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

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  • Christopher Hitchens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was an English-American author,... more
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  • 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 pen name George... more

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  • Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was an American essayist, lecturer,... more

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  • Marcel Proust is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (; French: [maʁsɛl pʁust]; 10 July 1871 – 18... more
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  • Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (; Russian: Лев Николаевич Толстой, tr. Lev Nikoláyevich... more
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  • Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Isaac Asimov (; c. January 2, 1920 – April 6, 1992) was an American writer and professor of... more

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  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky (; Russian: Фёдор Михайлович Достоевский, tr. Fyódor... more

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  • Langston Hughes is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social... more

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  • Rachel Carson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist, author,... more

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  • Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American writer known for his... more

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  • August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Johan August Strindberg (; Swedish: [ˈoːɡɵst ²strɪnːdbærj] (listen); 22 January 1849 – 14 May... more
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  • Clive James is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Clive James (born 7 October 1939) is an Australian author, critic, broadcaster, poet,... more

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    #36 of 78 History's Greatest Essayists#105 of 194 Celebrities Who Identify as Atheists

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  • John Updike is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009) was an American novelist, poet,... more
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  • Samuel Johnson is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list List of Famous Essayists

    Samuel Johnson

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


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  • Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Victor Marie Hugo (French: [viktɔʁ maʁi yɡo] (listen); 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a... more

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  • James Baldwin is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    James Arthur Baldwin (August 2, 1924 – December 1, 1987) was an American novelist, playwright,... more
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  • James Ellroy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Lee Earle "James" Ellroy (born March 4, 1948) is an American crime fiction writer and... more

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  • John Kenneth Galbraith is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    John Kenneth Galbraith (October 15, 1908 – April 29, 2006), also known as Ken Galbraith, was... more

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  • Jorge Luis Borges is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo (; Spanish: [ˈboɾxes] (listen); 24 August 1899 –... more

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  • Larry Kramer is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Larry Kramer (born June 25, 1935) is an American playwright, author, film producer, public... more

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  • Joyce Carol Oates is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Joyce Carol Oates (born June 16, 1938) is an American writer. Oates published her first book... more
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  • Zadie Smith is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Zadie Smith FRSL (born 25 October 1975) is a contemporary English novelist, essayist, and... more

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  • Nora Ephron is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Nora Ephron ( EF-rən; May 19, 1941 – June 26, 2012) was an American journalist, writer, and... more

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  • Wallace Shawn is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list List of Famous Essayists
    Wallace Michael Shawn (born November 12, 1943) is an American character actor, voice artist,... more

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