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
101
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, England
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 
Charles Dickens
(The Greatest Novelist of the Victorian Era)

Charles Dickens
18
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.

 3 
J. K. Rowling
(Author of Children's Fantasy Series, 'Harry Potter')

J. K. Rowling
123
Birthdate: July 31, 1965
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Yate, England

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.

 4 
J. R. R. Tolkien
(Author of 'The Hobbit' & 'The Lord of the Rings')

J. R. R. Tolkien
63
Birthdate: January 3, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bloemfontein, South Africa
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.

 5 
Roald Dahl
(One of the World's Greatest Authors)

Roald Dahl
69
Birthdate: September 13, 1916
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Llandaff, Cardiff, Wales
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.

 6 

Agatha Christie
26
Birthdate: September 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Torquay, Devon, England
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 
Jane Austen
(Novelist)

Jane Austen
21
Birthdate: December 16, 1775
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hampshire, England
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. 

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 8 
George Orwell
(Known for His Novels “Animal Farm” and “Nineteen Eighty-Four”)

George Orwell
13
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.

 9 
Virginia Woolf
(Novelist)

Virginia Woolf
20
Birthdate: January 25, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: 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.

 10 
C. S. Lewis
(Known for His Classic Series 'The Chronicles of Narnia')

C. S. Lewis
15
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.

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 11 
John Locke
(Philosopher)

John Locke
6
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.

 12 
Mary Shelley
(Novelist)

Mary Shelley
14
Birthdate: August 30, 1797
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Somers Town, London, England
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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 13 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(British Writer Who Created the Character of Sherlock Holmes)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
8
Birthdate: May 22, 1859
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Scotland
Died: July 7, 1930
Physician-turned-author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is remembered for creating the iconic character Sherlock Holmes. He wrote four novels and 56 short stories on Holmes’s detective adventures and also created the characters Professor Challenger and Brigadier Gerard. A sports lover, he had dabbled in cricket, football, and bodybuilding, too.

 14 
Ian Fleming
(Author of James Bond Series)

Ian Fleming
11
Birthdate: May 28, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Mayfair, London
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.

 15 

William Wordsworth
17
Birthdate: April 7, 1770
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kingdom of Great Britain
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.

 16 
Lord Byron
(Baron Byron)

Lord Byron
17
Birthdate: January 22, 1788
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
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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 17 
H. G. Wells
(Writer)

H. G. Wells
9
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.

 18 
William Blake
(Poet and Visual Artist of the Romantic Age)

William Blake
16
Birthdate: November 28, 1757
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Soho, London, England
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.
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 19 
Lewis Carroll
(English Author Best Known for His Works: ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland’ & Its Sequel ‘Through the Looking-Glass’)

Lewis Carroll
9
Birthdate: January 27, 1832
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cheshire, England, United Kingdom
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.

 20 
Salman Rushdie
(Novelist)

Salman Rushdie
16
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.

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 21 

Aldous Huxley
12
Birthdate: July 26, 1894
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Godalming, England
Died: November 22, 1963

English writer and philosopher Aldous Huxley wrote countless books, including novels, short stories, non-fiction, and poems. He is best remembered for his science-fiction novels Brave New World and Island. The seven-time Nobel Prize nominee was also a Companion of Literature of the Royal Society of Literature and a Vedanta believer.

 22 
P B Shelley
(One of the Epic Poets of the 19th Century)

P B Shelley
8
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. 

 23 
A. A. Milne
(Best Known for His Books About the Teddy Bear ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’ and Children's Poetry)

A. A. Milne
5
Birthdate: January 18, 1882
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 31, 1956

A. A. Milne was an English author best known for his books about the teddy bear Winnie-the-Pooh. He joined the British Army as a young man and served in both World War I and World War II. In his career as a writer, he wrote several novels, non-fiction pieces, articles, poems, screenplays, and children’s stories.

 24 
Richard Dawkins
(Evolutionary Biologist)

Richard Dawkins
12
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.

 25 

John Keats
8
Birthdate: October 31, 1795
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moorgate, London, England
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.

 26 
T. S. Eliot
(Best Known as a Leader of the Modernist Movement in Poetry)

T. S. Eliot
12
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.  

 27 

Charlotte Bronte
13
Birthdate: April 21, 1816
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Thornton, Yorkshire, England
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.

