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 74.96, Günter Grass is the most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 108 different languages on wikipedia.
Günter Wilhelm Grass (born Graß; German: [ˈɡʏntɐ ˈɡʁas] (listen); 16 October 1927 – 13 April 2015) was a German novelist, poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor, and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature.He was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). As a teenager, he served as a drafted soldier from late 1944 in the Waffen-SS and was taken as a prisoner of war by US forces at the end of the war in May 1945. He was released in April 1946. Trained as a stonemason and sculptor, Grass began writing in the 1950s. In his fiction, he frequently returned to the Danzig of his childhood. Grass is best known for his first novel, The Tin Drum (1959), a key text in European magic realism. It was the first book of his Danzig Trilogy, the other two being Cat and Mouse and Dog Years. His works are frequently considered to have a left-wing political dimension, and Grass was an active supporter of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). The Tin Drum was adapted as a film of the same name, which won both the 1979 Palme d'Or and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In 1999, the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature, praising him as a writer "whose frolicsome black fables portray the forgotten face of history".
With an HPI of 73.46, Janusz Korczak is the 2nd most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 53 different languages.
Janusz Korczak, the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit (22 July 1878 or 1879 – 7 August 1942), was a Polish Jewish educator, children's author and pedagogue known as Pan Doktor ("Mr. Doctor") or Stary Doktor ("Old Doctor"). After spending many years working as a principal of an orphanage in Warsaw, he refused sanctuary repeatedly and stayed with his orphans when the entire population of the institution was sent from the Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp during the Grossaktion Warschau of 1942.
With an HPI of 73.42, Stanisław Lem is the 3rd most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 74 different languages.
Stanisław Herman Lem (Polish: [staˈɲiswaf ˈlɛm] (listen); 12 September 1921 – 27 March 2006) was a Polish writer of science fiction and essays on various subjects, including philosophy, futurology, and literary criticism. Many of his science fiction stories are of satirical and humorous character. Lem's books have been translated into more than 50 languages and have sold more than 45 million copies. Worldwide, he is best known as the author of the 1961 novel Solaris. In 1976 Theodore Sturgeon wrote that Lem was the most widely read science fiction writer in the world. Lem is the author of the fundamental philosophical work "Summa Technologiae", in which he anticipated the creation of virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and also developed the ideas of human autoevolution, the creation of artificial worlds, and many others. Lem's science fiction works explore philosophical themes through speculations on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of communication with and understanding of alien intelligence, despair about human limitations, and humanity's place in the universe. His essays and philosophical books cover these and many other topics. Translating his works is difficult due to Lem's elaborate neologisms and idiomatic wordplay. The Polish Parliament declared 2021 Stanisław Lem Year.
With an HPI of 72.32, Isaac Bashevis Singer is the 4th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 86 different languages.
Isaac Bashevis Singer (Yiddish: יצחק באַשעװיס זינגער; November 11, 1903 – July 24, 1991) was a Polish-born American Jewish writer who wrote and published first in Yiddish and later translated himself into English with the help of editors and collaborators. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978. A leading figure in the Yiddish literary movement, he was awarded two U.S. National Book Awards, one in Children's Literature for his memoir A Day Of Pleasure: Stories of a Boy Growing Up in Warsaw (1970) and one in Fiction for his collection A Crown of Feathers and Other Stories (1974).He is considered the last notable American author to write in Yiddish.
With an HPI of 72.29, Henryk Sienkiewicz is the 5th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 95 different languages.
Henryk Adam Aleksander Pius Sienkiewicz (US: shen-KYAY-vitch, -KYEV-itch, Polish: [ˈxɛnrɨk ˈadam alɛkˈsandɛr ˈpjus ɕɛnˈkʲɛvit͡ʂ]; 5 May 1846 – 15 November 1916), also known by the pseudonym Litwos (Polish pronunciation: [ˈlitfɔs]), was a Polish writer, novelist, journalist and Nobel Prize laureate. He is best remembered for his historical novels, especially for his internationally known best-seller Quo Vadis (1896). Born into an impoverished Polish noble family in Russian-ruled Congress Poland, in the late 1860s he began publishing journalistic and literary pieces. In the late 1870s he traveled to the United States, sending back travel essays that won him popularity with Polish readers. In the 1880s he began serializing novels that further increased his popularity. He soon became one of the most popular Polish writers of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and numerous translations gained him international renown, culminating in his receipt of the 1905 Nobel Prize in Literature for his "outstanding merits as an epic writer." Many of his novels remain in print. In Poland he is best known for his "Trilogy" of historical novels – With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, and Sir Michael – set in the 17th-century Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth; internationally he is best known for Quo Vadis, set in Nero's Rome. The Trilogy and Quo Vadis have been filmed, the latter several times, with Hollywood's 1951 version receiving the most international recognition.
With an HPI of 72.25, Wisława Szymborska is the 6th most famous Writer. Her biography has been translated into 95 different languages.
Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska (Polish: [viˈswava ʂɨmˈbɔrska]; 2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator, and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent (now part of Kórnik), she resided in Kraków until the end of her life. In Poland, Szymborska's books have reached sales rivaling prominent prose authors', though she wrote in a poem, "Some Like Poetry" ("Niektórzy lubią poezję"), that "perhaps" two in a thousand people like poetry.Szymborska was awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature "for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality". She became better known internationally as a result. Her work has been translated into English and many European languages, as well as into Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Persian and Chinese.
