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Top 100 authors of all time
1. fyodor dostoevsky.
Writer | The Double
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky was born on November 11, 1821, in Moscow, Russia. He was the second of seven children of Mikhail Andreevich and Maria Dostoevsky. His father, a doctor, was a member of the Russian nobility, owned serfs and had a considerable estate near Moscow where he lived with his ...
2. Dante Alighieri
Writer | The Trophy Case: Judgement
Dante Alighieri was born in 1265 into the lower nobility of Florence, to Alighiero di Bellincione d'Alighiero, a moneylender. A precocious student, Dante's education focused on rhetoric and grammar. He also became enamored with a young girl, Beatrice Portinari, whose death in 1290 threw a grieving ...
3. Lev Tolstoy
Writer | Anna Karenina
Count Lev Nikolaevich Tolstoy was born on September 9, 1828, in his ancestral estate Yasnaya Polyana, South of Moscow, Russia. He was the fourth of five children in a wealthy family of Russian landed Gentry. His parents died when he was a child, and he was brought up by his elder brothers and ...
4. Victor Hugo
Writer | Les Misérables
Although Hugo was fascinated by poems from childhood on, he spent some time on the polytechnic university of Paris until he dedicated all his work to literature. He was one of the few authors who were allowed to reach popularity during lifetime and one of the leaders of French romance. After the ...
5. William Shakespeare
Writer | The Tragedy of Macbeth
William Shakespeare's birthdate is assumed from his baptism on April 25. His father John was the son of a farmer who became a successful tradesman; his mother Mary Arden was gentry. He studied Latin works at Stratford Grammar School, leaving at about age 15. About this time his father suffered an ...
6. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Soundtrack | Valkyrie
Johann Wolfgang Goethe was born on 28 August 1749 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany as son of a lawyer. After growing up in a privileged upper middle class family, he studied law in Leipzig from 1765 to 1768, although he was more interested in literature. As he was seriously ill, he had to interrupt ...
7. Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra
Writer | Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes' baptism occurred on October 9, 1547, at Alcala de Henares, Spain, so it is reasonable to assume he was born around that time, and Alcala de Henares has long claimed itself as his birthplace. The son of Rodrigo de Cervantes, an itinerant and not-too-successful surgeon, Miguel ...
8. Italo Calvino
Writer | Boccaccio '70
Italo Calvino was born on October 15, 1923 in Santiago de Las Vegas, Cuba. He was a writer, known for Boccaccio '70 (1962), The Cultzone Holy Grail (2020) and Tiko and the Shark (1962). He was previously married to Esther Judith Singer. He died on September 19, 1985 in Siena, Tuscany, Italy.
Writer | The Red and the Black
A foremost French writer of the Romantic era, Stendhal was born Marie-Henri Beyle in Grenoble, France in 1783. A loyal Bonapartist he followed Napoleon closely during his military campaigns Stendhal's novels reflect his intense love of Italy, his political convictions and the moral and ...
10. Charles Baudelaire
Soundtrack | A Single Man
Charles Baudelaire was a 19th century French poet, translator, and literary/art critic. At his birth, Baudelaire's mother, Caroline Archimbaut-Dufays, was 28; his father Francois Baudelaire was 61. Charles' father instilled in him an appreciation for art, taking his young son to museums and ...
11. Marcel Proust
Writer | La captive
Marcel Proust was a French intellectual, author and critic, best known for his seven-volume fiction 'In search of Lost Time'. He coined the term "involuntary memory", which became also known as "Proust effect" in modern psychology. He was born Valentin Louis Georges Eugéne Marcel Proust, on July 10, ...
12. Giovanni Boccaccio
Writer | The Little Hours
Giovanni Boccaccio was born in June 1313 in Certaldo, Florence, Tuscany, Italy. He was a writer, known for The Little Hours (2017), Decameron Nights (1953) and The Decameron (1971). He died on December 21, 1375 in Certaldo, Florence, Tuscany, Italy.
13. Alexander Pushkin
Soundtrack | Florence Foster Jenkins
Born to noble parents (his father Sergei was a retired major, and his mother, Nadezhda, was the granddaughter of an ennobled Ethiopian general) on the 26th of May, 1799 in Moscow, Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin became involved with a liberal underground revolutionary group that saw him exiled to the ...
14. Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi
Writer | Rumi: Poet of the Heart
Jalaluddin Rumi, Scholar in Religious Sciences and famed Sufi Mystic Poet, was born on September 29th 1207 A.D. in Balkh (modern day Afghanistan). Escaping Mongol invasions he travelled extensively to Muslim lands, Bagdad, Mecca, Damascus, Malatia (Turkey). Married Gevher Khatun of Samarquand and ...
15. Franz Kafka
Writer | Le procès
Franz Kafka was born into a German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, Austrian Empire, in 1883. His father, Hermann Kafka, was a business owner and a domestic tyrant, frequently abusing his son. Kafka later admitted to his father, "My writing was all about you...". He believed that his father broke ...
16. Anton Chekhov
Writer | Kis Uykusu
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov was born in 1860, the third of six children to a family of a grocer, in Taganrog, Russia, a southern seaport and resort on the Azov Sea. His father, a 3rd-rank Member of the Merchant's Guild, was a religious fanatic and a tyrant who used his children as slaves. Young Chekhov...
17. Gabriel García Márquez
Writer | El año de la peste
Major Latin-American author of novels and short stories, a central figure in the so-called magical realism movement in Latin American literature. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982. Studied law and journalism in Bogotá and Cartagena. He began his career as a journalist in 1948, ...
18. Umberto Eco
Writer | Der Name der Rose
He is a professor of semiotics, the study of communication through signs and symbols, at the University of Bologna. Also a philiosopher, a historian, literary critic, and an aesthetician. He is an avid book collector and owns more than 30,000 volumes. The subjects of his scholarly investigations ...
19. J.R.R. Tolkien
Writer | The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
English writer, scholar and philologist, Tolkien's father was a bank manager in South Africa. Shortly before his father died (1896) his mother took him and his younger brother to his father's native village of Sarehole, near Birmingham, England. The landscapes and Nordic mythology of the Midlands ...
20. William Faulkner
Writer | To Have and Have Not
William Faulkner, one of the 20th century's most gifted novelists, wrote for the movies in part because he could not make enough money from his novels and short stories to support his growing number of dependants. The author of such acclaimed novels as "The Sound and the Fury" and "Absalom, Absalom...
Writer | El león enamorado
Greek slave. Many of the 200+ fables attributed to him may not have been his own, but since his name is synonymous with fables they were credited to him anyway. Sentenced to death for heresy. Was thrown from the edge of a cliff, c. 560 BC. The excepted dates of his birth and death would mean that ...
22. Arthur Rimbaud
Writer | Ein großer graublauer Vogel
Arthur Rimbaud was born on October 20, 1854 in Charleville-Mézières, Ardennes, France. He was a writer, known for A Big Grey-Blue Bird (1970), Ardiente paciencia (1983) and Criminal Lovers (1999). He died on November 10, 1891 in Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhône, France.
Soundtrack | Star Trek
Ancient Greek poet and comic dramatist Aristophanes was the son of Philippus of Athens. A leading exponent of the Athenian "Old Comedy," Aristophanes lived most of his life during the Peloponnesian War against Sparta (431-404). Some of his works include "Acharnians" (425), "Knights" (424), "In the ...
24. Ivan Turgenev
Writer | Theatre Macabre
Ivan Turgenev was born into a wealthy landowning family with many serfs, in the city of Oryol in Southern Russia. His father, a cavalry colonel, died when he was 15, and he was raised by his abusive mother, who ruled her 5000 serfs ruthlessly with a whip. He never married, but fathered a daughter ...
Writer | Atlantis
Versatile Greek poet and tragic dramatist. He was the son of Sophilus, a wealthy arms manufacturer. Sophocles studied tragedy under Aeschylus, whom he subsequently defeated in the dramatic festival of 468 BC, thus gaining his first victory at these competitions. He became a general under Nicias and...
Writer | Le bourgeois gentilhomme
Born between January 13 and January 15 of the year 1622, from a 25yo tapestry-maker, Jean Poguelin (who worked for the King of France from 1631), and a 20yo woman, Marie Cresé, in Paris, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin lost his mother when he was 10. From 1638 to 1640, he studied in the Jesuit college of ...
27. Charles Dickens
Writer | Great Expectations
Charles Dickens' father was a clerk at the Naval Pay Office, and because of this the family had to move from place to place: Plymouth, London, Chatham. It was a large family and despite hard work, his father couldn't earn enough money. In 1823 he was arrested for debt and Charles had to start ...
28. Maxim Gorky
Writer | Famine
Maksim Gorky is a pseudonym of Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov, who was born into a poor Russian family in Nizhnii Novgorod on Volga river. Gorky lost his father at an early age, he was beaten by his stepfather and became an orphan at age 9, when his mother died. He was brought up by his grandmother, ...
29. George Orwell
Writer | Nineteen Eighty-Four
Born the son of an Opium Agent in Bengal, Eric Blair was educated in England (Eton 1921). The joined the British Imperial Police in Burma, serving until 1927. He then travelled around England and Europe, doing various odd jobs to support his writing. By 1935 he had adopted the 'pen-name' of 'George...
30. Edgar Allan Poe
Writer | Eliza Graves
Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, in Boston, Massachusetts. His father, named David Poe Jr., and his mother, named Elizabeth Arnold Hopkins Poe, were touring actors. Both parents died in 1811, and Poe became an orphan before he was 3 years old. He was adopted by John Allan, a tobacco ...
31. Publius Vergilius Maro
Writer | Troy: The Resurrection of Aeneas
Publius Vergilius Maro was born on October 15, 70 in Andes, Italy. Publius Vergilius was a writer, known for Troy: The Resurrection of Aeneas (2018), The Metropolitan Opera HD Live (2006) and Dido & Aeneas (1995). Publius Vergilius died on September 21, 19 in Brundisium [now Brindisi, Italy].
32. Julio Cortázar
Writer | Blow-Up
One of the most important Argentinian writers of all time, Julio Cortazar was born in Belgium. When he was a child he went with his parents to Argentina. She stayed in Buenos Aires until 1951, when he went to Paris and he stayed in France until his death. His first book of short stories was "...
33. Nazim Hikmet
Soundtrack | Der Himmel über Berlin
Nazim Hikmet was born on January 15, 1902 in Salonica, Ottoman Empire [now Thessaloniki, Greece]. He was a writer and director, known for Wings of Desire (1987), Günese dogru (1937) and Dügün gecesi (1933). He was previously married to Wera Tuljakowa, Münevver and Piraye. He died on ...
34. Oscar Wilde
Writer | The Picture of Dorian Gray
A gifted poet, playwright and wit, Oscar Wilde was a phenomenon in 19th-century England. He was illustrious for preaching the importance of style in life and art, and of attacking Victorian narrow-mindedness. Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1854. He studied at Trinity College in Dublin before ...
35. Jean de La Fontaine
Writer | La cicala e la formica
Born in July 8, 1621, in Château-Thierry (Champagne, France), where his father was in charge of Water, Forests and Hunting, Jean de la Fontaine spent his whole childhood and adolescence in the countryside, where he mainly studied Latin language. In 1641, he moved to Paris to continue his study at ...
36. Rainer Maria Rilke
Writer | René
Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague on the 4th of December 1878 as the son of a military man working with railroads. After he visited a military Upper School he tried to avoid the army and did the preparations for the final exams and the final exams in private. He went to university to study ...
37. Lord Byron
Writer | Don Juan DeMarco
Lord Byron seemed destined from birth to tragedy. His father was the handsome but feckless Captain John "Mad Jack" Byron and his mother the Scottish heiress Catherine Gordon, the only child of the Laird of Gight. Captain Byron abandoned his wife and child leaving Catherine to bring up young Byron on...
38. Hans Christian Andersen
Writer | Frozen
H.C. Andersen was born in 1805. His father (Hans Andersen) was a poor shoemaker and his mother a washerwoman. The family did not have a permanent address until 1807. The family lived for the first time together at Munkemøllestræde. The father worked as an independent shoemaker, with a workshop in ...
39. Thomas Mann
Writer | Morte a Venezia
Thomas Mann was probably Germany's most influential author of the 20th century, receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929. Born on 6 June 1875 in Lübeck, his family moved to Munich in 1893, where he lived until 1933 and wrote some of his most successful novels like "Buddenbrocks" (1901), "...
