9 Best English Authors You Must Read

Are you looking for the best known British authors? Take a look at some of the best English authors, and learn more about their top works.

The English language is filled with amazing authors, including American and British writers. Some of the best known authors in the world hail from England, with works dating back to the Victorian era and the 19th century. The short story was refined in England, and much of English literature serves as an inspiration for writers all over the world in the 20th century and beyond. From William Shakespeare to Charles Dickens, and from Jane Austen to George Orwell, the list of the greatest British authors of all time is a long one.Take a look at some of the greatest English authors of all time, and add them to your reading list.

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Best English authors

1. William Shakespeare, 1564 – 1616

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare via Wikipedia, Public Domain

No list of the best English authors is complete without paying almost the greatest playwright of all time. William Shakespeare was an actor and playwright who lived in London, England during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His plays are still performed regularly to this day, meaning that some of them have been on stage for close to 500 years. His plays are so well-known that a lot of lines from his works are still used in the English language.

His list of works is long, but some of his most popular plays include Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Othello. If you want to learn more about the works of William Shakespeare, you may want to pick up a copy of Romeo and Juliet for yourself off of Amazon. If you haven’t taken a look at William Shakespeare since high school English, it is time to revisit the famous bard!

Romeo and Juliet (Folger Shakespeare Library)
  • Annotated
  • Shakespeare, William (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 01/01/2004 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster (Publisher)

2. Charles Dickens, 1812 – 1870

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Charles Dickens is one of the greatest authors of all time, and a lot of his works have served as an inspiration to writers all over the world, including British, Russian, and American authors who came after him. He lived and worked in England during the Victorian era, which the place in the middle of the 19th century. A lot of his stories served as a social critique of the living conditions throughout England and the rest of Europe at the time.

One of the things that set Charles Dickens apart from other authors of his era was that he was well-known while he was still alive. He became a household name all over the world, and he published a variety of prolific books. Some of the biggest examples include Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and A Tale of Two Cities. He is also known for David Copperfield, Great Expectations, and The Old Curiosity.

You can explore the many works of Charles Dickens for yourself. Why not pick up a copy of Oliver Twist off of Amazon? Even if you have seen the movie already, you should read the book that inspired it. It will be well worth your time! 

Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics)
  • Dickens, Charles (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 608 Pages - 04/29/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

3. Jane Austen, 1775 – 1817

Jane Austen
Jane Austen via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Jane Austen is another one of the most popular British writers of all time. She lived in England at the end of the 18th century and the start of the 19th century. At the time, most women didn’t work. They tended to the home and raise the children while the men supported the family. Therefore, because Jane Austen was not supposed to write, she had to publish all of her works anonymously. 

Fortunately, she gets the credit she deserves today. The vast majority of her books focus on women from middle-class and upper-class families. Because the only destination for women at the time was marriage, a lot of her works are filled with humor and romance. 

Jane Austen was a prolific writer, with some of her most popular Works being Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion. You can pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice for yourself off of Amazon. Pride and Prejudice is a comedy that focuses on a family with five daughters. 

Pride and Prejudice
  • Austen, Jane (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 218 Pages - 12/16/2019 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

4. George Orwell (1903 – 1950)

George Orwell
George Orwell via Wikipedia, Public Domain

If you are interested in dystopian fiction, then you will certainly love George Orwell. You have probably read his works before, and many of them are a powerful commentary on society at the time. During his life, he was one of the most outspoken supporters of a Democratic Socialist society. A lot of his works are characterized by a complete opposition to totalitarianism along with biting critiques of European society during the first half of the 20th century.

If you are interested in diving into the works of George Orwell, you may want to start with Animal Farm or Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984). 1984 is a classic from George Orwell and gives readers an inside look into a society where big brother is always watching. You can pick up a copy of 1984 from Amazon.

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1984
  • George Orwell (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 328 Pages - 01/01/1961 (Publication Date) - Signet Classic (Publisher)

5. C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Another one of the best-known British writers of all time is C. S. Lewis. Even though his main career was as an academic, he is best known for fantasy books that are aimed at children. There is a good chance you may have read one of his books from The Chronicles of Narnia as a child, with many of them being adapted to the big screen today. During his life, he was good friends with another famous English fantasy author, J. R. R. Tolkien. It is fun to think about these two brainstorming ideas for their next works together!

If you decide to read The Chronicles of Narnia, you might want to read the books in order; however, the best-known book of the series is titled The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. If you fall in love with this book, you may want to read the others as well! You will be transported to a fantasy world filled with immense battles, incredible adventure, and impressive characters. You can find the entire set of The Chronicles of Narnia on Amazon. The instant you start reading, you will probably be sucked into a fantasy world like none other you could have imagined!

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The Chronicles of Narnia Box Set: Full-Color Collector's Edition
  • Lewis, C. S. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1632 Pages - 08/22/2000 (Publication Date) - HarperCollins (Publisher)

6. J. R. R. Tolkien, 1892 – 1973

J. R. R. Tolkien,
J. R. R. Tolkien via Wikipedia, Public Domain

If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, that you will probably fall in love with the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. There is a good chance that you are already familiar with his work, as he is the author of The Lord of the Rings series. Even though a lot of people are familiar with the impressive movie trilogy, the movies are based on books that are every bit as good!

