The 10 Most Influential Authors of the Modern Era

There are 10 authors of the modern age that continue to influence people worldwide. Each of these authors have inspired billions of people worldwide and their works continue to influence politicians, scientists, and other authors to this day.

In order to land on this list each of the following authors would have had to publish works that forever changed history and society. This could either be done directly or indirectly. Further, this change would have to have influenced millions of people worldwide.

The top 10 most influential authors of the modern age are as follows:

  • William Shakespeare
  • Mark Twain
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Charles Dickens
  • Jane Austen
  • George Orwell
  • Gabriel Garcia Marques
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • Voltaire
  • J.R.R Tolkien

Under each of these authors I provide details as to why they ended up on this list. Further, if you’re interested there is an entire article that goes into detail on their accomplishments and how they forever changed history.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you liked content like this then consider subscribing to the free newsletter and sharing around the internet.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 most influential authors of the modern era.

William Shakespeare

BornBaptized 26th of April, 1564
Died23rd of April, 1616
Famous Quote“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste death but once.”
Known ForChanging western literature, reviving age of performance plays, and the world’s best selling playwright
Region of WorldEngland, 16th century
Further ReadingThe 3 Things that Made Shakespeare A Good Writer

William Shakespeare forever changed the way that performance writing was done in the west. As such he remains one of the most influential authors of the modern era.

Shakespeare was taught to read the ancient Latin plays and literature of the Roman Empire. This would profoundly affect his writing as these Roman pieces of literature were designed to be performed before an illiterate crowd.

In the early 17th century England most of the peasantry was unable to read. Playwrights and authors would write their works of art for the nobility and clergy as only they could read.

Shakespeare instead revived the ancient style of declamation and performance writing. All of his works are designed to be understood by the commoner and the nobility at the same time.

To do this Shakespeare mixed Iambic pentameter rhyming along with natural poetry to create literature that read well as well as sounded good. That’s why when you read Shakespeare you can almost hear the words jumping off the page.

This was groundbreaking. For the first time in English society Shakespeare managed to create riveting stories that everyone could enjoy.

Today all modern authors are inspired by Shakespeare. Literature has to both read well and sound good at the same time. However, just being a good author alone does not land him on this list.

Shakespeare’s influence extends far up until the modern day through his use of rhetoric to explain advanced concepts to a crowd. All modern politicians study William Shakespeare’s writing to prepare speeches to be performed before a crowd to get the desirable outcome. This alone has influenced billions of people worldwide.

As a result, Shakespeare remains one of the most influential authors of the modern era.

Mark Twain

BornNovember 30th, 1835
DiedApril 21st, 1910
Famous Quote“May you always keep your youth.”
Known ForChanging American literature, Supporting the sciences
Region of the WorldUnited States, 19th century
Further ReadingThe One Reason Mark Twain Became Famous

Mark Twain remains one of the most influential authors of the modern era for his impact upon western civilization.

The United States during the 19th century emulated the elite of the British Empire. Rich business owners in the United States would buy English products and clothes to copy their style.

However, this was only the case in high society in the United States. Mark Twain was born in the antebellum south of early 19th century Mississippi.

Mark Twain would grow up in a completely different culture and society. His stories of Huckleberry Finn are heavily inspired by this youthful upbringing.

This was an inherently different type of culture than the British. Here in Twain’s writings existed an America devoid of elitisms where the countryside was mystical and slowed down when compared to the city.

Twain would write about American legends and folklore. This forever changed the way that the world viewed the countryside of the United States. What happened was that across the United States people began to push west to search for Twain’s adventures.

As a result of this literature and politicians worldwide began to visit the Americas and fall in love with the concept of natural beauty.

To this day Mark Twain’s influence can be felt in movies and literature surrounding the United States and Europe. When you see a person idealizing the countryside you can thank Mark Twain for his publication of novels.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Born11th of November, 1821
Died9th of February, 1881
Famous Quote“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness”
Known ForPhilosophical writer exploring human condition in 19th century Russia, laying foundation for modern literature
Region of WorldRussia, 19th century
Further ReadingThe 3 Reasons Why Fyodor Dostoevsky Is Famous Today

Today one of the most influential authors of the modern era is hands down Fyodor Dostoevsky. Not only was he a highly influential author but his work would go on to be foundational philosophy for the Soviet Union in the 20th century.

Dostoevsky lived a very hard life. After leaving military service he would join banned literary circles in Imperial Russia.

Because of this he would be exiled to a forced labor camp in Siberia where he would spend all day chained to a wall. It was in this labor camp that Dostoevsky would start to formulate his philosophy towards power and literature.

