Search People Result

Who are the most influential people in world?

Identify leaders in your chosen discipline, research top professors in your area of study, and search for schools based on the luminaries who most inspire you!

Note: These rankings dynamically change as our AI learns new things and new publications and citations are made. Academics are actively researching and publishing new insights, leaving our measure of more recent influence subject to continual adjustments. While we delay real-time changes for quality assurance reasons, be not surprised as you see our rankings change over time.

Methodology: How and Why We Rank by Influence …

Gender designations here are based off data sourced from Wikidata.

About our data on gender

List of the most influential people in Literature, for the years 2010 – 2020

Salman Rushdie
# 1
Salman Rushdie

1947 - Present (73 years)

#109 person's overall influence

Sir Ahmed Salman Rushdie is an Indian novelist and essayist whose work, combining magical realism with historical fiction, is primarily concerned with the many connections, disruptions, and migrations between Eastern and Western civilizations, with much of his fiction being set on the Indian subcontinent.

Neil Gaiman
# 2
Neil Gaiman

1960 - Present (60 years)

#374 person's overall influence

Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, nonfiction, audio theatre, and films. His works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book. He has won numerous awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Bram Stoker awards, as well as the Newbery and Carnegie medals. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work, The Graveyard Book . In 2013, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was voted Book of the Year in the British National Book...

Margaret Atwood
# 3
Margaret Atwood

1939 - Present (81 years)

#197 person's overall influence

Margaret Eleanor Atwood is a Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, teacher, environmental activist and inventor. Since 1961, she has published 18 books of poetry, 18 novels, 11 books of non-fiction, nine collections of short fiction, eight children's books, and two graphic novels, as well as a number of small press editions of both poetry and fiction. Atwood has won numerous awards and honors for her writing, including the Booker Prize , Arthur C. Clarke Award, Governor General's Award, Franz Kafka Prize, Princess of Asturias Awards, and the National Book Critics and PEN Center

J. K. Rowling
# 4
J. K. Rowling

1965 - Present (55 years)

#419 person's overall influence

Joanne Rowling , better known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British writer and philanthropist. She is best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series, which has won multiple awards and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history. The books are the basis of a popular film series, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and was a producer on the final films. She also writes crime fiction under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

Toni Morrison
# 5
Toni Morrison

1931 - 2019 (88 years)

#264 person's overall influence

Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison , known as Toni Morrison, was an American novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1988, Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved ; she gained worldwide recognition when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993.

Stephen King
# 6
Stephen King

1947 - Present (73 years)

#230 person's overall influence

Stephen Edwin King is an American author of horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, crime, science-fiction, and fantasy novels. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, and many have been adapted into films, television series, miniseries, and comic books. King has published 61 novels, including seven under the pen name Richard Bachman, and five non-fiction books. He has also written approximately 200 short stories, most of which have been published in book collections.

# 7
Giannina Braschi

1953 - Present (67 years)

#220 person's overall influence

Giannina Braschi is a Puerto Rican poet, novelist, dramatist, and scholar. Her notable works include Empire of Dreams , Yo-Yo Boing! and United States of Banana .

E. L. James
# 8
E. L. James

1963 - Present (57 years)

#2430 person's overall influence

Erika Leonard , known by her pen name E. L. James, is a British author. She wrote the bestselling erotic romance trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed, along with the companion novels Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian and Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian. Prior to this, she wrote the Twilight fan fiction "Master of the Universe" that served the basis for the Fifty Shades trilogy under the web name Snowqueens Icedragon. In 2019 her first book to not be a part of the Fifty Shades trilogy, The Mister, was published, to negative cri...

Arundhati Roy
# 9
Arundhati Roy

1961 - Present (59 years)

#1278 person's overall influence

Suzanna Arundhati Roy is an Indian author best known for her novel The God of Small Things , which won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1997 and became the best-selling book by a non-expatriate Indian author. She is also a political activist involved in human rights and environmental causes.

Philip Pullman
# 10
Philip Pullman

1946 - Present (74 years)

#873 person's overall influence

Sir Philip Pullman, CBE, FRSL is an English novelist. He is the author of several best-selling books, including the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials and the fictionalised biography of Jesus, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ. In 2008, The Times named Pullman one of the "50 greatest British writers since 1945". In a 2004 poll for the BBC, Pullman was named the eleventh most influential person in British culture. He was knighted in the 2019 New Year Honours for "services to literature".

Zadie Smith
# 11
Zadie Smith

1975 - Present (45 years)

#1304 person's overall influence

Zadie Adeline Smith FRSL is an English novelist, essayist, and short-story writer. Her debut novel, White Teeth , immediately became a best-seller and won a number of awards. She has been a tenured professor in the Creative Writing faculty of New York University since September 2010.

