Who Are the Best 18th Century Authors You Should Know

Are you looking for a list of the best 18th century authors? Take a look at a few of the top minds you should explore. 

If you want to explore some of the greatest books of the eighteenth century, you should take a look at some of the top authors. Regardless of whether you are looking at British or English authors for some of the top French authors, many of these amazing minds continue to inspire writers to this day. 18th-century English writers inspired not only 19th century authors but also 20th century writers. England, France, and even America all contributed amazing minds as the English language continued to evolve.

If you are looking for some of the best authors to explore from this time, take a look at the list below. From Voltaire to Thomas Paine, there are some amazing authors that deserve to be read from this period in history.

Best 18th Century Authors

1. Jane Austen, 1775 – 1817

Best 18th Century authors: Jane Austen
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Even though Jane Austen lived a short life, she is widely considered to be one of the greatest writers in the history of England. During her life, she was forced to publish many of her works under a pen name because women were not expected to write during this time. It wasn’t until much later that her work was truly respected and revered by multiple generations of readers and women writers alike.

Many of her works are still read to this day, and some of them have even been turned into TV shows. Some of her most popular books include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park. Most of her work focused on the British gentry and took a look at how ordinary people responded to these unique situations. After Austen passed away, she became one of the most revered writers in history.

2. Jonathan Swift, 1667 – 1745

Best 18th Century authors: Jonathan Swift
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Jonathan Swift was an essayist and satirist from Ireland. He published work during both the 17th century and 18th centuries. He wrote several iconic works that are still revered to this day. Furthermore, he is the namesake of the deadpan style, called Swiftian. He also served as the dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Some of his most popular works include Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, and A Tale of a Tub. His work is still studied in-depth, and he is widely revered not only throughout Ireland but also all over the world. Consider checking out one of these books for yourself! You will quickly see why so many people continue to read his work even hundreds of years after they were first published.

3. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749 – 1832

Best 18th Century authors: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a famous novelist, playwright, dramatist, and poet. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest authors in German history, and he continues to be well-respected in the modern era. During his time, he served as not only a writer but also a statesman. He wrote a variety of treatises on anatomy and botany, and he authored humorous poems. Because of his literary talents, he was invited to join the Duke privy council in Weimar.

He was also responsible for instituting numerous reforms during his time at the University of Jena. One of his most popular works was Prometheus, which is a poem that involves the main character addressing God. This provides a unique look into the psyche of individuals as they commune with higher power, so take a look at it for yourself. 

4. Walter Scott, 1771 – 1832

Best 18th Century authors: Walter Scott
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Walter Scott was from Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a prominent historian, poet, novelist, and playwright. Because he was such a versatile writer, he contributed his talents in a variety of areas, leading to an impressive reputation that he still enjoys in Scotland to this day. In particular, many of his historical novels have become classics in the world of literature. He was even admired by a number of other prominent writers.

One of his most popular books was Ivanhoe, which is a romantic novel that focuses on the conflict between the crown and the barons. Consider diving into this unique world filled with conflict, and get lost in the pages of an amazing story.

5. Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759 – 1797

Best 18th Century authors: Mary Wollstonecraft
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Mary Wollstonecraft is from London, England. She was an English writer and a passionate advocate of women’s rights. Many people consider her to be one of the founders of feminism. Even though her unorthodox style attracted a lot of criticism during her life, she is not respected as one of the most important advocates in history. 

Feminism is still alive and well today, and many modern-day philosophers continue to look to Mary Wollstonecraft as a source of inspiration. One of her most popular works is titled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. As the name suggests, the book focuses on the importance of women’s rights and what can be done to improve their social standing. 

6. E.T.A. Hoffmann, 1776 – 1822

Best 18th Century authors: E.T.A. Hoffmann
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E.T.A. Hoffman was a German author, composer, and music critic. He told a wide variety of stories that served as the foundation for The Tales of Hoffman, which was written by Jacques Offenbach. Furthermore, The Nutcracker, which was written by Tchaikovsky, was widely based on a work by Hoffman called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.

