Famous Swiss Writers

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Find out more about the greatest Swiss Writers, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Jean-Luc Godard, Hermann Hesse, Jean-Paul Marat and Ferdinand de Saussure.
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 1 
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(Philosopher, Writer, & Composer Whose Political Philosophy Influenced the Progress of the Age of Enlightenment)
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
8
Birthdate: June 28, 1712
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: July 2, 1778

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, composer, and writer. His political philosophy influenced aspects of the French Revolution. He also helped develop modern economic, political, and educational thought. His writing inspired a transformation in French drama and poetry. His works also influenced such writers around the world as Tolstoy. His works as a composer were acknowledged by composers like Mozart.

 2 
Hermann Hesse
(Poet, Novelist & Painter Who Won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Literature)
Hermann Hesse
7
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. 

 3 
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos
(Ufologist, Writer)
Giorgio A. Tsoukalos
4
Birthdate: March 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lucerne, Switzerland

Best known for his History Channel show Ancient Aliens, Swiss ufologist Giorgio A. Tsoukalos is a major supporter of the Ancient Astronaut Theory. One of the few people to have conducted alien-related expeditions to remote areas of the Earth, he was, surprisingly, a bodybuilding promoter in his early days.

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 4 
Erich von Däniken
4
Birthdate: April 14, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Zofingen

Initially a hotel operator, Erich von Däniken is now known for his bestselling books such as Chariots of the Gods? and Twilight of the Gods. He has also co-founded AAS RA, a research organization, and has appeared on shows such as Ancient Aliens, propagating the Ancient Astronaut theory.

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 5 
Alain de Botton
(Philosopher and Author Known for His Books: ‘Essays in Love’ and ‘How Proust Can Change Your Life’)
Alain de Botton
5
Birthdate: December 20, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland

Swiss-born British philosopher and author, Alain de Botto,n is best known for his work, Essays in Love, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. He is one of the founders of the educational company, The School of Life, launched in 2008. He is a recipient of  "The Fellowship of Schopenhauer", an annual writers' award from the Melbourne Writers Festival. 

 6 
Sean Hepburn Ferrer
(Film Producer)
Sean Hepburn Ferrer
4
Birthdate: July 17, 1960
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lucerne

Sean Hepburn Ferrer is an American author and film producer who has worked on films, such as Inchon and Blood In Blood Out. Also known for his charity work, Sean established the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund a year after Audrey Hepburn's death. In 2020, he published a children's book, with the proceeds benefitting the European Organisation for Rare Diseases.

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 7 
Tariq Ramadan
(Academic)
Tariq Ramadan
4
Birthdate: August 26, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland

Swiss academic Tariq Ramadan made headlines when he was accused of raping several women, including a disabled lady. He was also fined for revealing the name of one of his alleged victims in a book and an interview. The former Oxford professor had previously established Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

 8 
Emma Jung
(Swiss Jungian Analyst and Author)
Emma Jung
3
Birthdate: March 30, 1882
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Schaffhausen, Switzerland
Died: November 27, 1955

Better known as Carl Jung’s wife, Emma Jung was the daughter of one of the most affluent businessmen in Switzerland. Though she initially wished to study natural sciences, being a woman in her time, she couldn’t. Later a co-owner of a luxury watch company, she helped her husband financially in his career.

 9 
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
(Swiss Author and Dramatist)
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
3
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.

 10 
Johanna Spyri
(Swiss Novelist and Children’s Story Writer Best Known for Her Book 'Heidi')
Johanna Spyri
3
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.

 11 
Benjamin Constant
(Swiss-French Statesmen, Political Thinker and Activist )
Benjamin Constant
3
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.

 12 
Isabelle Eberhardt
3
Birthdate: February 17, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: October 21, 1904
 13 
Marc Faber
(Economist, Non-fiction writer)
Marc Faber
3
Birthdate: February 28, 1946
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Zürich

Better known as Doctor Doom, Swiss economist Marc Faber was associated with companies such as White Weld & Co., before launching his own business. Known for his books such as The Great Money Illusion and his investment newsletters, he has also been in the news for his racist comments.

