From poets like Dante Alighieri to Shakespeare and writers such as Kafka and William Faulkner, we have seen many people who have influenced the arts and have remained forever alive in their works. Apart from these that have been there for almost forever, there are also many famous poets and writers who have influenced our generation a great deal, thanks to the ideas that they have sustained not only through their works but also via their unmatched ways of life.
Famous Poets and Writers
1. Maya Angelou
One of the greatest poets of her generation, Maya Angelou is a poet, singer, and writer who surprisingly enough, did not start out as a writer until much later in her life after taking many jobs including as a nightclub dancer, performer, and also as a sex worker.
Although Maya was more famous as a poet, she also had three books of essays and seven autobiographies to her name before she died in 2014. Among her published poetry works are Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie (1971), And Still I Rise (1978), and Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women (1995).
2. Stephen King
With well over 350 million copies of his works sold, Stephen King is one of the most read authors, not only of our generation but for almost always. Known for his horror, supernatural fiction, and thriller, King has had many of his works adapted into movies.
King started writing since 1967 and has already had more than 200 short stories to his name and over a hundred novels and collections. While most of his works were published under his name, there are some that have been published under the pseudonyms Richard Bachman, John Swithen, and Beryl Evans.
Some of his most popular works are It (2011), The Stand (1978), The Shining (1977), and The Green Mile (1966).
3. J. K. Rowling
The Harry Potter series is one of the most influential books of our generation. The books enjoyed a cult following that has made them the best-selling series in history with more than 500 million copies sold worldwide and it has been adapted into movies.
The person behind it is Joanne Rowling who is more popular as J. K. Rowling or sometimes Robert Galbraith. The British writer has become one of the most influential writers thanks to the success of the fantasy novels that have seen her rise from rags to becoming the first author billionaire in the world.
Apart from Harry Potter, she has also written other works including Career of Evil (2015) and The Cuckoo’s Calling (2013) under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith.
4. Neil Gaiman
Why Neil Gaiman has become an important writer is not only because he is a fantastic writer but also because he has covered a lot of areas as a writer, making him one of the most versatile. He is a novelist, comic book creator, and screenwriter among other things.
Born in 1960, Gaiman has been writing since 1984. Among his most popular works are American Gods (2001), The Graveyard Book (2008) Good Omens (1990), and The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013).
Apart from the many novels he has written, Gaiman has many comics to his name including Black Orchid (with Dave McKean, 1988–1989), short story collections such as Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders (2006), and a handful of non-fiction works.
5. Charles Bukowski
Although Charles Bukowski died in 1994, he is still regarded as one of the most influential poets and writers that this generation has seen. The German-born poet and novelist was born in 1920 in the present day Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. His family moved to the United States in 1923.
Some of his very popular works include Post Office (1971), Pulp (1978), Love Is a Dog from Hell (1977), and The Last Night of the Earth Poems (1992).
6. Margaret Atwood
Among the most famous poets and writers, one will always find the popular Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, and essayist, Margaret Atwood. With notable honors such as the Man Booker Prize, Arthur C. Clarke Award, and Franz Kafka Prize all on her shelf, Atwood is highly celebrated because of her contributions as a writer.
Born in 1939, the writer did not get to attend full-time school until she was 12. That said, she had already started writing plays and poetry since she was only 6. It was, however, until she was 16 that she decided she wanted becoming a professional writer.
She published her first work of poetry Double Persephone in 1961 followed by The Circle Game in 1964. She continued with other poetry works including Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein (1966) and The Animals in That Country (1968) before later releasing her first novel The Edible Woman in 1969. Atwood also got involved in non-fiction works such as Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth which was published in 2008 and comic book series Angel Catbird (2016). She worked on the comic with Johnnie Christmas.
7. J D Salinger
Born Jerome David Salinger on January 1, 1919, the writer is very popular for his novel, The Catcher in the Rye which has influenced a completely new genre. He is also known for his many short stories. He started writing since he was in secondary school at night using flashlights.
Although he lived most of his life trying to keep away from public exposure, his works have attracted a lot of attention to him. By the time he died in 2010, he had already had over 20 novels, published anthologized stories, and unpublished ones. He left behind several unpublished works.
8. Toni Morrison
Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford in 1931, Toni Morison is also one of the famous poets and writers who has been very influential. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award, her parents told her African-American folktales and ghost stories when she was a child, something that later helped her develop and sustain an interest in literature and writing.
Her first book, The Bluest Eye was published in 1970 followed by Sula in 1973. She also published Children’s literature, short stories, and plays. Toni also has other non-fiction works.
9. George R. R. Martin
Famous as GRRM, George R. R. Martin is a novelist and short story writer who is famous for works such as A Song of Ice and Fire. It is this work that has been adapted into the popular HBO series, Games of Thrones which has been running since 2011.
The writer was born in 1948 and he began reading when he was young to help him experience places beyond the little place he lived in. Soon afterward, he started writing monster stories for kids in the neighborhood who paid him pennies.
When he was 21, he began selling short stories professionally. One of his first stories, With Morning Comes Mistfall (1973), got Hugo Award and Nebula Awards nominations.
He has many books to his name including the short story collections A Song for Lya (1976), Songs of Stars and Shadows (1977), and Portraits of His Children (1987). His novels include A Dance with Dragons (2011), A Game of Thrones (1996), and Fevre Dream (1982).
10. Sylvia Plath
Among the most famous poets and writers who have influenced our generation is Sylvia Plath. Although she died in the 1960s, her works, most especially her poetry, still remain relevant.
Plath is a novelist and poet who is very popular for her novel The Bell Jar and her poems including Lady Lazarus and Daddy. Born on October 27, 1932, she battled depression for the most part of her life and even tried taking her life a number of times before she died at the age of 30 following complications from diabetes.
She began writing poems since she was 8 and by the time she got to college, she had already had many poems and more than 50 short stories to her name. Her first poetry collection The Colossus and Other Poems was published in 1960. Her remaining poetry works were all published after her death. She also had a number of prose, novels and children books that were published after her death.
11. Robert Frost
Frost lived from 1987 to 1963, but he is one poet that many ends up always returning to. His poem, The Road Not Taken is deemed by many to be among the best poems ever written.
With four Pulitzer prizes and 31 Nobel Prize in Literature nominations, Frost was very influential as a writer. He got as much as 15$ ($434 today) for his first poem “My Butterfly. An Elegy”.
More than the plenty of poetry collections that he has published, Frost also had spoken word poetry, as well as several plays and novels.
12. Kurt Vonnegut
Born on November 11, 1922, in the United States, Kurt was of German descent. His mother tried writing as a way out of her depression but she did not have any success with it. However, when her son went to high school, he realized that he could, in fact, write more than many people.
In the year that followed, he kept writing and published his first novel Player Piano in 1952. By the time of his death in 2007, he had already had 14 novels, 5 plays, 3 short story collections, and a number of non-fiction works. One of his most known works is Slaughterhouse-Five which was published in 1969.
A number of his works including Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) and Slapstick, or Lonesome No More! (1976) have been adapted into movies.