Famous Russian Writers

From the world’s most reading nation emerge writers and litterateurs who with their plethora of literary works have left an indelible mark on the world literature. Does this leave you confused? Well, it is Russia and Russian writers that we are talking about. Fourth largest book producer in the world, Russia is home to five Nobel laureates in Literature and address of many eminent novelists and short story writers. It roots in literature can be traced back to the Middle Age. The 19th century saw the boom of the Golden era of Russian literature when romanticism was at its zenith. Nikolai Gogol became the first greatest Russian novelist who was followed by Nikolai Leskov, Ivan Turgenev and Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin. While prose flourished at its steepest best, it was not until the emergence of Ivan Goncharov, Leo Tolstoy and Fyodor Dostoyevsky and their works that Russian literature gained international fame. Their works were characterized by well-conceived plot, powerful characters, crisp story and a brilliant disposition of events in the life of the protagonists and characters. The 20th century Russia saw the likes of Aleksandr Kuprin, Ivan Bunin, Aleksey Remizov and Dmitry Merezhkovsky producing some of the exceptionally excellent Russian literature. With this segment, explore the life and works of famous Russian 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 
Leo Tolstoy
(One of the Greatest Authors of All Time)

Leo Tolstoy
16
Birthdate: September 9, 1828
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
Died: November 20, 1910

Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, is widely considered as one of the greatest authors ever. After experiencing a profound moral crisis in the 1870s, Tolstoy went through a phase of spiritual awakening, which had a great impact on his subsequent works that incorporated ideas on nonviolent resistance. These works influenced personalities like Mahatma Gandhi, thereby effectively changing the course of history.

 2 
Fyodor Dostoevsky
(Best Known for His Novella Notes from The 'Underground')

Fyodor Dostoevsky
4
Birthdate: November 11, 1821
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 9, 1881
Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky is remembered as one of the pioneers of existentialism. He is best known for psychological and philosophical themes in his works, such as Crime and Punishment and The Idiot. He was arrested for being critical of Tsarist Russia and spent a 4-year prison term in Siberia.

 3 
Anton Chekhov
(Playwright, Short-story writer)

Anton Chekhov
8
Birthdate: January 29, 1860
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Taganrog, Russia
Died: July 15, 1904

Anton Chekhov was a Russian short-story writer and playwright. Widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of short fiction, Chekhov's works have influenced the progression of the modern short story. As a playwright, Anton Chekhov is credited with influencing the rise of modernism in theatre, along with August Strindberg and Henrik Ibsen.

 4 
Alexander Pushkin
(The Greatest Russian Poet and the Founder of Modern Russian Literature)

Alexander Pushkin
9
Birthdate: June 6, 1799
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 10, 1837
Legendary Russian playwright, poet, and novelist Alexander Pushkin is considered one of the most prominent figures of the Romantic era and of Russian literature. He is remembered for his poem Ode to Liberty, one of his works that led him to be exiled by Tsar Alexander I. 
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 5 
Vladimir Nabokov
(Best Known For His Novels 'Lolita' and 'Pale Fire')

Vladimir Nabokov
6
Birthdate: April 23, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: July 2, 1977
Russian author Vladimir Nabokov, also known by his pen name, Vladimir Sirin, is best remembered for his controversial novel Lolita. His other works include the novel Pale Fire and his memoir, Speak, Memory. He was also an entomologist, specializing in lepidoptery. He also liked composing chess problems.

 6 

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
8
Birthdate: December 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kislovodsk, Russia
Died: August 3, 2008

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was a Russian novelist, philosopher, historian, and political prisoner. An outspoken critic of Communism and the Soviet Union, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn helped raise awareness of the Gulag, a government agency that oversaw forced labor camps set up in accordance with Vladimir Lenin's order. His non-fiction text The Gulag Archipelago was a highly influential work and sold millions of copies.

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 7 
Ayn Rand
(Writer)

Ayn Rand
15
Birthdate: February 2, 1905
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 6, 1982

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American philosopher and writer. Apart from publishing two best-selling novels, Ayn Rand is credited with developing a philosophical system called Objectivism. Over the years, Ayn Rand has been a major influence among American conservatives and libertarians. Some of the famous personalities influenced by her include Amber Heard, Vince Vaughn, Jimmy Wales, Ayelet Shaked, and Mary Ruwart.

