10 Most Influential Authors of the 20th century

10 Most Influential Authors of the 20th century

Books have the ability to be very influential as they can greatly influence how people act and think. Beyond having an impact on individuals, books can impact culture, religion, politics, and even other books. Here are 10 authors from the 20th century that were able to write books which had an extraordinary impact.

George Orwell

Best known for his books 1984 and Animal Farm, George Orwell is widely regarded as one of the best authors of the 20th century. His writings concerning authoritative states, technology, and the human condition still serve as a warning for us all. Not to mention that his incredible writing ability has inspired many, George Orwell is one of the most influential authors of the 20th century.

Anne Frank

Anne Frank’s diary, The Diary of a Young Girl, is one of the most widely read and influential pieces of literature from the 20th century. Brutally honest and heart-wrenchingly sad, the diary of Anne Frank’s struggles as she, a young Jewish girl, hid from the Nazi authorities during World War II is incredibly moving. Her writing offers emotional insight to a historical time period that impacted much of the modern world.

Adolf Hitler

Opposite of Anne Frank is Adolf Hitler. The Nazi leader of Germany during World War II wrote Mein Kampf, which literally translates to “My Struggle”, while in jail. In this book he talks about his struggle with the German people and how they did not seem to be living up to their full potential. He also outlines his political ideology. This book helped him rise to power in Germany and he had more impact than anyone on this list when that is taken into account.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Known for writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien is arguably one of the greatest fantasy writers of all time. The Lord of the Rings is the second bestselling book since its publication in 1954 behind the Bible. Tolkien, the British author, has heavily influenced the modern fantasy genre and most recently his writings have been made into award winning movies.

James Joyce

James Joyce was an Irish author who was most famous for his books Ulysses and Dubliners, amongst others. He is considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He is known for being very innovative, especially in Ulysses where he strictly uses a focused narrative. Joyce is praised for his writing ability and style and has influenced many writers even to this day.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (pictured above)

Most famous as the author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers, Fitzgerald’s writings set the standard for the 1920’s and the Jazz Age. The Great Gatsby was also recently made into an award winning movie.

C.S. Lewis

Famous as not only the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but also as a philosopher, C.S. Lewis’ writings cover a wide array of genres. He has influenced many different areas including religious philosophy, logic, academics, and the fantasy genre. The Chronicles of Narnia have most recently been made into critically acclaimed movies as well.

Harper Lee

Harper Lee is famous for the only book she ever wrote, To Kill a Mockingbird. In this book, she sheds light on the racism that she experienced as a child growing up in Monroeville, Alabama. She has received many award for this book and it has been extremely influential in the literary world because of the topic that it deals with and the skill with which it was written.

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was a literary genius who broke the mold for 20th century novelists. She was known for her experimental fiction writing and influential feminist essays that enlightened readers on western class and gender differences. Woolf’s work has impacted readers, writers, historians, scholars and all those who’ve studied her innovative work and mastery of the English language.


J.D. Salinger

The man who wrote The Catcher in the Rye lived a very quite life. However, his writing was not quite. J.D. Salinger’s most famous book, The Catcher in the Rye, immediately became popular. The classic does a great job of depicting adolescence and loss of innocence despite its somewhat controversial content. J.D. Salinger lived to the ripe age of 91 years old and has had a profound impact on the literary world

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