Writers and artists create materials that communicate ideas shared by many all around the world. The language of art and great literature, if done properly, creates an emotional connection between the creator and all people. The following most famous people in the world, though no longer here, continue to have a significant impact on the lives of people worldwide.

Most Famous Person in the World—Writers and Artists


William Shakespeare

Living years: 1564-1616

Nationality: British

Masterpiece: Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, etc.

Known as one of the greatest writer of English literature, Shakespeare was a great bard. A good percentage of the current English language can be given credit to Shakespeare. There are also many clichéd phrases used today that are attributed to his works, such as “It’s all Greek to me,” and “dead as a doornail.” The quote “to be or not to be,” is probably one of the most famous used on a regular basis. There're a lot to be learned about his works which include about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 long narrative poems and a few other verses, but of Shakespeare himself, very little is known. What is known is that he only made it to grammar school and was an actor before he began writing plays.


Leonardo da Vinci

Living years: 1452-1519

Nationality: Italian

Masterpiece: Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Vitruvian Man, etc.

Da Vinci wore many hats in his lifetime and is continually recognized as one of the world’s greatest and most influential engineers, inventors, anatomists, architects, mathematicians, geologists, musicians, cartographers, botanists, writers, and sculptors. Although he had many inventions, for which he is famous, several were not created and used until centuries after his death. He was simply ahead of his time in ideals and techniques. The one thing that Da Vinci is most famous for is his painting, the Mona Lisa, which he dedicated about 13 years of his life to painting.


Vincent van Gogh

Living years: 1853-1890

Nationality: Dutch

Masterpiece: Starry Night, Autumn Landscape 1885, The Smoker, etc.

Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists of the twentieth century. His early life was quite an unhappy time as he was stuck working for his uncles who were art dealers; he decided instead, to follow in his father’s steps and become a Protestant minister. When he was relieved of his post, he turned to art and decided to study in Brussels and Paris. While in Paris he was influenced by the great impressionists of his time. His favorite place to paint was outside, which gave way to his most famous works of art, Starry Night. Van Gogh is also widely known for his mental instability that lead him to living in an asylum.


Pablo Picasso

Living years: 1881-1973

Nationality: Spanish

Masterpiece: Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, etc.

Pablo Picasso could also be the most famous person in the world. He is known as one of the founders of cubism. Picasso was born to a conventional artistic family and had a great talent for painting. At the age of 14, he began to display his works, then later he moved to Paris to further his skills. He is well known for having several artistic states throughout his career: Blue Period, cubism, and neo-classical. He is most famously known for the mural that portrays the Guernica bombing and his simple Dove of Peace.


Leo Tolstoy

Living years: 1828-1910

Nationality: Russian

Masterpiece: Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Death of Ivan Ilych, Resurrection, etc.

Most famous for his two novels, War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy was a Christian pacifist. As a child, he struggled with his studies and ended up drifting through life. He had once volunteered to serve in the Russian army to gain meaning in his life. However, that did not last long as he quickly realized his passion for being a pacifist. His battlefield observations in Sevastopol Sketches gained him recognition as a Russian writer. He spent most of his years traveling through Europe and gaining an emotional connection with the peasants, poor, and downtrodden where he developed his philosophy of non-violence, vegetarianism, and his own take on anarchist Christianity.


Ernest Hemingway

Living years: 1899-1961

Nationality: American

Masterpiece: The Old Man and The Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, etc.

Hemingway’s classic American literature has influenced fiction and the culture that abounds today. He was born in Illinois, and was a journalist in Kansas City. Eventually he became a volunteer ambulance driver for the Red Cross which led him to the front line of the Italian trench war. His book A Farwell to Arms depicts his adventure in the war and his being sent home due to a wound during mortar fire. He was a well-traveled journalist who wrote a few books intermittently. He remained in pain from plane crashes and eventually committed suicide in the summer of 1961.


Oscar Wilde

Living years: 1854-1900

Nationality: Irish

Masterpiece: The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest, The Canterville Ghost, etc.

Oscar was born in Dublin, Ireland to parents who were known for their extravagant lifestyles. His father was eventually knighted for services to medicine, however his family still lived in shadows of rumors. Oscar studied the greatest Greek philosophers at Trinity College before attending Oxford. Oxford is where he developed his talent and love of literature. He quickly became bored with his studies and moved to London where he became a well-known playwright. Although Wilde was famous for his plays, he was still submitted to a trial for his homosexual acts. This greatly influenced his writing style and today he is known as one of the most famous people in the world.


Ludwig van Beethoven

Living years: Baptized 1770 - 1827

Nationality: German

Masterpiece: Symphony No. 9 "Choral", Symphony No. 6 "Pastoral", Symphony No. 3 "Eroica", Symphony No. 5, etc.

One of the most famous composers and pianist, Beethoven is critical figure for the transition from classical to the romantic periods in music. He is truly known for his ability to continually compose extravagant pieces while being completely deaf during his last couple decades of life. He had grown up in a musical family and gave his first performance at the young age of 7, in 1778. Soon he went out to improve his own skills with the current masters of music. He composed his first 6 string quartets between 1798 & 1800. Over his short career, he wrote over 100 pieces.


Wolfgang Mozart

Living years: 1756-1791

Nationality: Austrian

Masterpiece: Symphony No. 40, Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 21, Don Giovanni, Die Zauberflöte, etc.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born to a successful composer, violinist, and assistance concert master, Leopold Mozart. Leopold began teaching Wolfgang at the age of three after seeing how interested he was. By the age of 5, Wolfgang wrote his first composition for the clarinet and violin. Wolfgang’s first live performance was at the age of 6 in Munich. Mozart is famous for having a keen ear and being able to write from sound memory. Mozart used his skills to continually improve and move up in the music world. By the end of his life, his income had shrank as Austria was at war. Losing his aristocracy support, he had to move his family when an illness known as severe military fever took over his body, ending his life.


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