40. Alexandre Dumas
Writer | The Count of Monte Cristo
His paternal grandparents were Marie Cessete Dumas (a Haitian slave) and Marquis Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie. Antoine disapproved of their son, Thomas-Alexandre, joining the French army under the "Davy de la Pailleterie" name, so Thomas-Alexandre used his mother's surname instead. He became a ...
41. James Joyce
Writer | The Dead
Joyce was born at 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, Dublin, on 2 February 1882. His father invested unwisely, and the family's fortunes declined steadily. Joyce graduated from University College Dublin (UCD), in 1902. He briefly studied medicine in Paris but his mother's impending death from cancer ...
42. Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Writer | Die Nacht
Louis-Ferdinand Céline was born on May 27, 1894 in Courbevoie, Seine [now Hauts-de-Seine], France. He was a writer and actor, known for Die Nacht (1985), Contes modernes (1979) and Assassins: A Film Concerning Rimbaud (1985). He was previously married to Lucette Almanzor and Edith Follet. He died ...
43. Boris Pasternak
Writer | Doctor Zhivago
Boris Pasternak was born in Moscow on February 10, 1890 into an artistic family of Russian-Jewish heritage. His father was an acclaimed artist named Leonid Pasternak, who converted to Christianity, and his mother was a renown concert pianist named Rosa Kaufman. Their home was open to family friends...
44. Federico García Lorca
Soundtrack | Take This Waltz
Federíco Garcia Lorca was born in the south of Spain (Andalusia) in 1898 and soon became the region's most famous artist. A poet, playwright, artist, musician and lecturer, he wrote groundbreaking plays such as 'Blood Wedding' and 'Yerma'. His support of the Spanish Republic in the 1930s led to his...
45. Pablo Neruda
Writer | American Roulette
Pablo Neruda was the pseudonym of Chilean poet Ricardo Neftali Reyes Basualto. He was born in Parral, a little town in central Chile, but his family moved to Temuco City when he was just a few months old. It was there he showed interest in poetry and made his early works, and where he picked "Pablo...
Actor | Mil Adultérios
Borges is known for Mil Adultérios (1910).
Writer | La règle du jeu
Beaumarchais was born on January 24, 1732 in Paris, France. Beaumarchais was a writer, known for The Rules of the Game (1939), The Barber of Seville (1938) and The Marriage of Figaro (1949). Beaumarchais was previously married to Marie-Thérèse Willermawlaz, Geneviève Wattebled Lévêque and Madeleine...
48. Najeeb Mahfouz
Writer | El Fetewa
Najeeb Mahfouz was born on December 11, 1911 in Cairo, Egypt. He was a writer, known for The Tough (1957), The Monster (1954) and Saladin (1963). He was previously married to Atiyyatallah Ibrahim. He died on August 30, 2006 in Cairo, Egypt.
49. Ursula K. Le Guin
Writer | Gedo senki
Ursula K. Le Guin was born on October 21, 1929 in Berkeley, California, USA. She was a writer, known for Tales from Earthsea (2006), The Lathe of Heaven (1980) and The Telling . She was previously married to Charles A. Le Guin. She died on January 22, 2018 in Portland, Oregon, USA.
50. Nikolay Gogol
Writer | Burnt Hickory
Nikolai (Mykola) Gogol was a Russian humorist, dramatist, and novelist of Ukrainian origin. His ancestors were bearing the name of Gogol-Janovsky and claimed belonging to the upper class Polish Szlachta. Gogol's father, a Ukrainian writer living on his old family estate, had five other children. He...
51. Honoré de Balzac
Writer | The Conquering Power
Honoré de Balzac was a French writer whose works have been made into films, such as, Cousin Bette (1998) starring Jessica Lange , and television serials, such as, _Cousin Bette (1971 TV mini-series)_, starring Margaret Tyzack and Helen Mirren . He was born on March 20, 1799, in Tours, France. His ...
52. Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was an American writer who won the Pulitzer Prize (1953) and the Nobel Prize in Literature (1954) for his novel The Old Man and the Sea, which was made into a 1958 film The Old Man and the Sea (1958). He was born into the hands of his physician father. He was the second of six ...
53. Neil Gaiman
Writer | Good Omens
Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre, and films. He is best known for the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. As a child and a teenager, Gaiman read the works of C. S. ...
54. Jean Racine
Writer | Teatr Polskiego Radia
Jean-Baptiste Racine (22 December 1639 - 21 April 1699) was a French dramatist, one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France, along with Molière and Corneille as well as an important literary figure in the Western tradition and world literature. Racine was primarily a tragedian, ...
55. Albert Camus
Albert Camus was born on November 7, 1913, in Mondovi, Algeria. His parents were Spanish-French-Algerian (pied noir) colonists. His father, Lucien, died in the Battle of Marne (1914) during WWI. His mother, named Catherine Helene Sintes was of Spanish origin, she was a deaf mute due to a stroke, ...
56. Jean-Paul Sartre
Writer | Les orgueilleux
Jean-Paul Charles-Aymard Sartre was born on June 21, 1905, in Paris, France. His father, Jean-Baptiste Sartre, was an officer in the French Navy. His mother, Anne-Marie Schweitzer, was the cousin of Nobel Prize laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer . Sartre was one year old when his father died. He was ...
57. Chingiz Aitmatov
Writer | Selvi Boylum Al Yazmalim
Chingiz Aitmatov was a Russian-Kyrgyz writer and statesman known for such films as The First Teacher (1965), The Girl with the Red Scarf (1977) and Джамиля (1995). He was born Chingiz Torekulovich Aitmatov on December 12, 1928, in Kirgizia, Soviet Union. His...
58. John Steinbeck
Writer | Lifeboat
John Steinbeck was the third of four children and the only son born to John Ernst and Olive Hamilton Steinbeck. His father was County Treasurer and his mother, a former schoolteacher. John graduated from Salinas High School in 1919 and attended classes at Stanford University, leaving in 1925 ...
59. Milan Kundera
Writer | The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera was born on April 1st 1929 in Brno, Czechoslovakia. He wrote his first poems during his high school years. After World War II he worked as a jazz musician before going to college. He studied music, film and literature at university in Prague. He moved on to become a professor at the ...
60. Jules Verne
Writer | Journey to the Center of the Earth
Jules Gabriel Verne (1828-1905) was one of the most famous French novelists of all time. His major work is the "Extraordinary Journeys", a series of more than sixty adventure novels including "Journey to the Center of the Earth", "Around the World in 80 Days", "20.000 Leagues under the Seas" and "...
61. Mark Twain
Writer | Lionizing Murderers
Mark Twain, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri in 1835, grew up in Hannibal. He was a steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River. Throughout his career, Twain served as a writer, lecturer, reporter, editor, printer, and prospector. Twain took his pen name from an alert cry used on his...
62. Francois Rabelais
Writer | Kraft Television Theatre
François Rabelais was a French Renaissance writer, physician, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He is primarily known as a writer of satire, of the grotesque, and of bawdy jokes and songs. Ecclesiastical and anticlerical, Christian and considered by some as a free thinker, a doctor and ...
63. Yasar Kemal
Writer | Alageyik
Yasar Kemal was born on October 6, 1923 in Osmaniye, Adana, Turkey. He was a writer, known for Лань (1958), Tus (1955) and The Enemy of Chastity (1957). He was previously married to Ayse Semiha Baban and Thilda Serrero. He died on February 28, 2015 in Istanbul, Turkey.
64. George Bernard Shaw
Writer | My Fair Lady
The Anglo-Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, acquired a reputation as the greatest dramatist in the English language during the first half of the 20th Century for the plays he had written at the height of his creativity from "Mrs. ...
65. Arthur Conan Doyle
Writer | Sherlock Holmes
Arthur Conan Doyle was a British writer of Irish descent, considered a major figure in crime fiction. His most famous series of works consisted of the "Sherlock Holmes" stories (1887-1927), consisting of four novels and 56 short stories. His other notable series were the "Professor Challenger" ...
66. Jane Austen
Writer | Sense and Sensibility
Jane Austen was born on December 16th, 1775, to the local rector, Rev. George Austen (1731-1805), and Cassandra Leigh (1739-1827). She was the seventh of eight children. She had one older sister, Cassandra. In 1783 she went to Southampton to be taught by a relative, Mrs. Cawley, but was brought ...
67. Geoffrey Chaucer
Writer | The Ribald Tales of Canterbury
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in 1343 in London, England, UK. He was a writer. He was previously married to Philippa Roet. He died on October 25, 1400 in London, England.
68. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Writer | Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born into a family of old provincial nobility. Failing his final exams at a preparatory school, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. In 1921, he began military service in the 2nd Regiment of Chasseurs, and sent to Strasbourg for pilot training. The...
69. Erich Maria Remarque
Writer | A Time to Love and a Time to Die
The German novelist Erich Maria Remarque was born in Osnabrück in 1898. His first novel, the famous anti-war epic All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), was written based on his experiences as a soldier in WWI, and published in 1929. He moved to Switzerland until 1939 and later emigrated to the US....
70. J.D. Salinger
Writer | My Foolish Heart
U.S. writer whose novel "The Catcher in the Rye" (1951) won critical acclaim and devoted admirers, especially among the post-World War II generation of college students. His entire corpus of published works consists of that one novel and 13 short stories, all originally written in the period 1948-...
71. Virginia Woolf
Writer | Orlando
London-born Virginia Woolf came from a wealthy family and, unlike her brothers, received her education at home, an unusual step for the times. Her parents had both had children from previous marriages, so she grew up with a variety of siblings, stepbrothers and stepsisters. Her father was a ...
72. Louis Aragon
Soundtrack | 8 femmes
Louis Aragon was born on October 3, 1897, in Paris, France. He graduated from Lycée Carnot, then studied medicine in Sorbonne and befriended a fellow medical student André Breton . In 1917 he was drafted in the First World War and served in a military hospital. There he met Guillaume Apollinaire and...
73. Herman Melville
Writer | The Enigma of Benito Cereno
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. Among his best-known works are Moby-Dick (1851); Typee (1846), a romanticized account of his experiences in Polynesia; and Billy Budd, Sailor, a posthumously published novella. Although his ...
74. Alphonse Daudet
Writer | Sapho
Alphonse Daudet was born on May 13, 1840 in Nîmes, France. He was a writer, known for Sapho (1934), Sapho (1917) and Sapho (1913). He was previously married to Julia Allard. He died on December 16, 1897 in Paris, France.
75. Mikhail Sholokhov
Writer | Podnyataya tselina
Mikhail Sholokhov was a Russian writer who received a Nobel prize for his epic novel 'Tikhiy Don'. He was born in 1905 into a Cossack family of farmers in Kruzhilin, Veshenskaya, Rostov province in Southern Russia. His high school studies were interrupted by the Russian revolution and the Civil War, ...
76. Stefan Zweig
Writer | The Grand Budapest Hotel
Stefan Zweig was born on November 28, 1881 in Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]. He was a writer, known for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948) and Marie Antoinette (1938). He was previously married to Friderike Maria Burger von Winternitz and Charlotte E. ...
77. José Saramago
Writer | Enemy
José Saramago was born on November 16, 1922 in Azinhaga, Golega, Portugal. He was a writer, known for Enemy (2013), Blindness (2008) and O Evangelho Segundo Jesus Cristo . He was previously married to Pilar del Río and Ilda Reis. He died on June 18, 2010 in Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, ...
78. Bertolt Brecht
Writer | Die Dreigroschenoper
Bertolt Brecht was born on 10 February 1898 in Augsburg, Germany and one of the country's most influential poets, playwrights and screenwriters. His most famous work was the musical "The Threepenny Opera" (with Kurt Weill ), but his dramas such as "Mother Courage and Her Children" or "The Good ...
79. Mario Vargas Llosa
Writer | Pantaleón y las visitadoras
Mario Vargas Llosa was born on March 28, 1936 in Arequipa, Peru. He is a writer and director, known for Pantaleon (1976), Captain Pantoja and the Special Services (1999) and Tune in Tomorrow... (1990). He has been married to Patricia Llosa since 1965. He was previously married to Julia Urquidi.