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 8 
Nikolai Gogol
(Playwright)

Nikolai Gogol
5
Birthdate: April 1, 1809
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine
Died: March 4, 1852

Nikolai Gogol was a Ukrainian author who redefined Russian literature with his novels such as Dead Souls and his short stories such as The Overcoat and Diary of a Madman. Most of his works were influenced by Ukrainian folklore. He was typically fond of the grotesque as a literary element.

 9 
Maxim Gorky
(Writer, Political Activist)

Maxim Gorky
5
Birthdate: March 28, 1868
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Died: June 18, 1936

Maxim Gorky was a writer and political activist. He is best remembered for founding the socialist realism literary method. Gorky, who was nominated for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature on five occasions, published several novels that were later adapted into plays, films, and operas. In 1938, Valery Zhelobinsky adapted Gorky's novel Mother into an opera.

 10 

Andrei Tarkovsky
4
Birthdate: April 4, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zavrazh'ye, Russia
Died: December 29, 1986

Andrei Tarkovsky was a Soviet and Russian writer, theatre director, filmmaker, and film theorist. Renowned for making movies that explored metaphysical and spiritual themes, Tarkovsky is often regarded as one of the most influential and greatest directors in the history of world cinema. The recipient of many prestigious awards, Andrei Tarkovsky's work continues to influence several filmmakers around the world.

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 11 
Helena Blavatsky
(Writer, Co-founder of the Theosophical Society)

Helena Blavatsky
5
Birthdate: August 12, 1831
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dnipro, Ukraine
Died: May 8, 1891

Russian philosopher Helena Blavatsky, or Madame Blavatsky, was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society. She popularized the slogan “There is no religion higher than truth.” She was inspired by the Arya Samaj and later converted to Buddhism. She also wrote books such as The Secret Doctrine.

 12 
Peter Kropotkin
(Anarchist, Socialist & Historian)

Peter Kropotkin
4
Birthdate: December 9, 1842
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: February 8, 1921

Russian philosopher Peter Kropotkin was a passionate advocate of anarcho-communism. He was also an activist, revolutionary, economist, and sociologist. He was arrested and imprisoned for his activism in 1874. However, he managed to escape and lived in exile for over 40 years in different countries across Europe. He returned to Russia after the Russian Revolution in 1917. 

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 13 

Boris Pasternak
5
Birthdate: February 10, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 30, 1960

Son of an artist father and a pianist mother, Boris Pasternak initially wished to become a musician. He is best known for his novel Doctor Zhivago, set against backdrop of the Russian Revolution. The Soviet Communists forced him to decline the Nobel Prize, which his descendants later accepted.

 14 

Mikhail Bulgakov
4
Birthdate: May 15, 1891
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kyiv, Ukraine
Died: March 10, 1940

Mikhail Bulgakov was a Russian writer, playwright, and medical doctor best remembered for his work The Master and Margarita, a novel which has been acclaimed as one of the 20th century's masterpieces. Over the years, his works have inspired several other personalities, including Salman Rushdie and Mick Jagger.    

 15 

Dmitry Glukhovsky
3
Birthdate: June 12, 1979
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Russian-Israeli author Dmitry Glukhovsky gained fame with his first novel, Metro 2033, which he published on his own site at age 18, and which later inspired an interactive experiment and a video game franchise. He has also worked for Mayak Radio Station, EuroNews TV, and Deutsche Welle.

Vladimir Mayakovsky
3
Birthdate: July 19, 1893
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Baghdati, Georgia
Died: April 14, 1930

 17 
Ivan Turgenev
(Novelist, Short Story Writer, Poet & Popularizer of Russian Literature in the West)

Ivan Turgenev
4
Birthdate: November 9, 1818
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Oryol, Russia
Died: September 3, 1883

It is believed Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev was highly inspired by his dominant mother in his younger days and thus created strong female characters in his novels later. He is remembered for popularizing Russian literature and realism in the West. One of his most notable works was Father and Sons.

 18 
Eugene Mirman
(Comedian)

Eugene Mirman
4
Birthdate: July 24, 1974
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Moscow, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic Russian SFSR, Soviet Union

 19 

Anna Akhmatova
3
Birthdate: June 23, 1889
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Velykyi Fontan Cape
Died: March 5, 1966

One of the greatest Russian women poets, Anna Akhmatova had started writing poems at age 11. She was part of the Acmeists, who laid down their own style, Acmeism. Poema bez geroya and Requiem remain two of her finest works. She later wrote about the horrors of the Stalinist regime.

 20 

Nicholas Roerich
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1874
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: December 13, 1947

Russian painter, writer, philosopher, theosophist and archaeologist, Nicholas Roerich, counted among the greatest Russian painters, is noted for initiating the modern movement for the defense of cultural objects. One of the greatest feats that he achieved during his lifetime was the Roerich Pact that was signed into law by the US and most nations of the Pan-American Union.