Rick Riordan
# 12
Rick Riordan

1964 - Present (56 years)

#7321 person's overall influence

Richard Russell Riordan Jr. is an American author. He is known for writing the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, about a teenager named Percy Jackson who discovers he is a son of the Greek god Poseidon. Riordan's books have been translated into forty-two languages and sold more than thirty million copies in the US. 20th Century Fox has adapted the first two books of his Percy Jackson series as part of a series of films. His books have spawned related media, such as graphic novels and short story collections.

Alice Walker
# 13
Alice Walker

1944 - Present (76 years)

#475 person's overall influence

Chetan Bhagat
# 14
Chetan Bhagat

1974 - Present (46 years)

#2856 person's overall influence

Chetan Prakash Bhagat is an Indian author and columnist. He was included in Time magazine's list of World's 100 Most Influential People in 2010.

Margaret Busby
# 15
Margaret Busby

1944 - Present (76 years)

#1587 person's overall influence

Margaret Yvonne Busby OBE, Hon. FRSL is a Ghanaian-born publisher, editor, writer and broadcaster, resident in the UK. She was Britain's youngest and first black female book publisher when in the 1960s she co-founded with Clive Allison the London-based publishing house Allison and Busby . She edited the anthology Daughters of Africa , and its 2019 follow-up New Daughters of Africa. She is a recipient of the Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature.

Wole Soyinka
# 16
Wole Soyinka

1934 - Present (86 years)

#620 person's overall influence

Akinwande Oluwole Babatunde Soyinka , known as Wole Soyinka , is a Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, the first sub-Saharan African to be honoured in that category. Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. In 1954, he attended Government College in Ibadan, and subsequently University College Ibadan and the University of Leeds in England. After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres and on radio. He took an activ

Ian McEwan
# 17
Ian McEwan

1948 - Present (72 years)

#895 person's overall influence

Ian Russell McEwan, is an English novelist and screenwriter. In 2008, The Times featured him on its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945" and The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 19 in its list of the "100 most powerful people in British culture".

Kiran Desai
# 18
Kiran Desai

1971 - Present (49 years)

#2178 person's overall influence

Kiran Desai is an Indiann author. Her novel The Inheritance of Loss won the 2006 Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Fiction Award. In January 2015, The Economic Times, India's leading business publication, listed her as one of 20 "most influential" global Indian women.

Carol Ann Duffy
# 19
Carol Ann Duffy

1955 - Present (65 years)

#2028 person's overall influence

Dame Carol Ann Duffy is a British poet and playwright. She is a professor of contemporary poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Poet Laureate in May 2009, resigning in 2019. She was the first woman, the first Scottish-born poet and the first known LGBT poet to hold the position.

George R. R. Martin
# 20
George R. R. Martin

1948 - Present (72 years)

#1054 person's overall influence

George Raymond Richard Martin , also known as GRRM, is an American novelist and short story writer, screenwriter, and television producer. He writes the series of epic fantasy novels A Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted into the HBO series Game of Thrones .

Irvine Welsh
# 21
Irvine Welsh

1958 - Present (62 years)

#1405 person's overall influence

Irvine Welsh is a Scottish novelist, playwright and short story writer. His novel Trainspotting was made into a film of the same name. His work is characterised by a raw Scots dialect and brutal depiction of Edinburgh life. He has also written plays and screenplays, and directed several short films.

Jerry Pinto
# 22
Jerry Pinto

1966 - Present (54 years)

#6218 person's overall influence

Jerry Pinto is a Mumbai-based Indian writer of poetry, prose and children's fiction, as well as a journalist. Pinto writes in English, and his works include, Helen: The Life and Times of an H-Bomb which won the Best Book on Cinema Award at the 54th National Film Awards, Surviving Women and Asylum and Other Poems . His first novel Em and the Big Hoom was published in 2012. Pinto won the Windham-Campbell prize in 2016 for his fiction. He was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2016 for his novel Em and the Big Hoom.

Brandon Sanderson
# 23
Brandon Sanderson

1975 - Present (45 years)

#2931 person's overall influence

Brandon Sanderson is an American fantasy and science fiction writer. He is best known for the Cosmere universe, in which most of his fantasy novels are set. He is also known for finishing Robert Jordan's high fantasy series The Wheel of Time.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
# 24
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

1977 - Present (43 years)

#2711 person's overall influence

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian writer whose works range from novels to short stories to nonfiction. She was described in The Times Literary Supplement as "the most prominent" of a "procession of critically acclaimed young anglophone authors [which] is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature".

