Writers

List of Famous Essayists

List of famous essayists, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top essayists in the world? This includes the most prominent essayists, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable essayists is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic essayists were born and what their nationality is. The people on this list are from different countries, but what they all have in common is that they're all renowned essayists.

The list you're viewing is made up of people like Gore Vidal and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Featuring American essayists and others, this list has it all. 

From reputable, prominent, and well known essayists to the lesser known essayists of today, these are some of the best professionals in the essayist field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous essayists ever?" and "What are the names of famous essayists?" then you're in the right place. 
  • Eugene Luther Gore Vidal (; born Eugene Louis Vidal, October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was an American writer and public intellectual known for his patrician manner, epigrammatic wit, and polished ...more
  • Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was an English-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, journalist, and social critic. Hitchens was the author, co-author, editor, or ...more
  • Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist and essayist, journalist and critic, whose work is characterised by lucid ...more
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion ...more
  • Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (; French: [maʁsɛl pʁust]; 10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922), known as Marcel Proust, was a French novelist, critic, and essayist best known for his ...more
  • Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (; Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой, tr. Lev Nikoláyevich Tolstóy; [lʲef nʲɪkɐˈlaɪvʲɪtɕ tɐlˈstoj] (listen); 9 September [O.S. 28 August] 1828 – 20 November [O.S. 7 ...more
  • Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. ...more
  • Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (; Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский, tr. Fyódor Mikháylovich Dostoyévskiy, IPA: [ˈfʲɵdər mʲɪˈxajləvʲɪtɕ dəstɐˈjɛfskʲɪj] (listen); 11 November 1821 – 9 February ...more
  • James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri. He moved to New York City as a young ...more
  • Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author, and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global ...more
  • Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his work in science fiction. His work explored philosophical, social, and political themes, with stories ...more
  • Johan August Strindberg (; Swedish: [ˈoːɡɵst ²strɪnːdbærj] (listen); 22 January 1849 – 14 May 1912) was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew ...more
  • Clive James (born 7 October 1939) is an Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist. He has lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1962.
  • John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009) was an American novelist, poet, short-story writer, art critic, and literary critic. One of only three writers to win the Pulitzer Prize for ...more
  • Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 [OS 7 September] – 13 December 1784), often referred to as Dr. Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, ...more
  • Victor Marie Hugo (French: [viktɔʁ maʁi yɡo] (listen); 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. Hugo is considered to be one of the ...more
  • James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright, and activist. His essays, as collected in Notes of a Native Son (1955), explore intricacies of racial, ...more
  • Lee Earle "James" Ellroy (born March 4, 1948) 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 ...more
  • John Kenneth Galbraith (October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006), also known as Ken Galbraith, was a Canadian-born economist, public official, and diplomat, and a leading proponent of 20th-century ...more
  • Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; Spanish: [ˈboɾxes] (listen); 24 August 1899 – 14 June 1986) was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in ...more
  • Larry Kramer (born June 25, 1935) is an American playwright, author, film producer, public health advocate, and LGBT rights activist. He began his career rewriting scripts while working for Columbia ...more
  • Joyce Carol Oates (born June 16, 1938) is an American writer. Oates published her first book in 1962 and has since published 58 novels, as well as a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of ...more
  • Zadie Smith FRSL (born 25 October 1975) is a contemporary English novelist, essayist, and short-story writer. Her debut novel, White Teeth (2000), immediately became a best-seller and won a number of ...more
  • Nora Ephron ( EF-rən; May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) was an American journalist, writer, and filmmaker. She is best known for her romantic comedy films and was nominated three times for the Academy ...more
  • Wallace Michael Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is an American character actor, voice artist, playwright and essayist. His film roles have included those of Wally Shawn (a fictionalized version of ...more