The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Writers of all time. This list of famous 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 Writers.
With an HPI of 90.51, Dante Alighieri is the most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 182 different languages on wikipedia.
Dante Alighieri (Italian: [ˈdante aliˈɡjɛːri]), probably baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to simply as Dante (, also US: ; c. 1265 – 14 September 1321), was an Italian poet, writer and philosopher. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa (modern Italian: Commedia) and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered one of the most important poems of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.Dante is known for establishing the use of the vernacular in literature at a time when most poetry was written in Latin, which was accessible only to the most educated readers. His De vulgari eloquentia (On Eloquence in the Vernacular) was one of the first scholarly defenses of the vernacular. His use of the Florentine dialect for works such as The New Life (1295) and Divine Comedy helped establish the modern-day standardized Italian language. His work set a precedent that important Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would later follow. Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy. His depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art and literature. He is cited as an influence on such English writers as Geoffrey Chaucer, John Milton and Alfred Tennyson, among many others. In addition, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, or the terza rima, is attributed to him. He is described as the "father" of the Italian language, and in Italy he is often referred to as il Sommo Poeta ("the Supreme Poet"). Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called the tre corone ("three crowns") of Italian literature.
With an HPI of 85.91, Virgil is the 2nd most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 159 different languages.
Publius Vergilius Maro (Classical Latin: [ˈpuːbliʊs wɛrˈɡɪliʊs ˈmaroː]; traditional dates 15 October 70 – 21 September 19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil ( VUR-jil) in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He composed three of the most famous poems in Latin literature: the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid. A number of minor poems, collected in the Appendix Vergiliana, were attributed to him in ancient times, but modern scholars consider his authorship of these poems as dubious.Virgil's work has had wide and deep influence on Western literature, most notably Dante's Divine Comedy, in which Virgil appears as the author's guide through Hell and Purgatory.Virgil has been traditionally ranked as one of Rome's greatest poets. His Aeneid is also considered a national epic of ancient Rome, a title held since composition.
With an HPI of 84.24, Ovid is the 3rd most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 129 different languages.
Pūblius Ovidius Nāsō (Latin: [ˈpuːbliʊs ɔˈwɪdiʊs ˈnaːsoː]; 20 March 43 BC – 17/18 AD), known in English as Ovid ( OV-id), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is often ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature. The Imperial scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the Latin love elegists. Although Ovid enjoyed enormous popularity during his lifetime, the emperor Augustus banished him to a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained a decade until his death.
With an HPI of 83.55, Petrarch is the 4th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 103 different languages.
Francesco Petrarca (Italian: [franˈtʃesko peˈtrarka]; 20 July 1304 – 18/19 July 1374), commonly anglicized as Petrarch (), was a scholar and poet of early Renaissance Italy, and one of the earliest humanists.Petrarch's rediscovery of Cicero's letters is often credited with initiating the 14th-century Italian Renaissance and the founding of Renaissance humanism. In the 16th century, Pietro Bembo created the model for the modern Italian language based on Petrarch's works, as well as those of Giovanni Boccaccio, and, to a lesser extent, Dante Alighieri. Petrarch would be later endorsed as a model for Italian style by the Accademia della Crusca. Petrarch's sonnets were admired and imitated throughout Europe during the Renaissance and became a model for lyrical poetry. He is also known for being the first to develop the concept of the "Dark Ages", which most modern scholars now find inaccurate and misleading.
With an HPI of 83.11, Giovanni Boccaccio is the 5th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 100 different languages.
Giovanni Boccaccio (UK: , US: , Italian: [dʒoˈvanni bokˈkattʃo]; 16 June 1313 – 21 December 1375) was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. Born in the town of Certaldo, he became so well known as a writer that he was sometimes simply known as "the Certaldese" and one of the most important figures in the European literary panorama of the fourteenth century. Some scholars (including Vittore Branca) define him as the greatest European prose writer of his time, a versatile writer who amalgamated different literary trends and genres, making them converge in original works, thanks to a creative activity exercised under the banner of experimentalism. His most notable works are The Decameron, a collection of short stories which in the following centuries was a determining element for the Italian literary tradition, especially after Pietro Bembo elevated the Boccaccian style to a model of Italian prose in the sixteenth century, and On Famous Women. He wrote his imaginative literature mostly in Tuscan vernacular, as well as other works in Latin, and is particularly noted for his realistic dialogue which differed from that of his contemporaries, medieval writers who usually followed formulaic models for character and plot. The influence of Boccaccio's works was not limited to the Italian cultural scene but extended to the rest of Europe, exerting influence on authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, a key figure in English literature, or later on Miguel de Cervantes, Lope de Vega and the Spanish classical theater. Boccaccio, together with Dante Alighieri and Francesco Petrarca, is part of the so-called "Three Crowns" of Italian literature. He is remembered for being one of the precursors of humanism, of which he helped lay the foundations in the city of Florence, in conjunction with the activity of his friend and teacher Petrarch. He was the one who initiated Dante's criticism and philology: Boccaccio devoted himself to copying codices of the Divine Comedy and was a promoter of Dante's work and figure. In the twentieth century, Boccaccio was the subject of critical-philological studies by Vittore Branca and Giuseppe Billanovich, and his Decameron was transposed to the big screen by the director and writer Pier Paolo Pasolini. A kindly thing it is to have compassion of the afflicted and albeit it well beseemeth every one, yet of those is it more particularly required who have erst had need of comfort and have found it in any, amongst whom, if ever any had need thereof or held it dear or took pleasure therein aforetimes, certes, I am one of these.
With an HPI of 82.14, Horace is the 6th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 96 different languages.
Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Classical Latin: [ˈkᶣiːn̪t̪ʊs̠ (h)ɔˈraːt̪iʊs̠ ˈfɫ̪akːʊs̠]; 8 December 65 – 27 November 8 BC), known in the English-speaking world as Horace (), was the leading Roman lyric poet during the time of Augustus (also known as Octavian). The rhetorician Quintilian regarded his Odes as just about the only Latin lyrics worth reading: "He can be lofty sometimes, yet he is also full of charm and grace, versatile in his figures, and felicitously daring in his choice of words."Horace also crafted elegant hexameter verses (Satires and Epistles) and caustic iambic poetry (Epodes). The hexameters are amusing yet serious works, friendly in tone, leading the ancient satirist Persius to comment: "as his friend laughs, Horace slyly puts his finger on his every fault; once let in, he plays about the heartstrings".His career coincided with Rome's momentous change from a republic to an empire. An officer in the republican army defeated at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC, he was befriended by Octavian's right-hand man in civil affairs, Maecenas, and became a spokesman for the new regime. For some commentators, his association with the regime was a delicate balance in which he maintained a strong measure of independence (he was "a master of the graceful sidestep") but for others he was, in John Dryden's phrase, "a well-mannered court slave".
With an HPI of 79.11, Umberto Eco is the 7th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 110 different languages.
Umberto Eco (5 January 1932 – 19 February 2016) was an Italian medievalist, philosopher, semiotician, novelist, cultural critic, and political and social commentator. In English, he is best known for his popular 1980 novel The Name of the Rose, a historical mystery combining semiotics in fiction with biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory, as well as Foucault's Pendulum, his 1988 novel which touches on similar themes.Eco wrote prolifically throughout his life, with his output including children's books, translations from French and English, in addition to a twice-monthly newspaper column "La Bustina di Minerva" (Minerva's Matchbook) in the magazine L'Espresso beginning in 1985, with his last column (a critical appraisal of the Romantic paintings of Francesco Hayez) appearing 27 January 2016. At the time of his death, he was an Emeritus professor at the University of Bologna, where he taught for much of his life. In the 21st century, he has continued to gain recognition for his 1995 essay "Ur-Fascism", where Eco lists fourteen general properties he believes comprise fascist ideologies.
With an HPI of 78.68, Giacomo Casanova is the 8th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 73 different languages.
Giacomo Girolamo Casanova (, Italian: [ˈdʒaːkomo dʒiˈrɔːlamo kazaˈnɔːva, kasa-]; 2 April 1725 – 4 June 1798) was an Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice. His autobiography, Histoire de ma vie (Story of My Life), is regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century.As was not uncommon at the time, Casanova, depending on circumstances, used more or less fictitious names, such as baron or count of Farussi (the maiden name of his mother) or Chevalier de Seingalt (French pronunciation: [sɛ̃ɡɑl]). He often signed his works as "Jacques Casanova de Seingalt" after he began writing in French following his second exile from Venice.He has become so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women that his name is now synonymous with "womanizer". Many of his exploits would be considered predatory by modern standards, however, including affairs with the emotionally vulnerable as well as the underage. He associated with European royalty, popes, and cardinals, along with the artistic figures Voltaire, Goethe, and Mozart. He spent his last years in the Dux Chateau (Bohemia) as a librarian in Count Waldstein's household, where he also wrote the story of his life.
With an HPI of 78.27, Giorgio Vasari is the 9th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 76 different languages.
Giorgio Vasari (, also US: , Italian: [ˈdʒordʒo vaˈzaːri]; 30 July 1511 – 27 June 1574) was an Italian painter, architect, engineer, writer, and historian, best known for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing, and the basis for biographies of several Renaissance artists, including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. Vasari designed the Tomb of Michelangelo in the Basilica of Santa Croce, Florence that was completed in 1578. Based on Vasari's text in print about Giotto's new manner of painting as a rinascita (rebirth), author Jules Michelet in his Histoire de France (1835) suggested adoption of Vasari's concept, using the term Renaissance (rebirth, in French) to distinguish the cultural change. The term was adopted thereafter in historiography and still is in use today.
With an HPI of 76.32, Cato the Elder is the 10th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 64 different languages.
Marcus Porcius Cato (; 234–149 BC), also known as Cato the Censor (Latin: Censorius), the Elder and the Wise, was a Roman soldier, senator, and historian known for his conservatism and opposition to Hellenization. He was the first to write history in Latin with his Origines, a now lost work on the history of Rome. His work De agri cultura, a rambling work on agriculture, farming, rituals, and recipes, is the oldest extant prose written in the Latin language. His epithet "Elder" distinguishes him from his equally famous great-grandson Cato the Younger, who opposed Julius Caesar. He came from an ancient Plebeian family who were noted for their military service. Like his forefathers, Cato was devoted to agriculture when not serving in the army. Having attracted the attention of Lucius Valerius Flaccus, he was brought to Rome and began to follow the cursus honorum: he was successively military tribune (214 BC), quaestor (204), aedile (199), praetor (198), consul (195) together with Flaccus, and censor (184). As praetor, he expelled usurers from Sardinia. As censor, he tried to save Rome's ancestral customs and combat Hellenistic influences.
Pantheon has 270 people classified as writers born between 630 BC and 1982. Of these 270, 24 (8.89%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Elena Ferrante, Fausto Cercignani, and Claudio Magris. The most famous deceased writers include Dante Alighieri, Virgil, and Ovid. As of April 2022, 26 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Gaius Asinius Pollio, Maria Valtorta, and Hermas.
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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.