January 27th, 2017 | Updated on July 31st, 2020
The literary giants of the 19th century are still considered titans of literature. Their body of works are today considered magnum opuses. Though more than a century has passed, their greatness still remain. Their works are still read by millions of readers across the world. No literary discussion is complete without them. Their works continue to inspire even today’s writers. Here, we have listed ten greatest writers of 19th century.
1. Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher and cultural critic who published intensively in the 1870s and 1880s. He is famous for uncompromising criticisms of traditional European morality and religion, as well as of conventional philosophical ideas and social and political pieties associated with modernity. Many of these criticisms rely on psychological diagnoses that expose false consciousness infecting people’s received ideas; for that reason, he is often associated with a group of late modern thinkers (including Marx and Freud) who advanced a “hermeneutics of suspicion” against traditional values.
His famous books include Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1892), On the Genealogy of Morality (1887), The Antichrist (1888), The Birth of Tragedy (1872), Ecce Homo (1883).
2. Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen (1875-1905) was a Danish author best known for writing children’s stories including ‘The Little Mermaid’ and ‘The Ugly Duckling.’
Hans Christian Andersen achieved worldwide fame for writing innovative and influential fairy tales. Many of his stories, including “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Princess and the Pea,” remain classics of the genre.
Andersen’s work first gained recognition in 1829, with the publication of a short story entitled “A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager.” He followed this with the publication of a play, a book of poetry and a travelogue.
The promising young author won a grant from the king, allowing him to travel across Europe and further develop his body of work. A novel based on his time in Italy, The Improvisatore, was published in 1835. The same year, Andersen began producing fairy tales. His next novels, O.T. and Only a Fiddler, remained critical favorites.
3. Victor Hugo
Though regarded in France as one of that country’s greatest poets, Victor Hugo(1802-1885) is better known abroad for such novels as Notre-Dame de Paris (1831) and Les Misérables (1862). In 1823 he published his first novel, Han d’Islande, which in 1825 appeared in an English translation as Hans of Iceland.
In 1824 he published a new verse collection, Nouvelles Odes, and followed it two years later with an exotic romance, Bug-Jargal (Eng. trans. The Slave King).
Hugo emerged as a true Romantic, however, with the publication in 1827 of his verse drama Cromwell. The subject of this play, with its near-contemporary overtones, is that of a national leader risen from the people who seeks to be crowned king.
4. Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) was a Russian novelist and short-story writer, whose works had an immense influence on 20th-century fiction. Dostoyevsky is usually regarded as one of the finest novelists who ever lived. Literary modernism, existentialism, and various schools of psychology, theology, and literary criticism have been profoundly shaped by his ideas. His works are often called prophetic because he so accurately predicted how Russia’s revolutionaries would behave if they came to power.
Dostoyevsky is best known for his novella Notes from the Underground and for four long novels, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Possessed (also and more accurately known as The Demons and The Devils), and The Brothers Karamazov. Each of these works is famous for its psychological profundity, and, indeed, Dostoyevsky is commonly regarded as one of the greatest psychologists in the history of literature.
5. Leo Tolstoy
Russian author Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) wrote the acclaimed novels ‘War and Peace,’ ‘Anna Karenina’ and ‘The Death of Ivan Ilyich,’ and ranks among the world’s top writers. He wrote his first great novel, War and Peace. In 1873, Tolstoy set to work on the second of his best-known novels, Anna Karenina.
He continued to write fiction throughout the 1880s and 1890s. One of his most successful later works was The Death of Ivan Ilyich.
The first sentence of Anna Karenina is among the most famous lines of the book: “All happy families resemble one another, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Anna Karenina was published in installments from 1873 to 1877, to critical and public acclaim.
6. Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust (1871-1922) a French novelist, who authored À la recherche du temps perdu (1913–27; In Search of Lost Time). t was a seven-volume novel based on Proust’s life told psychologically and allegorically.
In 1896 Proust published Les Plaisirs et les jours (Pleasures and Days), a collection of short stories at once precious and profound, most of which had appeared during 1892–93 in the magazines Le Banquet and La Revue Blanche. From 1895 to 1899 he wrote Jean Santeuil, an autobiographical novel that, though unfinished and ill-constructed, showed awakening genius and foreshadowed À la recherche.
In Search of Lost Time, like many great literary works, is a quest whose structure resembles that of a symphony. The novel’s major themes—love, art, time, and memory—are carefully and brilliantly orchestrated throughout the book
7. Mark Twain
Mark Twain (1835-1910) whose real name was Samuel Clemens, was the celebrated author of several novels, including two major classics of American literature: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.He was also a riverboat pilot, journalist, lecturer, entrepreneur and inventor.
He acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad (1869), Roughing It (1872), and Life on the Mississippi (1883), and for his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).
8. Jane Austen
Jane Austen (1775-1817) published four novels during her lifetime: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). In these and in Persuasion and Northanger Abbey (published together posthumously, 1817), she vividly depicted English middle-class life during the early 19th century. Her novels defined the era’s novel of manners, but they also became timeless classics that remained critical and popular successes two centuries after her death.
9. Thomas Hardy
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) set much of his work in Wessex, his name for the counties of southwestern England.
Between 1874 and 1895, he wrote over a dozen novels and collections of stories, including The Return of the Native (1878), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886) and Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891). After the adverse reception of the savagely bleak Jude the Obscure (1895) he turned to poetry, which he continued to write and publish throughout the rest of his life.
10. George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was an Irish playwright, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.
His earliest dramas were called appropriately Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (1898). Among these, Widower’s Houses and Mrs. Warren’s Profession savagely attack social hypocrisy, while in plays such as Arms and the Man and The Man of Destiny the criticism is less fierce. Shaw’s radical rationalism, his utter disregard of conventions, his keen dialectic interest and verbal wit often turn the stage into a forum of ideas, and nowhere more openly than in the famous discourses on the Life Force, «Don Juan in Hell», the third act of the dramatization of woman’s love chase of man, Man and Superman (1903).