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s style of writing is dark and forces the reader to question their own morality. However, in each of his books there lies a glimmer of hope that the plot revolves around.

One of the main influences of Dostoevsky upon literature was the introduction of the literary element of polyphony. Here Dostoevsky would have another character state plainly what the main character was feeling or thinking.

This literary element served to keep the audience informed about exactly what was going on in the narrative. To this day all novel writers use the concept of polyphony as checkpoints within their own work to help readers.

However, that alone would not have Dostoevsky end up on this list. It is his philosophical writings that have influenced billions of people worldwide.

Dostoevsky was thrown into prison by the Russian Tsar. Most people would think that Fyodor Dostoevsky would form a negative opinion of the Tsar. However, the opposite happened.

Dostoevsky’s main influence is his philosophical stance that an effective state must be governed by one strong individual who has public support for their actions. This monarch could steer the state in the right direction while also supporting the population at large.

This philosophy directly led to the creation of the Soviet Union during the 20th century. To this day his writings and philosophy shape the state formation of Eastern Europe and Asia, impacting billions of people.

As such he firmly lands on the list of the 10 most influential authors of the modern era.

Charles Dickens

BornFebruary 7th, 1812
Died9th of June, 1870
Famous Quote“Trifles make the sum of life.”
Known ForWriting societal critiques of Victorian England, helping to reform the prison system, helping to establish Victorian morals in the west
Region of WorldEngland, 19th century
Further ReadingThe 3 Main Accomplishments of Charles Dickens That Changed History

Charles Dickens is today one of the most influential authors of the modern era for his impact upon civilization in the west.

Charles Dickens was born into 19th century Victorian England. He saw the height of the industrial revolution; both its positives and its negatives.

When his father was sent to a debtors’ prison for failing to pay back a loan the young Charles Dickens would be forced to work 14 hours a day making shoes shine. This helped pay for his fathers release.

However, this profoundly affected the young Charles Dickens. Later on in his life Dickens would remark that he found it so strange that industrialization would throw away a child so easily.

Charles Dickens would go on to write novels that provided a deep critique of England’s industrialization. His novels such as Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge, David Copperfield, and A Christmas Carol all feature an industrial England world. In this world there are two classes of people, the industrialists and those who labor in the factories.

However, Dickens wrote his novels in a way where they were friendly and approachable by the public. His goal was to subtly influence English society to realize how barbaric the hidden parts of industrialization were. In a world of steamships and railroads factory workers were treated as replaceable parts.

Dickens novels became best sellers and forever changed 3 things about western society. First, workers reform across the British Empire began to protect workers. Second, Debtors Prisons started to be eliminated. Third, Dickens instituted Victorian morals across the western world.

Today the reason the holiday Christmas is celebrated worldwide is because of Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol. As a result Dickens has influenced billions of people worldwide landing him firmly on this list.

Jane Austen

BornDecember 16th, 1775
Died18th of July, 1817
Famous Quote“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.”
Known ForStarting the transition to 19th century realism literature, creating courtship rituals in the west, bolstering women’s rights.
Region Of The WorldEngland, 18th and 19th century.
Further ReadingHow Jane Austen Changed History With Her Novels

Without a doubt one of the most influential authors of the modern age would be Jane Austen. To this day adaptations of her most famous novel Pride and Prejudice are still created.

Jane Austen was born and grew up in the English Countryside. As a member of a well off family she had first hand experience with the elite of English society, the landed gentry.

Across the British Empire people would emulate the customs and culture of the old lord’s and lady’s of England’s landed gentry class. However Jane Austen’s work provides a clever critique into this world of leisure and nobility.

Jane Austen wrote her works during the late 18th and early 18th century. This was a time of profound change in English society. Slavery was in the process of being abolished and colonies were being given autonomy. In short England was attempting to shift towards a more mercantile egalitarian nation.

Jane Austen however wrote her novels to expose the fact that England’s elite of society still held on to old beliefs and ideas. One example of this was the concept of forced dependence of a wife upon her husband in marriage.

Marriage for the landed gentry was a social contract where the wife would provide home services while the husband provided resources. To Jane Austen this was not egalitarian.

To Jane Austen Women in early 18th century England were treated as second class English subjects during a time when England was pushing for equality among all subjects.

All of Jane Austen’s works revolve around this central conflict. She would go on to become one of the best selling authors in the world and as a result the rights of women would increase across the west over the course of the 19th century.

As a result Jane Austen’s influence has impacted billions of people worldwide landing her firmly on this list.