Marlon James
# 25
Marlon James

1970 - Present (50 years)

#2718 person's overall influence

Marlon James is a Jamaican writer. He has written four novels: John Crow's Devil , The Book of Night Women , A Brief History of Seven Killings , winner of the 2015 Man Booker Prize, and Black Leopard, Red Wolf . Now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in the U.S., James teaches literature at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also a faculty lecturer at St. Francis College's Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing.

Orhan Pamuk
# 26
Orhan Pamuk

1952 - Present (68 years)

#758 person's overall influence

Ferit Orhan Pamuk is a Turkish novelist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature for the book Istanbul: Memories and the city. One of Turkey's most prominent novelists, his work has sold over thirteen million books in sixty-three languages, making him the country's best-selling writer.

Sitakant Mahapatra
# 27
Sitakant Mahapatra

1937 - Present (83 years)

#6687 person's overall influence

Sitakant Mahapatra is an eminent Indian poet and literary critic in Odia as well as English. He was in the Indian Administrative Service since 1961 until retiring in 1995, and has held ex officio posts such as the Chairman of National Book Trust, New Delhi since then.

Ursula K. Le Guin
# 28
Ursula K. Le Guin

1929 - 2018 (89 years)

#200 person's overall influence

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin was an American author best known for her works of speculative fiction, including science fiction works set in her Hainish universe, and the Earthsea fantasy series. She was first published in 1959, and her literary career spanned nearly sixty years, yielding more than twenty novels and over a hundred short stories, in addition to poetry, literary criticism, translations, and children's books. Frequently described as an author of science fiction, Le Guin has also been called a "major voice in American Letters." Le Guin herself said she would prefer to be known as an "Am...

Jhumpa Lahiri
# 29
Jhumpa Lahiri

1967 - Present (53 years)

#1312 person's overall influence

Nilanjana Sudeshna "Jhumpa" Lahiri is an American author known for her short stories, novels and essays in English, and, more recently, in Italian.

Junot Díaz
# 30
Junot Díaz

1968 - Present (52 years)

#1688 person's overall influence

Junot Díaz is a Dominican-American writer, creative writing professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology , and fiction editor at Boston Review. He also serves on the board of advisers for Freedom University, a volunteer organization in Georgia that provides post-secondary instruction to undocumented immigrants. Central to Díaz's work is the immigrant experience, particularly the Latino immigrant experience.

Ian Rankin
# 31
Ian Rankin

1960 - Present (60 years)

#2485 person's overall influence

Ian James Rankin is a Scottish crime writer, best known for his Inspector Rebus novels.

Paul Muldoon
# 32
Paul Muldoon

1951 - Present (69 years)

#1986 person's overall influence

Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet. He has published over thirty collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 to 2004. At Princeton University he is both the Howard G. B. Clark '21 University Professor in the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He has also served as president of the Poetry Society and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker.

J. M. Coetzee
# 33
J. M. Coetzee

1940 - Present (80 years)

#736 person's overall influence

John Maxwell Coetzee is a South African-born Australian novelist, essayist, linguist, translator and recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. He has won the Booker Prize , the CNA Prize , the Jerusalem Prize, the Prix Femina étranger, and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and holds a number of other awards and honorary doctorates.

Thomas Pynchon
# 34
Thomas Pynchon

1937 - Present (83 years)

#340 person's overall influence

Michael Ondaatje
# 35
Michael Ondaatje

1943 - Present (77 years)

#1482 person's overall influence

Philip Michael Ondaatje , is a Sri Lankan-born Canadian poet, fiction writer, essayist, novelist, editor, and filmmaker. He is the recipient of multiple literary awards such as the Governor General's Award, the Giller Prize, the Booker Prize, and the Prix Médicis étranger. Ondaatje is also an Officer of the Order of Canada, recognizing him as one of Canada's most renowned living authors.

Haruki Murakami
# 36
Haruki Murakami

1949 - Present (71 years)

#1383 person's overall influence

is a Japanese writer. His books and stories have been bestsellers in Japan as well as internationally, with his work being translated into 50 languages and selling millions of copies outside his native country. His work has received numerous awards, including the World Fantasy Award, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the Franz Kafka Prize, and the Jerusalem Prize.

# 37
Anne Carson

1950 - Present (70 years)

#4676 person's overall influence

Anne Carson is a Canadian poet, essayist, translator, classicist, and professor.

Amitav Ghosh
# 38
Amitav Ghosh

1956 - Present (64 years)

#1336 person's overall influence

Amitav Ghosh is an Indian writer and the winner of the 54th Jnanpith award, best known for his work in English fiction.

