The list of 8 Famous American and World-known essay writers of the 20th century

They say that there are the writers a separate universe in which they can produce, create their work. An ordinary person is not given the opportunity to know the deep writer’s life, but even every day we see a new crowd of people who stand in line for a new book. Everyone expects a miracle, take a new book with the hope that something wonderful, inexplicably beautiful, willing to drown in a completely different world, a world of fantasies and dreams, which appears to the reader in the next bought book in the various forms: essays, novels, stories, poem.

Today we are going to talk about the best essay writers. ESSAY (fran. Essai) it is the literary form of small prose text, which express emphasize the author’s individuality. In relief, to the story, the writer’s essay’s facility is to communicate or interpret, but not ever a picture or a histrionic retelling of any life position. The work reaches its purpose through the outright copyright approvals, which do not take the perpetration of no one fictional personage or the plot of a binder. Nevertheless, there is not any hardly absolute difference between different types of essays and short stories. The main essay’s feature is its brevity, it usually takes from ten up to twenty pages.  

There are a great amount of interesting, fascinating works, essays, literary works, which were written by the great world famous authors and writers. More than three centuries ago, the first essay was published at first. Now, we can find a lot of essays in libraries or have an easy possibility to order by the Internet miscellanea of works written by well-known authors from all the world from different centuries. Ever since ancient times, essays were published in magazines, books, were grouped by theme, genre, years, and the authors. Details included a variety of genres, among which are comedy, non-fiction, romance, instructive, historical facts, life stories, and current events. There are many authors and essay, which detailed list you can read here, and it was difficult to identify the most important and well-known essayists of all time.

The list, about which I have mentioned earlier, includes writers from different backgrounds and periods of history. Some of they are still currently continuing to write. Because this fact, it is nothing surprising in the fact that essay remains a popular literary format. And the authors, who can quickly, briefly, concisely and interesting tell the story will always be on top. selected essayists, but not essays. Because, the best essays are only personal, authorial and deep engaged with author’s issues, internal feelings and ideas. 

James Baldwin (1924-1987) 

Baldwin grew up in a family of his stepfather, a priest, where he was the eldest of nine children. His own father, Baldwin have never known and was very suffered from that, which was reflected in some of his works (“Tell me when the train left”, “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, “Giovanni’s Room” and others. After Bronx high school graduating, Baldwin moved to Greenwich Village, where he began his literary career.

Greenwich Village has always been considered one of the most deprived New York areas, caused a wave of optimism in Baldwin’s source, who started to write about his views and understandings of what is happening around him. His first journalistic articles, essays were imbued with the spirit of racism denial which was prevailing in America at that times. That negative attitude makes young writer move Paris.

Baldwin felt like he caught a breath of fresh air in France, have been saving there from the racist and homophobic America of 40-th. XX century. His main works were written on the banks of the Seine, and there Baldwin have spent the most of his life, producing his creations among which are next well-known essays:

  • James Baldwin and his popular essays published in 1956 “Notes of a Native Son” essays;
  • James Baldwin and his book of interesting essays named  “The Devil Finds Work” which was presented to the mass in 1976;
  • James Baldwin and his The Evidence of Things Not Seen (essays; 1985);
  • James Baldwin and his list of essays created in the romantic atmosphere of 85th with the strange name “The Price of the Ticket”;

Norman Mailer (1923-2007) 

Norman Mailer famous american essay writer

Norman Mailer was born in New Jersey in the Jewish immigrants family. He was the first child in the family, and after him, there was also two children - a brother and sister. Norman grew up in New York, and in 1939 decided to become a student of Harvard university, where he have fallen in love with literary activity. His first story was published at the age of 18, in 1941. The University of Harvard received young author the university magazine award. Among the entire set of his works we would like to highlight the most famous essays:

  • Norman Mailer and his New York book of essays called in the world as “The Presidential Papers”;
  • Norman Mailer and his second New York creation which is known by the loud name “Cannibals and Christians”;
  • Norman Mailer and his “Pieces and Pontifications” in which the author opens the deep world of Little Boston’s Life.

