The Most Famous

WRITERS from Estonia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Estonian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 5,794 Writers, 20 of which were born in Estonia. This makes Estonia the birth place of the 44th most number of Writers behind Belarus and Lithuania.

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 Jaan Kross

1. Jaan Kross (1920 - 2007)

With an HPI of 69.41, Jaan Kross is the most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 33 different languages on wikipedia.

Jaan Kross (19 February 1920 – 27 December 2007) was an Estonian writer. He was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature during the early 1990s. He won the 1995 International Nonino Prize in Italy.

Photo of Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald

2. Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald (1803 - 1882)

With an HPI of 68.12, Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald is the 2nd most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

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 Lydia Koidula

3. Lydia Koidula (1843 - 1886)

With an HPI of 66.78, Lydia Koidula is the 3rd most famous Estonian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Lydia Emilie Florence 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-nineteenth-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).

Photo of Anton Hansen Tammsaare

4. Anton Hansen Tammsaare (1878 - 1940)

With an HPI of 65.26, Anton Hansen Tammsaare is the 4th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Anton Hansen (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 Marie Under

5. Marie Under (1883 - 1980)

With an HPI of 63.89, Marie Under is the 5th most famous Estonian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Marie Under (27 March [O.S. 15 March] 1883 – 25 September 1980) was one of the greatest Estonian poets. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature no fewer than eight times.

Photo of Carl Robert Jakobson

6. Carl Robert Jakobson (1841 - 1882)

With an HPI of 62.03, Carl Robert Jakobson is the 6th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 23 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.

Photo of Eduard Vilde

7. Eduard Vilde (1865 - 1933)

With an HPI of 62.03, Eduard Vilde is the 7th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 22 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. 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 Jaan Kaplinski

8. Jaan Kaplinski (1941 - )

With an HPI of 61.38, Jaan Kaplinski is the 8th most famous Estonian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Jaan Kaplinski (22 January 1941 – 8 August 2021) was an Estonian poet, philosopher, 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).Kaplinski was born in Tartu, and studied Romance language and linguistics at the University of Tartu, graduating as a French philologist in 1964. He worked as a translator, editor, and sociologist, and ecologist at the Tallinn Botanic Garden. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Photo of Hella Wuolijoki

9. Hella Wuolijoki (1886 - 1954)

With an HPI of 61.36, Hella Wuolijoki is the 9th most famous Estonian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 19 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 Betti Alver

10. Betti Alver (1906 - 1989)

With an HPI of 60.90, Betti Alver is the 10th most famous Estonian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

Elisabet "Betti" Alver (23 November [O.S. 10 November] 1906 in Jõgeva – 19 June 1989 in Tartu), was one of Estonia's most notable poets. She was among the first generation to be educated in schools of an independent Estonia. She went to grammar school in Tartu.

Pantheon has 20 people classified as writers born between 1803 and 1970. Of these 20, 5 (25.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Jaan Kaplinski, Viivi Luik, and Paul-Eerik Rummo. The most famous deceased writers include Jaan Kross, Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, and Lydia Koidula. As of October 2020, 3 new writers have been added to Pantheon including August Gailit, Mihkel Veske, and Viivi Luik.

Living Writers

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Deceased Writers

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Newly Added Writers (2020)

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Which Writers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 15 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.