Famous Hungarian Writers

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Find out more about the greatest Hungarian Writers, including Arthur Koestler, Thomas Szasz, George Friedman, Karl Polanyi and Hannah Szenes.
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 1 
Muhammad Asad
(For English Translation of Quran, 'The Message of The Qur'an")
Muhammad Asad
3
Birthdate: July 2, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lviv, Ukraine
Died: February 20, 1992

Austro-Hungarian journalist Leopold Weiss was a descendant of rabbis and ran away from home in his teens, taking up odd jobs, before finally becoming a journalist in Germany. His work took him to the Middle East, where he converted to Islam and adopted the name Muhammad Asad.

 2 
Karl Polanyi
(Economist, Anthropologist, Economic historian, Historian, Journalist, Philosopher, Writer, University teacher, Sociologist)
Karl Polanyi
5
Birthdate: October 25, 1886
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vienna
Died: April 23, 1964

Apart from being a political economist, Karl Polanyi was also a prominent Hungarian political leader. The Great Transformation remains his best-known work. He taught at institutes such as the Columbia University and is known for proposing the idea of a cultural version of economics known as substantivism.

 3 
Thomas Szasz
(Psychiatrist)
Thomas Szasz
5
Birthdate: April 15, 1920
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 8, 2012

Hungarian-American psychiatrist Thomas Szasz, who spent most of life teaching at the State University of New York Health Science Center, was known for his controversial claim that mental illnesses aren’t illnesses at all. Part of the anti-psychiatry movement, he penned books such as The Myth of Mental Illness.

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 4 
Arthur Koestler
(Novelist and Journalist Best Known for His Books ‘Darkness at Noon’ and ‘The Thirteenth Tribe’)
Arthur Koestler
3
Birthdate: September 5, 1905
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: March 1, 1983

Arthur Koestler was a Hungarian-British journalist and author. He achieved international fame in 1940 when he published an anti-totalitarian novel titled Darkness at Noon. He was honored with the prestigious Sonning Prize in 1968. In 1972, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to the field of journalism.

 5 
George Friedman
(Political Scientist)
George Friedman
5
Birthdate: February 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

A renowned international affairs strategist and geopolitical forecaster, George Friedman is also a New York Times bestselling author, having penned works such as The Storm Before the Calm and The Next 100 Years. He has also headed Stratfor as its CEO and has worked with various US military and government organizations.

 6 
László Polgár
(Chess player, Writer)
László Polgár
0
Birthdate: May 11, 1946
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gyöngyös, Hungary
 7 
Laszlo Krasznahorkai
3
Birthdate: January 5, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gyula, Békés County, Hungary

Acclaimed Hungarian novelist and screenwriter Laszlo Krasznahorkai is known for his dystopian themes. Though he initially studied law, he later turned to full-time writing. Director Béla Tarr has turned many of his novels, such as Satantango, into films. Krasznahorkai also became the first Hungarian writer to win the Man Booker International Prize.

 8 
Hannah Szenes
(Writer, Poet)
Hannah Szenes
5
Birthdate: July 17, 1921
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Budapest
Died: November 7, 1944

Hungarian Jewish poet and SOE member Hannah Szenes went down in history for voluntarily parachuting into occupied Europe during World War II to assist the Allied forces and the armed resistance against the Nazis. Captured at the Hungarian border, she was eventually tortured and executed by a firing squad.

 9 
Sándor Petőfi
(Former Hungary's national poet, and was one of the key figures of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848)
Sándor Petőfi
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1823
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kiskőrös, Hungary
Died: July 31, 1849

Hungarian poet and revolutionary Sándor Petőfi is remembered as one of the pillars of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, and his song Talpra Magyar became an anthem of the revolution. While he was initially part of the army, ill health got him dismissed soon. He also penned the epic fairy tale János vitéz.

 10 
Miklós Nyiszli
(Physician, Writer)
Miklós Nyiszli
5
Birthdate: June 17, 1901
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Șimleu Silvaniei
Died: May 5, 1956

Hungarian Jewish doctor and forensic pathologist Miklós Nyiszli was sent to Auschwitz along with his family. He survived the concentration camp to tell the tale in his iconic book Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account. Though he escaped death, he was forced to conduct experiments on fellow inmates under Dr. Josef Mengele.

 11 
Geza Rohrig
5
Birthdate: May 11, 1967
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

Best known for his performance as Saul Ausländer in the Academy Award-winning movie Son of Saul, Hungarian actor Geza Rohrig grew up in foster care and was initially interested in music. He is also a talented poet, who has dealt with themes such as the Holocaust in his works.

