Essayists During English-American Periodontist

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This is a list of essayists—people notable for their essay-writing.

Note: Birthplaces (as listed) do not always indicate nationality.

A[edit]

  • Augurio Abeto, (1900–1977, Philippines)
  • André Aciman, (born 1951, Egypt)
  • Joseph Addison (1672–1719, England)
  • Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969, Germany)
  • José de Alencar, (1829–1877, Brazil)
  • Kingsley Amis (1922–1995, United Kingdom)
  • Martin Amis (born 1949, United Kingdom)
  • Oswald de Andrade, (1890–1954, Brazil)
  • Jacob M. Appel (born 1973, United States)
  • Helena Araújo Ortiz (1934–2015, Colombia)
  • Matthew Arnold (1822–1888, United Kingdom)
  • Anastasia Ashman (born 1964, United States)
  • Margaret Atwood (born 1939, Canada)
  • Isaac Asimov (1920–1992, Russia)
  • W. H. Auden (1907–1973, United Kingdom)
  • Joxe Azurmendi (born 1941, Spain)

B[edit]

  • Rambriksh Benipuri (1902–1968, India)
  • Francis Bacon (1561–1626, England)
  • Walter Bagehot (1826–1877, England)
  • James Baldwin (1924–1987, United States)
  • Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743–1825, England)
  • John Perry Barlow (1947–2018, United States)
  • Julian Barnes (born 1946, United Kingdom)
  • Jacques Barzun (1907–2012, France)
  • Enis Batur (born 1952, Turkey)
  • Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867, France)
  • Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953, United Kingdom)
  • Walter Benjamin (1892–1940, Germany)
  • Wendell Berry (born 1934, United States)
  • Jens Bjørneboe (1920-1976, Norway)
  • Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986, Argentina)
  • Alain de Botton (born 1969, Switzerland)
  • Giannina Braschi (born 1953, Puerto Rico)
  • William Brandon (1914–2002, United States)
  • Alfred Brendel (born 1931, Czech Republic)
  • Christopher Buckley (born 1952, United States)
  • Anthony Burgess (1917–1993, United Kingdom)
  • Richard de Bury (1287–1345, England)

C-D[edit]

  • Erskine Caldwell (1903– 2007, United States)
  • Italo Calvino (1923–1985, Italy)
  • Albert Camus (1913–1960, Algeria)
  • Rafael Cansinos Assens (1882–1964, Spain)
  • John Carey (born 1934, United Kingdom)
  • Simon Carmiggelt (1913–1987, Netherlands)
  • Otto Maria Carpeaux (1900–1978, Austria)
  • Kelly Cherry (born 1940, United States)
  • G. K. Chesterton (1874–1936, United Kingdom)
  • Noam Chomsky (1928, United States)
  • Winston Churchill (1874–1965, Great Britain)
  • J. M. Coetzee (born 1940, South Africa)
  • William Cobbett (1763–1835, Great Britain)
  • Charles Caleb Colton (1780–1832, Great Britain)
  • Cyril Connolly (1903–1974, United Kingdom)
  • Abraham Cowley (1618–1667, Great Britain)
  • Emil Cioran (1911–1995, Romania)
  • A. J. Cronin (1896–1981, Scotland)
  • Orson Scott Card (born 1951, United States)
  • Richard Dawkins (born 1941, United Kingdom)
  • Mike Daisey (born 1976, United States)
  • Anthony Daniels (Theodore Dalrymple) (born 1949, United Kingdom)
  • Nik De Dominic (born 1981, United States)
  • Joan Didion (born 1934, United States)
  • Annie Dillard (born 1945, United States)
  • Alfred Döblin (1878-1957, Germany)
  • John Dolan (born 1955, United States)
  • Joe Dolce (born 1947, Australia)
  • Denis Donoghue (born 1928, Ireland)
  • John Dryden (1631–1700, England)

E-G[edit]

