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The Most Famous

WRITERS from Czechia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Czech Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 5,755 Writers, 81 of which were born in Czechia. This makes Czechia the birth place of the 16th most number of Writers behind Sweden and Greece.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Czech Writers of all time. This list of famous Czech Writers is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Czech Writers.

Photo of Milan Kundera

1. Milan Kundera (1929 - 2023)

With an HPI of 77.72, Milan Kundera is the most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 75 different languages on wikipedia.

Milan Kundera (UK: KU(U)N-dər-ə, Czech: [ˈmɪlan ˈkundɛra] ; 1 April 1929 – 11 July 2023) was a Czech and French novelist. Kundera went into exile in France in 1975, acquiring citizenship in 1981. His Czechoslovak citizenship was revoked in 1979, but he was granted Czech citizenship in 2019.Kundera's best-known work is The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Before the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the country's ruling Communist Party of Czechoslovakia banned his books. He led a low-profile life and rarely spoke to the media. He was thought to be a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature and was also a nominee for other awards.Kundera was awarded the Jerusalem Prize in 1985, the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 1987, and the Herder Prize in 2000. In 2021, he received the Golden Order of Merit from the president of Slovenia, Borut Pahor.

Photo of Rainer Maria Rilke

2. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 - 1926)

With an HPI of 76.78, Rainer Maria Rilke is the 2nd most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 85 different languages.

René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), known as Rainer Maria Rilke (German: [ˈʁaɪnɐ maˈʁiːa ˈʁɪlkə]), was an Austrian poet and novelist. Acclaimed as an idiosyncratic and expressive poet, he is widely recognized as a significant writer in the German language. His work is viewed by critics and scholars as possessing undertones of mysticism, exploring themes of subjective experience and disbelief. His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence. Rilke traveled extensively throughout Europe, finally settling in Switzerland, which provided the inspiration for many of his poems. While Rilke is best known for his contributions to German literature, he also wrote in French. Among English-language readers, his best-known works include two poetry collections: Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien) and Sonnets to Orpheus (Die Sonette an Orpheus), a semi-autobiographical novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge), and a collection of ten letters published posthumously Letters to a Young Poet (Briefe an einen jungen Dichter). In the later 20th century, his work found new audiences in citations by self-help authors and frequent quotations in television shows, books and motion pictures.

Photo of Václav Havel

3. Václav Havel (1936 - 2011)

With an HPI of 75.84, Václav Havel is the 3rd most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 101 different languages.

Václav Havel (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvaːtslav ˈɦavɛl] ; 5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011) was a Czech statesman, author, poet, playwright and dissident. Havel served as the last president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until 1992, prior to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on 31 December, before he became the first president of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. He was the first democratically elected president of either country after the fall of communism. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays and memoirs. His educational opportunities having been limited by his bourgeois background, when freedoms were limited by the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, Havel first rose to prominence as a playwright. In works such as The Garden Party and The Memorandum, Havel used an absurdist style to criticize the Communist system. After participating in the Prague Spring and being blacklisted after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, he became more politically active and helped found several dissident initiatives, including Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted. His political activities brought him under the surveillance of the StB secret police, and he spent multiple periods as a political prisoner, the longest of his imprisoned terms being nearly four years, between 1979 and 1983. Havel's Civic Forum party played a major role in the Velvet Revolution that toppled the Communist system in Czechoslovakia in 1989. He assumed the presidency shortly thereafter, and was re-elected in a landslide the following year and after Slovak independence in 1993. Havel was instrumental in dismantling the Warsaw Pact and enlargement of NATO membership eastward. Many of his stances and policies, such as his opposition to Slovak independence, condemnation of the treatment of Sudeten Germans and their mass expulsion from Czechoslovakia after World War II, as well as granting of general amnesty to all those imprisoned under the Communist era, were very controversial domestically. By the end of his presidency, he enjoyed greater popularity abroad than at home. Havel continued his life as a public intellectual after his presidency, launching several initiatives including the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, the VIZE 97 Foundation, and the Forum 2000 annual conference. Havel's political philosophy was one of anti-consumerism, humanitarianism, environmentalism, civil activism, and direct democracy. He supported the Czech Green Party from 2004 until his death. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award. The 2012–2013 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour. He is considered by some to be one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century. The international airport in Prague was renamed Václav Havel Airport Prague in 2012.

Photo of Karel Čapek

4. Karel Čapek (1890 - 1938)

With an HPI of 73.39, Karel Čapek is the 4th most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 75 different languages.

