The Most Famous

WRITERS from Latvia

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This page contains a list of the greatest Latvian Writers. The pantheon dataset contains 5,794 Writers, 23 of which were born in Latvia. This makes Latvia the birth place of the 39th most number of Writers behind Mexico and Serbia.

Top 10

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

Photo of Aron Nimzowitsch

1. Aron Nimzowitsch (1886 - 1935)

With an HPI of 69.57, Aron Nimzowitsch is the most famous Latvian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages on wikipedia.

Aron Nimzowitsch (Latvian: Ārons Nimcovičs, Russian: Аро́н Иса́евич Нимцо́вич, Aron Isayevich Nimtsovich; 7 November 1886 – 16 March 1935) was a Latvian-born Danish chess player and writer. He was the foremost figure amongst the hypermoderns and wrote a very influential book on chess theory: My System. In the late 1920s, he was one of the best chess players in the world.

Photo of Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz

2. Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz (1751 - 1792)

With an HPI of 67.45, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz is the 2nd most famous Latvian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 28 different languages.

Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz (23 January 1751, or 12 January in the Julian calendar – 4 June 1792, or 24 May in the Julian calendar) was a Baltic German writer of the Sturm und Drang movement.

Photo of Rainis

3. Rainis (1865 - 1929)

With an HPI of 66.50, Rainis is the 3rd most famous Latvian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.

Rainis was the pseudonym of Jānis Pliekšāns (September 11, 1865 – September 12, 1929), a Latvian poet, playwright, translator, and politician. Rainis' works include the classic plays Uguns un nakts (Fire and Night, 1905) and Indulis un Ārija (Indulis and Ārija, 1911), and a highly regarded translation of Goethe's Faust. His works had a profound influence on the literary Latvian language, and the ethnic symbolism he employed in his major works has been central to Latvian nationalism.

Photo of Vizma Belševica

4. Vizma Belševica (1931 - 2005)

With an HPI of 65.76, Vizma Belševica is the 4th most famous Latvian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Vizma Belševica (May 30, 1931 – August 6, 2005) was a Latvian poet, writer and translator. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Photo of Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski

5. Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski (1876 - 1945)

With an HPI of 65.09, Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski is the 5th most famous Latvian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski (27 May 1876 – 3 January 1945) was a Polish writer, explorer, university professor, and anticommunist political activist. He is best known for his books about Lenin and the Russian Civil War in which he participated.

Photo of Maria Skobtsova

6. Maria Skobtsova (1891 - 1945)

With an HPI of 64.10, Maria Skobtsova is the 6th most famous Latvian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 17 different languages.

Maria Skobtsova (20 [8 Old Calendar] December 1891 – 31 March 1945), known as Mother Maria (Russian: Мать Мария), Saint Mary (or Mother Maria) of Paris, born Elizaveta Yurievna Pilenko (Елизавета Юрьевна Пиленко), Kuzmina-Karavayeva (Кузьмина-Караваева) by her first marriage, Skobtsova (Скобцова) by her second marriage, was a Russian noblewoman, poet, nun, and member of the French Resistance during World War II. She has been canonized a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Photo of Yury Tynyanov

7. Yury Tynyanov (1894 - 1943)

With an HPI of 63.78, Yury Tynyanov is the 7th most famous Latvian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Yury Nikolaevich Tynyanov (Russian: Ю́рий Никола́евич Тыня́нов, IPA: [ˈjʉrʲɪj nʲɪkɐˈlajɪvʲɪtɕ tɨˈnʲænəf]; October 18, 1894 – December 20, 1943) was a Soviet writer, literary critic, translator, scholar and screenwriter. He was an authority on Pushkin and an important member of the Russian Formalist school.

Photo of Vilis Lācis

8. Vilis Lācis (1904 - 1966)

With an HPI of 63.59, Vilis Lācis is the 8th most famous Latvian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Vilis Lācis (May 12, 1904 – February 6, 1966) was a Latvian writer and communist politician.Lācis was born Jānis Vilhelms Lāce into a working-class family in Vecmīlgrāvis (now part of Riga). During World War I, his family fled to the Altai region in Siberia, where Lācis studied at the pedagogical seminary in Barnaul. In 1921, Lācis returned to Riga and at various times worked as a fisherman, port worker, ship's fireman and librarian while writing in his free time. In 1933, he published his hugely successful novel Zvejnieka dēls ('Fisherman's Son'), making him one of the most popular and commercially successful Latvian writers of the 1930s. His novels have been characterized as popular fiction, not always liked by high-brow critics, but widely read by ordinary people. Throughout this period, Lācis maintained underground ties to the officially banned Communist Party of Latvia. Lācis was under periodic surveillance by the Latvian secret services due to his political activities. Eventually Lācis became a favorite of Latvian president Karlis Ulmanis, who personally ordered the destruction of the surveillance files on Lācis. Lācis wrote newspaper editorials highly favorable of the Ulmanis regime, while still remaining a Communist supporter, and Ulmanis's government generously funded Lācis's writing and a film adaptation of 'Fisherman's Son'. During the Soviet period, eight films based on Lācis's works were produced, including a new adaptation of 'Fisherman's Son' in 1957. After Latvia was incorporated in the USSR in August 1940, Lācis became Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR (nominally, Prime Minister) and served in this position from 1940 to 1959. When Nazi Germany occupied Latvia from 1941 to 1944, Lācis was evacuated to Moscow, where he continued to write in a socialist realist style. He was regarded mostly as a figurehead, as most of the actual decisions were made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party. As first Minister of the Interior and then Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, he must take personal responsibility for the Stalinist deportations and other aspects of the police state, and signed orders for the arrest and deportation of over 40,000 people. From 1954 to 1958, Lācis also served as Chairman of the Soviet of Nationalities. He was awarded the Order of Lenin seven times and the Stalin Prize twice, in 1949 and 1952.Lācis's books have been translated into more than 50 languages, with translations into Russian being the most numerous. He remains the most translated Latvian writer.

Photo of Krišjānis Barons

9. Krišjānis Barons (1835 - 1923)

With an HPI of 63.53, Krišjānis Barons is the 9th most famous Latvian Writer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Krišjānis Barons (October 31, 1835 – March 8, 1923) was a Latvian writer who is known as the "father of the dainas" (Latvian: "Dainu tēvs") thanks largely to his systematization of the Latvian folk songs and his labour in preparing their texts for publication in Latvju dainas. His portrait appeared on the 100-lat banknote prior to the Lat being replaced by the Euro in 2014, his being the only human face of an actual person on modern Latvian currency. Barons was very prominent among the Young Latvians, and also an important writer and editor.

Photo of Aspazija

10. Aspazija (1865 - 1943)

With an HPI of 63.43, Aspazija is the 10th most famous Latvian Writer.  Her biography has been translated into 26 different languages.

Aspazija was the pen name of Elza Johanna Emilija Lizete Pliekšāne (née Elza Rozenberga; 16 March 1865 – 5 November 1943), a Latvian poet and playwright. Aspazija is the Latvian transliteration of Aspasia.

Pantheon has 23 people classified as writers born between 1751 and 1933. Of these 23, none of them are still alive today. The most famous deceased writers include Aron Nimzowitsch, Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, and Rainis. As of October 2020, 7 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Garlieb Merkel, Kārlis Skalbe, and Regīna Ezera.

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 23 most globally memorable Writers since 1700.