Famous Indian Writers

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India boasts of a rich literary history dating from the ancient times. The Hindu sage and Sanskrit poet Valmiki, the author of the epic ‘Ramayana’, played a crucial role in the development of Classical Sanskrit literature in the first millennium BCE. Over the next few centuries, accomplished writers in several other regional languages came up, further enriching Indian literature. The 5th century playwright Kalidasa is widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language, while 15th century poets Kabir and Tulsidas were major figures in Hindi literature. Devaki Nandan Khatri, a 19th century writer belonged to the first generation of popular novelists in the modern Hindi language. Early in the 20th century, Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore became India's first Nobel laureate. India has 22 officially recognized languages, and each language has produced its own talented writers who have done the country proud. Coming to the contemporary era, Indian writers are making a mark in not only traditional Indian languages, but in English literature as well. Writers like R. K. Narayan, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Raja Rao, and Amitav Ghosh are among the more popular writers of the late 20th and early 21st century. Read on to discover about the life and works of famous Indian writers.
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Rabindranath Tagore
108
Birthdate: May 7, 1861
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: August 7, 1941

Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian polymath who contributed greatly to the fields of literature, art, and philosophy. Referred to as the Bard of Bengal, Tagore is credited with reshaping Bengali literature and music. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore is also credited with composing the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.

 2 
Sarojini Naidu
(Poet and Freedom Fighter)
Sarojini Naidu
18
Birthdate: February 13, 1879
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hyderabad, India
Died: March 2, 1949

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poet and political activist. An important figure in the Indian Independence Movement, she was a proponent of anti-imperialistic ideas, women's rights, and civil rights. Her illustrious career as a poet earned her the nickname Nightingale of India. After India became independent, she became the first woman to hold the office of Governor in the Dominion of India.

 3 
Chanakya
(Philosopher, Theologian)
Chanakya
8
Birthdate: 0371 BC
Birthplace: India
Died: 0283 BC

Chanakya was an ancient Indian philosopher, teacher, jurist, economist, and royal advisor. Widely regarded as the pioneer of economics and political science in India, Chanakya is believed to have played a key role in the formation of the great Maurya Empire. He authored the ancient Indian political treatise, the Arthashastra, which is considered as one of the seminal texts on statecraft.

 4 
Ruskin Bond
(Writer)
Ruskin Bond
16
Birthdate: May 19, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kasauli
Sahitya Akademi Award-winning children’s author Ruskin Bond is best known for creating the protagonist Rusty, modeled on his childhood in Dehradun and found in his books such as The Room on the Roof. Many of his books, such as The Blue Umbrella have been made into films. 
 5 
Savitribai Phule
(Social Reformer, Poet)
Savitribai Phule
6
Birthdate: January 3, 1831
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Naigaon, British India (now in Satara district, Maharashtra)
Died: March 10, 1887

Savitribai Phule was a revolutionary social reformer who dedicated her life to educate girls and bring about gender equality in the face of resistance from the conservative Indian society. Phule, who was illiterate till her marriage, went on to become a teacher, a feat considered first by an Indian woman. With her husband, she established schools for girls in Maharashtra.

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Kabir
(Saint and Mystic Poet)
Kabir
10
Birthdate: 1440 AD
Birthplace: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: 1518 AD

Kabir was an Indian saint and mystic poet whose works influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement, which in turn played a key role in the formation of Sikhism, the fifth-largest organized religion in the world. Kabir is an important figure in both Hinduism and Islam and his legacy continues to live through a religious community known as the Kabir panth.

 7 
Mammootty
(actor, film producer, screenwriter, film actor)
Mammootty
6
Birthdate: September 7, 1951
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Chempu

National Film Award- and Padma Shri-winning Indian Malyali actor Muhammad Kutty Panaparambil Ismail, or Mammootty, is a superstar in Southern India. Initially a lawyer, he later soared to fame with films such as Vidheyan and Mathilukal. He also chairs Malayalam Communications and is devoted to medical and other charitable causes.