With an HPI of 72.09, Adam Mickiewicz is the 7th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 87 different languages.
Adam Bernard Mickiewicz ([mit͡sˈkʲɛvit͡ʂ] (listen); 24 December 1798 – 26 November 1855) was a Polish poet, dramatist, essayist, publicist, translator and political activist. He is regarded as national poet in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. A principal figure in Polish Romanticism, he is one of Poland's "Three Bards" (Polish: Trzej Wieszcze) and is widely regarded as Poland's greatest poet. He is also considered one of the greatest Slavic and European poets and has been dubbed a "Slavic bard". A leading Romantic dramatist, he has been compared in Poland and Europe to Byron and Goethe.He is known chiefly for the poetic drama Dziady (Forefathers' Eve) and the national epic poem Pan Tadeusz. His other influential works include Konrad Wallenrod and Grażyna. All these served as inspiration for uprisings against the three imperial powers that had partitioned the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth out of existence. Mickiewicz was born in the Russian-partitioned territories of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which had been part of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and was active in the struggle to win independence for his home region. After, as a consequence, spending five years exiled to central Russia, in 1829 he succeeded in leaving the Russian Empire and, like many of his compatriots, lived out the rest of his life abroad. He settled first in Rome, then in Paris, where for a little over three years he lectured on Slavic literature at the Collège de France. He died, probably of cholera, at Istanbul in the Ottoman Empire, where he had gone to help organize Polish forces to fight Russia in the Crimean War. In 1890, his remains were repatriated from Montmorency, Val-d'Oise, in France, to Wawel Cathedral in Kraków, Poland.
With an HPI of 69.09, Gerhart Hauptmann is the 8th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 95 different languages.
Gerhart Johann Robert Hauptmann (German: [ˈɡeːɐ̯.haʁt ˈhaʊ̯ptˌman] (listen); 15 November 1862 – 6 June 1946) was a German dramatist and novelist. He is counted among the most important promoters of literary naturalism, though he integrated other styles into his work as well. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1912.
With an HPI of 68.72, Andrzej Sapkowski is the 9th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Andrzej Sapkowski (Polish pronunciation: [ˈandʐɛj sapˈkɔfskʲi]; born 21 June 1948) is a Polish fantasy writer and a trained economist. He is best known for his six-volume series of books The Witcher, which revolves around the eponymous "witcher," a monster-hunter, Geralt of Rivia. It has been popularised through television, cinema, stage, comic books, computer games and translated into 37 languages making him the second most-translated Polish science fiction and fantasy writer after Stanisław Lem.Described as the "Polish Tolkien", his books sold over 30 million copies worldwide. The influence of Slavic mythology is seen as a characteristic feature of many of his works. He is the recipient of many awards and honours including David Gemmell Award, World Fantasy Life Achievement Award and the Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis.
With an HPI of 65.57, Alfred Döblin is the 10th most famous Writer. His biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Bruno Alfred Döblin (German: [ˈalfʁeːt døːˈbliːn] (listen); 10 August 1878 – 26 June 1957) was a German novelist, essayist, and doctor, best known for his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929). A prolific writer whose œuvre spans more than half a century and a wide variety of literary movements and styles, Döblin is one of the most important figures of German literary modernism. His complete works comprise over a dozen novels ranging in genre from historical novels to science fiction to novels about the modern metropolis; several dramas, radio plays, and screenplays; a true crime story; a travel account; two book-length philosophical treatises; scores of essays on politics, religion, art, and society; and numerous letters—his complete works, republished by Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag and Fischer Verlag, span more than thirty volumes. His first published novel, Die drei Sprünge des Wang-lung (The Three Leaps of Wang Lun), appeared in 1915 and his final novel, Hamlet oder Die lange Nacht nimmt ein Ende (Tales of a Long Night) was published in 1956, one year before his death. Born in Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland), to assimilated Jews, Döblin moved with his mother and siblings to Berlin when he was ten years old after his father had abandoned them. Döblin would live in Berlin for almost all of the next forty-five years, engaging with such key figures of the prewar and Weimar-era German cultural scene as Herwarth Walden and the circle of Expressionists, Bertolt Brecht, and Thomas Mann. Only a few years after his rise to literary celebrity with the 1929 publication of Berlin Alexanderplatz, Döblin was forced into exile by the rise of the Nazi dictatorship. Works by Döblin were also considered "Asphalt literature". He spent 1933–1940 in France and then was forced to flee again at the start of the Second World War. Like many other German émigrés he spent the war years in Los Angeles, where he converted to Catholicism. He moved to West Germany after the war but did not feel at home in postwar Germany's conservative cultural climate and returned to France. His final years were marked by poor health and financial difficulties, and his literary work was met with relative neglect. Despite the canonic status of Berlin Alexanderplatz, Döblin is often characterized as an under-recognized or even as a forgotten author; while his work has received increasing critical attention (mostly in German) over the last few decades, he is much less well known by the reading public than other German novelists such as Thomas Mann, Günter Grass or Franz Kafka.
Pantheon has 143 people classified as writers born between 1415 and 1983. Of these 143, 16 (11.19%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living writers include Andrzej Sapkowski, Olga Tokarczuk, and Uri Orlev. The most famous deceased writers include Günter Grass, Janusz Korczak, and Stanisław Lem. As of April 2022, 26 new writers have been added to Pantheon including Hans Hellmut Kirst, Maciej Stryjkowski, and Hermann Rauschning.
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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.