W. H. Auden was an Anglo-American poet. His poetry was noted for its technical achievement and versatility. He wrote poems on love, political and social themes, and cultural and psychological themes. Throughout his career, Auden was both influential and controversial. His personal life also attracted attention as he had sexual relationships with men, which was unusual at the time.
Wilfred Owen was an English soldier and poet. One of the most important poets during World War I, Owen wrote about the horrors of gas warfare. His life and career inspired a docudrama titled Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale where he was portrayed by Samuel Barnett. In 1989, the Wilfred Owen Association was established to commemorate his life and poetry.
Italian sculptor, painter, architect, and poet Michelangelo was a prominent figure of the High Renaissance. He is credited to have influenced the Western art in unprecedented ways. He is widely regarded as the greatest artist of his age and one of the greatest artists of all time. He was equally revered and respected as an architect.
Victor Hugo was a French poet, dramatist, and novelist of the Romantic movement. Regarded as one of the best-known and greatest French writers of all time, Victor Hugo wrote abundantly during his career that spanned over six decades. Thanks to his works, such as Hernani and Cromwell, Victor Hugo was one of the leading figures of the Romantic literary movement.
English playwright, poet, and translator, Christopher Marlowe, was one of the major literary figures of the Elizabethan era. It is believed that he greatly influenced his contemporary William Shakespeare. He led a troubled life and died young under mysterious circumstances. Despite his early death, he is regarded as one of the foremost dramatists of the 16th century London.
Noted film director and actor Pier Paolo Pasolini had already gained fame as a poet and author before stepping into the entertainment industry. The openly gay filmmaker was known for his usage of non-professional actors and themes of sexuality. His brutal murder remains to be a controversial topic.
Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso, better known as Ovid, lived during the rule of Augustus. He is held at par with Latin legends Virgil and Horace. Remembered for his mythological masterpiece the Metamorphoses, a 15-book Latin poem, he spent his final years exiled in a city on the Black Sea.
Educated at Oxford, poet Edward Thomas spent a considerable time working rather reluctantly as a journalist and penning nature studies and critiques of 19th-century authors. An encounter with Robert Frost inspired him to write poems. He was killed in action in Arras, France, during World War I.
An important figure in the English religious history, John Henry Newman was a nineteenth century theologian, scholar and poet. Famed for leading the Oxford movement in the Church of England, he later switched to the Roman Catholic Church, eventually becoming the Cardinal Deacon of St. George in Velabro. Also an influential educator and writer, he was canonized in October 2019.
Born into a family of shopkeepers, French poet André Breton initially studied medicine and psychiatry. He then joined Dadaism and eventually branched out and became one of the pioneers of the surrealist movement. Known for his Surrealist Manifestos, Breton was also a collector of manuscripts, sculptures, and paintings.
Ryunosuke Akutagawa was a Japanese writer best remembered for writing more than 150 short stories including In a Grove which inspired the 1950 film Rashōmon. Considered the father of the Japanese short story, Ryunosuke Akutagawa's brief career helped inspire his friend Kan Kikuchi to create Akutagawa Prize, a literary award for new writers, which is named in his honor.
Revered as the Palestinian national poet, Mahmoud Darwish was born in al-Birwa, a village that was ravaged by Israelis. He was exiled in Paris and Beirut for many years and was even once put in prison for reciting a poem. His writing style merged traditional Arabic forms with modern elements.
Known for literary works like Il Piacere and La Gioconda, Italian journalist, poet and playwright Gabriele D'Annunzio dominated the second period of Italian Decadentism. He became a national war hero during the First World War. His political endeavours include establishing and leading the short-lived Italian Regency of Carnaro in Fiume. He is often described as the forerunner of Italian fascism.
The firebrand National Bolshevik Party leader Eduard Limonov gained fame with his first novel, It's Me, Eddie, which contained explicit sexual imagery and obscene language, and was written while he was in literary exile in New York. He was also part of The Other Russia, a group of Putin opposers.
Stéphane Mallarmé was a French poet whose work inspired many artistic schools of the 20th century like Surrealism, Futurism, Dadaism, and Cubism. Over the years, his poetry has also served as an inspiration for many musical pieces, including Claude Debussy's Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. Mallarmé's work also influenced Man Ray's film, Les Mystères du Château de Dé.