 8 
Chetan Bhagat
8
Birthdate: April 22, 1974
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New Delhi, India
Indian investment banker-turned-writer Chetan Bhagat is known for his bestselling novels such as Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center. Many Bollywood movies, such as Kai Po Che! and 3 Idiots, have been adapted from his novels, with the former winning him a Filmfare Award.
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 9 
Padma Lakshmi
(Indian-American Author, Model and Host of the Cooking Competition Show ‘Top Chef’)
Padma Lakshmi
5
Birthdate: September 1, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Madras, Tamil Nadu, India

Padma Lakshmi is a model, television host and author. She has hosted cooking competition program Top Chef and has published cookbooks. She has acted in films and television too and is also an activist working for immigration and women’s rights and is a critic of skin-lightening creams. She was married to novelist Salman Rushdie for a little over three years.

 10 
Shreya Ghoshal
(Singer, Writer, Actor, Composer)
Shreya Ghoshal
7
Birthdate: March 12, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Durgapur

National Award-winning singer Shreya Ghoshal grew up in Rajasthan and later moved to Mumbai, where her electrical engineer father was posted. After gaining attention with the talent show Sa Re Ga Ma, the classically trained artist was catapulted to fame with her playback singing in Devdas, and never looked back.

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 11 
Arundhati Roy
(Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist)
Arundhati Roy
15
Birthdate: November 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Assam

Apart from her bestselling books such as The God of Small Things, Man Booker Prize-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy is also known for her left-wing political activism. Born to a Syrian Christian mother and an Indian Hindu father, Roy had initially studied architecture and worked as a script writer.

 12 
R. K. Narayan
17
Birthdate: October 10, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Died: May 13, 2001

Remembered as one of the greatest authors of Indian literature in English, R. K. Narayan created the iconic character Swami and related his experiences set in the fictional town of Malgudi. The Sahitya Akademi and Padma Vibhushan winner was also the brother of cartoonist R.K. Laxman.

 13 
Munshi Premchand
(Novelist and Author)
Munshi Premchand
10
Birthdate: July 31, 1880
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Lamhi, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: October 8, 1936
Indian author Dhanpat Rai Srivastava, better known by his pseudonym, Munshi Premchand, was one of the most celebrated Hindi-language writers of the 20th century. He initially wrote as Nawab Rai. Some of his greatest works include the novels Godaan, Idgah, and Karmabhoomi. He also wrote short stories and plays. 
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Javed Akhtar
(Screenwriter, poet, and lyricist known for his contributions to Indian music and Bollywood films)
Javed Akhtar
6
Birthdate: January 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, India

Born into a family of Urdu poets from Gwalior, renowned Indian lyricist and poet Javed Akhtar had initially been a screenwriter, along with Salim Khan, for films such as Sholay and Deewaar. The Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan winner has also been a Rajya Sabha MP.

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Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
(Independence Activist, Reformer)
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
10
Birthdate: May 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bhagur
Died: February 26, 1966

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.

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M. Karunanidhi
(2nd Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu)
M. Karunanidhi
4
Birthdate: June 3, 1924
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Thirukkuvalai, Tamil Nadu, India
Died: August 7, 2018

The patriarch of the Karunanidhi political family of India, M. Karunanidhi had been the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for almost 20 years. The DMK leader was also a noted scriptwriter and author, having written films such as Parasakthi. His son, M. K. Stalin is the current Tamil Nadu chief minister.

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Tulsidas
(Poet & Saint)
Tulsidas
4
Birthdate: 1497 AD
Birthplace: Rajapur
Died: 1623 AD
Tulsidas was a 16th-century Vaishnava saint and poet, who was devoted to the Hindu deity Rama. His most popular works are the Ramcharitmanas, which retells the Sanskrit Ramayana in Awadhi, and the Hanuman Chalisa. He established the Sankatmochan Temple in Varanasi and also began the tradition of Ramlila plays. 
 18 
Harivansh Rai Bachchan
(Indian Poet and Writer of the 'Nayi Kavita Literary Movement' Best Known for His Early Work 'Madhushala')
Harivansh Rai Bachchan
8
Birthdate: November 27, 1907
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Uttar Pradesh, India
Died: January 18, 2003

A pioneer of Hindi romantic poetry and the Chhayavaad movement, Harivanshrai Bachchan is best remembered for his book of 135 quatrains, Madhushala. He was the first Indian to earn a PhD in English literature from Cambridge University. He was also the father of legendary Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan.

