The Most Famous

WRITERS from Estonia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Estonian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 7,302 Writers, 25 of which were born in Estonia. This makes Estonia the birth place of the 42nd most number of Writers behind Latvia, and Slovenia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Estonian Writers of all time. This list of famous Estonian 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 Estonian Writers.

Photo of Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald

1. Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (1803 - 1882)

With an HPI of 60.35, Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald is the most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 40 different languages on wikipedia.

Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (26 December [O.S. 14 December] 1803 – 25 August [O.S. 13 August] 1882) was an Estonian writer who is considered to be the father of the national literature for the country. He is the author of Estonian national epic Kalevipoeg.

Photo of Jaan Kross

2. Jaan Kross (1920 - 2007)

With an HPI of 59.04, Jaan Kross is the 2nd most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Jaan Kross (19 February 1920 – 27 December 2007) was an Estonian writer. He won the 1995 International Nonino Prize in Italy.

Photo of Lydia Koidula

3. Lydia Koidula (1843 - 1886)

With an HPI of 58.01, Lydia Koidula is the 3rd most famous Estonian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Lydia Emilie Florentine Jannsen (24 December [O.S. 12 December] 1843 – 11 August [O.S. 30 July] 1886), known by her pen name Lydia Koidula, was an Estonian poet. Her sobriquet means 'Lydia of the Dawn' in Estonian. It was given to her by the writer Carl Robert Jakobson. She is also frequently referred to as Koidulaulik – 'Singer of the Dawn'. In Estonia, like elsewhere in Europe, writing was not considered a suitable career for a respectable young lady in the mid-19th century. Koidula's poetry and her newspaper work for her populist father, Johann Voldemar Jannsen (1819–1890) remained anonymous. In spite of this, she was a major literary figure, the founder of Estonian theatre, and closely allied to Carl Robert Jakobson (1841–1882), the influential radical and Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (1803–1882), writer of the Estonian national epic, Kalevipoeg (The Son of Kalev). Over time, she has achieved the status of the national poet of Estonia.

Photo of Anton Hansen Tammsaare

4. Anton Hansen Tammsaare (1878 - 1940)

With an HPI of 57.11, Anton Hansen Tammsaare is the 4th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

Anton Hansen (18 (O.S.)/30 January 1878 – 1 March 1940), better known by his pseudonym A. H. Tammsaare and its variants, was an Estonian writer whose pentalogy Truth and Justice (Tõde ja õigus; 1926–1933) is considered one of the major works of Estonian literature and "The Estonian Novel".

Photo of Jaan Kaplinski

5. Jaan Kaplinski (1941 - 2021)

With an HPI of 55.19, Jaan Kaplinski is the 5th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Jaan Kaplinski (22 January 1941 – 8 August 2021) was an Estonian poet, philosopher, politician, and culture critic, known for his focus on global issues and support for left-wing/liberal thinking. He was influenced by Eastern philosophical schools (Taoism and especially Buddhism).He worked as a translator, editor, and sociologist and as an ecologist at the Tallinn Botanic Garden. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Photo of Marie Under

6. Marie Under (1883 - 1980)

With an HPI of 55.09, Marie Under is the 6th most famous Estonian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Marie Under (27 March [O.S. 15 March] 1883 – 25 September 1980) was an Estonian poet. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 12 separate years.

Photo of Balthasar Russow

7. Balthasar Russow (1536 - 1600)

With an HPI of 54.47, Balthasar Russow is the 7th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 16 different languages.

Balthasar Russow (1536–1600) was one of the most important Livonian and Estonian chroniclers.Russow was born in Reval, Livonia (now Tallinn, Estonia). He was educated at an academy in Stettin, Pomerania (now Szczecin, Poland). He was the Lutheran pastor of the Estonian congregation at the Holy Spirit Church in Reval from 1566 until his death. Russow is most famous for his Low German-language chronicle Chronica der Provinz Lyfflandt describing the history of Livonia, especially the decline of the Livonian Order and the period of the Livonian War (1558–83). The chronicle was first printed in Rostock in Mecklenburg in 1578 and quickly sold out. The revised edition was printed in 1584. In his work Russow was highly critical of the squander and immorality of the Livonian upper classes. He also complained about the superstitious beliefs and pagan traditions of the Estonian peasants and the venality of mercenary armies during the wars. He praised the rule of the new regional power, Sweden. Russow is the main character in Kolme katku vahel (Between Three Plagues), a four-part historical novel by modern Estonian writer Jaan Kross, the first part published in 1970.

Photo of Hella Wuolijoki

8. Hella Wuolijoki (1886 - 1954)

With an HPI of 52.65, Hella Wuolijoki is the 8th most famous Estonian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Hella Wuolijoki (née Ella Marie Murrik; 22 July 1886 – 2 February 1954), also known by the pen name Juhani Tervapää, was an Estonian-born Finnish writer known for her Niskavuori series.

Photo of Eduard Vilde

9. Eduard Vilde (1865 - 1933)

With an HPI of 52.61, Eduard Vilde is the 9th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Eduard Vilde (4 March [O.S. 20 February] 1865 – 26 December 1933) was an Estonian writer, a pioneer of critical realism in Estonian literature, and a diplomat. He was the author of classics such as The War in Mahtra and The Milkman from Mäeküla. He was one of the most revered figures in Estonian literature and is generally credited as being the country's first professional writer.

Photo of Carl Robert Jakobson

10. Carl Robert Jakobson (1841 - 1882)

With an HPI of 51.64, Carl Robert Jakobson is the 10th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Carl Robert Jakobson (26 July [O.S. 14 July] 1841 – 19 March [O.S. 7 March] 1882) was an Estonian writer, politician and teacher active in the Governorate of Livonia, Russian Empire. He was one of the most important persons of the Estonian national awakening in the second half of the 19th century.


Pantheon has 34 people classified as Estonian writers born between 1536 and 1973. Of these 34, 8 (23.53%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Estonian writers include Paul-Eerik Rummo, Arvo Valton, and Viivi Luik. The most famous deceased Estonian writers include Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, Jaan Kross, and Lydia Koidula. As of April 2024, 9 new Estonian writers have been added to Pantheon including Eno Raud, August Jakobson, and August Alle.

Living Estonian Writers

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Deceased Estonian Writers

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Newly Added Estonian Writers (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 24 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.