80. T.S. Eliot
Writer | Cats
T.S. Eliot ranks with William Butler Yeats as the greatest English language poet of the 20th Century and was certainly the most influential. He was born Thomas Stearns Eliot into the bosom of a respectable middle class family on September 26, 1888 in St. Louis, Missouri. The family had roots in New...
81. Guy de Maupassant
Writer | La criada de la granja
Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850 in Château de Miromesnil, France. He was a writer, known for La criada de la granja (1953), Masculine Feminine (1966) and Black Sabbath (1963). He died on July 6, 1893 in Paris, France.
82. John Keats
Writer | La Belle Dame Sans Merci by John Keats
John Keats (31 October 1795 - 23 February 1821) was an English poet of the second generation of Romantic poets, with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, although his poems had been in publication for less than four years when he died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. They were indifferently ...
83. Sabahattin Ali
Sabahattin Ali was born in Komotini, Greece, 1917; and assassinated in Kirklareli, Turkey, 1948. He worked as a teacher in Yozgat, Aydin, Konya and Ankara for couple of years. In 1945, Ali started to publish humorous and opposing magazine Marko Pasa. He arrested in 1948 for an article and sentenced...
84. Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar
Music_department | Neredesin Firuze
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar was born on June 23, 1901 in Constantinople, Ottoman Empire [now Istanbul, Turkey]. He was a writer, known for Где ты, Фируза? (2004), A Passing Summer's Rain (1994) and Geçmis Zaman Elbiseleri (1975). He ...
85. John Fante
Writer | Full of Life
John Fante was born on April 8, 1909 in Boulder, Colorado, USA. He was a writer, known for Full of Life (1956), The Golden Fleecing (1940) and My Man and I (1952). He was previously married to Joyce H. Smart. He died on May 8, 1983 in Los Angeles, California, USA.
86. Henri-Frédéric Blanc
Writer | Combat de fauves
Henri-Frédéric Blanc is known for Wild Games (1997), Le Dernier Survivant (2001) and Jeu de massacre ou le blues des fadas (1996).
87. Isaac Asimov
Writer | I, Robot
Isaac Asimov was born Isaak Judah Ozimov, on January 2, 1920, in Petrovichi shtetl, near Smolensk, Russia. He was the oldest of three children. His father, named Judah Ozimov, and his mother, named Anna Rachel Ozimov (nee Berman), were Orthodox Jews. Ozimov family were millers (the name Ozimov ...
88. Fitzgerald Scott
Writer | Young Cesar
Fitzgerald Scott is known for Young Cesar (2007) and Charlotte Church: Crazy Chick (2005).
89. J.M. Coetzee
Writer | Waiting for the Barbarians
J.M. Coetzee was born on February 9, 1940 in Cape Town, South Africa. He is a writer, known for Waiting for the Barbarians (2019), Dust (1985) and Disgrace (2008).
90. Kazuo Ishiguro
Writer | Living
Kazuo Ishiguro was born on November 8, 1954 in Nagasaki, Japan. He is a writer and producer, known for Living (2022), The Remains of the Day (1993) and Never Let Me Go (2010). He has been married to Lorna Anne MacDougall since 1986. They have one child.
91. Hermann Hesse
Soundtrack | The Hours
Hermann Hesse was born on July 2, 1877 in Calw, Germany. He was a writer, known for The Hours (2002), Siddhartha (1972) and Steppenwolf (1974). He was previously married to Ninon Ausländer, Ruth Wenger and Maria Bernoulli. He died on August 9, 1962 in Montagnola, Switzerland.
92. Robert Louis Stevenson
Writer | Treasure Planet
Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer from Edinburgh. His most popular works include the pirate-themed adventure novel "Treasure Island" (1883), the poetry collection "A Child's Garden of Verses" (1885), the Gothic horror novella "Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr ...
93. Salman Rushdie
Actor | Bridget Jones's Diary
He married the actress Padma Lakshmi , the hostess of "Padma's Passport," and dedicatee of his eighth novel, "Fury" (2001), on 17th April 2004. The late Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa against him for the novel "The Satanic Verses" on 14th February 1989. He is currently completing a ninth novel....
94. Mario Vargas Llosa
95. aldous huxley.
Writer | A Woman's Vengeance
Aldous Leonard Huxley was born on July 26, 1894, at Laleham in Godalming, Surrey, England. He was the third of four children. His brother Julian Huxley was a biologist known for his theories of evolution. His grandfather, named Thomas Henry Huxley, was a naturalist known as "Darwin's Bulldog." His ...
96. Paul Valéry
Writer | Auf der Lesebühne der Literarischen Illustrierten
Paul Valéry was born on October 30, 1871 in Cette [now Sète], Herault, France. He was a writer, known for Auf der Lesebühne der Literarischen Illustrierten (1965), L'ippogrifo (1974) and Paul Valéry (1960). He was previously married to Jeannie Gobillard. He died on July 20, 1945 in ...
97. Thomas Pynchon
Writer | Inherent Vice
Thomas Pynchon was born on May 8, 1937 in Glen Cove, Long Island, New York, USA. He is a writer and actor, known for Inherent Vice (2014), Prüfstand VII (2002) and Thomas Pynchon: A Journey Into the Mind of P. (2002). He has been married to Melanie Jackson since 1991. They have one child.
98. H.P. Lovecraft
Writer | Color Out of Space
Born in Providence, Lovecraft was a sickly child whose parents died insane. When he was 16, he wrote the astronomy column in the Providence Tribune. Between 1908 and 1923, he wrote short stories for Weird Tales magazine, among others. He died in Providence, in poverty, on March 15, 1937. His most ...
99. Haruki Murakami
Writer | Doraibu mai kâ
Haruki Murakami graduated from Waseda University, Tokyo, in 1975. Widely considered one of Japan's most important 20th-century novelists. His often solitary, withdrawn, and world-weary protagonists are generally stripped of Japanese tradition. Frequently called postmodern, his fiction, which often ...
100. Nikos Kazantzakis
Writer | The Last Temptation of Christ
Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Heraklion, Crete (Greece). He studied Law in Athens and in Paris, but soon he studied philosophy and literature. He travelled almost everywhere; he learnt many foreign languages and left his scientific research for Nitsche. At philosophy: "Ascetics" (Salvatores Dei, ...
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Pen Name Generator
Choose from over a million pen names.
Kickstart your writing career with this pen name generator that boasts over 1 million fake names. Search through the pseudonyms using filters such as language, gender, or first letter until you find the right nom de plume for you.
Sneha Tsutsumi Debut Bestselling Author
Why do authors use pen names.
Even further back than modern literature, authors have adopted pen names. Back in the day, they were a necessity for some trying to make it in the publishing industry. Women, for instance, often had to conceal their identities by adopting a masculine “nom de plume” in order to even be considered for publication — and this trend has not entirely disappeared with times gone by. As recently as the 1990s, Joanne Rowling was urged by publishers to publish the Harry Potter series under the name JK Rowling (the “K’ was fabricated, Rowling does not actually have a middle name) out of concern that young boys — a large demographic of the books’ target market — would not be inclined to read something written by a woman.
While it’s less common for authors to publish under pseudonyms, it’s still often done for marketability purposes — and sometimes simply for the author’s own comfort in anonymity. Finally, authors will often adopt a pseudonym in order to write in various genres without confusing their fans.
How to pick a pen name
If you’ve created a shortlist of your favorite names from our fake name generator but are struggling to figure out what the perfect nom de plume for your publishing career is, here are a few tips that will help you:
Consider your genre. For instance, readers might be more likely to pick up a crime novel by “Ali Knight” than by “Allison Potter” because the former simply fits in more with the expectations of a crime novelist.
Consider the demographic of your target readers. How old is your intended reader? Are they from a particular region? For instance, when author Judith Reumlet published the first book of her YA urban fantasy series, The Mortal Instruments , she knew her name might not resonate with young readers because it sounds a bit “dated.” So she decided to publish under the pen name Cassandra Clare.
Consider whether your pseudonym rings any bells. In other words, maybe don’t go with the name “Steve N. King.”
Consider the availability of your name for social media and website purposes. Creating an author website and social media profiles is a key part of book marketing. So before you decide on a pseudonym, you might want to check the availability of your name.
Examples of famous pen names
Theodore Seuss Geisel — AKA Dr. Seuss
Reason: After being fired from a magazine for drinking during the Prohibition, Geisel decided to adopt the pseudonym “Seuss.” He added the “Dr.” as a poke at his father who’d always encouraged his son to get a PhD.
Famous works: The Cat In The Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Mary Ann Evans — AKA George Eliot
Reason: So that her publications would be taken seriously.
Famous works: Middlemarch, Silas Marner, The Mill on the Floss
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson — AKA Lewis Carroll
Reason: To maintain privacy by separating his public and private lives.
Famous works: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, The Hunting of the Snark
Eric Blair — AKA George Orwell
Reason: According to the biography, Orwell: The Life, Blair chose his name “...because it's a good round English name." Others have speculated he chose a pseudonym in order to avoid embarrassing his family while he lived as a poor writer.
Famous works: Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm, Homage to Catalonia
Agatha Christie — AKA Mary Westmacott
Reason: Christie had already achieved notoriety for her mystery novels. So she adopted the name Mary Westmacott to publish romance novels without confusing her existing fans.
Famous works: Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, Death on the Nile
Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell — AKA Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë
Reason: In order to avoid the prejudice critics displayed towards women writers in 19th century England.
Famous works: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Stephen King — AKA Richard Bachman
Reason: King explains that “back in the early days of my career there was a feeling in the publishing business that one book a year was all the public would accept.” So he adopted Richard Bachman to be able to publish several novels a year without judgment — until, of course, “Richard Bachman” was uncovered .
Famous works: It, The Stand, The Shining
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Famous Authors: The 30 Greatest Writers Of All Time
Who are the most most famous authors the world has ever known ? Perhaps that’s not the real question: we should instead be asking, ‘how can we judge’? With that in mind one can begin to talk about criteria. One can think about which famous writers had the most influence on the world as a result of what they wrote, or how their writings changed the world.
We don’t necessarily have to talk about their writing style or how good their prose is, as that is, in any case, far too subjective: their greatness could simply be about their ideas – ideas that grab the attention of the world and change the world’s perceptions forever. In that case the writing would only be a vehicle for the transmission of the idea they wish to convey. That idea or theory or research is the reason for writing the book.
And then, particularly if we are including Shakespeare as one of the influential writers, we need to look at what kind of writing we are talking about. Shakespeare falls into the fiction writer category and so, perhaps, to find our best writers we should look at other fiction writers whose work had something like the influence of William Shakespeare’s. It should therefore be clear that our list of the thirty greatest writers are all fiction writers. Our criterion will be that they should be poets, dramatists and prose fiction writers who have had a significant influence on the writers who came after them or on the direction of society.
But who, apart from Shakespeare, are the greatest writers of all time? Without further ado, here is a list of thirty of the greatest writers of all time offered by NoSweatShakespeare. It would be impossible to rank them so they are listed in order of their birth dates:
Homer ~850 BCE
Sophocles 496-406 BCE
Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) 70 BCE – 19 BCE
The Evangelist, Mark (Author of the Gospel of St Mark) 1st Century CE
Dante (Durante degli Alighieri) 1265-1321
Geoffrey Chaucer 1343-1400
Francois Rabelais 1498-1553
Cervantes (Miguel de Cervantes Cortinas) 1547-1616
John Donne 1572-1631
John Milton 1608-1674
John Bunyan (1628-1688)
Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) 1694-1778
William Blake 1757-1827
Jane Austen 1775 – 1817
Hans Christian Andersen 1805-1875
Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish playwright, travel writer, poet, novelist and story writer. His fairy tales place him as one of the world’s greatest writers ever. Written basically for children they transcend age barriers because of their universal nature: they reach the deepest levels of the human condition, each story demonstrating something profound about what it means to be a human being… Read more on Hans Christian Anderson >>
Charles Dickens 1812-1870
Herman Melville 1819-1891
Gustave Flaubert 1821-1880
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky 1821-1881
Jules Verne 1828-1905
Leo Tolstoy (Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy) 1828-1910
Emily Dickinson 1830-1886
Unknown as a poet during her lifetime, Emily Dickinson is now regarded by many as one of the most powerful voices of American culture. Her poetry has inspired many other writers, including the Brontes. In 1994 the critic, Harold Bloom, listed her among the twenty-six central writers of Western civilization. After she died her sister found the almost two thousand poems the poet had written… Read Emily Dickinson quotes . Read more on Emily Dickinson >>
Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) 1832-1898
James Joyce 1882-1941
Franz Kafka 1883-1924
T.S. Eliot 1888-1965
F scott fitzgerald 1896-1940.
