Rabindranath Tagore was an Indian polymath who contributed greatly to the fields of literature, art, and philosophy. Referred to as the Bard of Bengal, Tagore is credited with reshaping Bengali literature and music. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Tagore is also credited with composing the national anthems of India and Bangladesh.
Harper Lee was an American novelist who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Despite publishing only two books, Lee was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature, such was her impact in the world of literature. A friend of Truman Capote, Lee has been portrayed by popular actresses in Capote's biographical films.
Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, and economist, David Hume, is considered one of the most important philosophers to write in English. His book, A Treatise of Human Nature, is counted among the most influential works in the history of philosophy. His works have influenced numerous thinkers, including German philosopher Immanuel Kant and Christian philosopher Joseph Butler.
Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.
Sir James Matthew Barrie was a Scottish playwright and novelist. He is credited and remembered for creating the famous fictional character, Peter Pan. In the 1922 New Year Honours, Barrie was made a member of the Order of Merit. Before his death, he gifted the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children with the rights of his Peter Pan works.
Daphne du Maurier was an English playwright and author. Many of her works, which have been praised for narrative craft, have been adapted into films, including three of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Such was her popularity that she was selected along with four other Women of Achievement to be featured on a set of British stamps, which were issued in 1996.
L. Frank Baum was an author remembered for writing children's books including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which inspired the 1902 Broadway musical and the 1939 live-action film of the same name. His works anticipated the invention of gadgets like TV that would be invented later. In 2013, Baum was made an inductee of the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
Robert Browning was an English playwright and poet best remembered for his dramatic monologues. His monologues are widely studied around the world as most teachers consider them ideal examples of the monologue form. One of the most important Victorian poets, Browning has inspired several poets and playwrights.
English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is also often called England's national poet. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and his plays continue to be produced till day. Popular during his lifetime, he acquired an iconic status after his death.
15 Jane Jacobs
American-Canadian journalist Jane Jacobs is best known for her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. A specialist in urban culture and its issues, she was one of the few women who excelled in a male-dominated field. The Vincent Scully Prize winner was initially scorned at as a housewife.
Known for founding the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was a legendary poet and painter of the 19th century. His illustrations also adorned the books of his poet sister Christina Rossetti. Known for volumes such as The House of Life, he also influenced the Aesthetic movement.
17 Naomi Klein
Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker Naomi Klein is known for her criticism of corporate globalization and capitalism. She became internationally known following the release of her alter-globalization book No Logo. She often appears on global and national lists of top influential thinkers and is the recipient of the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize. She is a prominent environmentalist as well.
Stephen Colbert is an American actor, comedian, political commentator, and television host. Over the years, Stephen Colbert has influenced popular comedians, such as James Corden, Billy Eichner, Mindy Kaling, Jordan Klepper, and Hasan Minhaj. He has been twice named on Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People.
20 David Icke
A popular English conspiracy theorist, David Icke has written books and delivered lectures on various theories, such as infinite dimensions, reptoid humanoids, and the Illuminati. While he has faced criticisms and accusations, he also has a large following and has influenced people who support counter-cultural movement and ancient astronaut theories.
Renowned British-American documentary filmmaker, Louis Theroux began his career as a journalist with Metro Silicon Valley, Spy magazine and TV Nation series. He gained recognition with his documentary series When Louis Met..., and Louis Theroux's Weird Weekends. The two time BAFTA Award winner has also received appreciation for his documentaries The Most Hated Family in America and My Scientology Movie.
Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and playwright best remembered for her play A Raisin in the Sun which emphasizes the plight of African-Americans living under racial segregation. At the age of 29, Lorraine Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, becoming the youngest playwright and the first African-American dramatist to win the prestigious award.
Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, theologian, social critic, poet, and religious author. Widely regarded as the first existentialist philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard is sometimes referred to as the Father of Existentialism. He is also credited with influencing many theologians, philosophers, and writers like Paul Feyerabend, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Jorge Luis Borges.
