Famous Swiss Novelists

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 1 
Hermann Hesse
(Poet, Novelist & Painter Who Won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Hermann Hesse
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Birthdate: July 2, 1877
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Calw, Germany
Died: August 9, 1962

German-born Swiss poet, novelist, and painter Hermann Hesse received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1946. He explored individuals’ search for authenticity, self-knowledge, and spirituality in his works. An intense and headstrong person from childhood, he developed an early interest in reading. He started writing as a young man and became an influential author in the German-speaking world. 

 2 
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
(Swiss Author and Dramatist)
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
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Birthdate: January 5, 1921
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Konolfingen, Bern, Switzerland
Died: December 14, 1990

Initially an academic who studied subjects such as philology, literature, and natural sciences, Friedrich Dürrenmatt later decided to start a career as a full-time author. Part of the post-war revival of German theater, his tragicomic plays, such as The Physicists and The Visit, had a satiric flavor.

 3 
Johanna Spyri
(Swiss Novelist and Children’s Story Writer Best Known for Her Book 'Heidi')
Johanna Spyri
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Birthdate: June 12, 1827
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Hirzel, Switzerland
Died: July 7, 1901

Johanna Spyri made a significant contribution to children’s literature with her novel Heidi. After the death of her husband and her child, the Swiss author focused on charitable causes. A professor later claimed Heidi had been plagiarized by Spyri, though later studies proved the claim was baseless.

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 4 
Max Frisch
(Playwright, Novelist & One of the Founders of Left-Wing Swiss Writer's Club 'Gruppe Olten')
Max Frisch
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Birthdate: May 15, 1911
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Zurich, Switzerland
Died: April 4, 1991

Jerusalem Prize-winning Swiss playwright and novelist Max Frisch had initially quit his studies in literature to become a journalist. He later also worked as an architect, before taking to writing full-time. He is known for his works such as Andorra and Santa Cruz and his frequent use of irony.

 5 
Benjamin Constant
(Swiss-French Statesmen, Political Thinker and Activist )
Benjamin Constant
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Birthdate: December 25, 1767
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lausanne, Switzerland
Died: December 8, 1830

Swiss-French activist and author Benjamin Constant is best remembered for penning the classic French novel Adolphe, which was one of the earliest psychological novels. Initially the chamberlain to the duke of Brunswick, he later supported the French Revolution and became a Member of the Chamber of Deputies.

 6 
Joel Dicker
(Novelist)
Joel Dicker
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Birthdate: June 16, 1985
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

Though a qualified lawyer, Joel Dicker soared to fame with his French thriller novel La Vérité sur l’Affaire Harry Quebert, which became a bestseller and was translated into over 30 languages. The novel later won him awards such as the Grand Prix du Roman and was made into a TV mini-series.

 7 
Alice Miller
(Psychologist)
Alice Miller
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Birthdate: January 12, 1923
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Piotrków Trybunalski, Poland
Died: April 14, 2010

Apart from being a renowned psychologist, Alice Miller became an international sensation with her debut book, The Drama of the Gifted Child, a bestseller. A Holocaust survivor, who had lost her father in a Jewish ghetto, she analyzed child abuse, including education, violence, and parental abuse.

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Annemarie Schwarzenbach
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Birthdate: May 23, 1908
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Zurich, Switzerland
Died: November 15, 1942

A Swiss cultural icon, journalist and photographer Annemarie Schwarzenbach was raised by a bisexual mother, who was an Olympic equestrian. Known for her signature androgynous style of dressing up, Annemarie was herself openly lesbian. She traveled the world, clicking major events but died in a bicycle accident at 34.

 9 
Blaise Cendrars
(Swiss Novelist and Poet)
Blaise Cendrars
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Birthdate: September 1, 1887
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Died: January 21, 1961

French-speaking Swiss poet Blaise Cendrars was a regular at the artists’ colony known as The Beehive. Remembered for his novels such as Bourlinguer and his poems such as Pâques à New York, he mostly included autobiographical elements in his works, such as his experiences at the front lines for the French army.