Jorge Luis Borges 1899-1986
George Orwell 1903-1950
Gabriel Garcia Marques 1927-2014
Like our list of the thirty greatest writers of all time? Any we’re missing? Check out our list of famous English writers , and most famous American authors .
Fiction writers do not write to transmit an idea or report on research they have done. They use language to make us think that their inventions are real, that the places they create actually exist and that their characters are real people, like us, who love and hate and suffer and strive. They invite us to enter into the world of their text and although they usually write only to entertain, there is a sense in that they point to truths just as real as those reached by Darwin and Einstein. If they do that at the highest level, in creating a world that we both recognise and can be inspired by, they reveal themselves as great writers and influence the world in that way. Like Shakespeare.
So who are these writers who can be placed in the same category as Shakespeare for doing that? Shakespeare is, of course, foremost among the great writers. Apart from writing plays that can be held up like mirrors in which we can see ourselves as human beings clearly, and come to an understanding of many of the things that make us human, Shakespeare’s poetry has had a profound effect on the English language: the way we use it today has been shaped by his words and phrases. It can be difficult at times to utter a sentence in English without using a construction first used by Shakespeare. And whenever we need to find a phrase that will sum something we want to say up perfectly and beautifully, we will find a phrase somewhere in Shakespeare’s works .
No Shakespeare, no list.
I suspect that Shakespeare is such an obvious choice, that he was taken for granted, and that leaving him out of this was not intentional
Regarding the writer of the Gospel of Mark, your claim that Jesus was a fictional character is preposterous and outrageous. Even secular scholars overwhelmingly affirm that Jesus was a historical person—the evidence is undeniable. By claiming (without a hint of embarrassment) that Jesus was fictional, you entirely discredit yourself. You yourself become a laughing stock, and subject to scorn and ridicule from both ‘believers’ and seculars. Deservedly so.
Quite right. Jesus is not only not fictional, he is in fact alive.
and if you believe that, i have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you
so what if JESUS once existed? that proves absolutely nothing. you and i exist. does that make us the Messiah as well?
Raymond, I don’t think Mark Wiebe was saying that Jesus was/is/will be the Messiah because he existed. I agree with you, if Jesus was the Messiah because he existed, we would all be little messiahs! Haha. Rather Jesus was/is/will be the Messiah because “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Again though, it didn’t seem like he was suggesting Jesus was the Christ. I would echo with him that you may want to edit your page on the writer of the book of Mark. It has invalid statements.
Sorry, but there is no proof that Jesus every existed. Literally, no proof. There is the belief that he did, namely the faith that Christians hold and follow in his ‘teachings’ but no, verifiable, scientific proof. The fictional stories of his life written by the gospel authors (stories, which, by the way, have been altered and rewritten countless times and translated into hundreds of languages by many, many different people down the years) are contained in the many hundreds of versions of the bible. You may object to this view but it is the one held by billions of people around the planet. Surely believers and non-believers can exist side by side? Wouldn’t Jesus want everyone to get along? He, apparently, did create theists and atheists, didn’t he?
Ion, what do you mean by many hundreds of versions? I am aware that there are multiple different versions (including translations for different languages). As to your second point (as a believer), I can say, Yes! Believers and non-believers can exist side by side. That is exactly what Jesus taught. How else can we fulfill the great commission. We are to love our neighbor as ourselves. Also, interesting point about Jesus creating both theists and atheists. The Bible has something to say about that. While God did create those who are atheists, he did not create them to be atheists. He create man in his own image (perfectly Holy). However, when man sinned for the first time, by taking the forbidden fruit, God thrust his out of the Garden of Eden, and gave man free will. Since that time, people have been given the ability to chose good or evil. Being inherently evil since the fall, mankind tends towards evil (thus the world we see, and atheists), but is sometimes chooses good (only by the grace of God). So, to answer your question, the Bible says God did not create atheists. He created a perfect man, who fell. It is a tricky concept, but very interesting.
You really should read more…. This should be titled the greatest white writers – There is no contest between Fitzgerald and Twain – Austen may be a token here… George Eliot makes just as much sense… Morrison?
better to judge quality writing by the writing itself, rather than by the author’s skin color
Among the greatest writers of classical literature that I would include are Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck….Shakespeare, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, the Bronte Sisters, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf…Plato, Leo Tolstoy, Moliere…Samuel Agnon, Isaac Singer, Franz Kafka….
The greatest writer in the world is Honore De Balzak. I am so surprised He is not in your list. I think because of Hi tears down the mask of the so called democracy . There is no other writer even to be close to him.
I thought N. Gogol was the father of Russian literature
Wordsworth was a greater poet than Milton; D.H. Lawrence was a greater novelist than James Joyce; one of the greatest poets ever was the Indian Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib (1797 – 1869). My English translation of Ghalib’s best Urdu verse should, hopefully, be published this year (or next).
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40 Writer’s Writers Whomst Readers Should Read
(but what about all the writer's writer's writer's writer's).
Earlier this week, National Book Foundation Executive Director Lisa Lucas asked Twitter : “Who do you think is widely considered a writer’s writer?” The question inspired no little discussion online, as well as in the Literary Hub office, and so this list—in which I have collected quotes from respectable sources who have doled out the term—was born.
But first, just what is a “writer’s writer”? For me, the term suggests a writer who is doing something unusual or extra impressive with their chosen form—something another writer in particular would marvel at, because they would understand firsthand how hard it is. Often this means that said writer is obscure to to general public, but not always. Maybe it’s more mercenary than that, and a writer’s writer is just someone other writers mention to one another whenever they want to sound impressive. Or maybe it’s just as simple as it sounds: a writer that only (or mostly) other writers read. (Which begs the question: do non-writers still buy books at all? Whence the pure reader, sans intention?)
Cynthia Ozick described the phrase “a synonym for obscurity. Every writer understands exactly what that fearful possessive hints at: a modicum of professional admiration accompanied—or subverted—by dim public recognition and even dimmer sales. Yet the writer’s writer is said to write not in hope of fame but out of quiet passion, and is thereby accorded a purity not granted to the household name.”
Or, as Anna Fitzpatrick would have it , “To call someone a “writer’s writer” sounds obnoxious, as in, “This book isn’t for civilian eyes. You have to be one of us to get it.” I know a better word for people who think this way: assholes.”
Now, fair warning that “writer’s writers”—at least as declared by critics on the internet in places where I could find them—tend to be white men. Shocking! This of course is due to the hegemonic praise structure that still exists in the literary world (though I dare say it’s getting slowly better) and the fact that—at least according to one known male in the Literary Hub office—educated white men often have a strange need to brag about being their high/obscure taste levels. Why they couldn’t brag about reading obscure books by women of color, who knows.
So now, for whatever it’s worth, and for whatever it means, I present 40 “writer’s writers” for your consideration—and a few more as a bonus from us to you at the end.
According to Boris Kachka in Vulture :
Jim Shepard is one of the best writers you’ve never heard of. . . . Yet Shepard describes himself as “semi-obscure,” a “writer’s writer,” which he takes as a sort of consolation prize: “It used to mean, ‘ writers like him, anyway.’” He is not happy with his place in literary culture; nor should he be, since his commercial timing has always been a little off.
According to Christopher Borrelli in the Chicago Tribune :
Other Men’s Daughters was just reissued by New York Review of Books with an introduction by Philip Roth, who writes that the novel is a “microscope” on its place in time, illustrating “a decisive turning point in American mores . . . when the vast assault upon convention, propriety and entrenched belief began to challenge authority, high and low, and of the wreckage that caused.” He also quotes from his own 1973 review, that Stern’s book “is as if Chekhov had written ‘Lolita.’”
Yet, success didn’t take for Stern.
Despite many more novels and essay collections, a medal from the Academy of Arts and Letters (and a 1995 Heartland Prize from the Tribune ), Stern had long settled into a dreaded backhanded reputation: He became a writer’s writer. Meaning, he remained obscure to the public and didn’t sell many books but he had important admirers (among them Norman Mailer, Joan Didion and Anthony Burgess) who delivered hosannas that didn’t sell books, either. His career became somewhat of a literary equivalent to that famous line about the Velvet Underground, that they sold only a few thousand records but every person who bought one started a band.
According to David Lodge in The New York Review of Books :
Henry Green occupies a special but somewhat puzzling place in the history of modern English fiction. That his real name was Henry Yorke is symbolic of the general elusiveness of his literary identity. He seems to stand to one side of his fictional oeuvre , smiling enigmatically and challenging us to put a label, and a value, on it. He has been called a “writer’s writer,” and even, according to Terry Southern, “a writer’s-writer’s writer.” W. H. Auden, Eudora Welty, V. S. Pritchett, Rebecca West, and John Updike have all described him, at various times, and in various ways, as the finest novelist of his generation, yet he never enjoyed either the commercial success or the literary fame of contemporaries such as Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, and Christopher Isherwood.
He was neither shrewd nor lucky in the development of his literary career. After a precocious and promising debut, Blindness (1926), begun while he was still at school, he wrote a brilliant novel about working-class life, Living (1929), several years before such subject matter became fashionable, and then took ten years to write his next, Party Going (1939)—a work whose concern with a group of narcissistic socialites setting off on a Continental holiday seemed rather frivolous in the encroaching shadows of World War II. In the 1940s he became more productive, and more widely read ( Loving  even appeared briefly on the US best-seller lists), but just as he was beginning to attract serious critical attention, interest was diverted by a new wave of British writers, the so-called Angry Young Men, with whose coarse, iconoclastic energies he had little affinity. Whether by coincidence or cause and effect, his creativity seemed to suddenly dry up at this time. The latter part of his life, from the publication of his last novel, Doting , in 1952, to his death in 1973, was a sad story of increasing reclusiveness, alcoholism, and melancholia. His novels went out of print, and his name virtually disappeared from the canon of modern British fiction.
According to Daniel Saldaña París in Literary Hub :
Pitol is one of those authors whom one never leaves. There is always a corner of his work that can be read under a new lens. It is not for nothing, it seems to me, that he is held as a clear example of a “writer’s writer” in recent Latin American narrative. The fact that authors such as Enrique Vila-Matas and Mario Bellatin have turned him into a character in their own fiction only confirms what any reader senses upon reading him: that Pitol is unfathomable; it could almost be said that he is a literature entire of himself.
According to Tim Kreider in The New Yorker :
In one of those few gratifying instances of belated artistic justice, John Williams’s “Stoner” has become an unexpected bestseller in Europe after being translated and championed by the French writer Anna Gavalda. Once every decade or so, someone like me tries to do the same service for it in the U.S., writing an essay arguing that “Stoner” is a great, chronically underappreciated American novel. (The latest of these, which also lists several previous such essays, is Morris Dickstein’s for the Times .) And yet it goes on being largely undiscovered in its own country, passed around and praised only among a bookish cognoscenti, and its author, John Williams, consigned to that unenviable category inhabited by such august company as Richard Yates and James Salter: the writer’s writer.
According to Jonathan Franzen in an interview with PBS :
[Fox] may be more of a writer’s writer, at least in her adult novels. After getting a late start– after an utterly chaotic childhood, two early marriages, and child-rearing– she was very prolific, but much of her output was YA literature (a term she disliked, preferring “books for children”). And for most of the time she was writing, she lived in a male-dominated literary world. Contrast all this with Updike, who came out of Harvard, burst on the scene in his twenties, wrote about the melancholies and sex lives of affluent American suburbanites, and fit the pattern of a male writer having a full and long career. I don’t care for lists myself, so I won’t make a long one here, but I think in general great writing by women is more often overlooked than its male counterparts. I wonder if you’ve read Jessica Anderson’s Tirra Lirra by the River , or Christina Stead’s The Man Who Loved Children , or the stories and novels and essays of Joy Williams. If you haven’t, you should!
According to Terry McDonnell in Literary Hub :
The immense depth of that was in his descriptions of the intimacies of love and the details of disappointment and loss and regret, and it made reading him an ecstatic experience. You read to see what would happen, sure, but you read every word to savor the meaning and balance of each sentence—it was a way to look at life as it passed.
