Writers List of Famous Essayists

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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 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Christopher Hitchens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

George Orwell is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 21 January 1950), better known by his psuedonymGeorge Orwell, was an English author. His work is marked by a profound conscientiousness of social injustice, an ...more

Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Marcel Proust is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust was a French novelist, critic, and essayist best known for his monumental novel À la recherche du temps perdu, published in seven parts ...more

Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, commonly referred to as Leo Tolstoy, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright and philosopher who primarily wrote novels and short ...more

Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky, sometimes transliterated Dostoevsky, was a Russian novelist, short story writer, essayist, journalist and philosopher. Dostoyevsky's literary works explore human ...more

Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Rachel Carson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Rachel Louise Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Carson began ...more

Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist and philosopher whose published works mainly belong to the genre of science fiction. Dick explored philosophical, ...more

August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Johan August Strindberg was a Swedish playwright, novelist, poet, essayist and painter. A prolific writer who often drew directly on his personal experience, Strindberg's career spanned four ...more

Clive James is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Clive James AO CBE is an Australian-British author, critic, broadcaster, poet, translator and memoirist, best known for his autobiographical series Unreliable Memoirs, for his chat shows and ...more

John Updike is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Essayists
John Hoyer Updike was an American novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic. Updike's most famous work is his "Rabbit" series, which chronicles the life of ...more

Samuel Johnson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Samuel Johnson, often referred to as Dr Johnson, was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and ...more

Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. In France, Hugo's literary fame comes ...more

James Baldwin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

James Ellroy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

John Kenneth Galbraith is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Essayists
John Kenneth "Ken" Galbraith, OC was a Canadian and, later, American economist, public official, and diplomat, and a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism. His books on ...more

Jorge Luis Borges is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges KBE, was an Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish language literature. His work embraces the ...more

Larry Kramer is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Joyce Carol Oates is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Joyce Carol Oates is an American author. Oates published her first book in 1963 and has since published over forty novels, as well as a number of plays and novellas, and many volumes of short ...more

Zadie Smith is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Zadie Smith FRSL is an English novelist, essayist, and short story writer. As of 2012, she has published four novels, all of which have received substantial critical praise. In 2003, she was ...more

Nora Ephron is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Nora Ephron was an American journalist, essayist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, director, and blogger. Ephron is best known for her romantic comedies and was nominated three ...more

Wallace Shawn is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Wallace Michael "Wally" Shawn is an American stand-up comedian, actor, singer, dancer, playwright, essayist, and voice artist, best known for appearing in films, such as Wally Shawn in ...more

Jean Genet is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Jean Genet was a French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but later took to writing. His major works include ...more

Anne Sexton is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Anne Sexton was an American poet, known for her highly personal, confessional verse. She won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1967 for her book Live or Die. Themes of her poetry include her long ...more

Taslima Nasrin is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Taslima Nasrin is a Bangladeshi author and former physician who has lived in exile since 1994. From a literary profile as a poet in the late 1980s, she rose to global fame by the end of the 20th ...more

Daniel Dennett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Daniel Clement Dennett III is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, ...more

Charles Baudelaire is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal, ...more

David Mamet is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list List of Famous Essayists
David Alan Mamet is an American playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and film director. As a playwright, Mamet has won a Pulitzer Prize and received Tony nominations for Glengarry Glen Ross and ...more

Norman Mailer is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Norman Kingsley Mailer was an American novelist, journalist, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor and political activist. His first novel, The Naked and the Dead, was published in 1948. His ...more

Milton Friedman is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician and writer who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades. He received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic ...more

Anthony Burgess is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list List of Famous Essayists
John Anthony Burgess Wilson, FRSL – who published under the pen name Anthony Burgess – was an English writer and composer. From relatively modest beginnings in a Catholic family in Manchester, ...more

W. H. Auden is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Wystan Hugh Auden was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, an American citizen, and regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its ...more

John Ashbery is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list List of Famous Essayists
John Lawrence Ashbery is an American poet. He has published more than twenty volumes of poetry and won nearly every major American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his ...more

David Rakoff is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Jack London is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Giacomo Leopardi is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Giacomo Taldegardo Francesco di Sales Saverio Pietro Leopardi was an Italian poet, philosopher, essayist and philologist. Although he lived in a secluded town in the ultra-conservative Papal ...more

Robert Hayden is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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

Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list List of Famous Essayists
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, Death of a Salesman, ...more

Fay Weldon is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Fay Weldon CBE FRSL is an English author, essayist and playwright, whose work has been associated with feminism. In her fiction, Weldon typically portrays contemporary women who find themselves ...more

Saul Bellow is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born American writer. For his literary contributions, Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the National Medal of Arts. He is the ...more

Lu Xun is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Lǔ Xùn or Lu Hsün, was the pen name of Zhou Shuren, a leading figure of modern Chinese literature. Writing in Vernacular Chinese as well as Classical Chinese, Lu Xun was a novelist, ...more

Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in Paris for most of his adult life and wrote in both English and French. His work ...more

Philip Roth is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Philip Milton Roth is an American novelist. He first gained attention with the 1959 novella Goodbye, Columbus, an irreverent and humorous portrait of American-Jewish life for which he received ...more

Samuel R. Delany is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Samuel Ray Delany, Jr., Chip Delany to his friends, is an American author, professor and literary critic. His work includes fiction, memoir, criticism, and essays on sexuality and society. His ...more

Joan Didion is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Joan Didion is an American author best known for her novels and her literary journalism. Her novels and essays explore the disintegration of American morals and cultural chaos, where the ...more

Colm Tóibín is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Colm Tóibín is an Irish novelist, short story writer, essayist, playwright, journalist, critic and poet. Tóibín is currently Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor ...more

Salman Rushdie is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list List of Famous Essayists
Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is a British Indian novelist and essayist. His second novel, Midnight's Children, won the Booker Prize in 1981. Much of his fiction is set on the Indian subcontinent. He ...more