 10 
Rolf Dobelli
(Author, Businessman)
Rolf Dobelli
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Birthdate: July 15, 1966
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Luzern, Switzerland
Swiss businessman Rolf Dobelli was initially associated with a number of subsidiaries of Swissair and then co-established getAbstract. However, he later devoted himself to writing and penned bestsellers such as The Art of Thinking Clearly. Dubbed a “…self-help guru…” by The Times, he also advocates avoiding the news.
 11 
Alejo Carpentier
(Writer, Journalist, Essayist, Musicologist, Literary critic)
Alejo Carpentier
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Birthdate: December 26, 1904
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Lausanne
Died: April 24, 1980

Swiss-born Cuban author Alejo Carpentier is regarded as one of the greatest Latin American literary personalities. The Cervantes Prize-winning writer was one of the pioneers of magic realism. Known for novels such as The Lost Steps, he also contributed to the Afro-Cuban movement and was the Cuban ambassador to France.

 12 
Johann David Wyss
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Birthdate: May 28, 1743
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bern, Switzerland
Died: January 11, 1818

Best known for his classic The Swiss Family Robinson, originally written in German, Swiss author and pastor Johann David Wyss was apparently inspired by Defoe's Robinson Crusoe and decided to write a tale for his sons. The book was later edited and illustrated by 2 of his sons.

 13 
Christian Kracht
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Birthdate: December 29, 1966
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Saanen, Switzerland

Born to a father who worked for a publishing company, Christian Kracht grew up to become a journalist. His work took him to places such as India and Thailand, and he later included the theme of travel in his books such as Faserland. He is married to German director Frauke Finsterwalder.

 14 
Gottfried Keller
(Swiss Poet and Writer Best Known for His Novel 'Green Henry')
Gottfried Keller
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Birthdate: July 19, 1819
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: July 15, 1890

Swiss author and poet Gottfried Keller remains one of the most significant contributors to German literature. After devoting his initial years to landscape painting, he focused on poetry and eventually became a pioneer of poetic realism. He also penned novels such as Green Henry and several short story collections.

 15 
Emil Ludwig
(Writer)
Emil Ludwig
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Birthdate: January 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Poland
Died: September 17, 1948

Though he initially studied law, German-Swiss author Emil Ludwig later devoted himself to writing biographies, mostly of historical personalities, such as Cleopatra, Hitler, and Napoleon. He had also been a journalist in Germany. He later theorized that Hitler may have survived by having someone else killed in his place.

 16 
Agota Kristof
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Birthdate: October 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Csikvánd, Hungary
Died: July 27, 2011
 17 
Rodolphe Topffer
(Author, Painter)
Rodolphe Topffer
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Birthdate: January 31, 1799
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: June 8, 1846

Swiss cartoonist Rodolphe Topffer is remembered as the pioneer of comic strips. The son of a caricaturist, he initially taught at and ran a boarding school, where he first began drawing caricatures to attract his students’ attention. He also taught literature at the University of Geneva.

Muhammad ʿAli Jamalzadah
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Birthdate: January 13, 1892
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Isfahan, Iran
Died: November 8, 1997

One of the best-known authors of Iran from the 20th century, Muhammad ʿAli Jamalzadah was born to a Muslim cleric and had initially studied law in France. He also taught Persian and was associated with the ILO, but is best remembered for his Persian short stories.

 19 
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
(Master of Literary Realism Who Is Mainly Remembered for Stirring Narrative Ballads Like ‘Die Füße Im Feuer')
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
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Birthdate: October 11, 1825
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: November 28, 1898
Isabelle de Charrière
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Birthdate: October 20, 1740
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Utrecht, Netherlands
Died: December 27, 1805

Isabelle de Charrière was born to a Dutch noble family but later married her brother’s Swiss teacher and settled in Switzerland. A fine novelist, known for works such as Trois Femmes and Caliste; ou, lettres écrites de Lausanne, she critiqued social conventions and aristocratic privilege.

 21 
Jeremias Gotthelf
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Birthdate: October 4, 1797
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Murten, Switzerland
Died: October 22, 1854

Swiss author Albert Bitzius, best known by his pseudonym, Jeremias Gotthelf, initially followed in his father’s footsteps to become a pastor. He later came to be known for his semi-allegorical short novel The Black Spider and for his depictions of the poor rural masses of his country.

 22 
Meinrad Inglin
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Birthdate: July 28, 1893
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Schwyz, Switzerland
Died: December 4, 1971

Born to a goldsmith and watchmaker, Meinrad Inglin struggled to balance his studies and work after being orphaned at 17. He later served the army and also worked as a journalist, before devoting himself to writing full-time. His works, such as Grand Hotel Excelsior, depict the realism of rural life.

Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz
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Birthdate: September 24, 1878
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cully, Switzerland
Died: May 23, 1947

Swiss author Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz is remembered for his simple language and allegorical elements. Known for his iconic works such as Terror on the Mountain and Beauty on Earth, he narrated stories of rural people. He also taught in Germany and Switzerland and spent a considerable part of his life in Paris.