Perhaps that’s why critics called him a “writer’s writer,” a label that annoyed him and, I suspect, everyone else. Jim’s friend, Bruce Jay Friedman, told a story about a weekly writers’ lunch he was part of in the Hamptons that included Mario Puzo ( The Godfather ), Joe Heller ( Catch-22 ) and Mel Brooks ( The Producers ). The group was looking for a new member to liven things up but decided not to ask Salter because, as Puzo put it, Jim was “too good of a writer.”
If you’re an editor there is no such thing, but the implied problem with being a writer’s writer is that it goes with semi-obscurity and lack of commercial success. Not that Jim didn’t do fine; it was just so obvious that his talent outweighed his notoriety and his paydays. Of course Jim never talked about any of this. Then, in late 2012, with the novel All That Is, he was poised for the hit his talent had been promising for so many years.
According to Deidra McAfee in New York :
Fully American and fully literary as few are, he is a writer’s writer—but also a reader’s writer who deserves a wider audience.
According to The Millions :
Maggie Nelson is known best for her non-fiction. Often described as some combination of “lyrical” and “philosophical,” Nelson’s five book-length works of nonfiction have won her a steadfast following. She might be described as a “writer’s writer.” The evidence is in how often her books are named by other writers in our annual Year in Reading series. Bluets , a meditation on the color blue, won praise from David Shields (“utterly brilliant”), Stephen Elliott (“excellent”), Haley Mlotek (“I read Bluets twice in the same plane ride.”), Leslie Jamison, Jaquira Díaz, and Margaret Eby. Meaghan O’Connell wrote of Nelson, “She is one of those people for me, writers who I want to cross all boundaries with, writers from whom I ask too much. She makes me want more than, as a reader, I deserve. She already gives us more than we deserve. It isn’t fair.” Many of the above writers also praised Nelson’s more recent The Argonauts , “a genre-bending memoir,” as did Bijan Stephen, Olivia Laing (“It thinks deeply and with immense nuance and grace”), Karolina Waclawiak (“I found myself underlining on nearly every page”), and Parul Sehgal. Nelson herself appeared in our Year in Reading last year, shining light on books by Eileen Myles and Ellen Miller, among others.
According to Ali Smith in The Guardian :
In the UK at least, until the 2010 publication of her Collected Stories (Penguin), it was quite hard to track down copies of her four collections: Break It Down (1986), Almost No Memory (1997), Samuel Johnson Is Indignant (2001) and Varieties of Disturbance (2007), though a couple of these and a lone novel, The End of the Story (1995), were published in the 90s by Serpent’s Tail. She was hard to find, but held in such regard among those who read her that from the beginning she had the reputation of being a writer’s writer.
But she’s such a reader’s writer, this daring, excitingly intelligent and often wildly comic writer who reminds you, in a world that likes to bandy its words about, what words such as economy, precision and originality really mean. It’s all about how you read and about the reflorescence of what and how things mean with Davis, who works in an understated, concentrated way and in a form that usually slips under the mainstream radar. So look again, because this is a writer as mighty as Kafka, as subtle as Flaubert and as epoch-making, in her own way, as Proust. As a translator, she has recently produced magnificent English versions of classics by the latter two, but it’s the short-story form that she’s made her own, and even changed the potential of, over three decades of honing a style whose discipline is a perfect means of release of hilarity, myth, merciless sharpness, and, most of all, of a celebration of the thinking, vital, fertile mind.
According to Corey Messler in Popmatters :
David Markson is a national treasure. He is championed by many, including young turks like David Foster Wallace. It is often said he is a writer’s writer. The implication is that he might be the one of the best unread writers in America, even though early in his career one of his books was made into a big Hollywood movie ( Dingus Magee ) and Ann Beattie said of him, “Markson is as precise and dazzling as Joyce.”
According to Gabrielle Bellot in Literary Hub :
The prose of Eimear McBride’s brilliant first novel, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing , recalled many a Modernist writer, from Gertrude Stein to James Joyce—so much so that she’s tired of being compared to Joyce. And her success story is also one both old and new: her novel took nearly a decade to be picked up and acknowledged, at which point it won both the Bailey’s and Goldsmiths Prizes. Her next novel, The Lesser Bohemians , moves to London in the 1990s, featuring a tempestuous love story between a young Irish girl studying drama and an older actor. It “nearly killed” her to write, McBride told the Guardian in August. McBride is the kind of writer’s writer who I’m always excited to read more from.
According to Michael Bible in Literary Hub :
Barry’s status as a writer’s writer bothered him, I think. He always wanted to have Kurt Vonnegut numbers. But I’m glad he never reached that level in his life. Fame is a disease that infects all those who encounter it. From the outside it seems like the pinnacle of a career, the end goal of creative work. But the writing world is littered with those whose fame overshadowed their work and destroyed them from the inside out. People like Harper Lee and J.D. Salinger, who are thought of as eccentric for shunning the public. But in retrospect retreat from fame looks to be the more sane route. I think often of Carson McCullers typing out the Ballad of the Sad Cafe with one finger after a series of strokes. She was famous at the age of 22 and died at 50.
According to Nadja Spiegelman in The New York Times :
The day Lucia Berlin was born, in Juneau, Alaska, in 1936, an avalanche wiped out a third of the town, or so she later wrote. Mythic stories gravitated to her, and in death she acquired one more: that of a writer who died too young and went unrecognized in her lifetime. In truth, when she died, at 68 in 2004, she had published 76 stories and six collections, for which she received several prizes. And yet, just as in her writing, the myth is truer than the truth. She should have written more. She should have been more celebrated. In 2015 Farrar, Straus & Giroux published A Manual for Cleaning Women , a 400-page volume of her re-collected tales . It was rapturously received: Here was a writer’s writer who, at the same time, had tremendous popular appeal. The book made the New York Times best-seller list. She was canonized alongside Richard Yates and Raymond Carver, and her own heroes, William Carlos Williams and Chekhov.
According to Claire Burgess in The Rumpus :
After ten long years without a new story collection from Joy Williams, we are finally rewarded this week with The Visiting Privilege , containing thirteen new stories and thirty-three stories collected from across Williams’s career. Williams is a writer’s writer, a storysmith of the highest caliber whose creations are studied and beloved by the greatest in her field. The back of Visiting Privilege bears acclaim from the likes of Raymond Carver, George Plimpton, and James Salter. A wonderful profile of Williams in the New York Times Magazine last week contains George Saunders praising her comedy, Karen Russell calling her a “visionary,” and Ann Beattie exclaiming over her use of exclamation points. A reviewer at NPR called her “quite possibly America’s best living writer of short stories.” And the stories in Visiting Privilege are worth every inch of the praise.
According to Beth Kephart in Literary Hub :
Horgan died within days of my mailing that letter. Cardiac arrest. He was 91 years old—“the writer’s writer, the biographer’s biographer,” in the words of David McCullough; “that rarest of birds,” said Walker Percy; the story finder and teller often compared to Henry James, Leo Tolstoy, and Thomas Hardy. In memoriam, I filled my library with more Paul Horgan. I searched for others with whom I might light the Horgan flame.
According to Don Lee in Electric Literature :
When I bleat into this kind of self-pitying state, though, I think about a writer who was probably the most miserable person I have ever met: Richard Yates. His work is familiar to quite a few readers now, thanks to a retrospective by Stewart O’Nan in The Boston Review in 1999, Blake Bailey’s biography, A Tragic Honesty, in 2003, and the film adaptation of Yates’s first novel, Revolutionary Road, in 2008, but at the time of his death in 1992, he was largely forgotten, and all his books quickly fell out of print.
Even within his lifetime, he was a writer’s writer, meaning he had a small following among literati but otherwise was almost completely unknown. I came across his work by pure chance in my early twenties. I was in Burbank, California, living in my parents’ condo, which was sitting empty at the time, working odd jobs, and waiting for grad school in Boston to begin. I spent a lot of weekends in a vast used bookstore in downtown Burbank, roaming the aisles and picking out battered paperbacks, almost at random, for fifty cents a pop. I happened to buy Yates’s first collection, Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (how could I resist that title?), got hooked, and read everything else I could find by him.
According to CrimeReads :
Elmore Leonard was “the Dickens of Detroit,” “the poet laureate of wild assholes with revolvers,” and above all a master craftsman. Ever a writer’s writer, Leonard honed his craft meticulously over a career that spanned sixty years and nearly as many books, from westerns to era-defining crime novels like Get Shorty and Out of Sight to short story collections that still infuse the pop and mystery culture to this day. Leonard’s “Ten Rules of Writing,” published in the New York Times in 2001, has become gospel for many a writer, including such timeless gems as “[t]ry to leave out the part that readers tend to skip” and, most famously, “[i]f it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.” Leonard was also renowned for his opening lines. (In his “Rules,” he warns writers to skip prologues and never to start by describing the weather.) Rightly, he’s now remembered as one of the greatest lead writers in the history of crime fiction, able to engage a reader, capture a mood, and establish a world in a few brief words.
According to Gail Godwin in The New York Times :
Ward Just is both a writer’s writer and an astute tracker of human souls under duplicity and duress. He writes incisively, with striking imagery and with deep knowledge of how people in power behave, from ambassadors coping with the world’s hot spots to Midwestern community leaders suppressing a local crime. Like many distinguished novelists, Just was a journalist first, covering Washington, London and Saigon before the release of his first novel in 1970. American Romantic , his 18th, is one of his finest. It has all the qualities Just’s regular readers look forward to, yet it’s an equally good place to be introduced to his work.
According to Mary Rourke in Los Angeles Times :
He was often referred to as a “writer’s writer,” and his work was compared to that of such literary masters as Raymond Carver and John Cheever. Busch received a number of prestigious awards, including the American Academy of Arts and Letters fiction award in 1986 and the PEN/Malamud prize in 1991. Busch once said his goal was to be “a really honest, minor writer of the 20th century.”
According to Hillary Kelly in Vulture :
Critics, especially those who are also novelists, have always liked her work: “If we’re lucky, [ Person of Interest ] may turn out to be a prototypical 21st-century novel,” Francine Prose wrote in the New York Times . Of her most recent novel, My Education , Meg Wolitzer wrote, “I felt like I was in an obsessive relationship with it. I wanted to read it all the time.” Jennifer Egan, the Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist, first came to Choi’s work while reviewing American Woman . The two are now friends and neighbors in Fort Greene. “She’s really an original,” Egan says. “She’s following an internal rudder to territory that’s always fascinating.”
Which is to say, Choi is a writer’s writer: “A lot of people that I have a high opinion of have a high opinion of her,” says another friend, the author Sigrid Nunez. But the public has never quite sunk its teeth into Choi’s work, and she knows this. “By the time American Woman was getting critical accolades,” she says “it was underperforming already.”
According to Roxane Gay in The Nation :
Paul Yoon’s slender novel Snow Hunters is exquisitely written—the kind of book that makes you think, this is the work of a writer’s writer.
According to Emily Bobrow in 1843 :
Why aren’t more people familiar with the work of Sigrid Nunez? At 66, she seems doomed to be a writer’s writer, beloved by a loyal few for her clear, incisive prose, but regrettably overlooked by almost everyone else. Perhaps The Friend – her seventh novel – will change this. The book is an intimate, beautiful thing, deceptively slight at around 200 pages, but humming with insight. After the unexpected suicide of her best friend, a woman becomes the caretaker of the hulking, melancholic Great Dane he left behind. In another writer’s hands this might seem too slim a premise, but Nunez has made her book into an artfully discursive meditation on friendship, love, death, solitude, canine companionship and the life of an aging writer in New York. Far from being heavy going, this novel, written as a letter to the late friend, is peppered with wry observations, particularly those of a writer stuck teaching undergraduates. (Why, for example, do students always describe characters by their eye and hair color, “as if a story is a piece of ID like a driver’s license”?) Like a magpie, Nunez’s heroine plucks wisdom from writers, philosophers and films to weave a story about the search for meaning in dark times.
Karl Ove Knausgaard
According to Hermione Hoby in The Guardian :
[Zadie] Smith also wrote: “Everywhere I’ve gone this past year the talk, amongst bookish people, has been of this Norwegian.” And Knausgaard does indeed seem to have reached a “writer’s writer” status, like that of Marcel Proust, to whom he is most often compared. (Knausgaard has said: “I not only read À la recherche du temps perdu , but virtually imbibed it.”)
