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Literary Authors

Within literature, there have been many great authors that captured the attention of audiences around the world. Ultius’ glossary of authors contains a comprehensive list of authors, their most famous works and information about them.

Term Definition
Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas was a well-known French writer and author. Originally born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, he later became known as Alexandre Dumas, père and is most famous for his high adventure works.

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Alice Walker

In her works, Alice Walker tends to confront the themes of racism and sexism. This is reflective of her own background as a Black woman living in the United States. She is known for having coined the term womanism, which refers to feminism developed from a specifically Black standpoint. In terms of activism, Walker's positions could broadly be called left wing. She has, for example, attracted controversy as a result of her opposition to the policies of Israel. 

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Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl, written by Anne Frank across a timeframe of over two years, is an incredibly unique document: it essentially expresses the experience of living as a Jew within Nazi Germany from an immediate, first-person perspective. Also, a cadence of poignancy is added to the entire work by the fact that Anne Frank died at the age of 15. That is, she really was a young girl, albeit a quite precocious one. 

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Arthur Conan Doyle

At the time that he wrote his stories featuring Sherlock Holmes, Doyle's works were considered highly innovative within the genre of crime fiction. In particular, Sherlock Holmes has a very distinctive method for cracking cases: he is a genius at deductive logic. Instead of relying on intuition, chance, or other methods, Doyle thus carefully framed stories in such a way that all the relevant clues were clearly present but hidden at the same time.

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Arthur Miller

Although Arthur Miller had a long and prolific career, he is perhaps most widely known for his play Death of a Salesman. This play won both the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize when it came out in the year 1949. Its fame is likely due to the fact that it critically explores the concept and meaning of the American Dream from multiple perspectives. Usually, it is described as a quintessentially American play, much like Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

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Ayn Rand

The philosophy of objectivism is Rand's main legacy: even her novels are highly philosophical in nature and largely serve to develop her objectivist ideas through a different medium. Objectivism is characterized by a radical, quasi-Nietzschean individualism that largely rejects most liberal ethical notions. The author's philosophy has recently experienced a revival as a result of having been embraced by right-wing political groups such as the Tea Party.

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Brothers Grimm

The folklore collected and published by the Brothers Grimm have been foundational for several animated movies produced by Disney. For example, the tales of Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel were all original published by the Brothers Grimm. The versions of the stories that appear in the Brothers Grimm's own collection of fairy tales, however, are notably darker and more mature than the relatively censored and sanitized versions produced by Disney.

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C.S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis was friends with J. R. R. Tolkien; and like Tolkien, at least part of his claim to fame has to do with his mythopoetic talent. He created the entire world of Narnia across a series of seven children's books. Beyond this, though, Lewis is also known for the skill he displayed as an apologist for Christianity after converting to the faith. He was also a reputed scholar of medieval times and the culture that prevailed in that era.  

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Charles Dickens

The novels written by Dickens were primarily published in serial magazine format, with a chapter of the works being published at regular intervals. Dickens is known for having created some of the most memorable and widely known characters in English literature. This includes, for example, Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. Dickens experienced great success during his own lifetime, with people applauding his skill in social observation. 

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Christopher Hitchens

Commentators have been at something of a loss to classify Hitchens' political position. What is clear, however, is that Hitchens radically disliked Islamic fundamentalism, and he was glad that 9/11 galvanized the United States to confront this perceived menace. Hitchens also clearly disagreed with essentially all major religions, holding to the position that religion essentially prevents people from being rational and appreciating life.

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Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe was a distinguished playwright in his own right. Most people who have heard his name, however, have probably done so in connection with the theory that Marlowe was the actual author of several of the plays attributed to Shakespeare. This view has generally been dismissed by the relevant experts in the field. However, it seems to nevertheless have a rather tenacious hold on the popular imagination. 

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Cormac McCarthy

In one of Cormac McCarthy's works, The Road, a father and son find themselves wandering across a world in which an apocalyptic event ha occurred, with most survivors having been reduced to cannibalism in order to survive. This is characteristic of the kind of subjects that McCarthy writes about. Those subjects are often dark, violent, and focused on what could only be called the seedier side of human nature.

