Have you ever read a book that changed your whole outlook on life? It’s an incredible experience, and it shows us how books can shape our mind and impact a whole generation. Writers supply us with great literature, which isn’t an easy task! While the rate of people reading books has declined over the years, statistics from the Reading at Risk report show that many people still read books.
Regardless of how many people are reading books, authors are still writing books. We write because it’s a passion. Seeing your name on a published novel is something most writers strive for, and this takes precedence over how many people read the book. However, if we can learn from the most influential writers of all time, we can make our mark on the literature world.
To understand how writers influence us, we need to look at the biggest selling books of all time. The number of copies these books have sold during their life gives us insights into how a writer can influence individuals. It’s a talent, so let’s look at the most influential writers of all time.
We know Charles Dickens for his English novels. His unique style of writing took readers deep inside the Victorian times and he created some of the most memorable characters. Think about Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, and Ms. Havisham. These characters are timeless and still have relevance to readers all those years later.
While other writers were supplying readers with romance and gallant heroes, Dickens wrote about poverty, slums and the darker side of humanity. This set him apart from other writers and made him an inspirational figure to young authors. Dickens also wrote the best-selling novel of all time – A Tale of Two Cities.
Today, many authors replicate Dickens writing style. Aspiring authors can learn a lot from Charles Dickens, including how to create a story that remains relevant throughout the years.
Harper Lee wrote many novels throughout her lifetime, but she’s best known for To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee used her knowledge of the legal system, to write the best-seller. It was about two African American men on trial for raping a white girl and was told through the eyes of the defending lawyers young daughter. To Kill a Mockingbird was way ahead of its time and dealt with one of the most complex issues in the 1960s. Racism against African Americans was common, and a book highlighting the discrimination broke social boundaries.
The book became a film in 1962 and a second film was made in 1997. While Lee’s other books didn’t achieve the success and acclaim she won with To Kill a Mockingbird, they dealt with important social issues.
J. K. Rowling
When we think of the most influential writers of all time, our minds go to Oscar Wilde and William Shakespear. There’s no doubt, that these writers had a beautiful ability to string words together and make a piece of art. However, J. K. Rowling created an original series of books that defined culture worldwide. Is there anybody that hasn’t heard of Harry Potter?
Rowling wrote the book while she was unemployed and living in a dingy apartment. She was told that there was little to gain financially in children’s books, but Harry Potter became cemented in the hearts of both children and adults. After seven books and a movie series, J. K. Rowling is one of the highest earning writers in the world.
The most amazing thing about the Harry Potter series, is how imaginative it is. Nobody had ever wrote something like it before, and that’s why the books are so successful. They transport readers to a magical world where anything is possible. Rowling also breached the gap between children’s and adult literature by creating a collection of characters people of all ages could relate to.
Jane Austen was a champion for women and portrayed them as strong, fearless characters in her novels. Her most famous work is Pride and Prejudice published in 1813. The eccentric and prejudiced Elizabeth Bennett falls for the proud Mr Darcy and a string of events follow. It warmed the hearts of readers, and even today is considered a “must-read”.
Now only did Jane Austen dazzle readers with her original writing style, she also wrote about strong women, instead of the stereotypical damsels in distress. Her other great works include Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. All the books explored the themes of how women must depend on marriage for social standing and prominence.
Most people have read at least one Roald Dahl book in their lifetime. The children’s writer created a collection of quirky books, and they stay popular to this day. Dahl broke the social boundaries with his books, and his main characters were also opinionated and disrespectful to adults. His most popular works include Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The best part about Dahl’s books, is how they take you to another place. They show how powerful the imagination can be and continue to be a delight to read this day.
Nobody defines psychological thriller like Stephen King. His chilling works have given many people nightmares, but we go back to his books because they’re so addictive. You’ll know his most popular works, such as The Shining and Carrie, which both became huge movies. However, one of King’s best-known books wasn’t a horror, but a coming of age drama. Stand by Me spoke to younger generations and resonated with its audience on many levels. The film adaption also starred the late River Phoenix, and it’s considered to be his best performance.
King can take a simple subject and turn it into a spine-tingling thriller. Cujo is about a dog with rabies, attacking a woman. It seems like a simple plot, but Kings stunning writing style hooks readers in from beginning to the end.
H. G. Wells
While most writers stick to their preferred genre, H. G. Wells wrote across many genres and gave us a look at the future. His most famous books include The Time Machine and War of the Worlds. Both dealt with important issues, such as alien invasions. He focused on futuristic issues and was known for his socialist political views. Was Wells the greatest writer? No. However, he gave readers an original collection of books and dedicated his life to writing.
If you’ve seen the movie, starring Helena Bonham Carter, then you’ll know Enid Blyton was an eccentric individual. Her range of books for children, covered many topics but focused on the bonds of friendship. The most famous collections of books include The Famous Five, The Secret Seven and Malory Towers.
Blyton dedicated her life to writing for children, often neglecting her own. She became lost in her books and let her imagination create fantastic stories. Not only were Blyton’s books enjoyable, they also had important life lessons. The books had a wholesome feel, and weren’t controversial, which is one reason they became so popular. Parents felt their children would be safe reading Blyton’s books, and they provided entertainment.
We all know writers struggle with mental illness, and nobody struggled like Virginia Woolf. Her poor mental health only surpassed her gift for writing. Woolf may have suffered with Bipolar disorder, and these issues caused her untimely suicide. However, her life wasn’t all pain and turmoil. She is known as one of the most influential writers of all time, and readers still marvel at her unique writing style.
Mrs Dalloway is perhaps her most famous work, and it focuses on a middle aged woman trying to throw a party. While the premise seems simple, Woolf’s linguistic style and how she ties in the other characters make it an addictive read.
No list of influential writers would be complete without William Shakespeare. He’s considered the best writer of all time, because of his stunning use of the English language. Everyone has heard of him, and most of us have read at least two of his books. Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two star-crossed lovers from rival families. Macbeth shows the damaging effects of political ambition and A Winters Tale combines romance and comedy.
What most of us remember about Shakespeare is his glorious use of words. Some of his most famous lines include “To be or not to be: that is the question”, “Now is the winter of our discontent” and “To thine own self, be true”. These lines are still popular today, and show the raw talent of William Shakespeare. Centuries have gone past, but readers are in awe of Shakespeare and his pieces of literature which transport us to a beautiful world.