Guillermo del Toro is one of the most popular Mexican filmmakers of all time. Along with Alejandro Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón, he is known as one of the Three Amigos of Cinema. He also played a major role as a former special effects makeup artist. In 2018, he was named in Time's 100 most influential people in the world list.
Known as the king of Mexican rodeo, for performing in concerts on horseback, Mexican singer Joan Sebastian won the highest number of Grammy awards from his country. Over 20 of his songs made it to the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart. An actor, too, he was seen in the telenovela Tú y yo.
Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz was one of the finest authors of the Latin American colonial era. Initially the lady-in-waiting of Mexico’s viceroy, she later took her vows. She built a huge library and penned masterpieces such as the poem Primero sueño and the religious drama El divino Narciso.
Luis Buñuel was a Spanish-Mexican filmmaker with a brilliant career spanning almost half a century. He worked in France, Mexico, and Spain and directed films spanning various genres. His filmmaking technique was strongly influenced by mise-en-scène. He was hailed as a leader of avant-garde surrealism and is considered one of the top directors of the 20th century.
Carlos Fuentes was a Mexican essayist and novelist. Widely regarded as Mexico's most celebrated novelist, Fuentes won several honors, including the Miguel de Cervantes Prize and the Belisario Domínguez Medal of Honor. A prolific writer, Carlos Fuentes' works achieved international recognition as they were translated into 24 languages.
Best known for his adventure tales and chronicles of rural Mexican society, German author B. Traven was a living enigma, as his real name remains unknown. Some believe he was the German revolutionary Ret Marut. His work The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was later made into an Academy Award-winning film.
One of the greatest authors of 20th-century Latin literature, Mexican writer Juan Rulfo was one of the pioneers of magic realism and also inspired authors such as Gabriel García Márquez. Best known for his novel Pedro Páramo and short story collection El Llano en llamas, he was also a talented photographer.
Mexican poet and author Rosario Castellanos was one of the most prominent literary voices of Mexico and perhaps the most significant Mexican woman writer of the last century. Her literary work on cultural and gender oppression has greatly influenced Mexican feminist theory and cultural studies. Her notable works include her master’s thesis, Sobre cultura femenina and the poem Valium 10.
Mexican author Laura Esquivel soared to fame with her bestselling debut novel, Like Water for Chocolate, which was later made into a critically acclaimed film. She often includes magic realism and science fiction in her works. She has also been part of Mexican politics and represents the Morena Party in the Mexican Congress.
Born in Paris, to a Polish-French father and a mother with Mexican origins, author Elena Poniatowska had begun her career as a journalist. Her iconic work Massacre in Mexico won her an award, which she refused to accept. She also became the first female to win Mexico’s National Journalism Prize.
Initially a lawyer, José Vasconcelos later led the National University of Mexico as its rector and also served as the Mexican minister of public education. Known for his belief in aesthetic monism, he soared to fame with his 5-part memoir, Ulises Criollo, which offered a mirror of the 20th-century Mexican society.
Best known for his influence on the New Thought movement, Don Miguel Ruiz is a Mexican author who has penned the bestselling Toltec Wisdom Series. Initially a neurosurgeon, he changed his course after a near-fatal accident and became a shaman. He now studies the spiritual aspect of the human mind.
Best known for his Oscar- and BAFTA-nominated screenplay of Babel, Mexican author Guillermo Arriaga has also penned several novels, such as Escuadrón Guillotina, and the short story collection Retorno 201. He has also penned the script of BAFTA winner Amores Perros and has won the Mazatlan Prize for The Untameable.
Mexican painter and writer Gerardo Murillo Cornado, more famous by his pseudonym Dr. Atl, was a pioneer of the Mexican movement for artistic nationalism. During Mexican Revolution, Cornado supported the Constitutionalist faction. He was also interested in study of volcanoes and was considered an expert volcanologist. His notable paintings include those of the volcanoes of Popocatépetl and Ixtacihuatl.
One of the greatest chroniclers of the Mexican Revolution, Gregorio López y Fuentes was initially a teacher and then a journalist who wrote using the pseudonym Tulio F. Peseenz. He soared to fame with his iconic work Campamento (Encampment), followed by Tierra (Earth) and El indio (The Indian).
Internationally renowned poet, playwright, and essayist Cherríe Moraga is also a true-blue feminist, who is openly lesbian. A founder-member of La Red Chicana Indígena, she works to preserve indigenous rights. She co-edited the feminist anthology This Bridge Called My Back and also teaches dramatic arts and writing.
American classicist Norman O. Brown is best remembered for his translations of Hesiod’s works. A popular professor of classics at universities such as UC-Santa Cruz, he was known as Nobby by his students. He promoted concepts such as polymorphous perversity and lectured on topics such as Islam, too.