 24 
Johann Rudolf Wyss
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Birthdate: March 4, 1782
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bern, Switzerland
Died: March 21, 1830

Swiss folklorist and writer Johann Rudolf Wyss is best remembered for editing his father’s 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson. While he initially taught philosophy and then worked as a librarian, he later devoted himself to collecting folk tales. He also penned Rufst du, mein Vaterland, the previous Swiss national anthem.

 25 
Robert Pinget
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Birthdate: July 19, 1919
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: August 25, 1997

One of the greatest avant-garde Swiss-born French authors, Robert Pinget was also part of the Nouveau Roman movement. The Inquisitory remains one of his best-known works. He also penned plays such as L'Hypothèse and Un Testament Bizarre, which made his readers compare him to legendary literary figures such as Beckett.

 26 
Jacques Chessex
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Birthdate: March 1, 1934
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Payerne, Switzerland
Died: October 9, 2009

One of the most significant Swiss-born French authors, Jacques Chessex scripted history as the first Swiss author to win the French prize Prix Goncourt, for his novel L'Ogre. He had a heart attack and collapsed while discussing a play at a public event and died shortly after.

 27 
Albert Steffen
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Birthdate: December 10, 1884
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wynau, Switzerland
Died: July 13, 1963

One of the major figures of Rudolf Steiner’s anthroposophical movement, Albert Steffen was not just a renowned dramatist, poet, and novelist, but also a talented painter. He also headed the Anthroposophical Society and edited its review, Das Goetheanum. His plays such as Hieram und Salomo and Barrabas, remain his best-known works.

 28 
Jakob Schaffner
(Novelist)
Jakob Schaffner
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Birthdate: November 14, 1875
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: September 23, 1944

Raised in an orphanage, Jakob Schaffner initially worked as a shoemaker and later penned his journey in the novel Johannes and his subsequent 3 autobiographical novels. He later became part of a pro-Nazi group and eventually joined the Nazi Party. He was killed in an air raid on Strasbourg.

 29 
Ulrich Boner
(Writer)
Ulrich Boner
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Birthdate: 1280 AD
Birthplace: Bern. Switzerland
Died: 1350 AD

Swiss-born German-speaking author Ulrich Boner printed one of the first German-language books, The Precious Stone, a collection of fables written by him in verse. He was inspired by old sources such as Aesop’s Fables. A Bernese monk, he seems to have returned to normal life later and married a woman, too.

 30 
Ernst Zahn
(Author)
Ernst Zahn
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Birthdate: January 24, 1867
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: February 12, 1952
Born to a restaurant owner, author Ernst Zahn initially worked as a waiter and then as a hotel clerk. He later became the councillor of Goschenen and also the president of the Diet of Uri. His collection of short stories, such as Weekday Heroes and Mountain Folk, remain his best-known works. 
 31 
Heinrich Federer
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Birthdate: October 6, 1866
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brienz, Switzerland
Died: April 29, 1928

Initially a priest, Heinrich Federer decided to switch to journalism when his church career came to halt due to his asthma attacks. He later took to writing on religious themes. Saint Francis of Assisi and Mountains and Men remain two of his most notable works.

 32 
Édouard Rod
(Novelist)
Édouard Rod
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Birthdate: March 31, 1857
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nyon, Switzerland
Died: January 29, 1910

Swiss-born French-speaking novelist Édouard Rod is best remembered for his psychological novels such as La Course à la Mort and Le Silence. He is also considered one of the pioneers of modern comparative literary study, with works such as De la Littérature Compare. He was initially inspired by Émile Zola.

 33 
Albin Zollinger
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Birthdate: January 24, 1895
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: November 7, 1941

Born to a mechanic in Zurich, Albin Zollinger grew up in Switzerland and Argentina. Known for his novels such as The Thunderstorm and his poem collections such as Autumn Tranquility, he later became popular for his signature descriptions of landscapes. Apart from writing, he also worked for a Swiss engineering firm.

 34 
Robert Faesi
(Writer)
Robert Faesi
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Birthdate: April 10, 1883
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: September 10, 1972

Born to an affluent Swiss businessman, Robert Faesi initially studied law but then switched to German studies. While he later taught at a high school and then at the University of Zürich, he also became famous for his works such as Füsilier Wipf and his trilogy of novels on life in Zurich.