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Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe's primary claim to literary fame consists of his work Robinson Crusoe: a famous epistolary novel about a man who was castaway on an island for twenty-eight years. It could be classified as a novel of high adventure. Also, it was notable at the time for being one of the first major examples of a fully developed novel. Many people, however, suspected that the narrative was not fictional but rather a travelogue reporting actual events.  

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Dante Alighieri

The Divine Comedy, written by Dante Alighieri, depicts the journey of a soul through the various circles of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise. It is generally considered one of the greatest works of world literature ever written. Another work of his is La Vita Nuova. An interesting fact about Dante is that he had deep but unrequited love for a woman named Beatrice, who served as his muse and even appears near the end of the Divine Comedy.   

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David Foster Wallace

Infinite Jest is a sprawling, thousand-page novel consisting of multiple intertwined plotlines and a plethora of footnotes that serve to disrupt the narrative flow even further. In this work, Wallace surely accomplished the writer's dream of truly capturing the spirit of a time. He also wrote several short stories and journalistic essays. However, he committed suicide in 2008, succumbing to a depression that had plagued him all his life. 

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Denis Diderot

Historically considered, Diderot's primary significance consists of his adopting of and espousal of Enlightenment ideals. For example, he was a materialist and an atheist, suggesting that human nature is relatively fixed by heredity and that free will was probably an illusion. Likewise, his work on the Encyclopedia testifies to an optimism regarding the value of scientific and scholarly knowledge that is rather typical of the Enlightenment spirit.  

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Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss, who's full given name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, wrote a total of 46 children's books in his lifetime. This canon includes beloved stories such as Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham. Seuss's works are known for the imaginative appeal of its characters, which is quite enchanting to many children. In addition, Dr. Seuss was a fan of the anapest meter, which consists of a chain of two unstressed syllables and one stressed syllable.    

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Edgar Allan Poe

Most of Edgar Allan Poe's works consist of fantastic or mysterious situations that are characterized by a high level of emotionalism. In a way, they can be understood as exploring the fringes of human consciousness, or the darker side of human nature that is often glossed over by conventional society. Poe died at the age of 40, possibly because of the consequences of living a life of substance abuse and general disarray. 

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Elbert Hubbard

Elbert Hubbard was a writer, but it would be more effective to consider him as an activist whose writings emanated from his activism. He wrote, for example, that he was an anarchist, and that all good men were really anarchists—including Jesus. He also founded an artisan community in the state of New York known as Roycroft. Hubbard died as a result of the sinking of the ship Lusitania: he was onboard when it was hit by submarine fire. 

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Emily Dickinson

Most of Emily Dickenson's poems were stylistically innovative. For example, they usually contained slant rhymes (i.e. near-rhymes that sounded good but were not technically rhymes), lacked titles, and made use of idiosyncratic punctuation. One of her favorite themes was immortality. She spent much of her life in solitude, with the vast majority of her work as a poet being discovered only after her death and published posthumously.

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Ernest Hemingway

In his works, Ernest Hemingway developed a style of writing that was extremely concise and understated, saying nothing more than just what needed to be said. This unadorned style had a significant effect on twentieth century literature. Aside from his works of literature, Hemingway is also known for the kind of life he led. This includes fighting in World War I, living as an expatriate in France, and being an alcoholic.  

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Euripides was a writer of ancient tragic drama. This is a quintessentially Greek genre, in which a hero is pitted against fate and ends up losing on the balance. There is some critical debate about the exact stature of Euripides relative to the other great tragedians of ancient Greece. The philosopher Nietzsche, for example, famously argued that Euripides represents the degeneration of the great tragic tradition into mere moralism. 

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and was named after Francis Scott Key, the man who composed The Star-Spangled Banner. The majority of records of his early life are found in his diaries as a young child. He had always shown a talent and fondness for writing, plays, and poetry. In his college days, he dropped out of Princeton so that he could join the army and focus more on his literary career.

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Flannery O'Connor

The writings of O'Connor, which consist of two novels and several stories, are strongly set in the American South and colored by this regional flavor. Moreover, O'Connor tended to combine a grotesque or even horrific vision of human nature with a devout Catholic faith. This juxtaposition is likely responsible for the distinctiveness of her works. O'Connor died relatively young as a result of lupus, the disease which also took her father. 