Michel Houellebecq is a French author known for his novels, essays, and poems. He also occasionally makes films. As controversial as he is popular, he has been accused of obscenity, misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia. His works generally receive positive responses and some critics consider him one of the greatest living authors today. He is a recipient of the Prix Goncourt.
German lyric poet and dramatist Friedrich Hölderlin was a significant figure of German Romanticism. Initially pushed to join a Christian ministry by his mother, he later ditched the idea and was inspired by Greek mythology. He later suffered from schizophrenia and spent 36 years in a tower, later named the Hölderlinturm.
Tahmasp I ruled as the Shah of Safavid Iran from 23 May 1524 to 25 May 1576. At the age of 14, Tahmasp faced the Uzbeks in the Battle of Jam where he defeated the Uzbeks after surprising them with artillery. Tahmasp I also had a longstanding conflict with the Ottoman Empire over Baghdad, Kurdistan, and Georgia.
Keren Peles is an Israeli pianist, singer-songwriter, and poet. Over the course of her songwriting career, Peles has contributed immensely to the success of other popular singers like Shiri Maimon and Miri Mesika by writing the lyrics of some of their hit songs. She has also found success as a singer as many of her albums have been certified gold.
Four-time Nobel Prize-nominated German author Erich Kästne is best remembered for his children’s books such as Emil and the Detectives. Initially aspiring to be a teacher, he later had stints as a journalist and a freelance author. A leading satirist, he contributed to Die Weltbühne and also headed PEN.
Distinguished Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri OBE FRSL is counted among the leading African authors in the post-modern and post-colonial traditions. His 1991 novel The Famished Road led him to become the youngest-ever winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. Other notable works of Okri includes A Way of Being Free, A Time for New Dreams and Starbook.
Swedish-born Australian Karl Kruszelnicki, better known as Dr. Karl, was born to Holocaust survivors. The internationally renowned science commentator is a well-known radio and TV personality, who has won the Ig Nobel Prize and has been named a Living Treasure. He has also penned scores of books.
Austrian artist, playwright, poet and teacher Oskar Kokoschka CBE is counted among the prominent exponents of Expressionism whose works influenced the Viennese Expressionist movement. Notable works of Kokoschka include paintings like The Bride of the Wind and Portrait of Lotte Franzos and writings like the short play Murderer, the Hope of Women and the play Orpheus und Eurydike.
Torquato Tasso was a 16th-century Italian poet. He is best remembered for his poem Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered). The son of a prominent poet, Tasso grew up to be a brilliant young man. Even though his father wanted him to become a lawyer, he decided to become a poet and achieved considerable fame. His poems were widely translated.
Poet and critic Lionel Johnson was part of the 1890s’ tragic generation, with themes of decadence prevailing in his works. Best known for his study on Thomas Hardy, he was a closeted homosexual and was plagued by alcoholism. It is believed he died after falling and suffering a skull fracture.
Globally reputed Polish journalist, photographer, poet and author Ryszard Kapuściński was the only correspondent of the Communist-era Polish Press Agency in Africa at the time of decolonization. Notable works of Kapuściński, who was considered a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, includes Another Day of Life, The Emperor, Imperium and The Shadow of the Sun..
Romanian author Ion Creanga is best remembered for his pioneering contribution to children’s literature, Childhood Memories. He was associated with the Romanian literary society Junimea and the realist art movement. He also enriched the folklore of Romania, drawing on the fairy tales of his land.
Best known for his picaresque novels such as The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett was born into a family of lawyers and soldiers and initially attended medical training. Some believe he quit university without a degree, while it is also said he had served as a navy surgeon.
Former frontman of the French rock band Noir Désir, Bertrand Cantat made headlines when he beat his girlfriend actor Marie Trintignant to death in a Lithuanian hotel. His sentence of 8 years was later commuted to 4. His ex-wife Krisztina Rády later committed suicide in his presence at her home.
Jake Thackray was an English poet, journalist, and singer-songwriter. He achieved immense popularity during the 1960s and 1970s when he started appearing on British television, performing his topical comedy songs. Jake Thackray is credited with influencing performers like Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner, Ralph McTell, and Mike Harding.
English poet and critic Stephen Spender mostly dealt with themes such as social issues and class struggle. He had also been an editor for Encounter and Horizon. He later taught at various institutes and also became the first non-American poetry consultant of the U.S. Library of Congress. He was knighted, too.