George Orwell

Born25th of June, 1903
Died21st of January, 1950
Famous Quote“In times of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Known ForPublishing books that challenge totalitarianism, Reinforcing freedom of speech, Bolstering democratic principles
Region of WorldEngland/Europe, 20th century
Further Reading3 Ways George Orwell Changed History Forever

Of all the authors of the modern age few are as influential as George Orwell. Still quoted and cited today in front of the United Nations and presidential debates this author’s influence only grows.

George Orwell would live during the early and mid 20th century. He would serve in the military, pursue journalism, and write highly influential novels such as Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Each of his novels revolve around one central theme. The abuse of power and degradation of social freedom and liberties under totalitarian governments.

George Orwell was equally afraid of dictatorships as we were of democracies. According to George Orwell each had the power to slowly remove social liberties such as the freedom of speech under the guise of protection.

Popular terms such as “Big Brother” and “Thought Police” stem from Orwell’s writings. These catchy phrases are often quoted before strong governments to subtly critique their abuse of power.

George Orwell was known for starting arguments with everyone he met. He would do this not to give rise to anger but instead to build a debate centered around freedom of speech.

This style confrontation continues up to this day in the form of public debates between political candidates. This alone has influenced billions of people worldwide however it is his contribution to democratic styles of governments that has landed him on this list.

George Orwell, more than any other author, has bolstered the 20th centuries movement from totalitarianism to democratic governments. Over the course of his life he would work nonstop to publish works such as Animal Farm that are both easily approachable and at the same time provide a clear message on the abuse of power.

Because of this he has impacted billions of people worldwide. As a result he lands firmly on this list of the top 10 most influential authors of the modern era.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Born6th of March, 1927
Died17th of April, 2014
Famous Quote“No medicine cures what happiness cannot.”
Known ForStarting literary magic realism, highlighting Latin and South American culture
Region of WorldColumbia/Latin America, 20th century
Further Reading3 Ways Gabriel Garcia Marquez Changed American History

Before Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s influence few people internationally knew about the power of south and Latin American culture.

During the 19th and 20th century a literary movement in south and Latin America was growing. This literary movement had its own style that drew influences from local native history of south and Latin America.

This style involved detailing normal characters in almost divine and magical ways while also taking what would be magical and divine and displaying it in realistic ways. Today we know this style of writing internationally as magical realism.

However Gabriel Garcia Marquez took this style and adapted it to a full length European novel while also providing societal critique of the history of south and Latin America. Thus one of the world’s best selling novels One Hundred Years of Solitude was born.

Almost overnight Marquez’s work brought international acclaim. His influence grew and so did the influence of south and Latin American culture upon society.

Before Gabriel Garcia Marquez most of south and Latin America internationally acted as islands of culture and power. Marquez’s novel, although centered on Columbia, was adaptable to any village, town, or nation of the Americas.

One Hundred Years of Solitude was published in 1967. Since then the world has become fascinated with the intricate and colorful culture of the Americas. The influence of governments upon the diplomacy of the world only grew and for the first time the nations of south and Latin America were recognized as cultural equals on the world stage.

To this day Gabriel Garcia Marquez is quoted by presidents, generals, and local leaders around the world. As a result billions of people worldwide have been impacted by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s influence. This has put him firmly on this list of the top 10 most influential authors of the modern age.

Edgar Allan Poe

BornJanuary 19th, 1809
DiedOctober 7th, 1849
Famous Quote“We loved with a love that was more than love.”
Known ForFamous writer, Starting the mystery thriller genre, Influencing U.S media and culture
Region of WorldUnited States, 19th century
Further ReadingEdgar Allan Poe’s 3 Influences Upon American Society

Edgar Allan Poe stands the test of time as one of the most influential authors of the modern age. The reason for his influence was not his publicity in the United States but rather its impact upon the international stage. Few understand how influential Edgar Allan Poe was to cultivating a new culture in the United States.

Poe lived a very hard and dark life. He was always in poor health and financially bankrupt. However, he was the first author in the United States to live off his writings alone.

The main influence of Edgar Allan Poe comes from his influence upon the concept of what the United States was for international audiences. His famous poems such as The Raven and Annabel Lee helped to create a gothic cultural cult like personality internationally.

In literary and cultural circles across Europe Edgar Allan Poe’s influence was helping to shape ideas, literature, and music during the late 19th century. From this the culture of Eastern Europe began to mimic the works of Poe.

In essence Edgar Allan Poe was the first transatlantic successful author. As a result of this his influence grew rapidly and helped to bridge the cultural gap between the United States, France, Spain, and the British Empire.

Today if you are in eastern Europe and you show a picture of Edgar Allan Poe most people will instantly recognize the American author. Edgar Allan Poe started the push towards a revival of gothic literature and culture worldwide.