According to Sarah Nicole Prickett in Bookforum :
One afternoon I was in the office of a psychoanalyst I know, scanning the alphabetical shelves for a book by Melanie Klein on envy and gratitude, when I glimpsed old copies of Janet Malcolm’s Psychoanalysis (1981) and In the Freud Archives (1984) and saw a chance to get some perspective. Malcolm is a magazine writer’s writer: No journalist of her stature is so frequently discussed among people I know who write “pieces” while being undiscussed by people I know who don’t.
W. G. Sebald
According to Arthur Lubow in The New York Times :
When The Emigrants , his first book to be translated into English, came out in 1996, it won the critical esteem he already enjoyed in German and established him in the English-speaking world as a writer’s writer. Susan Sontag called it “an astonishing masterpiece” that “seems perfect while being unlike any book one has ever read.” In his next book, The Rings of Saturn , he composed a phantasmagoric travelogue across southeastern England. The biographer Richard Holmes, who lives in Norwich and is the author of Footsteps , itself a hybrid of biography and travel writing, calls The Rings of Saturn “a brilliant book and very, very original, with this almost deadpan humor and these wonderful shifts—it’s rather magic.”
According to Rebecca Makkai in an interview with BOMB :
He is indeed a Southern Gentleman, one of the best. And a writer’s writer. When I find another writer who loves David Huddle, we tend to embrace on the spot.
According to Joyce Carol Oates in The New Yorker :
A wonderful writer, whom I first began reading in the nineteen-sixties, when I lived in Ontario, Canada. Alice Munro has always been, among her other attributes, “a writer’s writer”—it is just a pleasure to read her work. And how encouraging to those of us who love short stories that this master of the realistic, “Chekhovian” short story is so honored. In a world so frantically politicized and partisan, the achievement of Alice Munro is truly exceptional.
According to Chris Power in The Guardian :
No living author seems to me less deserving of the term “writer’s writer” and its implication of remote obscurity than Mavis Gallant. In Michael Ondaatje’s words, “among writers she is a shared and loved and daunting secret”, and it seems a telling detail that while she remains too little known, those who read her tend to move, as I did, from ignorance to devotion with uncommon haste.
Breece D’J Pancake
According to Jon Michaud in The New Yorker :
It’s not hard to see why Pancake has become a sort of secular saint for some writers. Writing is an act of faith. Writers face endless rejection, constant self-doubt. For many writers, practicing their art requires a vow of poverty or, at the very least, a vow of doing without. Pancake suffered through all of this and more, and yet he was delivered to the afterlife of publication and acclaim.
Nevertheless, Pancake deserves to be more than a writer’s writer. In his stories, objects are constantly being unearthed: fossils and coal from the earth, skeletons and arrowheads from Indian burial grounds. The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake is a sharp, flinty object, an arrowhead left behind by a talented and tragic young author. It would be easy to allow his one collection of stories to be buried under the landslide of books published every year. But it’s worth doing a little excavating to dig it up. The past few years have seen late-in-the-day and posthumous revivals of interest in writers such as Renata Adler, Elena Ferrante, and John Williams. Get out your pickaxes. It’s high time for a Pancake revival.
According to Jennifer Brice in Ploughshares :
Although her work is widely read, Patricia Hampl is also a writer’s writer—lyric, cerebral, a boon companion at any stage of the writer’s journey. The arc of her career parallels the rise of personal writing in America in the past half-century. It may be that the genre most closely associated with memory—“that captivating mystery,” she calls it—chose her, not the other way around. Indeed, she uses the language of surrender to describe her writing process. “I conscripted myself to be the protagonist of these books,” she told National Public Radio’s Diane Rehm in 2007. “As memoir began gaining ground, I realized I was riding this strange tiger.”
According to Amy Hempel in an interview with Antenna :
That talk that Gary Lutz gave a couple of years ago is every bit as important as Diane said. Gary has been an extraordinary “writer’s writer” for years, and as more people read and listen to him, his influence grows. Gary Lutz sounds like nobody else. He is one of the most precise and daring writers I can think of. There are no half-measures in his stance regarding fiction. You can set a course by some of the things he said in that talk, which I think was also published in the Believer . He is always worth reading, and re-reading!
According to Joe Winkler in Vol. 1 Brooklyn :
There’s something of the writer’s writer status in Robert Walser. Read by few since his death, but adored by the right people (Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, Giorgio Agamben, W.G. Sebald, Susan Sontag, J.M. Coetzee and, more recently, Ben Lerner, Rivka Galchen and Benjamin Kunkel) there’s something of an in-the-know feel about reading Walser. As his writings become almost completely translated, more and more writers discover this often meek, playful, and secretive artist and feel in the presence of found genius.This status of a writer’s writer speak not only to the act of discovery, the gift of stumbling upon this unknown brilliant person, but also to the nature of the enjoyment. Walser, like other writer’s writers can do so much in one sentence as to floor anybody who values words, sentences, and the basic building blocks of literature.
According to Benjamin Percy in Esquire :
Woodrell has long been considered a world class prose stylist and storyteller: a writer’s writer. Yet despite his acclaimed novels—among them, the darkly brilliant The Death of Sweet Mister (about a deeply troubled mother and son living in a graveyard) and the PEN West–winning Tomato Red (about an out-of-control criminal who tries to make right but always ends up wrong)—he has somehow remained one of American literature’s best-kept secrets. It was not until Winter’s Bone , published in 2006, was adapted into the 2010 Oscar-nominated film about the poor, desperate, and unforgettable Ree Dolly on a mission to save her family and find her meth-cooking father that Woodrell received widespread attention.
Donald E. Westlake
According to Scott Bradfield in the Los Angeles Review of Books :
When the final volley of bullets arrives in The Comedy is Finished , one of the kidnappers tells Koo: “It sounds like the critics found you.” And while it is likely that critics might not have found or appreciated a novel this good even had it been published back in the time it was written, Westlake clearly didn’t care too much about being taken “seriously,” continuing to produce serious-even-when-funny great books in a remarkable career that never ended until he died. Over several decades of calm, passionate literary production, he never wrote a bad sentence or a bad scene, and he produced so many good books that he needed a filing cabinet of pseudonyms just to keep up. Which, come to think of it, may qualify him as that rarest beast of all: the writer’s writer’s writer. There was always too much of him to go around—which means the rest of us have plenty of time to catch up.
According to Alexander Helmintoller in Zyzzyva :
Lerner, who is first and foremost a poet, is a writer’s writer. His first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station , came out to great acclaim in 2011. He is constantly experimenting with form and the limits of plausibility—and breaks these literary conventions by fictionalizing nonfiction—frequently employing apostrophe to blend fiction and nonfiction and to reveal the mechanisms at the writer’s disposal. It is as if we have been invited into a space much more intimate than the writer’s studio: In 10:04 , we observe his relationships, his travel to shameful fertility appointments in which he must provide a “sample” for testing in order that his best friend Alex be able to move forward with intrauterine insemination. We are with the writer as he washes his hands again and again after worrying that his pants (which have touched the D-line train seats) and the remote used to navigate the clinic’s digital library of “visual stimuli” will contaminate his sample. We pass through his life in New York, his residency in Texas, back in time to meet his mentors, and even leap forward into multiple projected futures. So while the novel is largely defined by its lack of unity of plot, the scenes, however far removed they are from each other, stand alone, and are striking in their humor and wit.
According to Charles McGrath in the New York Times :
Thanks in large part to Charles Bukowski, who rediscovered Fante in the late ’70s and helped get him back in print, Bandini’s transparent neediness as a writer has endeared him to generations of younger authors, who turned Ask the Dust into a cult book—a writer’s writer’s novel—though it sold no more than a couple of thousand copies when it first came out.
According to Michelle Dean in The New Republic :
it must have been very hard to actually be Elizabeth Hardwick. Her marriage to Robert Lowell in 1949 brought her both transcendent passion and abject disaster. She spent many years playing his nursemaid, as he was repeatedly committed to mental institutions, and bearing his infidelities as a function of his madness. Perhaps worse, she was in her professional life that double-edged thing, a writer’s writer. She lived in a welter of literary gossip, surrounded by people who managed, by most measures the world cared about, to do more than she did: to write more books, win more awards, attract more readers. Mary McCarthy, Joan Didion, and Susan Sontag all counted as her friends, though she did not become as famous as they did. She managed, somehow, to present her secondary status as evidence of more seriousness. There is always something slightly vulgar, to intellectuals, about worldly success, and Hardwick benefited from the idea that the best fiction, the best criticism truly thrive at a slight remove from the masses.
According to Jonathon Sturgeon in Flavorwire :
The quintessential American writer’s writer, or critic’s writer, or whatever, Steven Millhauser has long excelled at the three major forms of fiction. In 1997 he won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Martin Dressler, a chimerical 19th century study that discovers Modernist ennui under the turtle shell of the American dream. He has been praised, too, for his novellas, by Jim Shepard and others, who rightly imply that he has more or less mastered the American incarnation of the form—even if, as Millhauser wryly explains it, the novella isn’t a form but a length.
According to Christian Lorentzen (sort of) in Vulture :
A tempting answer to the question of what happened to Fuckhead is that he became his author, who died on May 24, 2017, at age 67, of liver cancer. Sometimes the biographical fallacy isn’t a fallacy, and we know that Johnson spent a lot of his 20s in a haze of alcohol, heroin, and whatever else came his way. He quit drinking in 1978, at age 29, and his first novel, Angels , appeared in 1983. By the time of his death, he was the author of 19 books of fiction, plays, poetry, and reportage—one of which, the Vietnam War novel Tree of Smoke , won the National Book Award in 2007. He’s called a writer’s writer, but his audience is in fact legion. There are people walking around who know his books by heart. You probably know somebody like that.
And since, as we’ve established, the definition of “writer’s writer” is subjective at best, here are still more suggestions from Lucas’s Twitter thread and the writers and readers of the Literary Hub office:
Clarice Lispector, Bruno Schulz, Marie NDaiye, Rachel Cusk, John Keene, Penelope Fitzgerald, Annie Dillard, Marguerite Duras, Marguerite Yourcenar, Violette Leduc, Roberto Bolaño, Carole Maso, William Maxwell, Angela Carter, Oakley Hall, Chester Himes, Elizabeth Tallent, Mary Robison, Tom McCarthy, Lidia Yuknavitch, Vasily Grossman, Sara Gran, Ryu Murakami, Charles Baxter, Andre Dubus, Joseph Roth, James Lasdun, Alexander Chee, Toni Cade Bambara, Georges Perec, Fernando Pessoa, Gayl Jones, Anna Kavan, Kathryn Davis, Kiese Laymon, Amy Hempel, Donald Antrim, Renee Gladman, Anne Carson, Helen DeWitt, James Alan McPherson, George Saunders, Gene Wolfe, Stephen Dixon, Geoff Dyer, Eileen Chang, Muriel Spark, etc. etc. etc.
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The Best Writers of All Time
The pen is truly mightier than the sword, and if you’re a book enthusiast you know that to be true. Some of history’s most influential people were authors, writing the most important literature and political works of all time. Writers have shaped human history, capturing some of the most important historical events and reflecting the culture of a changing world around us in a profound way. Who are the best writers of all time? Vote up the authors you think are the best and see how they rank!
The famous writers on this list are the best in history, writing books, plays, essays, and poetry that has stood the test of time and make up the world's canon of literature and written work. No matter what type of writing you like to read, you can't go wrong with a book by one of these best writers of all time. Simply put, they're easily some of the most famous authors of all time.
This list of authors features the best writers ever, including, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Geoffrey Chaucer, Homer, Joseph Conrad, Charles Dickens, Herman Melleville, William Faulkner, and Edgar Allan Poe. Vote up the best authors of all time below or add the writer you think is the best who isn't already on the list.
J. R. R. Tolkien
Edgar Allan Poe
Miguel de Cervantes
C. S. Lewis
Arthur Conan Doyle
Robert Louis Stevenson
F. Scott Fitzgerald
H. G. Wells
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Hans Christian Andersen
50 Of The Best Historical Fiction Authors Writing Today
The magical thing about historical fiction is the way it truly makes you feel like you’re experiencing life in another era. The best historical fiction authors are able to combine fictional characters with real settings and events in a way that makes it all feel visceral and current.