Susan Sontag (1933-2004)

Susan Sontag famous american essay writer photo 

Susan Sontag was born in New York, 16 January 1933 year. Since her childhood, the friends of hers were always only booked. In 1952 Sontag’s family have moved to Boston where Sontag passed entry exams to Harvard University. There young writer studied English literature and received a Master of Philosophy in 1954. While have been studying at Oxford in 1955-1957, she has faced with the sexism challenge, and because of this soon moved to Paris. From that time she was actively engaged in the French cinema, philosophy and wrote a lot. Among her essay collection we can emphasize the nest ones: “Against Interpretation”, “Where the Stress Falls”, “Regarding the Pain of Others Styles of Radical Will”.

Joan Didion (1934-present) 

Joan Didion essay writer

Joan Didion was born and grew up in Sacramento, California. She was just a five-year-old little girl when she have begun to write her first string. She read everything she could get into her hands while the parents were not home. In 1956, she graduated from the University of Berkeley and got their Bachelor Degree in Arts and English language. Within her senior years, Joan won the first place in an essay writing inworld-known Vogue magazine. She created own first work which was named “Run” and issued in 1963 has been working there in Vogue. Among her essays work we want to mention the next ones:

  • Joan Didion and her “Joan Didion” essays works;
  • Joan Didion and her “Salvador”;
  • Joan Didion and her essays about Earth planet called “After Henry” (twelve geographical essays);

Annie Dillard (1945-present)

Annie Dillard was born in 1945 and is already alive to present us a lot of her magnificent works. Anni is an American author. She was always well-known for her clear story prose in both nonfiction/fiction, poetry, essays, literary criticism and etc. Among her essays Edusson want to emphasize the next ones:

  • Education stone”, the book of short nonfiction essays;
  • Life on the rocks, the book of 14 essays: Total Eclipse, In the Jungle, The Deer at Providencia, A Field of Silence, On a Hill Far Away, God in the Doorway, Mirage's, Aces and Eights);

Robert Atwan (1940- present) 

Robert Atwan essay writer

Robert Atwan was born in 1940, November 2, in New Jersey. He graduated from 2 universities: Seton Hall and Rutgers. He is known as one of the best American essay writers. Among the entire set of his works we highlighted the most famous ones:

  • “Great Moments in Literary Baseball”, on the basis of the first game of the season;
  • “Poems and Essays”, essays about Autumn and Winter (Snowy essays); 

Edward Hoagland (1932- present) 

Edward Hoagland famous american essay writer

Edward Hoagland is an American writer, who was born in 1932, in New York. Since his childhood, he was fond of writing, literature and from that time, he decided to become a novelist, essayist. He has a huge number of essays, the whole list of which you can find here, and we will mention in our article just a little part of it:

  • “The Big Cats”, written in 1961;
  • “Why this Extra Violence” in April;
  • “The Soul of the Tiger” written when he has fallen in love for the first time;
  • “Big Frog, Very Small Pond”, unknown data;
  • “A World Worth Saving and Christmas Observed”, written in 1989;
  • “Two Kinds of People” which was published just in Europe;
  • “Last Call”, 2010, a very interesting one;
  • “On Friendship”, which he wrote in 2013, when he was already a deep old man.

David Foster Wallace (1962-2008)

David Foster Wallace was born in 1968 in the USA.He has graduated the little-known college, where he studied philosophy, there got a degree in English language and literature. For many years, he experienced severe bouts of depression.
in June 2007, according to the doctor recommendations David stopped taking medication. Depression particularly increased  In the last months of his life. On September 12, 2008, he committed suicide.There some of this essays:

  • David Foster and his essay “Television and U.S. Fiction”, (an interesting and comic essays book);
  • David Foster and his essays book named “Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley”;
  • David Foster and his “A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again” and “Consider the Lobster”, which were both published in 2005;
  • David Foster and his “Both Flesh and Not” unknown date of publication.

So we see, that the concept  “essay” goes beyond the simple students essays writing in college. The best and well-known writers from all over the world created a lot of essays to share with readers their ideas and feelings. Continue to read and study the world of famous essay writers, and perhaps, in one day you will have the chance to become a popular essayist too.

Read more Types of essays articles:


The article was written by Oliver Raw, who is our stuff blogger and a content distributor with more than 5 years of experience. Oliver is fond of helping people with his useful and interesting articles/posts/infographic materials. Working in the education sphere, Oli understood how it is important to be helpful, have an ability to deal with any student college essay writing problem. If your have any questions or just need academic help, do not be confused to contact him by email: or follow him on Google+Twitter.

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