 28 

Geoffrey Chaucer
9
Birthdate: 1340 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 25, 1400

Geoffrey Chaucer was an English author and poet. He is best known for his collection of 24 stories titled The Canterbury Tales. Geoffrey Chaucer is widely regarded as the greatest British poet of the Middle Ages and is often referred to as the father of English poetry. He is also credited with helping legitimize the literary use of Middle English.

 29 
Thomas Hobbes
(Philosopher)

Thomas Hobbes
7
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.

 30 
Walter Raleigh
(Politician, Writer, Explorer)

Walter Raleigh
5
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.

 31 

John Milton
7
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.

 32 
Thomas Hardy
(Novelist & Poet)

Thomas Hardy
5
Birthdate: June 2, 1840
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Stinsford, Dorset, England
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.

 33 
John Le Carré
(Novelist)

John Le Carré
5
Birthdate: October 19, 1931
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Poole, Dorset, England

 34 
Douglas Adams
(Author of the BBC Radio Comedy Series "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy")

Douglas Adams
8
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.

 35 
Joseph Conrad
(Known for Short Stories and Novels Like Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness and the Secret Agent)

Joseph Conrad
6
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.

 36 
George Eliot
(Poet & Novelist)

George Eliot
6
Birthdate: November 22, 1819
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England
Died: December 22, 1880

Mary Ann Evans, known by her pseudonym George Eliot, was an English poet, novelist, translator, and journalist. One of the most prominent writers of the Victorian era, Eliot's works are known for their psychological insight, realism, and detailed description of the countryside. Her novel Middlemarch was voted one of the greatest literary works in a 2007 poll conducted by Time.

 37 
John Stuart Mill
(The Most Influential English-Speaking Philosopher of the Nineteenth Century)

John Stuart Mill
5
Birthdate: May 20, 1806
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pentonville, London, England
Died: May 7, 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.

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke
6
Birthdate: December 16, 1917
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Minehead, Somerset, England
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.

 39 

John Maynard Keynes
5
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.

 40 
Neil Gaiman
(Best Known for His Comic Book Series ‘The Sandman’ and Novels: ‘The Graveyard Book’ and ‘Stardust’)

Neil Gaiman
7
Birthdate: November 10, 1960
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Hampshire, England, United Kingdom
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

Alfred Lord Tennyson
4
Birthdate: August 6, 1809
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Somersby, Lincolnshire, England
Died: October 6, 1892

Alfred, Lord Tennyson was a British poet. One of the most famous British poets of all time, Tennyson served as the Poet Laureate during Queen Victoria's reign. His poetry, which is renowned for its powerful visual imagery, served as an important influence on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of English poets and painters.

 42 
Emily Brontë
(Novelist)

Emily Brontë
8
Birthdate: July 30, 1818
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Thornton, West Yorkshire
Died: December 19, 1848
Victorian novelist/poet Emily Brontë, also known as Ellis Bell, is best remembered for her iconic novel Wuthering Heights. Her book of poems, written with her sisters Charlotte and Anne, was titled Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, highlighting their pseudonyms. She suffered from prolonged illness and died of tuberculosis.

 43 

D. H. Lawrence
7
Birthdate: September 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eastwood, England
Died: March 2, 1930

English writer, D. H. Lawrence, was known for exploring sensitive issues, such as sexuality, emotional health,  and instinct. In his works, he often reflected upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. The sexual nature of his writings earned him many enemies. Even though he died at the relatively young age of 44, he left behind a rich literary legacy.

 44 

David McCallum
7
Birthdate: September 19, 1933
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

David McCallum is a Scottish musician and actor who gained recognition for portraying Illya Kuryakin in the popular spy fiction TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He gained international recognition for playing Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the action police procedural TV series NCIS. David McCallum has also contributed as a writer, publishing a novel titled Once a Crooked Man.

 45 
Ted Hughes
(Poet and Children's Writer)

Ted Hughes
8
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.   

 46 
Mary Berry
(Food Writer, TV Presenter)

Mary Berry
6
Birthdate: March 24, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bath, Somerset

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.

 47 
Alan Watts
(Writer)

Alan Watts
5
Birthdate: January 6, 1915
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chislehurst, Kent, England
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.

 48 

Richard Ayoade
6
Birthdate: June 12, 1977
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Whipps Cross

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.

 49 
Jonathan Swift
(Satirist & Author of 'Gulliver's Travels',' A Tale of a Tub' and 'A Modest Proposal')

Jonathan Swift
5
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.

 50 
Zoe Kazan
(Actress)

Zoe Kazan
9
Birthdate: September 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA