List of Famous Literary Critics

List of famous literary critics, with photos, bios, and other information when available. Who are the top literary critics in the world? This includes the most prominent literary critics, living and dead, both in America and abroad. This list of notable literary critics is ordered by their level of prominence, and can be sorted for various bits of information, such as where these historic literary critics 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 literary critics.

List features famous people of literary criticism like Edgar Allan Poe, John Updike and more! Featuring famous book critics of history and the present, this list has it all. 

From reputable, prominent, and well known literary critics to the lesser known literary critics of today, these are some of the best professionals in the literary critic field. If you want to answer the questions, "Who are the most famous literary critics ever?" and "What are the names of famous literary critics?" then you're in the right place. 
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  • Edgar Allan Poe (; born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States and of American literature as a whole, and he was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story. He is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre and is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction. He was the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.Poe was born in Boston, the second child of actors David and Elizabeth "Eliza" Arnold Hopkins Poe. His father abandoned the family in 1810, and his mother died the following year. Thus orphaned, the child was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia. They never formally adopted him, but he was with them well into young adulthood. Tension developed later as John Allan and Edgar Poe repeatedly clashed over debts, including those incurred by gambling, and the cost of Poe's secondary education. He attended the University of Virginia but left after a year due to lack of money. Edgar Poe quarreled with John Allan over the funds for his education and enlisted in the Army in 1827 under an assumed name. It was at this time that his publishing career began with the anonymous collection Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". Edgar Poe and John Allan reached a temporary rapprochement after the death of Frances Allan in 1829. Poe later failed as an officer cadet at West Point, declaring a firm wish to be a poet and writer, and he ultimately parted ways with John Allan. Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. He married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, in 1836. In January 1845, Poe published his poem "The Raven" to instant success, but Virginia died of tuberculosis two years after its publication. Poe planned for years to produce his own journal The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), but he died before it could be produced. He died in Baltimore on October 7, 1849, at age 40; the cause of his death is unknown and has been variously attributed to alcohol, "brain congestion", cholera, drugs, heart disease, rabies, suicide, tuberculosis, and other causes.Poe and his works influenced literature around the world, as well as specialized fields such as cosmology and cryptography. He and his work appear throughout popular culture in literature, music, films, and television. A number of his homes are dedicated museums today. The Mystery Writers of America present an annual award known as the Edgar Award for distinguished work in the mystery genre.
  • Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre (, US also ; French: [saʁtʁ]; 21 June 1905 – 15 April 1980) was a French philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism and phenomenology, and one of the leading figures in 20th-century French philosophy and Marxism. His work has also influenced sociology, critical theory, post-colonial theory, and literary studies, and continues to influence these disciplines. Sartre was also noted for his open relationship with prominent feminist and fellow existentialist philosopher and writer Simone de Beauvoir. Together, Sartre and de Beauvoir challenged the cultural and social assumptions and expectations of their upbringings, which they considered bourgeois, in both lifestyle and thought. The conflict between oppressive, spiritually destructive conformity (mauvaise foi, literally, "bad faith") and an "authentic" way of "being" became the dominant theme of Sartre's early work, a theme embodied in his principal philosophical work Being and Nothingness (L'Être et le Néant, 1943). Sartre's introduction to his philosophy is his work Existentialism Is a Humanism (L'existentialisme est un humanisme, 1946), originally presented as a lecture. He was awarded the 1964 Nobel Prize in Literature despite attempting to refuse it, saying that he always declined official honours and that "a writer should not allow himself to be turned into an institution".
  • Thomas Stearns Eliot (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965), "one of the twentieth century's major poets", was also an essayist, publisher, playwright, and literary and social critic. Born in St. Louis, Missouri to a prominent Boston Brahmin family, he moved to England in 1914 at the age of 25 and would settle, work, and marry there. He became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39, subsequently renouncing his American passport.Eliot attracted widespread attention for his poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (1915), which was seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), "The Hollow Men" (1925), "Ash Wednesday" (1930), and Four Quartets (1943). He was also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Cocktail Party (1949). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, "for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry".
  • Kevin Darnell Hart (born July 6, 1979) is an American stand-up comedian and actor. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Hart began his career by winning several amateur comedy competitions at clubs throughout New England, culminating in his first real break in 2001 when he was cast by Judd Apatow for a recurring role on the TV series Undeclared. The series lasted only one season, but he soon landed other roles in films such as Paper Soldiers (2002), Scary Movie 3 (2003), Soul Plane (2004), In the Mix (2005), and Little Fockers (2010).
  • 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 Fiction more than once (the others being Booth Tarkington and William Faulkner), Updike published more than twenty novels, more than a dozen short-story collections, as well as poetry, art and literary criticism and children's books during his career. Hundreds of his stories, reviews, and poems appeared in The New Yorker starting in 1954. He also wrote regularly for The New York Review of Books. His most famous work is his "Rabbit" series (the novels Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit at Rest; and the novella Rabbit Remembered), which chronicles the life of the middle-class everyman Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom over the course of several decades, from young adulthood to death. Both Rabbit Is Rich (1982) and Rabbit at Rest (1990) were recognized with the Pulitzer Prize. Describing his subject as "the American small town, Protestant middle class", Updike was recognized for his careful craftsmanship, his unique prose style, and his prolific output – he wrote on average a book a year. Updike populated his fiction with characters who "frequently experience personal turmoil and must respond to crises relating to religion, family obligations, and marital infidelity".His fiction is distinguished by its attention to the concerns, passions, and suffering of average Americans, its emphasis on Christian theology, and its preoccupation with sexuality and sensual detail. His work has attracted significant critical attention and praise, and he is widely considered one of the great American writers of his time. Updike's highly distinctive prose style features a rich, unusual, sometimes arcane vocabulary as conveyed through the eyes of "a wry, intelligent authorial voice" that describes the physical world extravagantly while remaining squarely in the realist tradition. He described his style as an attempt "to give the mundane its beautiful due".
  • 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 short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She has won many awards for her writing, including the National Book Award, for her novel them (1969), two O. Henry Awards, the National Humanities Medal and the Jerusalem Prize (2019). Her novels Black Water (1992), What I Lived For (1994), and Blonde (2000) and short story collections The Wheel of Love (1970) and Lovely, Dark, Deep: Stories (2014) were each finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. Oates has taught at Princeton University since 1978 and is currently the Roger S. Berlind '52 Professor Emerita in the Humanities with the Program in Creative Writing.