64.6k readers

List of Famous Essayists

64.6k views784 items

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. 
  • Gore Vidal
    Eugene Luther Gore Vidal (; born Eugene Louis Vidal, October 3, 1925 – July 31, 2012) was an...  more

    More Gore Vidal 

    The Best Gore Vidal Books#527 of 583 The Greatest Entertainers of All Time

  • Christopher Hitchens
    Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was an English-American author,...  more

    More Christopher Hitchens 

    The Best Christopher Hitchens Books#154 of 160 The Most Ridiculous Political Pundits

  • George Orwell
    Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), better known by his pen name George...  more

    More George Orwell 

    16 Things You Didn't Know About George Orwell#27 of 97 Historical Figures You Most Want to Bring Back from the Dead

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer,...  more

    More Ralph Waldo Emerson 

    The Best Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes#11 of 119 The Best American Poets

  • Marcel Proust
    Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (; French: [maʁsɛl pʁust]; 10 July 1871 – 18...  more

    More Marcel Proust 

    The Best Marcel Proust Quotes#23 of 64 The Best Jewish Authors

  • Leo Tolstoy
    Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (; Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой, tr. Lev Nikoláyevich...  more

    More Leo Tolstoy 

    #2 of 127 The Best Russian Authors#25 of 25 Famous People From History You Had No Idea Were Foxy

  • Isaac Asimov
    Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of...  more

    More Isaac Asimov 

    The Best Isaac Asimov Books#3 of 208 The Best Science-Fiction Authors

  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (; Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский, tr. Fyódor...  more

    More Fyodor Dostoyevsky 

    #2 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time#182 of 2,443 The Most Influential People of All Time

  • Langston Hughes
    James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social...  more

    More Langston Hughes 

    #105 of 342 The Greatest American Writers of All Time#11 of 250 The Best Gay Authors

  • Rachel Carson
    Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author,...  more

    More Rachel Carson 

    #79 of 233 The Best Female Authors of All Time#76 of 432 The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History

  • Philip K. Dick
    Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his...  more

    More Philip K. Dick 

    The Best Philip K. Dick Books#41 of 69 The Most Psychedelic People Ever

  • August Strindberg
    Johan August Strindberg (; Swedish: [ˈoːɡɵst ²strɪnːdbærj] (listen); 22 January 1849 – 14 May...  more

    More August Strindberg 

    The Best August Strindberg Quotes#27 of 167 The Greatest Playwrights in History

  • Clive James
    Clive James (born 7 October 1939) is an Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet,...  more

    More Clive James 

    #118 of 194 Celebrities Who Identify as Atheists#97 of 242 180+ Atheist Authors and Journalists

  • John Updike
    John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009) was an American novelist, poet,...  more

    More John Updike 

    #63 of 78 History's Greatest Essayists#19 of 34 The Most Unbearably Pretentious Authors In Literary History

  • Samuel Johnson

    Samuel Johnson

    Samuel Johnson (18 September 1709 [OS 7 September] – 13 December 1784), often referred to as...  more


    The Best Samuel Johnson Quotes#45 of 111 The Best English Poets of All Time

  • Victor Hugo
    Victor Marie Hugo (French: [viktɔʁ maʁi yɡo] (listen); 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a...  more

    More Victor Hugo 

    The Best Victor Hugo Quotes#44 of 108 The Best Catholic Authors

  • James Baldwin
    James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright,...  more

    More James Baldwin 

    #18 of 19 Historical Figures Who Were Accomplishing Feats Of Greatness A Lot Younger Than You Thought#4 of 31 The Best African American Poets of All Time

  • James Ellroy
    Lee Earle "James" Ellroy (born March 4, 1948) is an American crime fiction writer and...  more

    More James Ellroy 

    #145 of 309 Famous People Most Likely to Live to 100#12 of 172 The Best Crime Authors

  • John Kenneth Galbraith
    John Kenneth Galbraith (October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006), also known as Ken Galbraith, was...  more

    More John Kenneth Galbraith 

    The Best John Kenneth Galbraith Quotes#149 of 432 Famous Tall Men Over 6'2

  • Jorge Luis Borges
    Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; Spanish: [ˈboɾxes] (listen); 24 August 1899 –...  more

    More Jorge Luis Borges 

    #97 of 183 The Best Fantasy Authors#579 of 1,355 The Greatest Minds of All Time

  • Larry Kramer
    Larry Kramer (born June 25, 1935) is an American playwright, author, film producer, public...  more

    More Larry Kramer 

    #101 of 105 The Most Influential Contemporary Americans#45 of 50 The Most Important LGBTQ+ Thinkers of All Time

  • Joyce Carol Oates
    Joyce Carol Oates (born June 16, 1938) is an American writer. Oates published her first book...  more

    More Joyce Carol Oates 

    The Best Joyce Carol Oates Books#23 of 209 The Greatest Living Writers & Most Famous Authors Today

  • Zadie Smith
    Zadie Smith FRSL (born 25 October 1975) is a contemporary English novelist, essayist, and...  more
  • Nora Ephron
    Nora Ephron ( EF-rən; May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) was an American journalist, writer, and...  more

    More Nora Ephron 

    Every Nora Ephron Movie, Ranked Best to Worst#49 of 120 The Best Comedy Directors in Film History

  • Wallace Shawn
    Wallace Michael Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is an American character actor, voice artist,...  more

    More Wallace Shawn 

    #105 of 146 The Best Hallmark Channel Actors#8 of 27 The Best Actors And Actresses Whose Whole Thing Is Their Voice