 12 
Imre Kertész
3
Birthdate: November 9, 1929
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: March 31, 2016

Nobel Prize-winning Hungarian author Imre Kertész is best remembered for his Holocaust-themed writings. Sent to Auschwitz at 14 and then to Buchenwald, he was eventually freed in 1945, following which he became a journalist. His best-known work remains Fatelessness, a semi-autobiographical account of the Nazi terror.

 13 
Felix Salten
(Austro-Hungarian Writer and Literary Critic)
Felix Salten
3
Birthdate: September 6, 1869
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Pest, Budapest, Hungary
Died: October 8, 1945

Best known for penning the children’s classic Bambi, Felix Salten was forced to flee Vienna during the Nazi regime and eventually settled in Switzerland. His books were banned in Austria after Germany annexed the country, but that didn’t dent his popularity as an author. He was a skilled hunter, too.

 14 
Ferenc Molnár
( Hungary’s Most Celebrated and Controversial Novelist and Playwright Known for His Novel 'The Paul Street Boys')
Ferenc Molnár
2
Birthdate: January 12, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: April 1, 1952

Known for his short stories and plays reflecting the life in Budapest, author Ferenc Molnár never identified with any particular literary movement. His best-known works include the short story anthology Muzsika and the novel The Paul Street Boys. Initially an aspiring lawyer, he later worked as a war correspondent.

 15 
Sándor Márai
2
Birthdate: April 11, 1900
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Košice, Slovakia
Died: February 21, 1989

A descendant of a Hungarian noble family, Sándor Márai grew up to become a celebrated journalist. He was the first to review the works of Franz Kafka. He neither liked the Nazis nor the Communists. His best-known works include the novel Embers, which was later made into a stage play.

 16 
József Mindszenty
(Catholic priest)
József Mindszenty
3
Birthdate: March 29, 1892
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Csehimindszent
Died: May 6, 1975

Hungarian Catholic clergyman József Mindszenty was arrested more than once for opposing totalitarian governments. Eventually made the archbishop of Esztergom and a cardinal, he was later imprisoned by the communist government for refusing to secularize Catholic schools. Later freed, he underwent a 15-year voluntary confinement at the Hungarian US embassy.

 17 
Emma Orczy
(Novelist)
Emma Orczy
2
Birthdate: September 23, 1865
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Tarnaörs, Hungary
Died: November 12, 1947

Best known for her historical novel The Scarlet Pimpernel, Hungarian-British novelist Emma Orczy was the only child of noted composer Baron Felix Orczy. While she initially studied art, she later took to writing. Apart from the Pimpernel sequels, she also penned several collections of detective stories, such as Lady Molly of Scotland Yard.

 18 
Sándor Ferenczi
(Psychanalyst, Psychiatrist, Non-fiction writer, Neurologist)
Sándor Ferenczi
4
Birthdate: July 7, 1873
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Miskolc
Died: May 22, 1933

Sándor Ferenczi is best remembered for his research on free association and the psychoanalytic theory. Initially an army doctor, he specialized in subjects such as neuropathology and hypnosis. He was also close to Sigmund Freud and later taught at the University of Budapest. He also established the Hungarian Psychoanalytic Society.

 19 
Attila József
2
Birthdate: April 11, 1905
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: District IX., Budapest, Hungary
Died: December 3, 1937

One of the greatest 20th-century Hungarian poets, Attila József was a washerwoman’s son and had begun writing poems since age 17 but soared to fame only after his death. He was also a co-founder of the literary journal Szép Szó, or Beautiful Word. He later showed signs of mental illnesses.

 20 
Olga Lengyel
(Writer)
Olga Lengyel
2
Birthdate: October 19, 1908
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Transylvania
Died: April 15, 2001

The author of Five Chimneys, an autobiographical account of her time as a prisoner at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Olga Lengyel was eventually the only survivor from her family. A physician’s assistant, she later moved to the US and formed the Memorial Library there, which now raises awareness about the Holocaust.

 21 
Max Nordau
(Co-founder of World Zionist Organization)
Max Nordau
2
Birthdate: July 29, 1849
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Pest, Budapest, Hungary
Died: January 23, 1923

Hungarian physician and author Max Nordau was the son of a rabbi. After practicing medicine in Budapest for a while, he went to Paris and began writing for Neue Freie Presse. A major figure behind the Zionist Organization, he penned The Conventional Lies of Our Civilization, which was banned in several countries.

 22 
Endre Ady
(One of the Greatest Hungarian Poets of the 20th Century)
Endre Ady
2
Birthdate: November 22, 1877
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ady Endre, Romania
Died: January 27, 1919

Endre Ady was a Hungarian poet and journalist. Widely regarded as the 20th century's greatest Hungarian poet, Ady is credited with introducing a new, modern style of poetry, breaking away from the folksy style of Sándor Petőfi, which was widely followed by Hungarian poets at that time. In 1947, a postage stamp featuring Ady's likeness was issued by Hungary. 

