Meeting American or British authors is a great step towards getting closer to their history and culture. Lovers of good reading and those passionate about fascinating history know-how striking is the influence of American and English literature in the world of letters.
A constant presence in bookstores and on the main bestseller lists in the country, many of these writers inaugurated styles, won literary awards, were recognized around the world, and made millions of fans over the years. To honor them, we’ve selected a list of the 10 greatest English writers of all time:
The novelist’s most famous work, without a doubt, is Pride and Prejudice, considered one of the most read books in the world. The story shows the way in which the character Elizabeth Bennet deals with problems related to education, culture, morals, and marriage in the aristocratic society of the early 19th century, in England. The work won a film adaptation in 2005. In the writer’s stories, the female protagonists have more autonomy and independence than in other works of the time, representing a literary contribution to what we can call a feminist movement, even if still shy. In 2017, the bicentennial year of the author’s death, Jane received a tribute from the British government: her face began to stamp the new 10-pound note.
The Queen of Crime, as the writer of detective novels is known, was consecrated by creating detective Hercule Poirot, who unravels crimes and intriguing stories in a surprising way. Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist according to the Guinness Book of Records. Her more than 90 books published, and translated around the world, have made her the greatest writer of crime novels of all time. Many works have already been adapted for theater and cinema. In addition to the established mystery tales, Agatha put aside investigations and published six novels under the pseudonym, Mary Westmacott, exploring the human soul, its conflicts, and emotions. The writer died in 1976, aged 85, from pneumonia.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
You’ve probably heard the famous phrase ‘Elementary, my dear Watson’. It is said by the eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes, to his assistant, the physician John Watson. Detective tales have always been a hit with readers on duty, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle says so. In addition to being a writer, he was a doctor. But it wasn’t medicine that made him internationally famous, it was Sherlock’s character. The detective became so well known that, to this day, there are several adaptations of his books for cinema, theater, and TV series. His work is a landmark in world literature for bringing innovative features such as mythology, detective novels, gothic, and realism. In total, the author produced more than 60 adventures for the two characters, emblematic in investigative literature.
Stephen King is the author of more than 50 bestselling books worldwide. He is one of the most notable writers of fantastic horror stories and fiction of his generation, being responsible for some of the greatest classics of psychological horror, such as ‘The Shining, ‘It: a Thing’, and ‘Gerald’s Game. His books have sold nearly 400 million copies, with publications in over 40 countries. Stephen King has more than four decades of career and more releases planned for the next few years. His works are in great demand in cinema, having several adaptations for the big screen. In 2003, King received the Medal for Outstanding Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation, and in 2007 he was named Grand Master of Mystery Writers of the United States.
Perhaps the most famous phrase attributed to the English writer is ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’, from the play ‘The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’. The theater was the most prominent genre in 16th century England and it was to which William Shakespeare devoted most of his literary production. The work of the “national poet of England”, as he became known, is quite vast and has already been translated into several languages. He produced over 150 sonnets and 40 plays. In his works, the playwright wrote about turbulent passions, the purest feelings, human despair, and the joys of life. Shakespeare wrote from comedies to tragedies, such as Romeo and Juliet, in which he illustrated frustrated love, and Othello (Othello), in which he depicted jealousy. The writer died on his birthday, April 23, 1616, aged 52.
With modern literature and a dynamic narrative full of characters, J.K. Rowling has won a legion of fans by writing about a magical universe and bringing to life the most beloved wizard around the world. The Harry Potter saga told in 7 books, has been translated into over 65 languages. The author’s books have sold over 450 million copies worldwide, giving her the status of literature’s first billionaire.
Alan Moore, an exotic man who was born in 1953, is regarded as one of the most revered and influential comic book writers to date. Alan began to gain fame in the 1980s, with stories that redefined comic book expectations and were published in the British magazine Warrior. Years later, the author became known in the North American market when he became the screenwriter of the Swamp Thing series. Moore is responsible for dozens of landmark works that are a must-read for any comic book fan. The author’s work, which served as the basis for several Hollywood films, such as From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen, is so well recognized that he is cited as one of the most important of all time.
Considered an icon of modernism, the British writer innovated by exposing her sensitivity in her narrative, highlighting the stream of consciousness of her characters. To understand the relevance of Virginia’s literature, a more comprehensive and in-depth analysis is needed. The action in the author’s stories deviates from the conventional for the time. She explores characters, feelings, and perceptions in-depth. The temporal sequence is broken and the past joins the present for the transmission of ideas and emotions.
Hemingway’s life looks like something out of a movie. The writer, born in 1899 and author of For Whom the Bell Tolls – one of his most famous works – participated in two world wars, survived two plane crashes, named a celestial body orbiting the sun, had his books burned by the Nazis and, on top of that, he even won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In literature, Ernest Hemingway brought the heroism expected by those who wanted to see the human being valued in the face of adversity. His personal experiences reinforced the desire to extol man’s strength of character and perseverance. All of the writer’s characters face the problem of the “tragic evidence” of the end.
Considered the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era, Charles Dickens left a legacy for world literature, innovating in the narrative and themes addressed in his books. Dickens worked, from the age of 12, in a London factory to help his family – who were arrested for having too much debt. Precisely because of the trauma he experienced and his close knowledge of the situation of workers, Charles would often write about the poor working conditions experienced by the entire class during the industrial revolution. The author was the pioneer in approaching social criticism in literature. He exposed England’s social problems, such as violence, poverty, unemployment, and prostitution. The first English-language novel to have a child as the protagonist was by Charles Dickens. The work is called ‘Oliver Twist’ and is one of his most famous books. In it, the writer addresses the obscure daily life of London and the consequences of poverty and unemployment at the time.
Did you miss any writers on this list? Tell us in the comments.