How These Famous Essay Writers Can Make You Awesome

Last updated: June 2019


“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
– Mark Twain

For Mr. Twain, essays were way more than academic assignments most of you love hating so much. His works inspired ideas and motivated people to change the world.

Have you ever thought how famous essay writers could influence you? To be specific, how could their writings make you awesome?

Table of Contents:

  1. Early American and Colonial Period: Before 1776
  2. Democratic Origins and Revolutionary Writers: 1776-1820
  3. Romantic Period: 1820–1860
  4. The Rise of Realism: 1860-1914
  5. Modernism and Experimentation: 1914-1945
  6. American Essay Writers of Postwar Period
  7. American Essayists: Present Days
  8. The final words

Here’s the deal:

  1. Essay writers cover historical facts and events.
  2. They reveal peculiar details about those facts and events, which helps readers understand past and present better.
  3. And their essays serve well to students who need reliable information sources as references for their academic papers.

The writing profession is among the most ancient ones. Great essay writers have been working since the dawn of history, with each period celebrating new names and their signature roles in the evolution of a language.

Year by year, essay writers teach critical thinking and freedom of expression to young people demanding changes and self-development. Words are their weapon, powerful enough to influence your attitude toward writing in general, and your writing assignments in particular.

Read these famous American essay writers, and you’ll reveal the secret of awesomeness: clear thoughts expressed with power words. The main thing to remember is that well written essays will help you understand the topic and write your research paper.

The more you read, the better you write, after all.


Early American and Colonial Period: Before 1776

It was the time of revolutionary spirit in the air. No surprise, all essay writers of that time strove to send it over their works.

Key topics of their essays were:

  • Unjust laws
  • Slavery and fights against it
  • Criticism of government with their policy
  • Disagreements with aristocrats
  • Warnings of implications such global changes might have

It was the time of revolutionary literature. If your professor asks to write essays on corresponding topics, you might refer to works of the following American essayists:

famous american essayists before 1776

  1. Samuel Sewall (1652-1730): The Selling of Joseph
  2. John Woolman (1720-1772): Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes


Democratic Origins and Revolutionary Writers: 1776-1820

The triumph of independence influenced moods and literature then. Essays by famous authors described antislavery, faltering steps of democracy, American exceptionalism, the Constitution, American generations, and relations between England and America.

Refer to their works in your essays when appropriate. Those men of letters had to pay for publishing, so they did best for their writings to be topical, informative, and original.

The triumph of independence influenced moods and literature then. Essays by famous authors described antislavery, faltering steps of democracy, American exceptionalism, the Constitution, American generations, and relations between England and America.

Refer to their works in your essays when appropriate. Those men of letters had to pay for publishing, so they did best for their writings to be topical, informative, and original.

The famous essay writers of that time:

famous american essayists 1776-1820

  1. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790): Advice on the Choice of a Mistress; The Art of Procuring Pleasant Dreams; The Temple of Learning; and The Whistle
  2. Thomas Paine (1737-1809): Common Sense and The American Crisis
  3. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826): The Declaration of Independence
  4. Washington Irving (1783-1859): The Mutability of Literature


Romantic Period: 1820–1860

Known as American Renaissance, this was the era of self-expression, inspiration, and a significant role of arts for both social and individual growth.

The Romantic movement originated in Germany but spread to other European countries, England and France in particular. Essay writers of that time were poets and fiction authors as well, with the core topic of self-development. They talked about arts, self-awareness, the unity of self and nature, and a human mission in this world.

We bet you know their names. Some of the famous essay writers then were:

famous american essayists 1820-1860

  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882): Gifts; Self-Reliance; and The Poet
  2. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The Philosophy of Furniture
  3. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894): The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
  4. Margaret Fuller (1810-1850): Papers on Literature and Art
  5. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895): The Destiny of Colored Americans
  6. Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906): On Women’s Right to Vote
  7. Donald Grant Mitchell (1822-1908): My Farm of Edgewood: A Country Book


The Rise of Realism: 1860-1914

The stark reality of life:
Romantic moods can’t take ages. 1860 was the year of realism’s return and heyday. The U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) assigned topics to famous essay writers of that time, and it was the period when optimism had given its way to exhaustion.

America transformed into a powerful nation then. People knew quotes from famous writers by heart, as their words resonated with contemporary moods, and they knew how to write an essay that would work.

