The Most Famous

WRITERS from Italy

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This page contains a list of the greatest Italian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 7,302 Writers, 270 of which were born in Italy. This makes Italy the birth place of the 6th most number of Writers behind Germany, and Russia.

Top 10

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

Photo of Dante Alighieri

1. Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321)

With an HPI of 89.54, Dante Alighieri is the most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 187 different languages on wikipedia.

Dante Alighieri (Italian: [ˈdante aliˈɡjɛːri]; c. 1265 – September 14, 1321), most likely baptized Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri and often referred to as Dante (English: , US: ), 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 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. By writing his poem in the Italian vernacular rather than in Latin, Dante influenced the course of literary development, making Italian the literary language in western Europe for several centuries. 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, and is considered to be among the country's national poets and the Western world's greatest literary icons. His depictions of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art and literature. He influenced English writers such 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.

Photo of Virgil

2. Virgil (-70 - -19)

With an HPI of 84.57, Virgil is the 2nd most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 169 different languages.

Publius Vergilius Maro (Classical Latin: [ˈpuːbliʊs wɛrˈɡɪliʊs ˈmaroː]; traditional dates 15 October 70 BC – 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 to be dubious.Virgil's work has had great 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. Since its composition, his Aeneid has been considered the national epic of ancient Rome.

Photo of Petrarch

3. Petrarch (1304 - 1374)

With an HPI of 83.61, Petrarch is the 3rd most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 108 different languages.

Francis Petrarch (; 20 July 1304 – 19 July 1374; Latin: Franciscus Petrarcha; modern Italian: Francesco Petrarca [franˈtʃesko peˈtrarka]), born Francesco di Petracco, was a scholar and poet of the early Italian Renaissance 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 was 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".

Photo of Ovid

4. Ovid (-43 - 17)

With an HPI of 83.26, Ovid is the 4th most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 133 different languages.

Publius Ovidius Naso (Latin: [ˈpuːbliʊs ɔˈwɪdiʊs ˈnaːso(ː)]; 20 March 43 BC – AD 17/18), known in English as Ovid ( OV-id), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a younger contemporary of 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 exiled him to Tomis, the capital of the newly-organised province of Moesia, on the Black Sea, where he remained for the last nine or ten years of his life. Ovid himself attributed his banishment to a "poem and a mistake", but his reluctance to disclose specifics has resulted in much speculation among scholars. Ovid is most famous for the Metamorphoses, a continuous mythological narrative in fifteen books written in dactylic hexameters. He is also known for works in elegiac couplets such as Ars Amatoria ("The Art of Love") and Fasti. His poetry was much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and greatly influenced Western art and literature. The Metamorphoses remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology today.

Photo of Giovanni Boccaccio

5. Giovanni Boccaccio (1313 - 1375)

With an HPI of 82.77, Giovanni Boccaccio is the 5th most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 109 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 theatre. Boccaccio, together with Dante Alighieri and Petrarch, 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.

Photo of Horace

6. Horace (-65 - -8)

With an HPI of 81.49, Horace is the 6th most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 100 different languages.

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Classical Latin: [ˈkʷiːntʊs (h)ɔˈraːtiʊs ˈfɫakːʊs]; 8 December 65 BC – 27 November 8 BC), commonly 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".

Photo of Giacomo Casanova

7. Giacomo Casanova (1725 - 1798)

With an HPI of 79.32, Giacomo Casanova is the 7th most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 76 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 and provocative sources of information about the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century.Casanova was known to use pseudonyms, such as baron or count of Farussi (the maiden name of his mother) or Chevalier de Seingalt (French pronunciation: [sɛ̃ɡɑl]). After he began writing in French, following his second exile from Venice, he often signed his works as "Jacques Casanova de Seingalt". He claims to have mingled with European royalty, popes, and cardinals, along with the artistic figures Voltaire, Goethe, and Mozart. He has become so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women, that his name "might be said to be synonymous with libertine". His final years were spent in Dux Chateau (Bohemia) as a librarian in Count Waldstein's household, where he also wrote his autobiography.

Photo of Umberto Eco

8. Umberto Eco (1932 - 2016)

With an HPI of 79.03, Umberto Eco is the 8th most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 113 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.

Photo of Giorgio Vasari

9. Giorgio Vasari (1511 - 1574)

With an HPI of 77.81, Giorgio Vasari is the 9th most famous Italian 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 Renaissance painter and architect, who is best known for his work Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of all art-historical writing, and still much cited in modern biographies of the many Italian Renaissance artists he covers, including Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, although he is now regarded as including many factual errors, especially when covering artists from before he was born. Giorgio was a Mannerist painter who was highly regarded both as a painter and architect in his day, but rather less so in later centuries. He was effectively what would now be called the minister of culture to the Medici court in Florence, and the Lives promoted, with enduring success, the idea of Florentine superiority in the visual arts. Vasari designed the Tomb of Michelangelo, his hero, 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 the 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 is still in use today.

Photo of Guillaume Apollinaire

10. Guillaume Apollinaire (1880 - 1918)

With an HPI of 75.52, Guillaume Apollinaire is the 10th most famous Italian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 76 different languages.

Guillaume Apollinaire (French: [ɡijom apɔlinɛʁ]; 26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918) was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist and art critic of Polish descent. Apollinaire is considered one of the foremost poets of the early 20th century, as well as one of the most impassioned defenders of Cubism and a forefather of Surrealism. He is credited with coining the term "Cubism" in 1911 to describe the emerging art movement, the term Orphism in 1912, and the term "Surrealism" in 1917 to describe the works of Erik Satie. He wrote poems without punctuation attempting to be resolutely modern in both form and subject. Apollinaire wrote one of the earliest Surrealist literary works, the play The Breasts of Tiresias (1917), which became the basis for Francis Poulenc's 1947 opera Les mamelles de Tirésias. Influenced by Symbolist poetry in his youth, he was admired during his lifetime by the young poets who later formed the nucleus of the Surrealist group (Breton, Aragon, Soupault). He revealed very early on an originality that freed him from any school of influence and made him one of the precursors of the literary revolution of the first half of the 20th century. His art is not based on any theory, but on a simple principle: the act of creating must come from the imagination, from intuition, because it must be as close as possible to life, to nature, to the environment, and to the human being. Apollinaire was also active as a journalist and art critic for Le Matin, L'Intransigeant, L'Esprit nouveau, Mercure de France, and Paris Journal. In 1912 Apollinaire cofounded Les Soirées de Paris, an artistic and literary magazine. Two years after being wounded in World War I, Apollinaire died during the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 and was recognized as "Fallen for France" (Mort pour la France) because of his commitment during the war.

People

Pantheon has 295 people classified as Italian writers born between 630 BC and 1982. Of these 295, 24 (8.14%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Italian writers include Elena Ferrante, Fausto Cercignani, and Claudio Magris. The most famous deceased Italian writers include Dante Alighieri, Virgil, and Petrarch. As of April 2024, 26 new Italian writers have been added to Pantheon including Tullia d'Aragona, Bernardo Dovizi, and Titus Burckhardt.

Living Italian Writers

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Deceased Italian Writers

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Newly Added Italian Writers (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

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