas Hardy exhibited strong influences of Romanticism in his works. He wrote classic novels such as Far from the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge, and Tess of the d'Urbervilles. He mostly showed his characters struggling against social conditions and ending up in tragic situations.

 49 David Icke

David Icke
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 29, 1952
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British

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.

 50 Alan Watts

Alan Watts
0
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.