Throughout history, the United Kingdom of Great Britain has produced prominent writers in many genres. From Charles Dickens to George Orwell to J. K. Rowling, this country has always had something to offer to the literary world.
The capital of London has also been featured in numerous works of literature such as Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” and Agatha Christie’s “Crooked House”. But what about local authors? Here are the ten most famous writers who were born in London.
Born Daniel Foe in St Gilles Cripplegate, London, around 1660, he is best known for his 1719 novel “Robinson Crusoe”. The writer later added “De” to his surname and became Daniel Defoe. The first English novel is actually attributed to Defoe – “Robinson Crusoe” is considered one of the first works in the realistic fiction literary genre.
“Robinson Crusoe” is one of the most well-known, translated, and published books worldwide. In fact, its success led to many adventurous, realistic books being published at the time (such as Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”). Among Defoe’s other works are “Captain Singleton” (1720), “A Journal of the Plague Year” (1722), and “Colonel Jack” (1722).
The famous English poet Lord Byron was born George Gordon Byron on Holles Street, London, in 1788. He is by far one of the most influential figures of the Romantic movement with his narrative poems “Don Juan” (1819-1824) and “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” (1812-1818) being studied around the world.
Lord Byron was also known for his excessive lifestyle and debts. A controversial character during his lifetime, he remains popular to this day both as an icon and as an influential figure in English literature. His other poems include “She Walks in Beauty” (1813), “When We Two Parted” (1813), and “Darkness” (1816) among many others.
Mary Shelley was born in Somers Town, London, in 1797. Her 1818 Gothic novel “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” is another first in literature – it is considered one of the earliest examples of science fiction. Shelley was a prominent writer and was surrounded by people like herself. Her husband Percy B. Shelley was a well-known poet and one of her friends was Lord Byron.
Allegedly, the story behind “Frankenstein” is connected to them. Catherine Jones, an expert from the writing services reviews site Best Writers Online, says, “In 1816, the trio decided to have a competition and see who could write the best horror story, and that’s when Shelley came up with the iconic work.” Among her other creations are “Valperga” (1823), “The Last Man” (1826), and “Perkin Warbeck” (1830).
Edward Morgan Forster was born in Marylebone, Middlesex, in 1879 and wrote under the name of E. M. Forster. In his works, Forster often focused on themes of class difference and hypocrisy. His most famous novels include “A Room with a View” (1908), “Howards End” (1910), and “A Passage to India” (1924).
Along with another one of his novels, “Maurice” (1971) which was published posthumously, all four were adapted for the big and small screens as feature films and mini-series. His other works include the novels “Where Angels Fear to Tread” (1905) and “The Longest Journey” (1907) as well as numerous short stories.
Born Adeline Virginia Woolf in South Kensington, London, in 1882, the writer is regarded as one of the most influential modernist authors. Virginia Woolf often used the stream of consciousness as a narrative device and helped popularize it in the 20th century with “Mrs. Dalloway” (1925) and “To the Lighthouse” (1927).
In the 1970s, the writer’s works became extremely popular thanks to the rise of the feminist movement which re-established her reputation after its decline post-WWII. Other famous works by Virginia Woolf include the novel “Orlando” (1928) and the essay “A Room of One’s Own” (1929).
A. Milne was born Alan Alexander Milne in Kilburn, London, in 1882. Besides writing plays and children’s poetry, Milne became famous for his books about Winnie-the-Pooh. If you want to write a successful children’s book, you can do that too with the help of a professional writer from the writing services reviews site Writing Judge.
Milne served in both World War I and II, but it seems that his family always came first for him. In fact, so much so that the character of the little boy in his books called Christopher Robin was based on his own son. The adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends began in “Winnie-the-Pooh” (1926) and continued in “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928) and others.
Ian Fleming was born in Mayfair, London, in 1908 and is best known for his spy novel series “James Bond” which has been adapted into the long-running film series successfully running to this day. To create the stories about agent 007, Fleming used his experience as a journalist and his service during WWII.
Even though Fleming’s work was successful worldwide, it was decidedly British in character. The writer explored themes such as Britain’s position in the world, the effects of the war, good versus evil, Anglo-American relations, and comradeship among others. It’s telling that the first book in the series was published in 1953 (“Casino Royale”) in the post-WWII period.
Born in London in 1934, Diane Wynne Jones was a prominent fantasy and speculative fiction author who wrote both for children and young adults. She has been cited as an inspiration by other famous fantasy and science fiction writers such as Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, J. K. Rowling, and Neil Gaiman.
Exploring themes of time travel and parallel or multiple universes, Jones is known for works such as the “Moving Castle” trilogy (1986-2008), “The Worlds of Chrestomanci” series (1977-2006), the “Dalemark Quartet” series (1975-1993), and others. Perhaps her most famous work is the first novel in the “Moving Castle” series titled “Howl’s Moving Castle” which was adapted into the famous 2004 Studio Ghibli animated movie of the same name.
To many writers at the custom writing reviews site Trust My Paper, E. L. James is an example of literary success in our modern world where books don’t seem to be as prominent as before. Born Erika Mitchell in Willesden, London, in 1963, E. L. James is known for her best-selling erotic romance trilogy “Fifty Shades” (2011-2012) and its companion novels.
The first novel of the series titled “Fifty Shades of Grey” became a best-seller worldwide and was translated into 52 languages. In the UK, the book set a record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. The success of the novels led to the big screen adaptations of the same name, and even though there were many critics, both the books and the movies were incredibly successful.
Born Alexander Medawar Garland in London in 1970, the author is known both for his books and his movies. Garland’s 1996 novel “The Beach” was his first success for which the author was named the key voice of Generation X by some literary critics. His screenplays for “28 Days Later” (2002), “Sunshine” (2007), “Never Let Me Go” (2010), and “Dredd” (2012) also received praise.
In 2014, Garland made his directorial debut with the acclaimed sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina” which he also wrote. He went on to direct 2018’s “Annihilation” and 2022’s “Men” the former of which was also a critical success. Garland’s other novels include “The Tesseract” (1998) and “The Coma” (2004) and his next movie “Civil War” is currently in post-production.
All in all, London is definitely the place to be born if you want to become a famous writer. For centuries, some of the greatest writers in history were born here, and in the future, there will likely be even more authors coming from the capital of the UK.