 23 
Magda Szabó
(Novelist)
Magda Szabó
2
Birthdate: October 5, 1917
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Debrecen, Hungary
Died: November 19, 2007
 24 
Frigyes Karinthy
2
Birthdate: June 25, 1887
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: August 29, 1938

Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy was the first to state the concept of six degrees of separation, in his short story Chains. Initially a journalist, he later mastered the short story format and also penned novels such as Voyage to Faremido. He also wrote the script for the film The Stork Caliph.

 25 
Wolfgang von Kempelen
(Author and inventor, known for his chess-playing "automaton" hoax The Turk and for his speaking machine)
Wolfgang von Kempelen
2
Birthdate: January 23, 1734
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Bratislava, Slovakia
Died: March 26, 1804

Known as an eccentric thinker, Wolfgang von Kempelen is best remembered for his automatic chess-playing machine The Turk and his speaking machine. The Turk eventually turned out to be a hoax, designed by Kempelen to impress Maria Theresa, the Austrian Empress, and had human chess players operating it.

 26 
Ödön von Horváth
2
Birthdate: December 9, 1901
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rijeka, Croatia
Died: June 1, 1938

Born to an Austro-Hungarian diplomat, Ödön von Horváth grew up studying in Hungarian but later became one of the finest writers of German literature. The writer of iconic plays such as Italian Night and Tales from the Vienna Woods, he was a significant anti-fascist playwright. He died in a thunderstorm.

 27 
John Lukacs
(Historian)
John Lukacs
4
Birthdate: January 31, 1924
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: May 6, 2019

Iconoclastic Hungarian-American historian and scholar John Lukacs spent most of his career teaching at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. Known for his books such as The Hitler of History, he was a staunch anti-Communist and propagated liberal democracy. He headed the American Catholic Historical Association as its president.

 28 
Árpád Göncz
(Former President of Hungary (1990 - 2000))
Árpád Göncz
4
Birthdate: February 10, 1922
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: October 6, 2015

The first democratic president of Hungary, Arpad Goncz had been part of the anti-Nazi resistance and also the anti-Soviet Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and was jailed for the latter. A father figure in Hungary, he earned the nickname Uncle Arpi. Post-retirement, he devoted himself to charitable causes.

 29 
Ephraim Kishon
2
Birthdate: August 23, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: January 29, 2005
 30 
János Arany
(Hungarian Poet Best Known for His Epic Poem 'Toldi' Trilogy)
János Arany
2
Birthdate: March 2, 1817
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Salonta, Romania
Died: October 22, 1882

Hungarian poet Janos Arany is regarded by many as the Shakespeare of ballads. Best known for his iconic epic poem Toldi, which was part of a trilogy, he had also been associated with the Hungarian Academy. He had initially been part of the Hungarian Revolution and later also taught for a while.

 31 
Miklos Radnoti
2
Birthdate: May 5, 1909
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: October 31, 1944

Regarded as one of the greatest 20th-century Hungarian poets, Miklos Radnoti initially worked in his family textile business and then switched to literature, writing for various little magazines. Sent to a forced labor camp, he was eventually murdered by the Hungarian Guards and dumped in a mass grave during the Holocaust.

 32 
Franz Jalics
(Author)
Franz Jalics
2
Birthdate: November 16, 1927
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: February 13, 2021
 33 
Ivan Tors
(Playwright)
Ivan Tors
2
Birthdate: June 12, 1916
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: June 4, 1983

Ivan Tors was a Hungarian filmmaker, playwright, and screenwriter. He is remembered for producing sci-fi films with stories involving animals and underwater sequences. Tors is also credited with starting a film studio, which is now known as the Greenwich Studios. In 1989, he was posthumously honored by the Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences with a NOGI Award in Arts.

 34 
Zsuzsanna Budapest
2
Birthdate: January 30, 1940
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary

Besides being an author and a songwriter, Zsuzsanna Emese Mokcsay, a.k.a. Zsuzsanna Budapest, is also known for her Goddess-oriented witchcraft, Dianic Wicca, which she established in LA. She also founded the first women-only witches’ coven. She was initially married, and had 2 sons, but divorced after realizing she was a lesbian.

 35 
Béla Balázs
(Hungarian Film Critic, Aesthetician, Writer and a Proponent of Formalist Film Theory)
Béla Balázs
2
Birthdate: August 4, 1884
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Szeged, Hungary
Died: May 17, 1949

Hungarian author Béla Balázs, known for his Symbolist poems, also made pathbreaking studies in formalist film theory. He later established the Film Studies Institute of Hungary and also contributed to films such as The 3 Penny Opera. The Béla Balázs Prize, named after him, now honors talented cinematographers.

