Graphic Organizer Teacher Guide to Famous Authors

Picking the ten most influential writers in history isn't a scientific process. If you ask ten people who they think the most influential writers are, you'll probably get ten different answers. But there are some writers whose works have put them on the list and kept them there, some for centuries.

Below we have suggested ten writers who I believe would make it onto the list and why they should be considered influential.

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare was born in 1564 and died in 1616. During his lifetime this English playwright and poet wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets which are short, rhyming poems, two long poems that are classified as narrative poems because they have a plot and tell a story, and several other poems.

Among his many works, Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and A Midsummer's Nights Dream. He wrote about history, adventure and love. Some of his plays were funny, some tragic. He was also a writer of fairy tales and melodramas. But what makes Shakespeare so influential is that the plays he wrote almost four-hundred years ago can still be so popular, relevant, and entertaining today.

Mark Twain

Was born in 1835 and died in 1910. His real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Mark Twain was an American author who wrote with a great deal of humor. He wrote the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been called the Great American Novel.

His writing style helped establish an American brand of literature. Mark Twain was a staunch supporter of women's rights, abolition and many other social causes. He was friends with presidents, European Royalty, artists, and other influential people. Twain used often used his writing and tremendous speaking skills to advance the causes he believed in.


Homer was a writer who lived about 2800 years ago. He was a Greek poet that wrote epic poems. An epic poem is a long poem that tells a story about a hero and a hero's deeds. Homer wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey. These war adventure stories influenced and shaped Greek culture and history. These works are still studied today.

Geoffrey Chaucer

Chaucer was an English writer who was born in 1340 and died in 1400. He was also a diplomat and philosopher. He wrote the Canterbury Tales and many historians believe that he was the first author to use the English language to create an important literary work. Authors during this period of time had to write in French or Latin to be taken seriously. For this influence, Chaucer is often called the Father of English Literature.

Charles Dickens

Was born in 1812 and died in 1870. He was an English Novelist, writing books like Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol. Many of Dickens novels portrayed the differences between the very poor and the wealthy and yet they were written in a fluid, somewhat comedic style for the subject. He was very interested and active in Social Reform. His books were able to affect changes in a very real way. After Oliver Twist came out, the London slum that was the setting for the book, was cleared. Dickens was definitely an influential writer in history.


This Greek writer lived over 3000 years ago. He wrote tragic plays including Antigone and Oedipus the King. Sophocles' writing influenced dramatic style and content for centuries.

Other authors that can be included on this list include Virgil, who lived over 2000 years ago, Dante Alighieri who lived between the years 1265 and 1321, and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra who was born in 1547 and died in 1616. The last person on the list of the ten most influential authors in history is John Milton who lived from 1608 to 1674.

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