 21 
Mikhail Lermontov
(Former Romantic poet and author of the novel A Hero of Our Time)

Mikhail Lermontov
3
Birthdate: October 15, 1814
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow
Died: July 27, 1841

One of the most significant Russian romantic authors of the Golden Age of Russian Poetry, Mikhail Lermontov is remembered for his iconic novel A Hero of Our Time. His initial poems, such as Prisoner of the Caucasus, were highly Byronic. His writings laid the foundation for the Russian psychological novel.

 22 
Mikhail Lomonosov
(Scientist, Polymath, Writer)

Mikhail Lomonosov
4
Birthdate: November 19, 1711
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lomonossowo, Russia
Died: April 15, 1765

Russian polymath Mikhail Lomonosov was born to a fisherman father and left his village later to satiate his hunger for knowledge. Apart from reforming Russian language and literature, he also made the first colored glass mosaic in his country and discovered the atmosphere of Venus. He loved simple life.

 23 

Alexander Bogdanov
3
Birthdate: August 22, 1873
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Sokolka, Poland
Died: April 7, 1928

Alexander Bogdanov was a Russian physician, science fiction writer, philosopher, and Bolshevik revolutionary. Bogdanov is credited with inventing Tektology, which is widely considered a forerunner of systems theory. A multi-talented personality, Alexander Bogdanov was also a renowned economist and culture theorist.

 24 

Sergei Yesenin
3
Birthdate: October 3, 1895
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Konstantinovo, Russia
Died: December 28, 1925

Born into a peasant family, Russian lyrical poet Sergei Yesenin was a significant figure of Imaginism. Known as "the last poet of wooden Russia," Yesenin soared to fame with works such as Radunitsa. He later committed suicide in a hotel, having written his last poem in his own blood.

 25 

Eduard Limonov
4
Birthdate: February 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dzerzhinsk, Russia
Died: March 17, 2020

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.

 26 
Vladimir Vysotsky
(Singer-songwriter)

Vladimir Vysotsky
5
Birthdate: January 25, 1938
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: July 25, 1980

A Soviet cultural icon, singer Vladimir Vysotsky was known for his social commentary in his songs. In his early years, he quit engineering to study acting. He later ruled the stage as an actor, before stepping into music. He even distributed his recordings after being banned in the country.

 27 
Masha Gessen
(Journalist)

Masha Gessen
4
Birthdate: January 13, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia

Russian-American journalist and The New Yorker staff writer Masha Gessen is known for his sharp criticism of political figures such as Donald Trump. The renowned author of the internationally popular books such as The Man Without a Face and The Future Is History, he identifies as nonbinary and trans.

 28 

Gala Dalí
3
Birthdate: September 7, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kazan, Russian Empire [now Tatarstan, Russia]
Died: June 10, 1982

 29 
Alexandra Kollontai
(Revolutionary)

Alexandra Kollontai
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1872
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 9, 1952

Alexandra Kollontai was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and diplomat. She served as the People's Commissar for Welfare in Lenin’s government. A powerful figure, she became the first woman in history to become an official member of a governing cabinet. She was also one of the few women to play a prominent role during the Russian Revolution. 

 30 
Vladimir Kramnik
(Chess Player)

Vladimir Kramnik
3
Birthdate: June 25, 1975
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Tuapse, Russia

Vladimir Kramnik is a Russian chess player who was honored with the prestigious Grandmaster title in 1992. From 2000 to 2006, Kramnik held the Classical World Chess Championship title. From 2006 to 2007, he held the undisputed World Chess Championship title. He has also won three individual medals and three team gold medals at Chess Olympiads.

 31 
Joseph Brodsky
(Essayist & Poet)

Joseph Brodsky
6
Birthdate: May 24, 1940
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: January 28, 1996
Nobel Prize-winning Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky is remembered for his elegiac and lyric poems. While he had started writing poems soon after leaving school, he was sentenced to hard labor by the Soviets for his irregular work record. He later moved to the U.S., where he taught at various universities.

 32 

Boris Strugatsky
3
Birthdate: April 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: November 19, 2012

 33 

Arkady Strugatsky
4
Birthdate: August 28, 1925
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Batumi
Died: October 12, 1991

 34 
Lou Andreas-Salomé
(Psychoanalyst)

Lou Andreas-Salomé
3
Birthdate: February 12, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 5, 1937

Russian-born German author Lou Andreas-Salomé apparently rejected renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s marriage proposal and then married a professor instead. A skilled psychoanalyst, she was also close to Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. She was one of the first to offer a psychoanalytic perspective to female sexuality.