Even though Hoffman was a prominent writer, he served as an inspiration to not only authors but also composers. In particular, many composers of the Romantic period read his work as a source of inspiration. This is an opportunity for you to take a closer look at a work that has served as a source of inspiration for so many creative professionals all over the world.

7. Oliver Goldsmith, 1728 – 1774

Best 18th Century authors: Oliver Goldsmith
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Oliver Goldsmith was an English and Irish novelist. Even though he was frequently described as impetuous, he is still widely considered to be one of the greatest writers in the history of Ireland. Many of his works are still studied to this day, and he is known for his unique narratives and descriptive language. Because of his massive impact on the world of literature, numerous statues have been erected of him, including at the Trinity College in Dublin. 

One of his most popular poems is titled The Deserted Village. This is a social commentary that focuses on the plight of individuals who live in rural areas. It tells the story of the suffering they endure just because people in the cities want to make more money. This is a work that holds a lot of implications for the world we live in today, so consider taking a look at this book for yourself!

8. Horace Walpole, 1717 – 1797

Best 18th Century authors: Horace Walpole
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Horace Walpole is one of the most famous English historians, writers, and politicians of all time. Today, he is best known for building Strawberry Hill House, located in West London. He also contributed to the Revival of Gothic architecture during the 18th century. Even though he is probably best known as a politician, he was also an incredibly successful writer. Some of his most popular works include The Mysterious Mother and the Castle of Toronto

In particular, The Castle of Toronto is a mystifying narrative that will have everyone thinking carefully about what they do next. If you are looking for a story that will keep you in transit from beginning to end, consider picking up a copy of The Castle of Toronto. This is a great book that will give you a unique look at what society was like during the 18th century, and you might even see some parallels to society today.

9. Jacob Grimm

Best 18th Century authors: Jacob Grimm
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Jacob Grimm is one-half of the famous pair known as the Brothers Grimm. Jacob Grimm and his brother, Wilhelm Grimm, are the children of a famous lawyer. Jacob Grimm also went to law school, and he contributed not only to German law but also German Llnguistics, as he provided society with Grimm’s Law. Even though he was known for being incredibly pragmatic, he was also an exceptional storyteller.

One of his most popular works is Grimm’s Fairy Tales, of which not all are meant for children. Today, this book of fairy tales is loved by people of all ages, and it has become one of the most popular sets of fairy tales of all time. If you want to see why so many people have fallen in love with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, read it for yourself! They are meant for both children and adults!

10. William Hazlitt, 1778 – 1830

Best 18th Century authors: William Hazlitt
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William Hazlitt was a famous English literary critic and writer. He is known for his massive contributions to the world of humanism, and he continues to be one of the most popular writers in the history of Britain and is a titan of English literature and the Enlightenment. 

He led a very unique life. When he started writing, he was one of the most popular writers in the world. He always dreamed of being a philosopher and painter but made a name for himself as a writer. Even though many of his works became iconic, he spent a lot of his later life in obscurity. Then, after his death, his work was rediscovered, and he has become one of the most popular English writers again.

Many of his works continue to remain popular with the current generation of readers, so dive into The Spirit of Age, which is a delightful collection of books meant for people of all ages!

11. Laurence Sterne, 1713 – 1768

Best 18th Century authors: Laurence Sterne
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Laurence Sterne is a famous novelist from Ireland who lived in the United Kingdom at the time of his death. He traveled a lot during his life, and this informed a lot of the opinions that he shares in his books. He wrote The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, which served as a powerful social commentary in addition to being an amazing story. He spent a lot of his life indulging in local politics, and many of his works reflect that.

Some of his works also had a massive impact on the direction of society at the time, as his works were read around the world. Take a closer look at why the stories of Tristram Shandy have become so popular with so many people across numerous generations!

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