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Deepak Chopra
(Indian-American Author and Alternative Medicine Advocate Known for His Book: ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’)
Deepak Chopra
4
Birthdate: October 22, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Delhi, India

Deepak Chopra is an Indian-American alternative-medicine advocate and author. After emigrating to the United States in 1970, Chopra went on to become an important figure in the New Age movement. Credited with co-founding the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, Chopra is one of the wealthiest personalities in alternative medicine. He has also drawn criticisms, thanks to his tall and ridiculous claims.

 20 
Shashi Tharoor
(Writer, Politician, Diplomat)
Shashi Tharoor
7
Birthdate: March 9, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London

Born in London, to an Indian couple, Shashi Tharoor is known for his award-winning books such as the The Great Indian Novel and his over-the-top English vocabulary. Tharoor is also a Congress MP. He made headlines when his wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a luxury hotel.

 21 
Mirza Ghalib
5
Birthdate: December 27, 1797
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Agra, India
Died: February 15, 1869

Mirza Ghalib was an Indian poet whose works give a detailed description of the beginning of British rule and the subsequent events in India. A respected poet, who wrote in Urdu and Persian languages, Ghalib remains popular among the Hindustani diaspora across the world. Several films and TV shows have been made in his honor.

 22 
Valmiki
(Poet)
Valmiki
5
Birthplace: India

Born Ratnakara at birth, Valimiki grew up to be a bandit. Eventually realizing his sins, he meditated, while an ant-hill, or Valmika in Sanskrit, grew around him. He later came out of the ant-hill, to pen the Indian epic Ramayana, which narrates the tale of the Hindu god Rama.

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Nizamuddin Auliya
(Sufi Saint)
Nizamuddin Auliya
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1238
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Budaun, India
Died: April 3, 1325

Nizamuddin Auliya was an Indian Sunni Muslim scholar and Sufi saint of the Chishti Order. He stressed love as a means of realizing God and believed that love of God implies love of humanity. He is considered one of the most famous Sufis from the Indian Subcontinent. His teachings were marked by an evolved sense of religious pluralism and kindness. 

 24 
Gulzar
(Lyricist)
Gulzar
4
Birthdate: August 18, 1934
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dina, Punjab

Famed Indian lyricist, poet, author, screenwriter, and film director Gulzar has been a major figure in Bollywood for over six decades. He started doing odd jobs as a teenager and eventually entered films, where he made a name for himself as a lyricist and screenwriter. He soon started directing films as well. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards.

 25 
Mirabai
(Bhakti Saint)
Mirabai
12
Birthdate: 1498 AD
Birthplace: Kudki
Died: 1557 AD

The 16th-century Hindu mystic poet, Mirabai, was a devotee of Lord Krishna. In the North Indian Hindu tradition, she is a celebrated Bhakti saint. While millions of devotional hymns in praise of Lord Krishna are attributed to Mirabai, only a few hundreds are believed to be actually composed by her. Several temples are dedicated to her memory.

 26 
Khushwant Singh
(Novelist, Lawyer, Journalist & Politician)
Khushwant Singh
5
Birthdate: February 2, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hadali, British India (now in Khushab District, Punjab, Pakistan)
Died: March 20, 1999

Known for his bestselling book Train to Pakistan, Khushwant Singh was a reputed lawyer, politician, and journalist. He was also known for his widely popular column With Malice towards One and All, which was featured in many Indian newspapers. His post-colonial writings mirrored his wit and sarcasm.