 36 
Miklos Laszlo
(Playwright)
Miklos Laszlo
2
Birthdate: May 20, 1903
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: April 19, 1973
 37 
Martin Esslin
(Hungarian-British Dramatist, Journalist and Critic Known for Coining the Term 'Theatre of the Absurd' in His Book)
Martin Esslin
2
Birthdate: June 6, 1918
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: February 24, 2002

Hungarian-British producer and dramatist Martin Julius Esslin is best known for introducing the term "the theatre of the absurd” in his 1961 book of the same name. Apart from being a BBC scriptwriter and producer, he also taught at institutes such as Stanford. He died after a long struggle with Parkinson's disease.

 38 
Mór Jókai
(Novelist)
Mór Jókai
2
Birthdate: February 18, 1825
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Komarom, Hungary
Died: May 5, 1904
 39 
George Tabori
2
Birthdate: May 24, 1914
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: July 23, 2007
 40 
Dezső Kosztolányi
(Hungarian author)
Dezső Kosztolányi
2
Birthdate: March 29, 1885
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Subotica, Serbia
Died: November 3, 1936

Hungarian author Dezső Kosztolányi brought in futurism to Hungarian literature and wrote everything from plays to plays. Known for his novels such as Skylark and The Golden Kite, he also translated works of legends such as Shakespeare and Rilke. He was a lifelong journalist, too.

 41 
Egon Ronay
(Hungarian Food Critic Famous for Publishing Food Guides)
Egon Ronay
2
Birthdate: July 24, 1915
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: June 12, 2010

Born in Hungary, gourmet food critic Egon Ronay is best remembered for his guide books on British and Irish restaurants. The son of a restaurateur, he was part of the Hungarian Army and later moved to England. His Egon Ronay's Guide to British Eateries sold 30,000 copies and revolutionized food writing.

 42 
Agota Kristof
1
Birthdate: October 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Csikvánd, Hungary
Died: July 27, 2011
 43 
Mihály Vörösmarty
(Hungarian Poet and Dramatist)
Mihály Vörösmarty
1
Birthdate: December 1, 1800
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kápolnásnyék, Hungary
Died: November 19, 1855

Though born into a noble family, Mihály Vörösmarty had to face poverty from an early age and also sustained by tutoring. A trained lawyer, he later devoted himself to reforming Hungarian literature by removing all its classical influences. The play Csongor és Tünde remains one of his best-known works.

 44 
Gyorgy Sandor
(Musician)
Gyorgy Sandor
1
Birthdate: September 21, 1912
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: December 12, 2005

Hungarian pianist Gyorgy Sandor initially gained fame as a concert pianist and later became an American citizen, even serving the US Army Signal Corps. Apart from being a student of composer Béla Bartók, he was one of the few in his inner circle. He also at Juilliard and the University of Michigan.

 45 
August Šenoa
(Novelist)
August Šenoa
1
Birthdate: November 14, 1838
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Zagreb, Croatia
Died: December 13, 1881

Author August Šenoa is credited with leading Croatian literature from Romanticism to Realism. Also considered the "father of the Croatian novel," he studied law but later deviated to writing. He introduced the genre of the historical novel in Croatia and penned iconic works such as Pirates of Senj.

 46 
Fritz Mauthner
(Novelist)
Fritz Mauthner
1
Birthdate: November 22, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hořice, Czechia
Died: June 29, 1923

While he initially gained fame as a novelist, Fritz Mauthner later became one of the finest Austrian theater critics. His work also involved philosophy of languages. He believed that though words have social value, they reflect imperfect sense experiences and showcase distorted reality, as they are used subjectively by people.

 47 
Miklós Zrínyi
(Statesman, Military Leader, and Author of the First Epic Poem in Hungarian Literature)
Miklós Zrínyi
0
Birthdate: January 5, 1620
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Čakovec, Croatia
Died: November 18, 1664

Miklós Zrínyi was an able military leader of Hungary, who was determined to drive the Turks out of his country. He also authored Hungary’s first epic poem, The Peril of Sziget. Unfortunately, he was killed by a wild boar during a hunting expedition, though rumors suggest he was assassinated.

 48 
Péter Nádas
1
Birthdate: October 14, 1942
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
 49 
Zsigmond Móricz
1
Birthdate: June 29, 1879
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tiszacsécse, Hungary
Died: September 4, 1942
 50 
György Faludy
(Hungarian Poet, Writer and Translator)
György Faludy
1
Birthdate: September 22, 1910
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Budapest, Hungary
Died: September 1, 2006

Hungarian-born poet, writer and translator, György Faludy first came to fame with his erotic translation of the Ballads of Villon, raising official eyebrows with his next publication, collection of poems called A pompeji strázsan. However, his most notable work, My Happy Days in Hell, a memoir of time spent at labor camp, was published much later, earning him eternal fame.