  • Klaus Ebner (born 1964, Austria)
  • Umberto Eco (1932–2016, Italy)
  • T. S. Eliot (1888–1965, United States)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882, United States)
  • Joseph Epstein (born 1937, United States)
  • Filip Erceg (born 1979, Croatia)
  • Barbara Ehrenreich (born 1941, United States)
  • Jaime Eyzaguirre, (1908–1968, Chile)
  • Anne Fadiman (born 1953, United States)
  • Femi Fani-Kayode (born 1960, Nigeria)
  • Frantz Fanon (1925–1961, Martinique)
  • Richard Farmer (1735–1797, England)
  • Benito Jerónimo Feijoo e Montenegro (1676–1764, Spain)
  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti (born 1919, United States)
  • Predrag Finci (born 1946, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • E. M. Forster (1879–1970, England)
  • John Foster (1770–1843, United Kingdom)
  • Ian Frazier (born 1951, United States)
  • Robert Fulghum (born 1937, United States)
  • Joan Fuster (1922–1992, Spain)
  • Harry Gamboa, Jr. (born 1951, United States)
  • Karl-Markus Gauß (born 1954, Austria)
  • Malcolm Gladwell (born 1963, United Kingdom)
  • Adam Gopnik (born 1956, United States)
  • Stephen Jay Gould (1941–2002, United States)
  • Muhammad Loutfi Goumah (1886–1953, Egypt)
  • Paul Graham (born 1964, England)
  • Clement Greenberg (born 1909, United States)
  • A. C. Grayling (born 1949, United Kingdom)
  • Gordon Grice (born 1965, United States)
  • Stanka Gjurić (born 1956, Croatia)

H-J[edit]

  • Carla Harryman (born 1952, California)
  • William Hazlitt (1778–1830, England)
  • Peter Handke (born 1942 Griffen, Austria)
  • Saeko Himuro (1957–2008, Japan)
  • Fumi Hirano (born 1955, Japan)
  • Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011, United Kingdom)
  • Peter Hitchens (born 1951, United Kingdom)
  • Hugh Hood (1928–2000, Canada)
  • Langston Hughes (1902–1967, United States)
  • David Hume (1711–1776, United Kingdom)
  • Leigh Hunt (1784–1859, England)
  • Shigesato Itoi (born 1948, Japan)
  • Jwalamukhi (1938–2008, India)
  • Michael Johns (born 1964, United States)
  • Diane Johnson (born 1934, United States)
  • Samuel Johnson (1709–1784, England)
  • June Jordan (1936–2002, United States)

K-L[edit]

  • Steven G. Kellman (born 1947, United States)
  • Frank Kermode (1919–2010, United Kingdom)
  • Tracy Kidder (born 1945, United States)
  • Chuck Klosterman (born 1972, United States)
  • Rudy Kousbroek (1929–2010, Netherlands)
  • Hans Krieger (born 1933, Germany)
  • Miroslav Krleža (1893–1981, Croatia)
  • Tomislav Ladan (1932–2008, Serbia)
  • Laila Lalami (born 1968, Morocco)
  • Charles Lamb (1775–1834, England)
  • Shankar Lamichhane (Nepal)
  • Corinne Lee (United States)
  • Albert Leung (born 1961, Hong Kong)
  • C. S. Lewis (1898–1963, Ireland)
  • Li Ao (born 1935, China, Taiwan)
  • Liang Shiqiu (1903–1987. China, Taiwan)
  • Alan Lightman (born 1948, United States)
  • Tim Lilburn (born 1950, Canada)
  • Lin Wenyue (born 1933, Taiwan)
  • Joan Lindsay (1896–1984, Australia)
  • Lu Xun (1881–1936, China)

M-N[edit]