The American civil rights activist was an ideal foil for her famous husband Martin Luther King Jr. in promoting racial equality. The author and singer led the Women's Movement and fought for the rights of the LGBT community. She was also known for mobilising African-Americans during the 1960 US presidential election. She founded the King Centre, a not-for-profit organization.
28 Nora Ephron
Nora Ephron was an American writer, filmmaker, and journalist. She is known for writing films like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally... The Nora Ephron Prize was created by the Tribeca Film Festival in her memory. Her life and work inspired the 2016 documentary film Everything Is Copy, which was directed by her son Jacob Bernstein.
Donovan is a Scottish guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for developing and popularizing a distinctive and eclectic style that blended many genres, such as folk, jazz, pop, calypso, and psychedelic rock. Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
31 Rob Brydon
Best known for his roles in Supernova and Gavin & Stacey, actor/comedian Rob Brydon dropped out of drama school to work with Radio Wales. As an impressionist, he has mimicked stars such as Sean Connery and Al Pacino. He was made an MBE for both his comedy and his charitable efforts.
The American actor, who shot to fame following his success in the television series How the West Was Won, Bring 'Em Back Alive and Scarecrow and Mrs King, starred in Babylon 5 films. Bruce William Boxleitner is also known for his comic roles. He appeared in video games and is credited as the author of two science fiction novels.
33 Edd China
34 Omar Khayyam
Omar Khayyam was a Persian polymath, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer, and poet. In the field of mathematics, he is best known for his work on the classification and solution of cubic equations. As an astronomer, he designed a solar calendar known as the Jalali calendar. His philosophical attitude towards life had elements of pessimism, nihilism, Epicureanism, and fatalism.
35 Wayne Dyer
Thomas Pynchon initially joined Cornell to study engineering physics, but changed his major to English after a brief stint with the U.S. Army. A master of black humor, he soared to fame with novels such as The Crying of Lot 49 and Inherent Vice. He is media-shy and is rarely photographed.
38 Hill Harper
Kevin McNally is best known for playing Joshamee Gibbs in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. He also voiced Robert Faulkner in the video game Assassin's Creed III. He has played Shakespearean characters such as King Lear on stage and has appeared as Bernard Ingham in The Crown.
Author Roger Zelazny led the New Wave of science fiction and soared to fame with his series The Chronicles of Amber. The six-time Hugo Award winner published over 150 short stories, too. He made use of anachronisms, minimal dialogue, and heavy references to Hindu, Norse, and Egyptian mythological tales.
Honoré de Balzac was a French playwright and novelist. Since his works gave a detailed, unfiltered representation of society, Honoré de Balzac is generally considered one of the founders of realism and an important figure in European literature. Renowned for creating multi-faceted characters, Balzac influenced several popular writers like Charles John Huffam Dickens, Émile Zola, Henry James, and Gustave Flaubert.
43 Larry Niven
Best known for his iconic Ringworld series, science-fiction author Larry Niven has won multiple accolades, including the Hugo and Nebula awards. The grandson of oil magnate Edward L. Doheny, Niven had initially studied math but later devoted himself to writing. He has also penned scripts for sci-fi TV series.
44 Alan Bennett
45 Tom Bergeron
46 Rick Steves
Milton William Cooper was a conspiracy theorist, radio broadcaster, and author who warned of multiple global conspiracies in his controversial book Behold a Pale Horse. Described as a "militia theoretician," he often talked about conspiracies involving extraterrestrial life. For many years, he also broadcast his radio show, The Hour of the Time.
Director of blockbuster films like Superman, The Goonies, Scrooged, Lethal Weapon, Richard Donner initially wanted to become an actor. But encouraged by Martin Ritt, he soon moved behind the camera, eventually directing 22 films and 25 television productions, producing many more, yet finding time to collaborate on two comic books; Action Comics and Lost Son and also on his biography.