The Most Famous

WRITERS from India

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This page contains a list of the greatest Indian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 5,794 Writers, 104 of which were born in India. This makes India the birth place of the 10th most number of Writers behind Turkey and Poland.

Top 10

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

Photo of George Orwell

1. George Orwell (1903 - 1950)

With an HPI of 86.36, George Orwell is the most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 126 different languages on wikipedia.

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950), known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic. His work is characterised by lucid prose, biting social criticism, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.As a writer, Orwell produced literary criticism and poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He is known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working-class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences soldiering for the Republican faction of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), are as critically respected as his essays on politics and literature, language and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked George Orwell second among "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".Orwell's work remains influential in popular culture and in political culture, and the adjective "Orwellian"—describing totalitarian and authoritarian social practices—is part of the English language, like many of his neologisms, such as "Big Brother", "Thought Police", "Two Minutes Hate", "Room 101", "memory hole", "Newspeak", "doublethink", "unperson", and "thoughtcrime", as well as providing direct inspiration for the neologism "groupthink".

Photo of Rabindranath Tagore

2. Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)

With an HPI of 84.23, Rabindranath Tagore is the 2nd most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 148 different languages.

Rabindranath Tagore ( (listen); born Robindronath Thakur, 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941; sobriquet Gurudev, Kobiguru, Biswakobi) was a Indian polymath – poet, writer, playwright,composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. He was a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society. He reshaped Bengali literature and music as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse" of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal".A Bengali Brahmin from Calcutta with ancestral gentry roots in Burdwan district and Jessore, Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At the age of sixteen, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha ("Sun Lion"), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. By 1877 he graduated to his first short stories and dramas, published under his real name. As a humanist, universalist, internationalist, and ardent anti-nationalist, he denounced the British Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy also endures in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University.Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced) and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: India's "Jana Gana Mana" and Bangladesh's "Amar Shonar Bangla". The Sri Lankan national anthem was inspired by his work.

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3. Rudyard Kipling (1865 - 1936)

With an HPI of 81.42, Rudyard Kipling is the 3rd most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 110 different languages.

Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( RUD-yərd; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work. Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888). His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden: The United States and the Philippine Islands" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is seen as an innovator in the art of the short story. His children's books are classics; one critic noted "a versatile and luminous narrative gift."Kipling in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was among the United Kingdom's most popular writers. Henry James said "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known." In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, as the first English-language writer to receive the prize, and at 41, its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and several times for a knighthood, but declined both. Following his death in 1936, his ashes were interred at Poets' Corner, part of the South Transept of Westminster Abbey. Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed with the political and social climate of the age. The contrasting views of him continued for much of the 20th century. Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: "[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with."

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4. Kālidāsa (400 - 420)

With an HPI of 81.11, Kālidāsa is the 4th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 124 different languages.

Kālidāsa (Devanagari: कालिदास; fl. 4th–5th century CE) was a Classical Sanskrit author who is often considered ancient India's greatest playwright and dramatist. His plays and poetry are primarily based on the Vedas, the Rāmāyaṇa, the Mahābhārata and the Purāṇas. His surviving works consist of three plays, two epic poems and two shorter poems. Much about his life is unknown except what can be inferred from his poetry and plays. His works cannot be dated with precision, but they were most likely authored before the 5th century CE. According to the scholar Pandit Digambar Jha of Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University in his book "Mithila and Kalidas" claimed Kalidasa as him being a Maithil and a gem of Mithila. He lived at Kalidas Dih in Madhubani district of Bihar.

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5. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 - 1863)

With an HPI of 75.27, William Makepeace Thackeray is the 5th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 66 different languages.

William Makepeace Thackeray (; 18 July 1811 – 24 December 1863) was a British novelist, author and illustrator. He is known for his satirical works, particularly his 1848 novel Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of British society, and the 1844 novel The Luck of Barry Lyndon, which was adapted for a 1975 film by Stanley Kubrick.

Photo of Tulsidas

6. Tulsidas (1532 - 1623)

With an HPI of 74.76, Tulsidas is the 6th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 55 different languages.

Tulsidas (Hindi pronunciation: [t̪ʊls̪iːd̪aːs̪]; 1532–1623), also known as Goswami Tulsidas, was a Ramanandi Vaishnava Hindu saint and poet, renowned for his devotion to the deity Rama. He wrote several popular works in Sanskrit and Awadhi, but is best known as the author of the epic Ramcharitmanas, a retelling of the Sanskrit Ramayana based on Rama's life in the vernacular Awadhi. Tulsidas spent most of his life in the city of Varanasi and Ayodhya. The Tulsi Ghat on the Ganges River in Varanasi is named after him. He founded the Sankatmochan Temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman in Varanasi, believed to stand at the place where he had the sight of the deity. Tulsidas started the Ramlila plays, a folk-theatre adaption of the Ramayana.He has been acclaimed as one of the greatest poets in Hindi, Indian, and world literature. The impact of Tulsidas and his works on the art, culture and society in India is widespread and is seen to date in vernacular language, Ramlila plays, Hindustani classical music, popular music, and television series.