  • John McPhee (born 1931, United States)
  • Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949), Belgium)
  • Norman Mailer (1923–2007, United States)
  • Jorge Majfud (born 1969, Uruguay)
  • Nathan McCall (born 1955, United States)
  • Mary McCarthy (1912–1989, United States)
  • Tim McKay (1947–2006, United States)
  • Louis Menand (born 1952, United States)
  • H. L. Mencken (1880–1956, United States)
  • Arthur Miller (1915–2005, United States)
  • Pankaj Mishra (born 1969, India)
  • Donald Grant Mitchell (1822–1908, United States)
  • Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592, France)
  • Angela Morales (born 1966, United States)
  • Michele Moramarco (born 1953, Italy)
  • V. S. Naipaul (born 1932, Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Nakane Kōtei (1839–1913, Japan)
  • Ukichiro Nakaya (1900–1962, Japan)
  • Marie NDiaye (born 1967, France)
  • Virgil Nemoianu (born 1940, Romania)
  • Kathleen Norris (born 1947, United States)

O-R[edit]

  • Joyce Carol Oates (born 1938, United States)
  • George Orwell (1903–1950, United Kingdom)
  • Borislav Pekić (1930–1992, Serbia)
  • Noel Perrin (1927–2004, United States)
  • Samuel F. Pickering Jr. (born 1941, United States)
  • Mestrius Plutarch (46–127, Boeotia, Ancient Greece)
  • Katherine Ann Porter (1890–1980, United States)
  • Kevin Prufer (born 1969, United States)
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849, United States)
  • Thomas de Quincey (1785–1859, England)
  • Indra Bahadur Rai (born 1927, India)
  • Kenneth Rexroth (1905–1985, United States)
  • Tjalie Robinson (1911–1974, Netherlands)
  • Richard Rodriguez (born 1944, United States)
  • Arundhati Roy (born 1961, India)
  • Bertrand Russell (1872–1970, United Kingdom)

S[edit]

  • Rahul Sankrityayan (1893–1963, India)
  • Edward Said (1935–2003, Palestine)
  • John Ralston Saul (born 1947, Canada)
  • Dan Schneider (born 1965, United States)
  • Robert Schumann (1810–1856, Germany)
  • David Sedaris (born 1956, United States)
  • John Robert Seeley (1834–1895, England)
  • Rafael Calvo Serer (1916–1988, Spain)
  • George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950, Ireland)
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822, England)
  • David Shields (1956, United States)
  • Clay Shirky (born 1964, United States)
  • Simeon Simev (born 1949, Republic of Macedonia)
  • Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar' (1908–1974, India)
  • Jean Edward Smith (born 1932, United States)
  • Zadie Smith (born 1975, England)
  • Walid Soliman (born 1975, Tunisia)
  • Rebecca Solnit (born 1961, United States)
  • Susan Sontag (1933–2004, United States)
  • Dejan Stojanović (born 1959, Serbia)
  • Lytton Strachey (1880–1932, United Kingdom)
  • Cheryl Strayed (born 1968, United States)
  • Matias Skard (1846-1827, Norway)

T-Y[edit]

  • Nassim Nicholas Taleb (born 1960, Lebanon)
  • Alain Tasso (born 1962, Lebanon)
  • Vijay Tendulkar (1928–2008, India)
  • Issa Laye Thiaw (born 1943, Senegal)
  • Colm Tóibín (born 1955, Ireland)
  • Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910, Russia)
  • Lionel Trilling (1905–1975, United States)
  • George W. S. Trow (1943–2006, United States)
  • Andrew Vachss (born 1942, United States)
  • Paul Valéry (1871–1945, France)
  • Erico Verissimo (1905–1975, Brazil)
  • Gore Vidal (1925–2012, United States)
  • Voltaire (1697–1778, France)
  • Richard Wagner (1813–1883, Germany)
  • David Foster Wallace (1962–2008, United States)
  • Rebecca West (1892–1983, United Kingdom)
  • E. B. White (1899–1985, United States)
  • Oscar Wilde (1852–1900, Ireland)
  • Tom Wolfe (born 1931, United States)
  • Virginia Woolf (1882–1941, United Kingdom)
  • Yang Jiang (1911–2016, China)
  • Marguerite Yourcenar (1903–1987, France)

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I write essays to clear my mind.
– Taiye Selasi

Certainly, Ms. Selasi did not speak about academic essay writer’s block in particular, but essay writers block in general. Have you ever thought how essay writers could influence other people, and how important they could be for events’ coverage in history?