Amado Nervo was a Mexican poet, educator, and journalist. Widely regarded as one of the most prominent poets of 19th century Mexico, Nervo was renowned for using metaphor as well as his references to mysticism in his poetry. Apart from being a respected literary figure, Amado Nervo also served as Mexican Ambassador to Uruguay and Argentina.
Scholar Alfonso Reyes had been a Mexican diplomat in Spain, Argentina, and Brazil. An expert in classical Greek and Spanish literature, he penned works such as La experiencia literaria and was also a 5-time Nobel Prize nominee. He had also translated works of authors such as G.K. Chesterton and Anton Chekhov.
One of Mexico’s finest poets from the 20th century, José Emilio Pacheco was a Cervantes Prize winner. Initially an editor for publications such as La Cultura en Mexico, he later taught literature at the University of Essex. He had also translated the works of literary icons such as Samuel Beckett and Albert Einstein.
One of the greatest authors of 20th-century Hispanic and Mexican literature, Elena Garro is best known for her one-act plays, such as The Dog and The Tree. Her works paved the path for the magic realism movement. She was married to poet and diplomat Octavio Paz and was exiled for her political activism.
Mexican author and diplomat José Rubén Romero gained fame as a novelist of manners and had also been an ambassador to Brazil and Cuba. Starting his literary career as a poet, with works such as The Heroic Muse, he later penned novels such as Disbandment and The Useless Life of Pito Pérez.
Best remembered for his short fiction and epigrams, Juan José Arreola was one of the first Latin American authors to exclude realism. He included elements of fantasy and absurdism and was a pioneer of the hybrid format of the essay-story. His only novel, La feria, was also one of his best works.
One of Mexico’s greatest political activists and critics, Carlos Monsiváis is best known for his crónicas, or literary journalism pieces. His criticism of the culture of Mexico was often satirical. He remained single throughout his life and would often give interviews with his pet cats on his lap.
Fernando Vallejo is a Colombian-born Mexican essayist, novelist, and filmmaker. He is best known for his semi-autobiographical novel La virgen de los sicarios, which was adapted into a film of the same name. Fernando Vallejo's life and career inspired a feature-length documentary titled La desazón suprema: retrato incesante de Fernando Vallejo.
Juan Ruiz de Alarcón was a Mexico-born Spanish dramatist, known for cultivating different variations of dramaturgy. He lived mostly in Spain, holding several governmental posts, concurrently writing plays not just for monetary gain, but also for his own enjoyment. Less prolific than his peers, he wrote around twenty-five plays, which are known for their superb plot and psychological subtlety.
Argentine poet Juan Gelman was also a left-wing activist and later moved to Mexico, hounded by the military junta. He tragically also lost both his son and his daughter-in-law to the killings by the junta. His poems depicted the socio-political scenario in Argentina and even won him awards like the Cervantes Prize.
A prominent Mexican conservative leader, Lucas Alamán was known as an honest politician, who wished to reform Mexican education, agriculture, and industry. Though trained as a mining engineer, he stepped into politics and served as the country’s foreign minister. He also penned various historical works and established Mexico’s National Museum.
Initially a physician, Mariano Azuela later devoted himself to writing some of the best chronicles of the Mexican Revolution. His Los de abajo, or The Under Dogs, remains his best-known work. He was a founder-member of Mexico’s National College and was awarded the Mexican National Prize for Literature.
Renowned Spanish filmmaker Miguel Morayta had fought for the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War but left Spain to move to eventually settle in Mexico, where he revolutionized filmmaking. He gathered experience as both a technician and a director and ended up directing over 80 films, such as Amor perdido.
Rosaura Revueltas was a Mexican actress, dancer, teacher, and author. She is best remembered for her performance in the 1954 American drama film Salt of the Earth for which she was honored by the Académie du cinéma de Paris with the Best Actress Award in 1956. Salt of the Earth and most of its crew members were victimized by McCarthyism.
Fernando del Paso was a Mexican poet, novelist, and essayist. He is best remembered for his 1986 novel Noticias del Imperio, which was chosen as the best Mexican novel of the last three decades by Nexos magazine in 2007. An admired and respected figure, Fernando del Paso won many prestigious awards such as the Premio Miguel de Cervantes.
Diana Golden is a Colombian-born Mexican playwright and actress. She is best known for her portrayal of Gilda Leyva in a Mexican telenovela titled Amores verdaderos. She has also played important roles in telenovelas like Dos hogares and El Bienamado.
José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi was a Mexican political journalist and writer best remembered for his 1816 novel El Periquillo Sarniento. Translated in English as The Mangy Parrot, this work is widely regarded as the first novel to be written by a Mexican and the first novel published in Latin America.
Ramón López Velarde was a Mexican poet whose work was viewed as a fitting reply to the French-influenced modernismo. A respected figure, López Velarde achieved great fame in Mexico and is often referred to as the national poet of Mexico.