Photo of Valmiki

7. Valmiki (-80 - -2)

With an HPI of 74.70, Valmiki is the 7th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 54 different languages.

Valmiki (; Sanskrit: वाल्मीकि, Vālmīki [ʋɑːlmiːki]) is celebrated as the harbinger-poet in Sanskrit literature. The epic Ramayana, dated variously from the 5th century BCE to first century BCE, is attributed to him, based on the attribution in the text itself. He is revered as Ādi Kavi, the first poet, author of Ramayana, the first epic poem. The Ramayana, originally written by Valmiki, consists of 24,000 shlokas and seven cantos (kaṇḍas). The Ramayana is composed of about 480,002 words, being a quarter of the length of the full text of the Mahabharata or about four times the length of the Iliad. The Ramayana tells the story of a prince, Rama of the city of Ayodhya in the Kingdom of Kosala, whose wife Sita is abducted by Ravana, the demon-king (Asura) of Lanka. Valmiki's Ramayana is dated variously from 500 BCE to 100 BCE or about co-eval with early versions of the Mahabharata. As with many traditional epics, it has gone through a process of interpolations and redactions, making it impossible to date accurately. British satirist Aubrey Menen says that Valmiki was "recognized as a literary genius," and thus was considered, "an outlaw," presumably because of his "philosophic scepticism," as part of an "Indian Enlightenment" period. Valmiki is also quoted as being the contemporary of Rama. Menen claims Valmiki is "the first author in all history to bring himself into his own composition."

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8. Ghalib (1797 - 1869)

With an HPI of 74.04, Ghalib is the 8th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 56 different languages.

Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan (Urdu: مرزا اسد اللٌٰه بیگ خان‎; 27 December 1797 – 15 February 1869), also known by the pen names of Ghalib (Urdu: غالب‎, romanized: Ġālib, lit. 'dominant') and Asad (Urdu: اسد‎, romanized: Asad, lit. 'lion'), was an Indian poet. His honorific was Dabir-ul-Mulk, Najm-ud-Daula. During his lifetime, the already declining Mughal empire was eclipsed and displaced by the British East India Company Rule and finally deposed following the defeat of the First Indian War of Independence (Sepoy Mutiny) of 1857; these are described through his work.He wrote in both Urdu and Persian. Although his Persian Divan is at least five times longer than his Urdu Divan, his fame rests on his poetry in Urdu. Today, Ghalib remains popular not only in the Indian subcontinent but also among the Hindustani diaspora around the world.

Photo of Salman Rushdie

9. Salman Rushdie (1947 - )

With an HPI of 73.96, Salman Rushdie is the 9th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 89 different languages.

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie (born 19 June 1947) is an Indian-born British-American novelist and essayist. His work, combining magical realism with historical fiction, is primarily concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations, with much of his fiction being set on the Indian subcontinent. His second novel, Midnight's Children (1981), won the Booker Prize in 1981 and was deemed to be "the best novel of all winners" on two occasions, marking the 25th and the 40th anniversary of the prize. His fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), was the subject of a major controversy, provoking protests from Muslims in several countries. Death threats were made against him, including a fatwā calling for his assassination issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989. The British government put Rushdie under police protection. In 1983, Rushdie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the UK's senior literary organisation. He was appointed Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France in January 1999. In June 2007, Queen Elizabeth II knighted him for his services to literature. In 2008, The Times ranked him thirteenth on its list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.Since 2000, Rushdie has lived in the United States. He was named Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute of New York University in 2015. Earlier, he taught at Emory University. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2012, he published Joseph Anton: A Memoir, an account of his life in the wake of the controversy over The Satanic Verses.

Photo of Premchand

10. Premchand (1880 - 1936)

With an HPI of 73.04, Premchand is the 10th most famous Indian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 63 different languages.

Dhanpat Rai Srivastava (31 July 1880 – 8 October 1936), better known by his pen name Premchand (pronounced [mʊnʃiː preːm t͡ʃənd̪] (listen), was an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani literature. He is one of the most celebrated writers of the Indian subcontinent, and is regarded as one of the foremost Hindi writers of the early twentieth century. His works include Godaan, Karmabhoomi, Gaban, Mansarovar, "Idgah". He published his first collection of five short stories in 1907 in a book called Soz-e-Watan. He began writing under the pen name "Nawab Rai", but subsequently switched to "Premchand", Munshi being an honorary prefix. A novel writer, story writer and dramatist, he has been referred to as the "Upanyas Samrat" ("Emperor Among Novelists") by writers. His works include more than a dozen novels, around 300 short stories, several essays and translations of a number of foreign literary works into Hindi.

Pantheon has 104 people classified as writers born between 1000 BC and 1992. Of these 104, 27 (25.96%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Salman Rushdie, Deepak Chopra, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. The most famous deceased writers include George Orwell, Rabindranath Tagore, and Rudyard Kipling. As of October 2020, 27 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, Rahul Sankrityayan, and Ramdhari Singh Dinkar.

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 25 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.