 14 
Max Frisch
(Playwright, Novelist & One of the Founders of Left-Wing Swiss Writer's Club 'Gruppe Olten')
Max Frisch
4
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.

 15 
Adrian Frutiger
(Type designer, Non-fiction writer)
Adrian Frutiger
3
Birthdate: May 24, 1928
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Unterseen
Died: September 10, 2015

One of the most significant 20th-century typographers from Switzerland, Adrian Frutiger is best remembered for creating the Univers typeface, among other sans-serif typefaces. He later also worked with ECMA to create the machine-readable typeface OCR-B, a standard for barcodes and ISBN numbers worldwide, including codes in Swiss ID cards.

 16 
Robert Walser
3
Birthdate: April 15, 1878
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Biel/Bienne, Switzerland
Died: December 25, 1956
 17 
Méret Oppenheim
(Surrealist artist and photographer)
Méret Oppenheim
3
Birthdate: October 6, 1913
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: November 15, 1985
Méret Oppenheim is best remembered for her surrealist art such as Object: Breakfast in Fur. She also modeled for artists. Throughout her career, she had created furniture, jewelry, and even poetry. In her performance piece Spring Feast, she laid out a banquet on top of a nude woman.
 18 
Alice Miller
(Psychologist)
Alice Miller
3
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.

 19 
Frithjof Schuon
(Swiss Metaphysician)
Frithjof Schuon
3
Birthdate: June 18, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Basel, Switzerland
Died: May 5, 1998

Swiss-born German philosopher and metaphysician Frithjof Schuon was a major figure of the Traditionalist School of thought. He also propagated Religio Perennis and wrote extensively about his belief in God, the absolute principle. Most of his work was penned in French and very few in his mother tongue, German.

 20 
Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
(Explorer, Writer, Art historian, Archaeologist)
Johann Ludwig Burckhardt
3
Birthdate: November 24, 1784
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lausanne
Died: October 15, 1817
 21 
Joel Dicker
(Novelist)
Joel Dicker
3
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.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach
3
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.

 23 
Blaise Cendrars
(Swiss Novelist and Poet)
Blaise Cendrars
2
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.

 24 
Heinrich Bullinger
(Theologian, Writer)
Heinrich Bullinger
2
Birthdate: July 18, 1504
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bremgarten, Switzerland
Died: September 17, 1575

Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger is remembered for his role in the spread of Zwinglianism, or the teachings of reformer Huldrych Zwingli. He later succeeded Zwingli in Zurich. He also played a major role in the First and Second Helvetic Confession and in bringing about the Reformed tradition.

 25 
Rolf Dobelli
(Author, Businessman)
Rolf Dobelli
2
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.
 26 
Erich Gamma
(Computer scientist, Engineer)
Erich Gamma
2
Birthdate: March 13, 1961
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Zürich
 27 
Alejo Carpentier
(Writer, Journalist, Essayist, Musicologist, Literary critic)
Alejo Carpentier
3
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.

 28 
Joanna Harcourt-Smith
2
Birthdate: January 13, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: St. Moritz, Switzerland
Died: October 11, 2020
 29 
Johann David Wyss
2
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.

 30 
Johann Kaspar Lavater
(Poet, Philosopher, Physiognomist and Theologian)
Johann Kaspar Lavater
2
Birthdate: November 15, 1741
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: January 2, 1801

Best known for his research on physiognomy, Johann Kaspar Lavater was also a theologian and an author. He had penned books such as Aussichten in die Ewigkeit and several epic and lyric poems. He died of a grenade wound during the French occupation of Switzerland.

 31 
Hazel Brugger
(Slam poet, Comedian)
Hazel Brugger
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1993
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: San Diego, California, United States
 32 
Christian Kracht
(Swiss Novelist)
Christian Kracht
2
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.