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Frank Miller

Several of Miller's works have met with critical acclaim. The works are general known for their dark tone and themes. Moreover, some of his works, such as Sin City and 300, have been adapted into commercial films. Over time, Miller's works seem to have received less acclaim than they previously did. In particular, criticisms have emerged regarding political incorrectness and/or insensitivity related to gender politics. 

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Frederick Douglass

At the literary level, Frederick Douglass's primary legacy consists of his work Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave. As the title suggests, this is the story of Douglass's life; and it lent considerable energy to the abolitionist movement. In this sense, it could be understood as conceptually related to Dubois's later work The Souls of Black Folk. Both men gave powerful voice to the Black American experience.  

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Gary Paulsen

One of the most striking features of the canon of Paulsen's literary output is its sheer volume: he has published over 200 books in all, with several of the books being interrelated with each other. However, it should perhaps also be noted that Paulsen's works have not generally crossed over the boundary of genre fiction and become a part of the world of serious literature proper. There may thus possibly be something to be said here about quantity versus quality.  

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George Bernard Shaw

Shaw's legacy consists of both his literary production and his contributions to social criticism. At the level of literature, Shaw was a winner of both the Nobel Prize and the Academy Award—the only man about whom this can be said. At the level of politics, Shaw was a vehement critic of the exploitation and class oppression that characterized his own democratic society. This subject, naturally, also figures as an important theme in his literary works. 

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George Eliot

Eliot was a leading writer of the Victorian Era in England. Today, she is probably most widely known for her novel Middlemarch. As an Englishwoman writing realistically about social situations, she could perhaps be compared to Jane Austen, who wrote the famous female romance, Emma. Her birth name was Mary Ann Evans. She chose a male pseudonym because she was concerned that if the general public knew she was a woman, they would not take her seriously as a producer of literature. 

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George Orwell

Most of Orwell's writings show a strong awareness of issues of social injustice. His dystopian novel 1984, for example, portrays a world ruled by the totalitarian government of Big Brother, in which there is no respect for either truth or liberty. Orwell was also known for his defense of the proper and accurate use of the English language. This was related to his belief that the abuse of language is one of the main tactics used by totalitarian regimes.

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George R. R. Martin

George R.R. Martin is an American author who primarily worked on the fantasy novels that would later be remade into the popular HBO television series Game of Thrones. His storied literary career stands out due to the popularity of his works.

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Hans Christian Andersen

Many of Hans Christian Andersen's have become so seamlessly integrated into cultural consciousness of the West that people are often not aware that he was the one responsible for composing them: they often give the impression of being archaic folk tales. The Emperor's New Clothes is one such example; and The Ugly Duckling is another. Of course, his fairy tale The Little Mermaid became widely known as a result of Disney's film adaptation of the story. 

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Harper Lee

Harper Lee's first name is Nelle; Harper Lee is her pen name. Until very recently, she only had one published work: To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel explores themes of racism, justice, and innocence, and it was inspired by Lee's own experiences growing up. She published her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, in 2015, at the age of 88. Naturally, this came as a surprise to everyone: Lee had written next to nothing in the intervening 55 years. 

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Henrik Ibsen

In general, Ibsen's plays are noteworthy for the realism with which they portray social situations and conflicts between people. For example, in the play Brand, an idealistic priest ends up alienating others from him due to the rigor of his vision; and in A Doll's House, a woman abandons her family because they prevent her from being herself. In terms of frequency of performance, Ibsen's plays are only second in the world to Shakespeare's.  

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Herbert George "H.G." Wells

Herbert George Wells — known as H. G. Wells — was a prolific English writer in many genres, including the novel, history, politics, and social commentary, and textbooks and rules for war games.

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William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is considered to be one of the most famous writers and playwrights of the mid Renaissance period. During his lifetime, he published almost 40 plays, over 150 sonnets and a number of other works (with debated authorship on a few works). While he wrote many comedies (as well as tragedies), he is well-known for employing dark themes in his writing, commenting on the cruel nature of human beings.

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