 27 
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
(Indian Islamic Reformer and Educationist Who Founded the ‘Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College’, the First Muslim University in Southern Asia)
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan
6
Birthdate: October 17, 1817
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Delhi, India
Died: March 27, 1898
Sir Syed Ahmad Khan was the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University. He is accredited as the father of Two-Nation Theory and is regarded as the originator of Muslim nationalism in India. A proponent of freedom of speech and democratic ideals, he propelled social and educational reforms.
 28 
Sudha Murty
(Author)
Sudha Murty
3
Birthdate: August 19, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Shiggaon, Haveri, Karnataka, India

Known for her humility and simplicity, Indian philanthropist and author Sudha Murty had humble beginnings as a TELCO engineer. She is married to Infosys co-founder Narayan Murty and heads the Infosys Foundation. The Padma Shri winner has penned over 200 titles, such as Dollar Bahu, in both Kannada and English.

 29 
Vikram Seth
(Writer)
Vikram Seth
4
Birthdate: June 20, 1952
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Kolkata

Vikram Seth is an Indian poet and novelist. He is credited with increasing the readership of the English language in India. A revered and celebrated writer, Vikram Seth has been honored with several prestigious awards, such as the Sahitya Academy Award, WH Smith Literary Award, Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, Crossword Book Award, Padma Shri, Commonwealth Poetry Prize, and Commonwealth Writers Prize.

 30 
Amrita Pritam
(Indian Author Who Wrote in Punjabi and Hindi and is Considered One of History's Foremost Female Punjabi Writers)
Amrita Pritam
6
Birthdate: August 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gujranwala, Pakistan
Died: October 31, 2005

Amrita Pritam was an Indian poet, essayist, and novelist who wrote in Hindi and Punjabi languages. She is widely regarded as the first major female Punjabi poet and the leading Punjabi-language poet of the 20th century. In 1956, she was honored with the Sahitya Akademi Award, becoming the first woman to receive the prestigious award.

 31 
Vyasa
(Author)
Vyasa
4
Birthplace: Kalpi

Indian sage Vyasa, also known as Vedavyasa, is regarded as the author of one of the most significant Indian epics, the Mahabharata. Considered one of the seven immortals of Hinduism, he is also credited with dividing the Vedas into four parts and penned the eighteen Puranas.

 32 
Atlee Kumar
(Director)
Atlee Kumar
7
Birthdate: September 21, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India
 33 
Kuvempu
(Novelist)
Kuvempu
3
Birthdate: December 29, 1904
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chikkamagaluru district
Died: November 11, 1994

One of the greatest Kannada literary figures to have ever lived, Jnanpith Award- and Padma Vibhushan-winning author Kuvempu had written the state anthem of Karnataka, Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate. He was also an academic who had served as the Mysore University vice-chancellor and often voiced his concerns on social issues.

 34 
Romila Thapar
(Historian known for Authoring books about Indian history)
Romila Thapar
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Renowned history scholar and JNU professor Romila Thapar has also taught at Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. She has previously been in the news for rejecting the Padma Bhushan twice, stating she didn’t accept state awards. She has also often opposed Hindutva and the “saffronization” of education.

 35 
Palak Muchhal
5
Birthdate: March 30, 1992
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Indore
 36 
Kumar Vishwas
4
Birthdate: February 10, 1970
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pilkhuwa, Uttar Pradesh, India

Kumar Vishwas is a Hindi poet, politician and lecturer. He was an active member of the anti-corruption movement, Indian Against Corruption, and was also one of the founder members of Aam Aadmi Party. Kumar Vishwas is known for his comments on topical issues relating to India.

 37 
Kazi Nazrul Islam
(One of the Greatest Poets in Bengali Literature)
Kazi Nazrul Islam
4
Birthdate: May 24, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Churulia, India
Died: August 29, 1976

The Rebel Poet of Bengal Kazi Nazrul Islam is remembered for his vast body of literary work, including poems and songs written during the British Raj, mostly laced with socio-political overtones. His songs, known as Nazrul Geeti, are the staple for any Bengali household. He is also Bangladesh’s national poet.