What do we mean by best historical fiction authors?
With countless amazing writers working in this genre, we went with the following criteria for our list:
Here are our picks for 50 of the best historical fiction authors writing today, in alphabetical order.
Kate Alcott is the literary pseudonym for journalist Patricia O’Brien. Her historical novels include The Dressmaker , The Daring Ladies of Lowell , and A Touch of Stardust .
Jean M. Auel
Jean M. Auel is an American writer best known for her novels about people living in prehistoric eras. Her works include The Clan of the Cave Bear , The Mammoth Hunters , and The Land of Painted Caves .
Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright and novelist. His historical novels include Annie Dunne , A Long Long Way , and Days Without End .
Marie Benedict is an American author of historical fiction. Her notable works include The Other Einstein , Carnegie’s Maid , and The Only Woman in the Room .
Melanie Benjamin a pseudonym for the writer Melanie Hauser. Her historical novels include Alice I Have Been , The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb and The Aviator’s Wife .
Jessica Brockmole is the American author of historical novels including Letters from Skye , At the Edge of Summer , and Woman Enters Left.
Geraldine Brooks is an Australian American journalist and novelist. Her historical fiction includes March , The People of the Book , and The Secret Chord .
Elizabeth Chadwick is a British author of historical novels, including The Scarlet Lion , The Summer Queen , and The Winter Crown .
Tracy Chevalier is an American-British historical novelist. Her historical novels include Girl With A Pearl Earring , At the Edge of the Orchard , and New Boy .
Bernard Cornwell is the English author best known for his novels about Richard Sharpe, beginning with Sharpe’s Rifles . Two of his other series are The Warlord Chronicles and The Saxon Chronicle Stories .
Emma Donoghue is an Irish Canadian author. Her works of historical fiction include The Wonder and Slammerkin .
Sarah Dunant is a British author whose works of historical fiction include The Birth of Venus , In the Company of the Courtesan , and Sacred Hearts .
Esi Edugyan is the Canadian author of historical novels including The Second Life of Samuel Tyne , Half Blood Blues , and Washington Black .
Ken Follett is a British author of historical fiction including Fall of Giants , Winter of the World , and World Without End .
Margaret George is an American author of historical novels including Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles , The Memoirs of Cleopatra , and Elizabeth I.
Philippa Gregory is a British historian and author. Her works of historical fiction include The Other Boleyn Girl , The White Queen , and The Constant Princess .
Sara Gruen is a Canadian-American writer of historical fiction including Water for Elephants , At the Water’s Edge and Ape House .
Sandra Gulland is an American-born Canadian writer of historical novels including The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. , Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe and The Shadow Queen .
Conn Iggulden is a British author of non-fiction and historical fiction. His historical fiction debut was The Gates of Rome , the first in what would become his five-part Emperor series about the life of Julius Caesar.
Jeanne Kalogridis is an American author of historical novels including The Borgia Bride , The Devil’s Queen: A Novel of Catherine de’Medici , and The Orphan of Florence .
Susanna Kearsley is a Canadian author and former museum curator, whose historical novels include The Winter Sea , A Desperate Fortune , and Bellewether .
Barbara Kingsolver is an American author of historical novels including The Bean Trees , The Poisonwood Bible , The Lacuna , and Unsheltered .
Hilary Mantel is an English writer whose historical novels include Wolf Hall , Bring Up the Bodies , and A Place of Greater Safety.
Ami McKay is a Canadian author of historical fiction including The Birth House , The Virgin Cure , and The Witches of New York .
Paula McLain is an American author of historical fiction including The Paris Wife , Love and Ruin , and Circling the Sun .
Rohinton Mistry is an Indian-born Canadian author of historical novels including Such A Long Journey and A Fine Balance .
Toni Morrison is an American writer and icon, whose novels of historical fiction include The Bluest Eye , Beloved , Jazz , Paradise , and A Mercy .
Michael Ondaatje is a Sri Lanka–born Canadian writer whose historical novels include In the Skin of a Lion , The English Patient , Anil’s Ghost , and Warlight .
Kate Quinn is an American author whose works of historical fiction include The Alice Network , Mistress of Rome and The Serpent and the Pearl .
Edward Rutherfurd is a pen name for the English author Francis Edward Wintle. As Rutherford, his works of historical fiction include London: The Novel , New York: The Novel , and Paris: The Novel .
Lisa See is an American author whose historical novels include Snow Flower and the Secret Fan , Shanghai Girls , and The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane .
Eve Stachniak is a Polish-Canadian author whose works of historical fiction include The Chosen Maiden , The Winter Palace , and Empress of the Night .
Indu Sundaresan is an Indian American writer whose works of historical fiction include The Twentieth Wife , The Feast of Roses , and Shadow Princess .
Lalita Tademy is an American author, whose historical novels include Cane River , Red River and Citizens Creek .
Colm Tóibín is an Irish writer whose historical novels include Brooklyn , and The Testament of Mary .
Amor Towles is an American writer of historical fiction including Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow .
Guy Vanderhaeghe is a Canadian writer whose historical novels include The Englishman’s Boy , The Last Crossing , and A Good Man .
Sarah Waters is a Welsh writer whose historical novels include Fingersmith , Tipping the Velvet , and The Paying Guests .
Alison Weir is a British historian and novelist whose historical novels include Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey , The Marriage Game: A Novel of Elizabeth I , and Anne Boleyn: A King’s Obsession .
Beatriz Williams is an American writer whose historical novels include Along the Infinite Sea , A Certain Age , and The Summer Wives .
Kate Williams is a British historian and author, whose works of historical fiction include The Storms of War and The Edge of the Fall .
bonus! best Historical Fiction Authors: emerging
We can’t wait to see what these rising stars of historical fiction will write next!
LaShonda Katrice Barnett, author of Jam on the Vine
Tracy Borman, author of The King’s Witch
Yangsze Choo, author of The Ghost Bride
Tara Conklin, author of The House Girl
E.C. Fremantle, author of The Poison Bed
Vivien Shotwell, author of Vienna Nocturne
Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing
Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko
Kate Worsley, author of She Rises
Can’t get enough historical fiction? We’re here to help! Check out our top 50 historical fiction books that everyone should read.
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16 of the Best Fantasy Authors Ever
These brilliant fantasy authors will transport you to another world—whether a parallel universe or a post-apocalyptic version of Earth. Discover our top listens from the best in the genre.
July 13, 2020
There is no feeling quite like falling in love with a great fantasy listen, doing a little digging, and joyfully discovering that the author has an extensive catalog of audiobooks waiting for you to dive into. Fantasy offers its fans a wealth of diverse authors writing all different kinds of stories. From classic epics to the latest standalone novels, it's the perfect genre for losing yourself in a full day’s worth of listening.
With so many great fantasy authors out there with rich bibliographies filled with exciting adventures and epic worldbuilding, the conversation of who's the best naturally comes up. While there are far too many amazing writers in this genre to rank definitively, we’ve gathered up this list of some of our favorite fantasy authors. Read on and see how it matches up with your own!
George R. R. Martin
You know this New Jersey native as the author of the high fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire — the inspiration for the global phenomenon that is HBO's Game of Thrones . But Martin's work as a writer stretches all the way back to the 1970s, and his writings are an impressive testament to his status as one of the best fantasy authors of all time.
The World of Ice & Fire
By George R. R. Martin, Elio M. Garcia, Linda Antonsson
With the urban fantasy October Daye series, the Wayward Children series, and many other works of fantasy to her name, Seanan McGuire is one of the most prolific authors currently working in the genre. Spanning fantasy, sci-fi, and standalone volumes like Middlegame , McGuire's bibliography is packed with great listens.
Rosemary and Rue
By Seanan McGuire
From finishing Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series to penning his wholly original works in the Cosmere universe, including the Stormlight Archive , Brandon Sanderson has a great talent for worldbuilding and epic fantasy. Beyondwriting novels, Sanderson promotes the art of storytelling through podcasts, teaching, and articles. That passion for constructing good tales is evident in his wide body of work.
The Final Empire
By Brandon Sanderson
Although Patrick Rothfuss has only a few books to his name to date, the Kingkiller Chronicle is such a sweeping, exciting adventure with a deeply imagined magic system that it's hard not to put him on this list. With The Name of the Wind , he established a name for himself as a seriously talented writer of heroic fantasy. The Doors of Stone , the third book in the series, is due out later this year, and should further solidify Rothfuss's status as a true great of the genre.
The Name of the Wind
By Patrick Rothfuss
One could credibly make the argument that no other author on this list would be here were it not for the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, his surname has gone on to become synonymous with epic fantasy. The Lord of the Rings built many of the genre's main characteristics, such as the concept of true heroism and how unlikely bonds are forged in the face of a great evil. Although Tolkien did not invent fantasy strictly speaking, it's difficult to imagine modern fantasy without the signpost of his monumental works.
By J. R. R. Tolkien
A Nigerian-American writer, Okorafor is a relative newcomer to the genre—but her fabulous fiction marks a new beacon in fantasy. Among her works, the historical-fantasy hybrid Who Fears Death is one of the finest, featuring magic and a revenge quest in a post-apocalyptic Sudan. Okorafor's stories are often inspired by the real-world conflicts in Africa, a perspective that brings a fresh outlook to the fantasy realm.
By Nnedi Okorafor
The Witcher is a sprawling enterprise at this point, generating novels, comic books, television shows, and even various iterations as video and tabletop games. It all originates from the mind of one writer: Andrzej Sapkowski. The Polish author has written many books—including another trilogy and a standalone novel set during the Soviet-Afghan War—but the Witcher is where gold was struck. It's among the most well-known fantasy franchises out there, and that alone makes Sapkowski one of the most significant fantasy authors working right now.
The Last Wish
By Andrzej Sapkowski
One of the best things about listening to fantasy is that it grants you the ability to fully immerse yourself in an intricately imagined other world. For a great example of this, look no further than the works of Robin Hobb, including five separate series set in the Realms of the Elderlings . From the Farseer Trilogy to the Fitz and the Fool Trilogy, it's an impressive collection of stories that bring Hobb's imagined universe fully into being.
The Farseer: Assassin's Apprentice
By Robin Hobb
Dragons are one of the fantasy genre's most iconic creatures, and with good reason—dragons are super cool. In the Temeraire series, Naomi Novik creates a historical fantasy in which the Napoleonic Wars are fought not only at sea, but also in the air—aboard dragons. Novik is also the author of the excellent standalone high fantasy Uprooted , about a plain and ordinary teenage girl’s tense yet symbiotic relationship with a wizard (known as the Dragon) who controls the evil of a forest that encroaches her village.
By Naomi Novik
Tamora Pierce is the kind of writer who’s practically impossible to dislike. Her YA fantasy books are not only well-imagined and enticing, but also provide representation for young girls and women in the genre. Pierce has said that while she loved well-known fantasies like The Lord of the Rings, she couldn't understand why the books lacked teenage girls as warriors and heroes. So, when she began gravitating toward fantasy writing, she made it a point to include the types of characters missing from books she loved: strong and brave young women. Beginning with the Song of the Lioness series, Pierce's bibliography is a delight to listen to all the way through.
Alanna, The First Adventure
By Tamora Pierce
Among the youngest writers on this list, Katherine Arden is one fantasy author you will want to keep your eyes on in the coming years. This is largely due to her historical fantasy, Winternight . Combining elements of fantasy and Russian folklore with a strong coming-of-age arc for protagonist Vasilisa, the trilogy is a thrill for fans of any genre, but in particular for those passionate about fantasy.
The Winter of the Witch
By Katherine Arden
Brian Jacques famously wrote the vast majority of his Redwall series while sitting in his garden, inspired by the foliage around him and the creatures within it, with a typewriter. Jacques wrote the Redwall books non-sequentially, giving the world of Mossflower and Redwall Abbey a limitless feeling and an ongoing, complex chronology in which events of some stories affected the history of others. No other fantasy author writes quite like Jacques did; his work has a truly enduring legacy.
By Brian Jacques
There is some debate as to whether Anne McCaffrey wrote fantasy or science fiction. While the Pern novels feature dragons and other fantastical elements, the dragons specifically are created through scientific means. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame and the author herself have described her work as science fiction, while one critic listed her books as among the best fantasy novels ever. Either way, McCaffrey deserves consideration on the lists of all-time greats in both genres.
