American People Famous Essayists from the United States

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List of notable or famous essayists from the United States, with bios and photos, including the top essayists born in the United States and even some popular essayists who immigrated to the United States. If you're trying to find out the names of famous American essayists then this list is the perfect resource for you. These essayists are among the most prominent in their field, and information about each well-known essayist from the United States is included when available.

This list is made up of a variety of people, including Gore Vidal and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

This historic essayists from the United States list can help answer the questions "Who are some American essayists of note?" and "Who are the most famous essayists from the United States?" These prominent essayists of the United States may or may not be currently alive, but what they all have in common is that they're all respected American essayists.

Use this list of renowned American essayists to discover some new essayists that you aren't familiar with. Don't forget to share this list by clicking one of the social media icons at the top or bottom of the page. (164 items)

1
Gore Vidal is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 87 (1925-2012) Gore Vidal was an American writer and a public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished style of writing. As Eugene Louis Vidal, he was born to a political ...more

2
Christopher Hitchens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 62 (1949-2011) Christopher Eric Hitchens was an Anglo-American author, literary critic and journalist. He contributed to New Statesman, The Nation, The Atlantic, London Review of Books, The Times Literary ...more

3
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 79 (1803-1882) Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient ...more

4
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 72 (1920-1992) Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was prolific and ...more

5
Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 65 (1902-1967) James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz ...more

6
James Baldwin is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 63 (1924-1987) James Arthur Baldwin was an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son, explore palpable yet unspoken intricacies of ...more

7
James Ellroy is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 70 Lee Earle "James" Ellroy is an American crime fiction writer and essayist. Ellroy has become known for a telegrammatic prose style in his most recent work, wherein he frequently omits ...more

8
Larry Kramer is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 83 Larry Kramer is an American playwright, author, public health advocate, and LGBT rights activist. He began his career rewriting scripts while working for Columbia Pictures, which led him to ...more

9
Norman Mailer is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 84 (1923-2007) Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor and political activist. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, his book Armies of the Night was ...more

10
David Rakoff is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 48 (1964-2012) David Benjamin Rakoff was a Canadian-born American writer based in New York City who was noted for his humorous, sometimes autobiographical non-fiction essays. Rakoff was an essayist, ...more

11
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 40 (1876-1916) John Griffith "Jack" London was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the ...more

12
Robert Hayden is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 67 (1913-1980) Robert Hayden was an American poet, essayist, educator. He served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1976–78, a role today known as US Poet Laureate. He was the first ...more

13
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 90 (1915-2005) Arthur Asher Miller was a prolific American playwright, essayist, and prominent figure in twentieth-century American theatre. Among his most popular plays are All My Sons, The Crucible and A ...more

14
Wallace Thurman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 32 (1902-1934) Wallace Henry Thurman was an American novelist active during the Harlem Renaissance. He also wrote essays, worked as an editor, and was a publisher of short-lived newspapers and literary ...more

15
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 39 (1925-1964) Mary Flannery O'Connor was an American writer and essayist. An important voice in American literature, she wrote two novels and 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. ...more

16
Lawrence Ferlinghetti is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 99 Lawrence Ferlinghetti is an American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. Author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art ...more

17
Bruce Benderson is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 72 Bruce Benderson is an American author, born to Jewish parents of Russian descent, who lives in New York. He attended William Nottingham High School in Syracuse, New York and then Binghamton ...more

18
Ralph Ellison is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 81 (1913-1994) Ralph Waldo Ellison was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer. He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the ...more

19
Richard Rodriguez is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 74 Richard Rodriguez is an American writer who became famous as the author of Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, a narrative about his intellectual development.

20
Robert Rodi is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 63 Robert Rodi is an American novelist, playwright, comic book writer, essayist, and performance artist.

21
John Perry Barlow is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 71 John Perry Barlow is an American poet and essayist, a retired Wyoming cattle rancher, and a cyberlibertarian political activist who has been associated with both the Democratic and Republican ...more

22
Jonathan Franzen is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 59 Jonathan Earl Franzen is an American novelist and essayist. His 2001 novel, The Corrections, a sprawling, satirical family drama, drew widespread critical acclaim, earned Franzen a National Book ...more

23
Droz is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
age 49 Darren A. Drozdov is an American essayist, former gridiron football player and retired professional wrestler who competed in the World Wrestling Federation in 1998 and 1999 under the ring names ...more

24
Susan Sontag is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 71 (1933-2004) Susan Sontag was an American writer and filmmaker, teacher and political activist, publishing her first major work, the essay "Notes on 'Camp'", in 1964. Her best known works include ...more

25
Archibald MacLeish is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Essayists from the United States
Dec. at 90 (1892-1982) Archibald MacLeish was an American poet, writer, and the Librarian of Congress. He is associated with the Modernist school of poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes for his work.