 38 
Nagarjuna
(Philosopher)
Nagarjuna
4
Birthdate: 0150 AD
Birthplace: Andhra Pradesh, India
Died: 0250 AD
 39 
Zakir Naik
(Physician, Writer, Intellectual, Preacher)
Zakir Naik
7
Birthdate: October 18, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Mumbai

Islamic preacher Zakir Naik is also the founder of the Islamic Research Foundation and his own broadcast network, Peace TV. Though a qualified surgeon, he later gained fame as a public speaker. His channel is banned in multiple countries, such as India, Bangladesh, and the UK, for its extremist nature.

Mulk Raj Anand
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Peshawar, Pakistan
Died: September 28, 2004

Mulk Raj Anand was an Indian writer best remembered for his depiction of the people belonging to the backward class in traditional Indian society. Anand, who wrote in English, was one of the first Indian writers to achieve an International readership. In 1968, Mulk Raj Anand was honored with India's third-highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.

 41 
Nasser Hussain
(Cricketer)
Nasser Hussain
3
Birthdate: March 28, 1968
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madras, India

Born to an Indian Muslim father and a British mother in Madras, Nasser Hussain moved to England with his family, as a child. At 12, he was the youngest to join the Essex Under-15 cricket team. He grew up to become one of the best English Test cricket captains.

 42 
Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi
(Islamic Scholar, Reformer)
Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi
3
Birthdate: June 14, 1856
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bareilly
Died: October 28, 1921

Ahmed Raza Khan Barelvi, also known as Ala-Hazrat, was a renowned Islamic scholar and an Urdu poet. Born in Bareilly, British India, he belonged to a family of Rohilla Pushtuns who had migrated from Qandahar. He wrote about various subjects such as philosophy, science, and astronomy.

 43 
Mahasweta Devi
(Human rights activist, Writer, Poet, Novelist, Educator, Short story writer)
Mahasweta Devi
7
Birthdate: January 14, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dhaka
Died: July 28, 2016

Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning Indian author Mahasweta Devi is regarded as a gem of the Bengali literary world. She had also been a left-wing social activist, and her works such as Hajar Churashir Maa and Rudali have either tribals or people from the marginalized communities as their protagonists.

 44 
Arun Shourie
(Politician, Journalist, Writer)
Arun Shourie
3
Birthdate: November 2, 1941
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Jalandhar

One of the most prominent political and current affairs commentators in India, Arun Shourie first gained fame with his anti-Emergency articles in the Indian Express in the 1970s. Once a World Bank economist, he has also won the Padma Bhushan and the Ramon Magsaysay Award, and been a Rajya Sabha MP.

 45 
Tukaram
(Saint, Poet)
Tukaram
3
Birthdate: 1608 AD
Birthplace: Dehu, Near Pune, India
Died: 1650 AD

Marathi poet Sant Tukaram was one of the pillars of the Bhakti movement of Maharashtra. It is believed he began writing abhangas, or religious poetry, after being visited by Vitthal, an avatar of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna, in a dream. He is revered by the Varkari sampradaya.

 46 
Madhur Jaffrey
(Known for her award-winning role as Manjula in the 1965 movie Shakespeare Wallah)
Madhur Jaffrey
3
Birthdate: August 13, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Delhi, India
Koratalla Siva
3
Birthdate: June 15, 1975
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: India
 48 
Sri Aurobindo
(Philosopher, Spiritual Leader)
Sri Aurobindo
5
Birthdate: August 15, 1872
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: December 5, 1950

Sri Aurobindo was an Indian philosopher, poet, yogi, teacher, and nationalist. He was one of the most influential leaders of the Indian independence movement before becoming a spiritual reformer, focusing on spiritual evolution and human progress. He is credited with founding the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, which continues to serve spiritual aspirants from all over the world.

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay
4
Birthdate: June 26, 1838
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Naihati, Kolkata
Died: April 8, 1894

Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay was an Indian poet, novelist, and journalist. He is credited with composing India's national song, Vande Mataram, which personifies India as a mother goddess. The song played a major role in inspiring revolutionaries during India's struggle for independence. Dubbed Emperor of Literature, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay wrote 14 novels alongside several poems.

 50 
William Makepeace Thackeray
(Author & Novelist)
William Makepeace Thackeray
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1811
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: December 24, 1863