He was born in South Africa but moved to Britain during his life. He lived and worked in England during the 20th century, and is widely regarded as the father of the fantasy genre. Even though his books can be long, they are well worth the read. Why don’t you consider tackling The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings Series? You can find the book series on Amazon. If you were impressed by the characters on the big screen, you will be even more impressed with the nuances that Tolkien gives them throughout his book series. 

Lord Of The Rings Boxed Set
  • Hardcover Book
  • Tolkien, J. R. R. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Harper Collins (Publisher)

7. The Bronte Sisters

The Bronte Sisters
The Bronte Sisters via Wikipedia, Public Domain

The Bronte sisters are also among the most prolific writers in British history. Charlotte Brontë (1816 – 1855) and Emily Brontë (1818 – 1848) might not have lived long lives, but they are still among the most popular authors to this day. Even though they lived in England during the 19th century, they were essentially raised to become prolific authors.

Unlike a lot of families in England at the time, their parents encouraged them to the right and become masters of the written word. Similar to other female authors of the time, the sisters needed to use pseudonyms to publish their work. The women frequently wrote in isolation while living in the British Countryside. Charlotte Bronte is best known for Jane Eyre, while Emily Brontë is best known for weathering Heights. You can pick up a copy of Jane Eyre off of Amazon. The book takes a closer look at Jane’s spiritual and moral compass through events that unfold during the course of her life.

Jane Eyre: The Original 1847 Edition With Illustrations (A Classic Illustrated Novel of Charlotte Brontë)
  • Brontë, Charlotte (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 383 Pages - 05/05/2021 (Publication Date) - Independently published (Publisher)

8. Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)

Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Virginia Woolf is one of the most popular modernist writers and literature. A lot of her works were published using a stream of consciousness, meaning that she wrote her thoughts down on the page as she thought them out. She is a central part of the feminist movement that took place during the first half of the 20th century. A lot of her works still referenced to this day, particularly as it relates to women’s rights.

Even though she was a prolific writer, there are a few works that stand above the rest. You might want to check out Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and A Room of One’s Own. In particular, A Room of One’s Own is known for its famous line that a woman needs to have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. Even though this might seem obvious to this day, it was not obvious that people who lived in Europe during the first half of the 20th century. If you would like to read her famous essay for yourself, you can find it on Amazon. It will give you an insight into what life was like for women in England during that time.

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A Room of One's Own
  • Woolf, Virginia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 12/27/1989 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

9. George Eliot, (1819 – 1880)

George Eliot
George Eliot via Wikipedia, Public Domain

George Eliot, also known as Mary Ann Evans, is another female writer from England who was forced to hide her true identity behind a fake male pseudonym. She also lived during the 19th century, when women were expected to raise a family. Even if they did write, they were expected to publish works on romance. As a result, George Eliot became one of the most prolific writers in England, even if this was just a pen name. 

Her works enjoyed significant success thanks to not only her pen name but also the quality of her writing. Some of her works, particularly Middlemarch, are listed among the greatest books of all time. You can take a closer look at the work of Mary Ann Evans for yourself, as you can pick up a copy of Middlemarch from Amazon.

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Middlemarch (Penguin Classics)
  • Eliot, George (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 880 Pages - 03/25/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Classics (Publisher)

Final Word on the Best English Authors

These are just a few of the many impressive English authors who have lent their talents to human history. If you take a look at works from different authors and eras, you will see differences in their writing styles. You might even notice that William Shakespeare wrote all of his works in iambic pentameter!

Then, you can compare his works to those of more recent authors. A lot of these works can provide a nice insight into what society was like at the time the books are published. Others will transport you to an amazing fantasy world filled with mystical creatures. Check out a few of these books for yourself! 

FAQs About the Best English Authors 

Are there any authors outside of England that I should consider reading as well?

Yes, there are lots of Russian, American, Irish, and other famous authors from all over the world. You may want to check out work by Ernest Hemingway, Leo Tolstoy, and Oscar Wilde as well. You might also want to check out The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Do not overlook James Joyce and Arthur Conan Doyle, either.

Who is the greatest English novelist of all time?

This is something that is up for debate. There is no single “best” author in the world. Instead, it is more important for you to read work by multiple authors and figure out which ones speak best to you. 

Are children’s books worth reading?

Yes, many children’s books from English authors have been written with tremendous attention to detail and are worth your time.

Who were the three main authors of the Middle English period?

When discussing the Middle English period, Wycliffe, Chaucer, Mallory are the authors often mentioned. John Wycliffe was renowned for translating the bible into English, while Chaucer’s most famous book is The Canterbury Tales. Meanwhile, Mallory wrote Le Morte d’Arthur.

What authors wrote in Old English?

Unfortunately, much of Old English poetry is anonymous. However, there are a few known writers whose work has become renowned throughout the years. They include 
Caedmon, Bede, Alfred, and Cynewulf.

Do all authors have English degrees?

Not all authors have English degrees. In fact, there are many brilliant writers who never graduated from university at all. Ray Bradbury, Maya Angelou and Truman Capote are just three examples.

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