As the title suggests, what's a single word to call someone who writes literature? (By Literature, I refer to great works such as those written by Keats, Joyce, Faulkner, Bronte, etc.)

Exempli gratia, we call someone who writes poetry a poet, a playwright writes drama etc. So, in general, what do we call someone who writes literature?


Then, (Poet+Playwright+...)=?

Any help is appreciated.

EDIT: By literature, I mean fictional works such as poetry, play, short-story, novel. Science fiction can also be considered. Some Feynman-esque papers might suffice to fall in the category. Although it excludes text books, scientific papers and the equivalent.

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    What is wrong with writer?
    – Yay
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:10
  • @Yay Writer is more generalized. It doesn't necessarily involve writing literature. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:12
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    @Sayantan Santra: One problem is that "great' and 'literature' are matters of opinion, so that there is no neutral word that will encompass only your idea of what constitutes 'literature'. 'Author' includes everyone who writes.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 17:57
  • @jamesqf Your logic is correct. But, I think I've found what I was looking for. Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 18:01

6 Answers 6


I'd suggest, litterateur/littérateur

Also, literator n. - One who is devoted to the study or writing of literature FOD

Alternately, how about belletrist and literarian?

belletrist: a writer of belles-lettres FOD

literarian n. — «A literarian is someone who loves literature so much that he or she wants to share it with as many people as possible, so this award is for those who dedicate their lives to love of literature.» —“Taking on the establishment made Ferlinghetti a shoo-in to receive first-ever literarian award” by Heidi Benson San Francisco Chronicle (California) Nov. 16, 2005. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary) A Way with Words

An educated or lettered person; one engaged in literary pursuits. ODO

James Patterson honored with 2015 Literarian Award National Book Foundation

  • Nice one. Was hoping something like this. I'm gonna wait a while, see if someone can suggest something better. Else, I'll definitely accept your answer. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:13
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    Both of these words are essentially not used compared to author or writer, so I wouldn't consider them idiomatic English. Which may be fine depending on how the OP wants to use them. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:40

I might have misinterpreted your intentions, but I was surprised no one suggested simply author:

One who practices writing as a profession.

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    @Gandalf - Except that it takes far more than a single word to define the meaning that a given person assigns to "literature".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:38
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    The writer of a text book in biology can be called an author. But that's not literature. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:38
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    @SayantanSantra Sure it is, in fact "the literature" is a common phrase referring to all the relevant academic writings on a topic. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:41
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    @SayantanSantra Well no one here is a mind reader, so you're going to have to be a lot more specific. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:43
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    @SayantanSantra I can't suggest an edit because you still haven't explained what you mean by the word. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:45

When people use the word writer, they are typically referring to someone who writes creative works of literature, like what you have described.

Writer encapsulates poet, playwright, novelist, etc, perfectly.

People who solely write non-creative things are not termed writers: they might be called copywriters, journalists, textbook writers or even manual writers, etc.

Likewise, if a speaker wanted to refer to a broad set of people who wrote, and they wanted to include those that do not write literature such as I have mentioned above, they would not use the term writers on its own. They might say, all of those whose job it is to write, or some equivalent phrase which makes it clear that they are referring to a broader group than just writers, because that term really does mean writer of literature.

If someone described themselves as a writer and it subsequently transpired that the sum total of their writing consisted of, say, writing technical manuals for the aerospace industry, I would say that they were being disingenuous to the point of being downright deceitful.

Therefore, I'm sure that it's the term that you're looking for (irrespective of the fact that you are already aware of it).

  • 3
    Yes, indeed. It is the answer.
    – user140086
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 15:49

Man of letters:

  • a man, usually a ​writer, who ​knows a lot about ​literature

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Literatus: (formal)

( singular noun, plural literati)

  • person of scholarly or literary attainments; intellectual.


  • I was hoping a single word. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:05
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    And also something that includes women???
    – Mynamite
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:32
  • @Mynamite That'll be better. Yes. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:36
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    @Josh61 - You may add the following example to your answer: Maurice Baring (1874 – 1945) was an English man of letters, known as a dramatist, poet, novelist, translator and essayist, and also as a travel writer and war correspondent.
    – Graffito
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 14:38

@Charon has explained well why writer is in fact the real answer to your question. But if you want something more, try:


a person who works with words; especially : a skillful writer; an expert in the use of words.

a fluent and prolific writer, especially one who writes professionally.

Depending upon what the person writes, the titles can become specific such as novelist, satirist, lyricist etc. See this wikipedia article for explanation.

  • Really interesting one. Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:39
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    Thanks. But I'm not sure what you meant by literature. To me literature is a general word for everything formally written.
    – NVZ
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 13:46
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    Journalism is not usually considered literature, but journalists are wordsmiths.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 14:30
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    @Mitch Journalism is literature in a hurry. - Mathew Arnold
    – NVZ
    Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 14:33
  • @NVZ Well said! Commented Feb 20, 2016 at 16:00

How about literatuate? I think that's workable though cannot find exact dictionary meaning

  • 2
    Is it even a word? Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 16:19
  • Stick to "literary figure" Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 16:28
  • That wasn't desired. I needed valid English words (ie. included in a reputed dictionary). Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 16:37

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