Writing an essay is challenging tasks. Even if you know the rules of essay outline, essay writing, essay editing and writing styles, you still need to tackle the biggest question – “What are you going to write about?”. If you are having a bit of a writer’s block, then getting writing inspiration from the great essayists is a good idea. We have listed the top 5 best essayists of all times to serve as a writing guide for you.
Michel de Montaigne
When it comes to the title of the best essayist, a lot of experts would point to Michel de Montaigne. The man was an interesting fellow who lived in 1533 – 1592.
In those times, if you were smart enough, you could work as a writer or philosopher. However, it’s not the kind of writer that most people know of today. In those times, writers are on the tasks of writing treatise and other legal matters.
Michel de Montaigne was employed to this tasks for a very long time, until he quit and went on a self-exile. In his exile, he has left with nothing but his books, pen and ink. He started writing on anything that comes to mind. He called his work as “Essais”, which literally translates to “Trial” or “Attempt”.
This was the first time something like was done on a grand scale. And yes, you can say that Michel de Montaigne invented the essay genre, and he is considered a master of the personal essay. His essays are considered to be a merger of autobiography and casual anecdotes, with a large dose of serious intellectual insights.
George Orwell is more known for his work the Animal Farm, but he is also a great essayist. His real name is Eric Allan Blair and he got into writing because of his profession as a journalist. In fact, George Orwell was working as a journalist for a long time before he started writing his great works of art.
His profession as a journalist had a big impact on his essay writing. If you want to write a non-fiction essay, then George Orwell is the man to get inspired from. His style is very direct, but he is very fond of using extended metaphors and allusions.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson is a celebrated American poet, lecturer and essayists. He was credited to have started the transcendentalist movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson was also a great orator. In fact, most of his best-known essays were oration, which he then refined for the print medium.
If there is one thing that you can learn from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay style is the importance of flow. This came naturally for him as orators need to have a good flow to keep the attention of the audience. Also, he stresses the importance of writing what’s on your mind without fear of social backlash.
Samuel Johnson is commonly referred by his peers as Dr. Johnson. He is credited for compiling of the earliest English dictionary. Samuel Johnson is known as an editor, biographer, literary critic, moralist, essayists and poet.
When it comes to essays, one thing that you can learn a lot from Samuel Johnson is the use of criticism. His style is still often employed by many critics even to this day. Samuel Johnson firmly believed that a constructive criticism paves the way for better future versions.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, popularly known by his pen name Mark Twain, is renowned American writer, lecturer, publisher, entrepreneur. However, most people know him for his novels “The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”. He was also a great essayist to learn from.
When it comes to essay style, Mark Twain was very fond of using dialects or specific local lingo. He is also known for integrating a satirical sense of humor into most of his writings, including essays.
So that’s it. These are 5 of the best essayist in the known history. Of course, the list is subjective. Nevertheless, it’s a good starting point.