Martin Amis
# 39
Martin Amis

1949 - Present (71 years)

#985 person's overall influence

Martin Louis Amis is a British novelist, essayist, memoirist, and screenwriter. He is best known for his novels Money and London Fields . He received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his memoir Experience and has been listed for the Booker Prize twice . Amis served as the Professor of Creative Writing at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester until 2011. In 2008, The Times named him one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

John Banville
# 40
John Banville

1945 - Present (75 years)

#1478 person's overall influence

William John Banville is an Irish novelist, short story writer, adapter of dramas and screenwriter. Though he has been described as "the heir to Proust, via Nabokov", Banville himself maintains that W. B. Yeats and Henry James are the two real influences on his work.

Dave Eggers
# 41
Dave Eggers

1970 - Present (50 years)

#2394 person's overall influence

Dave Eggers is an American writer, editor, and publisher. He is married to writer Vendela Vida with whom he has two children. He wrote the best-selling memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Eggers is also the founder of McSweeney's, a literary journal, a co-founder of the literacy project 826 Valencia and the human rights nonprofit Voice of Witness, and the founder of ScholarMatch, a program that matches donors with students needing funds for college tuition. His writing has appeared in several magazines.

Julian Barnes
# 42
Julian Barnes

1946 - Present (74 years)

#1595 person's overall influence

Julian Patrick Barnes is an English writer. Barnes won the Man Booker Prize for his book The Sense of an Ending , and three of his earlier books had been shortlisted for the Booker Prize: Flaubert's Parrot , England, England , and Arthur & George . He has also written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh. In addition to novels, Barnes has published collections of essays and short stories.

# 43
Mukul Kesavan

1957 - Present (63 years)

#9221 person's overall influence

Mukul Kesavan is an Indian historian, novelist and political and social essayist. He was schooled at St. Xaviers' in Delhi and then went on to study History at St. Stephen's College, and at the University of Delhi and later at Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge where he received his MLitt having been awarded the Inlaks scholarship. His first book, a novel titled - Looking Through Glass received international critical acclaim. In 2001 he wrote a political tract titled 'Secular Common Sense' published by Penguin India. He teaches social history at Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi.

Shashi Deshpande
# 44
Shashi Deshpande

1938 - Present (82 years)

#7342 person's overall influence

Shashi Deshpande is an Indian novelist. She is a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award.

Bernardine Evaristo
# 45
Bernardine Evaristo

1959 - Present (61 years)

#5168 person's overall influence

Bernardine Anne Mobolaji Evaristo, MBE, FRSL, FRSA, FEA , is a British author of eight works of fiction. Her most recent novel, Girl, Woman, Other, won the Booker Prize in 2019, the first black woman and the first black British person to win it. In 2020 she won the British Book Awards: Fiction Book of the Year and Author of the Year, as well as the Indie Book Award for Fiction. The novel was one of Barack Obama's 19 Favourite Books of 2019. In June 2020 she became the first woman of colour and the first black British writer to assume the No.1 spot in the UK paperback fiction charts, where it h

David Mitchell
# 46
David Mitchell

1969 - Present (51 years)

#2955 person's overall influence

David Stephen Mitchell is an English novelist and screenwriter.

Kazuo Ishiguro
# 47
Kazuo Ishiguro

1954 - Present (66 years)

#1847 person's overall influence

Sir Kazuo Ishiguro is an English novelist, screenwriter and short-story writer. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan, and moved to England in 1960 when he was five.

Woody Allen
# 48
Woody Allen

1935 - Present (85 years)

#514 person's overall influence

Heywood "Woody" Allen is an American director, writer, actor, and comedian whose career spans more than six decades and multiple Academy Award-winning movies. He began his career as a comedy writer on Sid Caesar's comedy variety program, Your Show of Shows, working alongside Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart and Neil Simon. He also began writing material for television, published several books featuring short stories, and writing humor pieces for The New Yorker. In the early 1960s, he performed as a stand-up comedian in Greenwich Village alongside Lenny Bruce, Elaine May, Mike Nichols, a

Don DeLillo
# 49
Don DeLillo

1936 - Present (84 years)

#743 person's overall influence

Donald Richard DeLillo is an American novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenwriter and essayist. His works have covered subjects as diverse as television, nuclear war, sports, the complexities of language, performance art, the Cold War, mathematics, the advent of the digital age, politics, economics, and global terrorism.

Terry Pratchett
# 50
Terry Pratchett

1948 - 2015 (67 years)

#227 person's overall influence

Sir Terence David John Pratchett was an English humorist, satirist, and author of fantasy novels, especially comical works. He is best known for his Discworld series of 41 novels.