There have been many literary greats throughout history. So many in fact, that it would seem an impossible task to choose just 10 out for special recognition. However, that’s what we’ve done here, choosing our top 10 wordsmiths who have most certainly left their mark on the world. So we encourage you to pull up a chair, switch your email inbox to ‘out of office’ and come with us on a journey with our top 10 influential writers who have changed the world.
Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in 1835, this particular writer is far more recognisable by his pen name of Mark Twain. Once lauded as ‘The greatest humorist the United States has ever produced’ by fellow penman William Faulkner, his works include classics like Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that have truly stood the test of time. This great man produced novels that not only entertain but provide real insight into the state of the world in late 19th century America. Read just one of two of his books and you’ll soon see why his work has stayed relevant to the current day.
Related blog post: Top Ten Mark Twain Books
Whilst British writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote many other novels, it’s perhaps easiest to justify his place on our list by saying one name – Sherlock Holmes. In a series of books that changed the face of the crime-writing genre, Doyle produced a character whose name is known by old and young around the world some 90 years after his death. More than 50 books were written about Holmes and his faithful companion Dr Watson and they have been entertaining readers ever since. A writer we simply couldn’t leave off our list.
Related blog post: Free Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Audio Books
Novelist, satirist and social prophet, H.G. Wells was an Englishman who was best known for being a prolific science fiction writer. So prolific was he that he went on to be dubbed as the father of the genre, rubbing shoulders with greats like Jules Verne. The man who lived between 1866 and 1946 was ahead of his time, foreseeing the invention of space travel, nuclear weapons and the concept of the world wide web. Responsible for classics like War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, he’s some that absolutely had to feature in our top 10.
Related blog post: Top 10 Novels from HG Wells
A true great now from Russian Literature – Fyodor Dostoyevsky created an impressive body of work that explored the human condition, psychology and contentious issues like religion. Take Crime and Punishment, for example, which deals with the weighty concept of morality. As something of a seminal author that influenced other, later greats like James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway, Dostoyevsky may have dealt with the most serious topics and created books that can take several sittings to get through, but there’s no doubt that he was one of the greats.
Having written a series of books that changed the very way we look at ourselves and how we fit into the world, Charles Darwin is an author that perhaps altered the world more than any other. The Origin of Species laid the foundation of evolutionary theory and whilst contentious to those with opposing viewpoints on the origin of man, it’s global effect should not be underestimated. This great English naturalist and writer’s work is still held up as the cornerstone of modern biology and his place on our list is assured.
The famous words “I think therefore I am” are synonymous with modern philosophy and mathematics and whether you’re a student of either subject or not, you’re likely to be familiar with the phrase. Rene Descartes’ literary work in the mid-17th century shows him to be a Frenchman with some very modern ideas and his musings on the subject of existentialism are still relevant today. And whilst Descartes was many other things including a scientist and philosopher, his literary work inspired the likes of Sir Isaac Newton and if for no other reason than that, is deserving of a place in the top 10 influential writers.
What can be said that hasn’t been said already about William Shakespeare, who is widely regarded as the best writer of the English language the world has ever seen. With works including Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear and Romeo and Juliet, to name but a few, Shakespeare was even responsible for introducing words like ‘brilliant’, ‘dwindle’ and ‘dauntless’ into the English language. This is an influential writer that didn’t just change the world – he was one of the writers that helped to create it!
Related blog post: Free Shakespeare Audio Books
Heralding from Higham in Kent, Charles Dickens is regarded as a literary genius with titles as widely-known and loved as a Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities. Not only viewed as a literary giant after his death Dickens was also regarded with great esteem during his lifetime and is still seen as the greatest writer of the Victorian era today. Dickens was also a philanthropist and social commentator at a time when life was tough for many and his words are loved by readers around the world.
With works to her name like ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Jane Austen was an outspoken critic and commentator at a time when the patriarchy was very much still in full swing. Her books explore how women sought out marriage in order to achieve social standing and financial stability and is seen today as something of a 19th century feminist. Austen blazed a trail for women with her use of irony and humor in some of the most popular novels of the day with the only sad being that she enjoyed much of her recognition after her death and not during her lifetime.
Related blog post: 10 Best Books by Female Authors
When we think the dystopian future genre of literature, the first novel most think of is 1984 by George Orwell thanks to his vivid and chillingly real depiction of a totalitarian state. A famous socialist and fighter of social injustice, his body of work includes required reading like Animal Farm and a Homage to Catalonia. Orwell’s gave birth to modern parlance like ‘Room 101’, ‘Big Brother’ and ‘Thought Police’ and is rightly thought of as a master of his craft. A worthy recipient indeed of the last place on our top 10 influential writers list.
So, there you have it – our top 10 influential writers that changed the world. We hope you have a truly epic time rediscovering or even discovering their brilliance for the first time. We’ll be back with more from the literary world next time.