Dragonquest: Dragonriders of Pern
By Anne McCaffrey
Mariellier's most recent novel, Beautiful , released in 2019, shows that this author of historical fantasy is still writing to the highest caliber. Known widely for the Blackthorn & Grim series, as well as the Sevenwaters books, Marillier writes stories that are wide-ranging and emotionally resonant, while also being very fun to be absorbed in. She places great emphasis on the importance of human connections to the natural world. With elements of folklore, romance, and family sagas, each of Marillier's books is an unforgettable experience.
By Juliet Marillier
Sarah J. Maas
Having written the earliest drafts and ideas of her Throne of Glass series when she was still a teenager, Sarah J. Maas is a young voice in the genre who has already released several modern classics of the YA fantasy canon. With the recently released debut volume of House of Earth and Blood , the author's signature blend of exciting fantasy settings, romance, and intrigue is showcased in an adult fantasy series for the first time.
Throne of Glass
By Sarah J. Maas
You can debate until the sun comes up about the most significant fantasy series of the last 30 years, and there are good cases to be made on behalf of many of them. The conversation would be incomplete, though, without consideration of The Wheel of Time . Robert Jordan's 15-book series, which was finished by Brandon Sanderson after the author's death in 2007, is the epitome of high-concept high fantasy. Taking place on an unnamed planet that is simultaneously past and far-future Earth, The Wheel of Time is, simply put, one of the best fantasy series of all time. By that measure alone, Robert Jordan is one of the best fantasy authors ever.
The Dragon Reborn
By Robert Jordan
D.R. Baker is a writer and musician based in New York City. Their work has appeared at Book Riot, Submittable, HowlRound, and others.
- Sci-fi & Fantasy
- Best Authors
Kiera Cass Lets Her Characters Take the Reins in 'The Betrothed'
Table of Contents
What Is a Pen Name?
- Why Nonfiction Authors Should NOT Use a Pen Name?
Writing Under a Pen Name (What Authors Need to Know)
Some Authors want to use a pen name for their first book.
Maybe you’ve considered it. Maybe you’ve even used one of those online generators to come up with a larger-than-life alter ego.
I get it. There’s something intriguing about picking a flashy new name to go with your flashy new book.
And for some people, there’s a certain appeal to keeping yourself out of the limelight. After all, what if people hate your book? Or, what if your family members get upset that you told an embarrassing story about them in your memoir?
Plus, it’s hard to deny that “Carl McFlintock” is a lot catchier—and a lot easier to find on Google—than “Bob Smith.” Or that “C.S. Norman” is a lot easier to spell than “Milosz Wiśniewski.”
But let me help you here: you should resist the temptation.
If you’re writing a nonfiction book , you should not use a pen name.
No matter how common, complicated, or controversial your real name is, you’d do best to stick with it.
This post will explain what a pen name is, why some Authors use them, and 5 reasons you should not use a pen name if you’re publishing a nonfiction book.
A pen name is an assumed name an Author uses in place of their real name. You’ll occasionally hear people refer to it as a pseudonym or nom de plume .
Sometimes pen names are close to the Author’s real name. This is the case with J.K. Rowling, a.k.a., Joanne Rowling.
But sometimes they’re nothing alike, as is true with J.K. Rowling’s other pen name, Robert Galbraith, or Stephen King’s alias, Richard Bachman.
There are many reasons fiction writers use pen names. Historically, women would often write under pen names so their work would be taken more seriously. That was the case for George Eliot, whose actual name was Mary Ann Evans.
Stephen King’s publisher discouraged him from writing more than one book a year so he wouldn’t oversaturate the market. That’s why he published books under the Richard Bachman pseudonym.
After the immense success of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling submitted a manuscript as Robert Galbraith to see how publishers would respond to her latest work, apart from the hype.
Famous Authors often adopt pseudonyms if they want to branch out into different genres, as was the case with romance-writer Nora Roberts, who took on the name J.D. Robb for her futuristic thrillers.
Some Authors don’t want to reveal their true identity for personal reasons. For example, if you have a day job as a respected builder, you may not want your clients to know you also write erotica. That’s why “Rocky Flintstone,” the subject of the hit podcast My Dad Wrote a Porno , adopted his nom de plume.
Finally, some fiction Authors create alter-egos that are more suitable to their brand. Think of whimsical children’s Authors like Lemony Snicket, Pseudonymous Bosch, and Dr. Seuss.
But if you’ve been paying close attention to these examples, you’ve noticed a common theme here. All of these Authors write fiction .
If you’re writing nonfiction, you’re specifically writing to share your knowledge or tell your story . You’re writing to build your brand or expand your business.
Thus, if you’re writing nonfiction, you need to do it under your own name.
People buy nonfiction books because of the Author’s real identity. They want expert solutions to real-life problems, which means they need a real-life expert with know-how.
If you want readers to trust you, they have to know your background, hear about your first-hand experience, and connect with you under your real name.
Why Nonfiction Authors Should NOT Use a Pen Name
1. you’ll make more money using your book than selling your book.
Most nonfiction Authors don’t make a lot of money from book sales .
In fact, in 2019, Scribe’s median title sold 174 copies in the first week.
Let’s say you make a $10 profit per copy and your sales hold steady for a month. That’s $6,960. Not bad. In fact, it’s pretty good!
But—and it’s a big but—many books bring in far less than $10 a copy, and many sell fewer than 174 copies a week. Not to mention, your launch week will probably be your highest sales point, so you can’t bank on an equally steady stream of sales.
But sales are not an accurate way to assess your book’s success.
They’re also not the best way to make money off a book.
Most successful Authors make money from their books in other ways.
Your book is a marketing tool . Regardless of whether you’re hoping to make money , gain clients , enhance your visibility , or make an impact , you want your brand to be about you, not some false version of you.
Publishing a nonfiction book isn’t about selling books. It’s about selling yourself .
In order to do that, you can’t hide behind a fake name. You have to put yourself front and center and use your book to build visibility, establish credibility, and spread knowledge.
Take Bryan Miles , for example. He co-founded Belay Inc., a remote company that offers leaders help with services like bookkeeping and personal assistance. Bryan’s book, Virtual Culture , was a manifesto on the benefits of remote work. It got him a ton of high-profile media exposure. Within a year of publishing, Bryan had generated $1.1 million in new top-line revenue .
When asked about his expectations , Bryan said, “I didn’t have this vision of writing a hugely popular book or a New York Times bestseller. I wanted a tool our sales team could use for their prospecting efforts and that we could leverage to gain greater market exposure through podcasts and more tier-one media opportunities.”
Bryan knew that the book was a tool he could leverage, not an end in itself.
Just think: if he had published that book under a pseudonym, people would never have found him. They would never have recognized the Author as the founder of Belay Inc., a company that had won awards for remote work.
They wouldn’t have had any sense of who he was or why they should trust him.
If you want the gain, you have to use your name.
2. But What If People Don’t Like My Book?
You should put your best effort into making your book great . Your book should not only represent you, but it should be something that you’re proud to say represents you.
If your book doesn’t effectively reflect who you are and what you’re capable of, you’re better off not publishing it. There’s no point in hiding behind a fake name.
Of course, you might get some negative reviews , but if you’ve written a good book, the vast majority of feedback is going to be positive.
Listen, I’m no stranger to negative feedback. I’ve written 4 New York Times bestsellers, and they were all “controversial.” But I’ve also received glowing reviews, emails from people who enjoyed the books, and rich conversations with people who liked what I put out there.
Don’t worry about what everyone thinks.
Instead, really focus on your target audience . What are their problems? What do they need to hear? What help can you provide? What stories and solutions can you share?
If you write a book designed to help that niche audience, it won’t matter what a handful of haters say.
No book is universally liked.
If no one hates what you have to say, you aren’t saying anything worth saying.
I’ll put it this way. I can say, “The sky is blue,” and I probably won’t get angry emails. It’s not a controversial statement. But it’s also not an original idea. No one will care that I “went out on a limb” to say something everyone already knows.
You want to get your readers excited, which often means someone will get their feathers ruffled.
That’s okay. It’s the price of innovation.
If you’re speaking to the right audience, there will be a lot more people interested in what you have to say. They’re the ones that matter. Remember to put your feedback into perspective.
3. What If I Don’t Want People to Know It’s Me?
If you’re considering using a pen name because you don’t want people to know it’s your book, I have one question:
Chances are, it’s because you’re afraid. Maybe you’re afraid of taking risks or being judged. Maybe you’re worried about writing a bad book or looking foolish.
Whatever the case may be, fear is natural. But it’s not a good enough reason to write a book you want to hide from.
Be honest with yourself. What are you afraid of?
If you’re writing something you’re embarrassed about, that’s even more reason to claim it. The most powerful stories are the ones that tell the hard truth.
The whole point of a book is to help people think about something or do something in a new way.
If you’re not challenging them, you’re not helping them.
And if you’re not even willing to put your own name on it, then why should they listen?
You’re a real person. Own your stories. Own your knowledge. Own your mistakes.
Listen, every Author has fears . Seriously. Every Author , myself included.
That’s one reason it’s so hard to write a book. When Authors get stalled in the book-writing process, it’s usually not because they needed more research or didn’t understand how to write a conclusion . It’s because they got overwhelmed, anxious, or afraid .
Fear is the #1 book killer.
Don’t let fear take control. You’ve gotten to where you are because you have important things to say. Claim them.
4. What If My Name Doesn’t Make a Good Brand?
Whatever your name is, own it. MAKE it a good brand.
You can turn even the most complicated name in your favor. Take Scribe Author Robin Farmanfarmaian , for example. Her last name isn’t the easiest for people to remember, but she’s still killing it.
She leveraged her book, The Patient as CEO , to land some impressive media coverage and speaking engagements, including a TED talk .
She used her real name for all of that coverage. Now, all you have to do is type “Robin Far” into a search engine, and she comes up. She successfully built a HUGE brand without adopting a pen name.
She did make a clever choice with her domain name. Because Farmanfarmaian is hard to spell, she opted for robinff.com instead. But every element of branding on her site still features her full, real name.
You don’t need a great name to have a great brand.
You need great ideas, content, and drive. When you give people a reason to remember your name, they will, no matter how complicated it is.
A successful book speaks far louder than a cool pen name.
5. What If I Have the Same Name as Someone Famous?
Even if you have the same name as someone famous, you should still consider keeping your name the same.
In Britain, a famous novelist and famous comedian share the name David Mitchell. Have there been moments of confusion? Probably.
Nevertheless, they’ve both managed to have wildly successful careers in their respective areas. And the comedian David Mitchell has even written several books, without mass chaos.
But if you have the same name as someone really famous, you’re probably better off adding your middle name or initial to your publishing name. Instead of competing with the Kevin Bacon, set yourself apart as “Kevin J. Bacon.”
There are 2 caveats, though:
- Only do it if it’s consistent across your brand. If your book is published under the name “Kevin J. Bacon” people will search for you that way. If your website or consulting company is listed under “Kevin Bacon” instead of “Kevin J. Bacon,” people will be even more confused. It would’ve been better to leave off the initial to begin with.
- Don’t get your hopes up that this will end confusion. If you publish under Kevin J. Bacon, is it really going to dispel all the confusion that arises when people search for “Kevin Bacon”?
If you aren’t prepared for those caveats and don’t want to use your middle initial, it’s still better to stick with your real name instead of choosing an entirely new one.
It may seem important to have a distinctive Author’s name, but think about it from a practical standpoint. If your name is Robin Williams and someone’s searching for your book, they probably already know they’re not looking for the actor.
If they can’t find you with a simple Google search for your name, they’ll search for “Robin Williams Author.”
Don’t make things more complicated than they have to be.
Remember, you’re not trying to establish a professional writing career.
You’re an Author. You’re writing to share a message with your readers and help people solve their problems.
If there were two professional sci-fi writers with the name “Margaret Brown,” it might make sense for one of them to adopt a pseudonym. Readers might get easily confused by two fiction writers with the same name, publishing in the same genre.
Nonfiction Authors don’t have to worry as much because they come to the table with a unique message. The odds of two Margaret Browns writing about a five-step method for improving your marriage are really slim.
If you think there may be some overlap, you can always distinguish yourself in the book. (“No, I’m not that Emma Stone.”) This could be one of the very rare cases when a preface is worthwhile.
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