Today his influence only grows through popular adaptations of horror suspense thrillers that borrow themes from Poe. One of the latest movies to do this was the 2019 film Joker.

Simply put, Edgar Allan Poe helped create the worldwide cultural phenomenon of American entertainment. Famous authors such as H.P Lovecraft and Arthur Conan Doyle attribute influence to Poe. In cinema several famous directors such as Alfred Hitchcock directly cite Poe as a driving influence.

As a result Edgar Allan Poe’s influence has impacted billions of people worldwide landing him on this list of the top 10 most influential authors of the modern era.

Voltaire

Born1694, Paris, France
Died1778, Paris, France
Famous QuoteThe mirror is a worthless invention. The only way to truly see yourself is in the reflection of someone else’s eyes.
Reason For FameProlific writer in support of democratic principles who pushed the west towards democracy.
Area Of InfluenceFrance, England, North America
Further ReadingThe 3 Ways Voltaire Changed The World

Voltaire easily stands as one of the most influential authors of the modern era. A prolific writer, Voltaire wrote over 20,000 letters, 2,000 books, and several pamphlets.

Each of these writings served to critically examine the governments of eastern Europe which at this point were based around absolute monarchies.

To Voltaire the best form of government was one ruled by the people for the people. The monarch served as a head of state that in essence could be replaced should the people demand it.

Naturally this did not sit too well with European monarchies of the time. Voltaire would spend a year of his life in the French prison of the Bastille for his ridiculing of the French monarchy.

Voltaire wanted nothing more than to remove the concept of a censor from the government. To him the concept of freedom of speech was absolutely necessary for a functioning government.

Over the course of his life Voltaire would write at an unparalleled pace to support the democratic movements and liberties that we see today. Concepts of separation of powers within government, freedom of speech, and freedom of personal property remain hallmarks of Voltaire’s writings.

As a result of this people around the world today have been influenced by Voltaire and his massive amount of written work. Because of this academics largely call the mid to late 18th century as the Age of Voltaire.

Because of Voltaire’s impact upon billions of people worldwide he lands firmly on this list of the top 10 most influential authors of the modern era.

J.R.R Tolkien

Born3rd of January, 1892
Died2nd of September, 1973
Famous Quote“Not all those who wander are lost.”
Known ForWriting high fantasy, creating national novels, defining entertainment and literature forever
Region of WorldBritain, 20th century.
Further ReadingThe 3 Influences of Tolkien That Forever Changed World History

Easily one of the most influential authors of the modern era J.R.R Tolkien has impacted billions of people worldwide. Today Tolkien is remembered for his groundbreaking work on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Tolkien was born in England and served in the British military during World War One. He saw direct combat in the Battle of the Somme where there were almost 1 million casualties. This profoundly affected Tolkien who would incorporate his time in the military into his written works.

Upon returning from the war Tolkien would start teaching. At first he published The Hobbit as a collection of stories he would tell his children. However, both adults and children worldwide would come to love the book and demand more.

J.R.R Tolkien would then go on to write The Lord of the Rings. Initially this book was supposed to be a lighthearted telling of another story but quickly turned darker as Tolkien began to incorporate his life’s events and British folklore into the book.

Upon publication The Lord of the Rings resounded across the readers. To this day it remains one of the best selling books of all time with over 150 million copies sold worldwide.

Tolkien would forever change how high fantasy was depicted and written. The now popular concept of elves, dwarfs, and orcs come from Tolkien. This alone has impacted billions of people worldwide who interact with these mythical races either on screen, literature, or video games.

However, the real reason Tolkien lands on this list was the impact The Lord of the Rings had upon western society. Up until its publication in 1954 the British Empire did not have a foundational national novel like other nations.

It was not that other authors failed to try but rather it was hard to convince audiences that the British comprised one social body of people. Tolkien’s work helped to pave the way for the modern United Kingdom and former British colonies.

This is one of the main reasons that J.R.R Tolkien was awarded the title Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth shortly before his death in 1973.

Because of this Tolkien’s influence has impacted billions of people worldwide and still continues to grow to this day. As a result, he firmly lands on this list of the top 10 most influential authors of the modern era.

Conclusion

There you have it; an entire article dedicated to the top 10 most influential authors of the modern era.

Each of the above authors has profoundly impacted how the world has developed. Without their influence it’s doubtful the world would look the same today.

Here at The History Ace I strive to publish the best history articles on the internet. If you liked content like this then feel free to share around and subscribe to the free newsletter to remain up to date on all things history.

Further, you can check out some of the other articles below. 

Sincerely,

Nick