Thanks to these people we have a chance to learn interesting facts and understand the world around us better, and thanks to their works we perfectly know what sources to use as references when we write our academic papers.

A writer’s profession is among the most ancient ones. Great essay writers have been working since the early days of American history, and we can be proud of this fact for sure. Each period of our history has its own famous essay writers, and their works are a great example of what a power words have and how beautiful our speech can be when we express our thoughts consistently and concisely.

Let’s take a look at the brightest representatives of American essayists from the different historical periods and check their most famous essays to understand their originality and importance better.

Early American and Colonial Period: to 1776

A revolutionary spirit was in the air then. So, it is not surprising that this theme is perfectly displayed in all works of famous essay authors of that time. They wrote about laws they considered unjust, they described slavery and were against of it, they criticized authorities and their policy, they disagreed with aristocrats, and they warned what the circumstances of such a situation could be.

It was the period of colonial and revolutionary literature, and the greatest representatives of American essayists there were:

  • Francis Bacon (1561-1626) and his work Of Youth and Age, Of Truth, Of Studies, Of Revenge, Of Parents and Children, Of Marriage and Single Life, Of Discourse
  • Samuel Sewall (1652 – 1730) and his work The Selling of Joseph (1700)
  • John Woolman (1720-1772) and his two essays Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes (1754 and 1762)

Democratic Origins and Revolutionary Writers: 1776-1820

The triumph of American independence influenced the moods and literature of those times. It was a period of early national literature, when essays by famous authors described antislavery, democratic sensibility, American exceptionalism, support of the Constitution, American generations, and relations between England and America.

Moreover, this is the time when essay writers pay publishers to see their works live. Writers perfectly know what hooks to use for their essays, and they have no doubts as for their works’ topicality, informational content, utility, and uniqueness. The best and well-known essayists of that period are:

  • Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and his works Advice on the Choice of a Mistress, The Art of Procuring Pleasant Dreams, The Temple of Learning, The Whistle
  • Thomas Paine (1737-1809) and his two works: Common Sense (1776), The American Crisis (1783)
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) and his The Declaration of Independence
  • Washington Irving (1783-1859) and his The Mutability of Literature (1820)

Romantic Period : 1820–1860

This very period is called the American Renaissance, as it was inspired by the Romantic movement originated in Germany but spread to other European countries, such as England and France. The writing representatives here were both poets and essayists, as well as fiction authors, and their ideas centered around spirit, organic growth, inspiration, and the importance of art for society in general and individual in particular.

The major theme for every essayist of romantic age was self-development. A man should express himself and find ways for self-awareness and self-expression. The development of society is impossible to imagine without arts. Self and nature are one. Every essayist of romantic period found himself obligatory to describe similar moods in his works.

The names of famous essayists of that period are well-known today:

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): Gifts, Self-Reliance, The Poet
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894): The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
  • Margaret Fuller (1810-1850): Papers on Literature and Art
  • Joseph Dennie (1768-1812): Jack and Gill: A Mock Criticism
  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906): On Women’s Right to Vote
  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The Philosophy of Furniture
  • Frederick Douglass (1818-1895): The Destiny of Colored Americans

The Rise of Realism: 1860-1914

As far as you understand, all those romantic moods could not last forever. 1860 was a year when realism had come back home and started to flourish in full. Famous essay writers of those times were inspired by the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), and the period of innocent optimism gave its way to a period of total exhaustion.

