Ranking the most important writers in history is not an easy task. We can try to judge the quality of their work, but ultimately there will always be room for the taste and judgment of the person making the selection.
In our case, writers were chosen based on the quality of their works, their popularity, their mark on literary history, and their influence.
The 7 most important writers in history
If you want to know who they were, what they wrote and when, then read on.
1. Dante Alighieri, Italy (1265-1321)
Dante is valued for his great spirituality and is nicknamed “the chief poet” or “il Sommo Poeta ”. He was also a prose writer, literary theorist, philosopher, and political thinker. His iconic work is the “ Divine Comedy” ( 1304-1321), fundamental for the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance and, of course, one of the classics of world literature.
The book revolves around his search for Beatrice, the woman who cast a spell over him until she brought him to paradise. To do this, he has to leave the jungle and follow Virgil, who leads him into the circles of hell.
2. William Shakespeare, England (1564-1616)
Ben Jonson (a contemporary of Shakespeare) proclaimed: “William Shakespeare does not belong to a single era, but to eternity”. And how right he was, because as a 2014 study by the University of Jaén shows, this writer even influenced China thanks to the playwright Cao Yu China.
The recognition is undoubtedly not a coincidence. In addition to poetry , he wrote fourteen comedies, ten tragedies and another ten historical dramas. His work is the subject of analysis at many universities, where students can take an entire subject covering his literary work.
3. Miguel de Cervantes, one of the most important writers in Spanish literature (1547-1616)
Also known as “the one-armed man from Lepanto”, he created “ Don Quixote”, the most widely published and translated book in various languages after the Bible. Although this writer also wrote many novels, his character will forever be associated with this character.
“El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha” tells the adventures of Alonso Quijano, a poor nobleman who goes mad after reading chivalric novels and believes he is a knight.
His story was the key that opened the door to parodic metafiction. In addition, the history of Spain is still alive today in this work. Many of the customs of that time are described very precisely and in detail.
4. Charles Dickens, England (1812-1870)
This writer is considered to be one of the best English novelists of all time. The following works are among the classics of world literature:
- Oliver Twist (1838)
- A Christmas Carol (1843)
- Little Dorrit (1857)
In these emblematic works, Dickens advocates the disadvantaged social classes of the Victorian era. He tirelessly criticizes poverty and social classes and shows his enormous empathy.
For many, Dickens is the author who was able to put Christmas into words most successfully and soulfully in his narrative.
5. Franz Kafka, Czech Republic (1883-1924).
His work is a mixture of fantastic and realistic elements. It awakened the consciousness of many people in a time of alienation through work. In “ The Metamorphosis” ( 1915) , Kafka made his readers identify with Gregor Samsa, who was transformed into a crawling insect overnight.
As a good expressionist and existentialist, the subjects of his literary work focus, among other things, on the state of modern man, fear, guilt, bureaucracy, frustration and loneliness.
6. William Faulkner, United States (1897-1962)
The Nobel Prize for Literature Faulkner is known for his experimental novels. He also served as a model for many contemporary authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Rulfo, Ana María Matute and the great Spanish-American existentialist Juan Carlos Onetti.
His final recognition was for his fourth novel, ” The Sound and the Fury” (1929), which is a polyphony of voices with different narrators demonstrating Faulkner’s amazing ability to reproduce the characteristics of the human mind, even the most abnormal.
7. Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina (1899-1986)
One of the key figures in Spanish-speaking and world literature is Borges. His respect for the clash of opposites with borrowings from the world of Argentine tango and allusions to the political situation in his home country.
The result was “ The Library of Babel” ( 1941) and more than 50 short stories, essays and poems that enable readers (be they mathematicians, philosophers, chemists or philologists) to enter the writer’s labyrinth to live with others Eyes to see and develop your own theory about it.
His hereditary blindness gave this literary master the secret keys to write on various subjects. They all had to do with philosophy, existentialism, the universe, etc., and expressed themselves through rationalism.
The most important writers in history
This list is of course only a small selection, there are numerous other writers of world literature who astonish us with their unsurpassable, unique works. Some of them are:
- “La Madeleine” by Proust
- “The Stories” by Camus
- Poe’s short stories
- James Joyce’s ” Ulysses”
Not to be forgotten are impressive women writers such as the American author Emily Dickinson (poems), Virginia Woolf with “A Room for You Alone” and Mary Shelley with “Frankenstein”.
Authors such as Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Murakami, Saramago, Zafón and JKRowling should also be mentioned. They have delighted the hearts of many young – and not so young – people with their multifarious universes.
Finally, we would like to mention one of Germany’s greatest poets, who is a worldwide reference: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe coined the idea of world literature. One of his most famous works is “Faust”, which appeared in various parts and versions.