Karel Čapek (Czech: [ˈkarɛl ˈtʃapɛk] ; 9 January 1890 – 25 December 1938) was a Czech writer, playwright, critic and journalist. He has become best known for his science fiction, including his novel War with the Newts (1936) and play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots, 1920), which introduced the word robot. He also wrote many politically charged works dealing with the social turmoil of his time. Influenced by American pragmatic liberalism, he campaigned in favor of free expression and strongly opposed the rise of both fascism and communism in Europe.Though nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature seven times, Čapek never received it. However, several awards commemorate his name, such as the Karel Čapek Prize, awarded every other year by the Czech PEN Club for literary work that contributes to reinforcing or maintaining democratic and humanist values in society. He also played a key role in establishing the Czechoslovak PEN Club as a part of International PEN.Čapek died on the brink of World War II as the result of a lifelong medical condition. His legacy as a literary figure became well established after the war.

Photo of Jaroslav Hašek

5. Jaroslav Hašek (1883 - 1923)

With an HPI of 70.68, Jaroslav Hašek is the 5th most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.

Jaroslav Hašek (Czech: [ˈjaroslaf ˈɦaʃɛk]; 1883–1923) was a Czech writer, humorist, satirist, journalist, bohemian, first anarchist and then communist, and commissar of the Red Army against the Czechoslovak Legion. He is best known for his novel The Fate of the Good Soldier Švejk during the World War, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures. The novel has been translated into about 60 languages, making it the most translated novel in Czech literature.

Photo of Max Brod

6. Max Brod (1884 - 1968)

With an HPI of 68.74, Max Brod is the 6th most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.

Max Brod (Hebrew: מקס ברוד; 27 May 1884 – 20 December 1968) was a Bohemian-born Israeli author, composer, and journalist. Although he was a prolific writer in his own right, he is best remembered as the friend and biographer of writer Franz Kafka. Kafka named Brod as his literary executor, instructing Brod to burn his unpublished work upon his death. Brod refused and had Kafka's works published instead. In 1939, as the Nazis occupied Prague, he immigrated to Mandatory Palestine, taking with him a suitcase of Kafka's papers, many of them unpublished notes, diaries, and sketches.

Photo of Bohumil Hrabal

7. Bohumil Hrabal (1914 - 1997)

With an HPI of 67.47, Bohumil Hrabal is the 7th most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Bohumil Hrabal (Czech pronunciation: [ˈboɦumɪl ˈɦrabal]; 28 March 1914 – 3 February 1997) was a Czech writer, often named among the best Czech writers of the 20th century.

Photo of Milena Jesenská

8. Milena Jesenská (1896 - 1944)

With an HPI of 66.48, Milena Jesenská is the 8th most famous Czech Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Milena Jesenská (Czech pronunciation: [ˈmɪlɛna ˈjɛsɛnskaː]; 10 August 1896 – 17 May 1944) was a Czech journalist, writer, editor and translator.

Photo of Franz Werfel

9. Franz Werfel (1890 - 1945)

With an HPI of 65.16, Franz Werfel is the 9th most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 43 different languages.

Franz Viktor Werfel (German: [fʁant͡s ˈvɛʁfl̩] ; 10 September 1890 – 26 August 1945) was an Austrian-Bohemian novelist, playwright, and poet whose career spanned World War I, the Interwar period, and World War II. He is primarily known as the author of The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933, English tr. 1934, 2012), a novel based on events that took place during the Armenian genocide of 1915, and The Song of Bernadette (1941), a novel about the life and visions of the French Catholic saint Bernadette Soubirous, which was made into a Hollywood film of the same name.

Photo of Karl Kraus

10. Karl Kraus (1874 - 1936)

With an HPI of 64.74, Karl Kraus is the 10th most famous Czech Writer.  His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.

Karl Kraus (28 April 1874 – 12 June 1936) was an Austrian writer and journalist, known as a satirist, essayist, aphorist, playwright and poet. He directed his satire at the press, German culture, and German and Austrian politics. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature three times.

Pantheon has 81 people classified as writers born between 1045 and 1967. Of these 81, 11 (13.58%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Ivan Klíma, Pavel Kohout, and Princess Michael of Kent. The most famous deceased writers include Milan Kundera, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Václav Havel. As of April 2022, 8 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Jan Blahoslav, Daniela Hodrová, and Ladislav Fuks.

Living Writers

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Deceased Writers

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Newly Added Writers (2022)

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Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.