This is a period of America’s transformation into a huge and strong industrial nation. All these themes (a war, a person’s and nation’s strength, industrialization, urbanization, and alienation) find their output in many books, articles, and essays. Every famous essayist quotes were known by heart and cited, as they perfectly knew how to write an essay that would really work. The greatest works of that time were:

  • Mark Twain (1835-1910): Advice to Youth, The Danger of Lying in Bed, On the Decay of the Art of Lying
  • W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963): Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others
  • Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888): Death of a Soldier (1863)
  • Henry Adams (1838-1918): A Law of Acceleration (1907)
  • A. Bronson Alcott (1799-1888): “Exercise” essay collection Table-Talk (1877)
  • Mary Austin (1868-1934): The Land of Little Rain (1903)

Modernism and Experimentation: 1914-1945

Gertrude Stein, a well-known literary portraitist, has called young people of that time “the lost generation”; and we all know and remember writers of that time on this definition. This period between two world wars had been quite traumatic for American youths, as they were disillusioned with wars, did not like aristocrats, wanted to achieve something special in their lives… Such moods found the output in fiction works and essays of that time.

Writers and essayists were influenced by the Depression as well. They experimented with their writing forms, trying to express their points of view in quite unusual but still catchy and meaningful ways. The names of notional authors and essayists of this time are known by everyone today, and their works can be a great example for those people who want to become successful writers:

  • Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961): The Snows of Kilimanjaro
  • William Faulkner (1897-1962): The Sound and the Fury
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940): What I Think and Feel at 25
  • George Ade (1866-1944): Luxuries 1922

American Essay Writers of Postwar Period

Essay writers of 1945-1990 were very reflexive. They observed everything that happened around them, described it and commented on it. Essays of that time have a really big value for us, as they help understand the nature, moods and development of Americans in the postwar period.

As oral genres become more popular and influential now, essayists use speeches, movies, songs to understand situation and people’s moods better and do their best to express them in writings. The literature of that time was extremely multifaceted, as it was influenced by Latin American realism and European existentialism. Such strong personalities as Nelson Mandela with his writings also gave American essay writers food for their works:

  • Norman Mailer (1923-2007): The White Negro
  • John McPhee (1931-present): The Search for Marvin Gardens
  • Joan Didion (1934-present): The White Album
  • Edward Hoagland (1932-present): Heaven and Nature

More names of the most famous essays’ authors of that time can be found here.

Contemporary American Essayists

Modern essayists are brave enough to challenge old ideas and adapt them to suit today’s quickly changing world. The fact Americans are one of the most diverse nations influences the writing moods much. Such themes as religion, feminism and post-feminism, various social issues, etc. get their new life now.

The Internet gives a way to a short story’s development. This genre becomes more and more popular: people do not want (and do not have) to spend much time on reading and analyzing long manuscripts, and most of them prefer quick reading online. Such a tendency helped many novice writers declare themselves by simple sharing of their short stories with online audience.

The best representatives of modern essayists are (all they can be found in the list of top 10 contemporary essayists to check):

  • Marilynne Robinson: When I Was a Child I Read Books
  • John Jeremiah Sullivan: Pulphead
  • Stephen King: Great Hookers I Have Known
  • Sarah Vowell: The Partly Cloudy Patriot
  • David Shields: Reality Hunger

As we can see, the term “essay writing” does not come to college application essay writer’s block only. The best essay writers of all time try to share their thoughts and views for us, readers, to learn the world around us better. Taking a look throughout American history, each of us can understand the importance of these people’s work and their influence on general moods in society.

Keep reading and examining American essay writers, and who knows… Maybe you will have a chance to join them and become an influential and popular essayist one day.

By Lesley Vos, a staff blogger and essay proofreader, who is a big fan of reading as well. You are welcome to join her on Facebook or Google+.

Writingamerican writers, essay writers, famous essayists, history of writingMike Hanski

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