 33 
Henri Frédéric Amiel
(Swiss Moral Philosopher Best Known for His Book 'Journal Intime', a Masterpiece of Self-Analysis)
Henri Frédéric Amiel
2
Birthdate: September 27, 1821
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Died: May 11, 1881

Best known for his popular Journal Intime, Henri Frédéric Amiel was orphaned at an early age and traveled with various European intellectuals to gain knowledge. Apart from teaching aesthetics and moral philosophy, he also wrote volumes of philosophy and poetry, apart from criticism of major philosophers.

 34 
Philip Schaff
(Church historian, Translator, Theologian, University teacher, Writer, Bible translator)
Philip Schaff
2
Birthdate: January 1, 1819
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chur
Died: October 20, 1893

Swiss-American theologian Philip Schaff is remembered for his works such as The Creeds of Christendom. He believed that the positive aspects of both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism could be blended into an ecumenical form of spirituality. He later founded and headed the American Society of Church History.

 35 
Arthur Cravan
2
Birthdate: May 22, 1887
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lausanne, Switzerland
Died: October 31, 1918
 36 
Princess Fadia of Egypt
(Princess, Artists)
Princess Fadia of Egypt
2
Birthdate: December 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: December 28, 2002

The youngest daughter of the Egyptian king Farouk I, Princess Fadia escaped to Italy and then to Switzerland after his father was deposed in the 1952 Egyptian Revolution. She later established herself as a talented painter and an equestrian. Well-versed in multiple languages, she also worked as a translator.

 37 
Gottfried Keller
(Swiss Poet and Writer Best Known for His Novel 'Green Henry')
Gottfried Keller
2
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.

 38 
Rosie Swale-Pope
(Author, adventurer and marathon runner)
Rosie Swale-Pope
0
Birthdate: October 2, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Davos, Switzerland
 39 
Agota Kristof
1
Birthdate: October 30, 1935
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Csikvánd, Hungary
Died: July 27, 2011
 40 
Emil Ludwig
(German-Swiss Author Known for His Biographies and Study of Historical Greats)
Emil Ludwig
2
Birthdate: January 25, 1881
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wrocław, 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.

 41 
Julia Steinberger
(Writer, Scientist)
Julia Steinberger
1
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: Switzerland

A professor of ecological economics and industrial ecology, Julia Steinberger had been associated with the universities of Leeds and Zurich before joining the University of Lausanne. The daughter of Nobel-winning physicist Jack Steinberger, Julia has also led the award-winning research project Living Well Within Limits and supports Greta Thunberg’s climate activism.

Muhammad ʿAli Jamalzadah
1
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.

 43 
Rodolphe Topffer
(Author, Painter)
Rodolphe Topffer
2
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.

 44 
Carl Spitteler
(Poet, Writer)
Carl Spitteler
2
Birthdate: April 24, 1845
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Liestal
Died: December 29, 1924
 45 
Nicolas Bouvier
(Swiss writer)
Nicolas Bouvier
1
Birthdate: March 6, 1929
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Lancy
Died: February 17, 1998
 46 
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
(Master of Literary Realism Who Is Mainly Remembered for Stirring Narrative Ballads Like ‘Die Füße Im Feuer')
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer
1
Birthdate: October 11, 1825
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Zürich, Switzerland
Died: November 28, 1898
 47 
Isabelle de Charrière
(Dutch-Swiss Writer Best Known for Her Letters and Novels)
Isabelle de Charrière
1
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.

 48 
Jeremias Gotthelf
(Swiss Novelist)
Jeremias Gotthelf
1
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.

 49 
Suzanne Curchod
1
Birthdate: 1737 AD
Birthplace: Crassier, Switzerland
Died: May 6, 1794
 50 
Peter Bichsel
(Journalist, Writer)
Peter Bichsel
1
Birthdate: March 24, 1935
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lucerne, Switzerland