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1Joseph Heller born 1923. Heller's best-known novel, Catch-22 (1961), is considered a classic of the post-World War II era. The title of this work entered the English lexicon to refer to absurd, no-win choices.
Read Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
2Jerome K. Jerome born 1859. An English writer and humorist, best known for the travelogue Three Men in a Boat. The book was initially intended to be a serious travel guide, with accounts of local history along the route,
Read Three Men in a Boat
3Niccol Machiavelli born 1469. The Prince was published 1532. His surname yielded the modern political word Machiavellianism the use of cunning and deceitful tactics in politics.
Read more about Machiavelli
4Graham Swift was born 1949. Swift is a well-known British author. Last Orders was a mildly controversial winner of the Booker Prize in 1996, owing to the superficial similarities in plot to William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying.
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5Karl Marx born 1818. Mr Marx was credited with ideas that formed the foundation of modern communism - published The Communist Manifesto in 1848.
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6Orson Welles born 1915. Welles first found fame in 1938 as the director and narrator of a radio adaptation of H. G. Wells' novel The War of the Worlds which, performed in the style of a news broadcast, causing widespread panic.
Read The War of the Worlds
7Peter Philip Carey born 1943. An Australian novelist one of only two writers to have won the Booker Prize twice. His two winning titles were Oscar and Lucinda, 1988 and True History of the Kelly Gang, 2001
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8John Meade Falkner born 1858. Falkner was an English novelist and poet, best known for his 1898 novel, Moonfleet, the classic children's smuggling story.
Read Moonfleet by John Meade
9J.M. Barrie, born in Kirriemuir, Scotland, 1860. A lonely boy and the 9th of 10 children, he was very short, and melancholy all of his life. He created one of the most memorable literary characters in history: Peter Pan.
Read more books by J M Barrie
10In 1933, the Nazis held a huge book burning near the University of Berlin. Hitler's propaganda minister Josef Goebbels staged the fire to rid libraries of books he said struck "at the root of German thought."
11Douglas Adams died 2001 - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which started life in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books sold over 15 million copies in his lifetime.
Read the Hitchhikers Books
12Edward Lear was in London 1812. In 1832 when painting the Earl of Darby's zoo animals Lear met the Earl's grand children. The songs, cartoons, and humorous poems became his Book of Nonsense published in 1846.
Read Book of Nonsense
13Dame Daphne du Maurier was born 1907. Many of her works have been adapted into films, including the novels Rebecca, which won the Best Picture Oscar in 1941, Jamaica Inn, and The Birds directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Read books by Daphne du Maurier
14Eoin Colfer, born 1965, is an Irish author and comedian. Eoin's most famous books are the incomparable Artemis Fowl series but he has written some excellent one off novels such as The Legend of the Worst Boy in the World.
Find out more about Eoin Colfer's book
15Lyman Frank Baum was born 1856. He is best known today as the creator of The Wizard of Oz. His works predicted such century-later commonplaces as television, laptop computers and wireless telephones.
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16Writer Francois-Marie Arouet, better known as Voltaire, was imprisoned in the Bastille in 1717
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17Influential English writer Dorothy Richardson, whose stream-of-consciousness style influenced James Joyce and Virginia Woolf born in 1873.
Read Dorothy Richardson's debut novel
18Bertrand Russell, born in Monmouthshire, 1872. English philosopher, mathematician, historian, social reformist, and pacifist. He is best known for the work Principia Mathematica, an attempt to ground mathematics on logic.
Read Principia Mathematica
19John Betjeman dies 1984 - poet, essayist, and critic, was knighted in 1969 and became Poet Laureate in 1972.
Read more of John Betjeman poems
20We haven't found a good one yet - but if you know one please let us know and we will add it to the website.
21Plato, the Greek philosopher, mathematician and writer born in 427 BC. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of natural philosophy, science, and Western philosophy.
Read more about Plato's life
22Niccol Machiavelli dies 1527 - The Prince was published in 1532 after his death. His surname yielded the modern political word Machiavellianism the use of cunning and deceitful tactics in politics.
Find out more about Machivelli
23Henrik Ibsen died in 1906. Ibsen was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the god father" of modern drama and is one of the founders of Modernism in the theatre.
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24William Trevor was born in 1928. He is an Irish author and playwright, who has won the Whitbread Prize three times and has been nominated four times for the Booker Prize, most recently for his novel Love and Summer.
Read Love and the Summer by William Trevor
25Robert Ludlum born 1927. American author who wrote the Bourne novels (later turned into blockbuster movies) - The Bourne Identity (1980) The Bourne Supremacy (1986) The Bourne Ultimatum (1990).
Find out more about Robert Ludlum's books
26Ben Schott born London 1974. The son of a neurologist and a nurse achieved a double First from Cambridge. Schott's Almanac was first published in 2005 and is now a bestselling reference book published annually.
Discover Schott's Almanac
27Dashiell Hammett was born 1894. Among the enduring characters he created is Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon). Hammett "is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time.
Read the Maltese Falcon
28Ian Fleming born in 1908. Best remembered for creating spy James Bond. From 1939 to 1945, Fleming was PA to the director of British naval intelligence and he used his own experiences as the basis of Bond's escapades.
Discover Ian Fleming's books
29We haven't found a good one yet - but if you know one please let us know and we will add it to the website.
30Voltaire dies 1778. The eighteenth century is often called the Age of Enlightenment, but it is just as often called the Age of Voltairein the minds of many intellectual historians, the two are synonymous. Hi most book is Candide (1759)
Read Candide by Voltaire
31We haven't found a good one yet - but if you know one please let us know and we will add it to the website.