American essayists covered such topics as wars, industrialization, urbanization, alienation, individual and national strengths. The most known names of that time are:

famous american essayists 1860-1914

  1. A. Bronson Alcott (1799-1888): “Exercise” essay collection Table-Talk
  2. Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888): Death of a Soldier
  3. Mark Twain (1835-1910): Advice to Youth; The Danger of Lying in Bed; and On the Decay of the Art of Lying
  4. Henry Adams (1838-1918): A Law of Acceleration
  5. Mary Hunter Austin (1868-1934): The Land of Little Rain
  6. W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963): Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others


Modernism and Experimentation: 1914-1945

“You are all a lost generation.”
– Gertrude Stein

These words of the well-known novelist and art collector define writers of that time in the best way possible.

Disillusioned with wars and life values they had, Faulkner, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and other best-known representatives of their generation hated aristocrats and craved for recognition. Needless to say, they expressed such moods in writings.

The Great Depression (1929-1939) had an impact on young essayists, too. They experimented with writing techniques, expressed their thoughts in tricky yet meaningful ways, and tried to cut through the clutter of their peers.

Read works of these famous essay writers and learn from them if you want to polish writing skills and create A+ academic papers.

famous american essayists 1914-1945

  1. George Ade (1866-1944): Luxuries
  2. Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956): The Libido for the Ugly
  3. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965): Selected Essays, 1917–1932
  4. Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980): The Days Before
  5. F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940): What I Think and Feel at 25
  6. William Faulkner (1897-1962): The Sound and the Fury
  7. Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961): The Snows of Kilimanjaro


American Essay Writers of Postwar Period

Essay writers of 1945-1990 engaged in self-reflection thrice. They observed, described, and commented on everything that was going on around. Writings of that time are of a big value today, as they help us understand life models and moods of postwar Americans. Everyone uses the best essay written to create their best research papers.

A hallmark of the period was verbal genres’ emerging and boom. Essayists wrote speeches, movie scripts, and song lyrics to describe and express public sentiments better. Influenced by Latin American realism and European existentialism, postwar literature was much multifaceted. Historical figures such as Nelson Mandela with his writings provided American essayists with food for thoughts too.

Who are the writers able to influence your mindset and help you understand the outside world through the lens of historical events?

famous american essayists 1945-1990

  1. Norman Mailer (1923-2007): The White Negro
  2. John McPhee (1931-present): The Search for Marvin Gardens
  3. Edward Hoagland (1932-present): Heaven and Nature
  4. Wendell Berry (1934-present): Against the Death Penalty
  5. Joan Didion (1934-present): The White Album
  6. Joseph Epstein (1937-present): Plausible Prejudices: Essays on American Writing; A Literary Education and Other Essays; and Masters of the Games: Essays and Stories on Sport
  7. Robert Lee Fulghum (1937-present): All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Want to hop under the covers?

Here comes the comprehensive list of famous essay writers’ best works for you to read, learn, and refer in your college assignments.


American Essayists: Present Days

They challenge predecessors’ ideas, adapting them to our quick-changing world. Contemporary essay writers cover topics such as human rights, gender equality, post-feminism, global urbanization, and other social issues. Great english essays are sure to help you scoop up good new ideas.

The Internet era influences writing forms and styles. Since people have no time and desire to read and analyze long manuscripts today, most essayists go online and publish short stories to hold the attention of an audience. Some communicate ideas through social media or video, as it’s the best way to reach Gen Z.

famous american essayists 1990-1945

Who are the most famous essay writers now?

  • Marilynne Robinson (1943-present): When I Was a Child I Read Books
  • Stephen Edwin King (1947-present): Great Hookers I Have Known
  • David Shields (1956-present): Reality Hunger
  • Sarah Vowell (1969-present): The Partly Cloudy Patriot
  • John Jeremiah Sullivan (1974-present): Pulphead

(Here is the list of ten contemporary American essayists to read right now.)


The final words:

As you see, essay writing goes beyond college assignments. This literary form allows you to look back, rethink historical events and social heritage, understand the surrounding community better, and develop critical thinking.

Reading and analyzing the best works of famous essay writers, you will not only become higher-ed but also learn how to influence others with your words and writings. Try to use the best english essays as examples and you are sure to be successful!

Isn’t it awesome?

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