 35 
Maya Deren
(Filmmaker)

Maya Deren
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1917
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine
Died: October 13, 1961

 36 

Alexander Berkman
3
Birthdate: November 21, 1870
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vilnius
Died: June 28, 1936

Alexander Berkman was a Russian-American anarchist and author. He was famous for both his political activism and his writing and was a leading member of the anarchist movement in the early 20th century. He served as the editor of fellow anarchist Emma Goldman's anarchist journal, Mother Earth. He suffered from ill-health in his later years and died by suicide. 

 37 
Vladimir Propp
(Folklorist)

Vladimir Propp
3
Birthdate: April 29, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: August 22, 1970

 38 

Sophia Tolstaya
3
Birthdate: August 22, 1844
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Northwestern Administrative Okrug, Russia
Died: November 4, 1919

Prince Dimitri Romanov
3
Birthdate: May 17, 1926
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cap d'Antibes, France
Died: December 31, 2016

 40 

Alexander Ostrovsky
2
Birthdate: April 12, 1823
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: June 14, 1886

One of the greatest Russian playwrights to have ever lived, Alexander Ostrovsky represented the realistic period. A law school graduate, he initially worked as a law clerk. His play Bankrot was banned because of its controversial topic. He was also associated with the Maly Theatre of Moscow.

 41 
P. D. Ouspensky
(Philosopher, Writer)

P. D. Ouspensky
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1878
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kharkiv, Ukraine
Died: October 2, 1947

 42 
Isaac Babel
(Journalist, Writer)

Isaac Babel
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1894
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Odesa, Ukraine
Died: January 27, 1940

 43 

Vladimir Bukovsky
3
Birthdate: December 30, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Belebey, Russia
Died: October 27, 2019

Vladimir Bukovsky was a Russian-born British writer and human rights activist. An important member of the Soviet dissident movement, Bukovsky spent 12 years in prisons, psychiatric prison-hospitals, and labor camps of the Soviet Union. A neurophysiologist, Bukovsky is celebrated for his efforts to expose Soviet Union's political abuse of psychiatry. In 2001, he was awarded the Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom.

Leo Tolstoy bibliography
3
Birthdate: 1828 AD
Birthplace: Russia
Died: 1910 AD

Legendary Russian author Leo Tolstoy was one of the greatest novelists of the world. Best known for his realistic fiction and cult novels such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, he had also penned plays such as The Power of Darkness and was nominated for the Nobel Prize multiple times.

 45 

Vasily Grossman
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1905
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Berdychiv, Ukraine
Died: September 14, 1964

Russian author and journalist, Vasily Grossman, by training a chemical engineer, began writing fulltime at the age of twenty-five, eventually publishing several short stories and novels, including Life and Fate and Forever Flowing. Considered a threat, these works were later censured. A war correspondent during WWII, he was also one of the first journalists to write on Treblinka extermination camp.

 46 
Ivan Bunin
(Writer)

Ivan Bunin
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Voronezh, Russia
Died: November 8, 1953

Ivan Bunin was a Russian writer whose stories and poems are regarded as one of the richest collection of works in the Russian language. In 1933, Ivan Bunin became the first Russian writer to be honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Literature. Subsequently, he donated 100,000 francs to a charity fund.

 47 
Viktor Korchnoi
(Chess Player)

Viktor Korchnoi
3
Birthdate: March 23, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: June 6, 2016

Viktor Korchnoi was a writer and chess grandmaster. He is widely regarded as one of the best players never to have achieved the World Chess Championship title. He played chess until old age and became the oldest player to be ranked in the top 100 players list when he won the World Senior Chess Championship in 2006 at age 75.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
3
Birthdate: July 18, 1932
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Zima, Russia
Died: April 1, 2017

Russian author Yevgeny Yevtushenko, known for works such as Wild Berries and Bratsk Station, is also remembered for his advocacy of artistic freedom in Russian literature rather than a reliance on political overtones. Following the death of Stalin, he focused on using unadulterated language and lyrics with a personal touch.

 49 

Marina Tsvetaeva
3
Birthdate: October 8, 1892
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: August 31, 1941

 50 

Chinghiz Aitmatov
3
Birthdate: December 12, 1928
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sheker village, Kirghiz ASSR, Soviet Union
Died: June 10, 2008