Rulers of Literature
12" Wooden Ruler made in U.S.A. of American-grown basswood.
This ruler celebrates great writing. It is heavily skewed toward Western authors, but we have made a few notable exceptions. The first writer is someone whose name we don’t know, but they wrote the Epic of Gilgamesh in Sumerian around 4000 years ago. Confucius (551-479 BC) lived and wrote in China.
Many styles of writing are represented here, from epic poetry to fiction and from plays to autobiographies. While in our list we give a lot of attention to English-language writers, there are also authors on this ruler who wrote in Sumerian, Greek, Chinese, Latin, Japanese, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Norwegian, and Russian. The dates listed on this ruler are the years of each individual’s birth and death, if known.
Six of the writers on our list are women: Murasaki Shikibu (c.978), Jane Austen (1775-1817), the sisters Charlotte (1816-1855) and Emily (1818-1848) Brontë, Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), and Toni Morrison (1931-2019).
A recent update to this ruler has seen us add Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe (1930-2013), whose novel Things Fall Apart is the most widely read book in modern African literature.
The “head” image is of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), the Bard of Avon, much of whose extraordinary output, including 39 plays and 154 sonnets, has been translated into every major living language, and who popularized an uncanny amount of English-language expressions that are still in use today. Our illustration is based on a copper engraving by Martin Droeshout (1601-c.1650) that was used on the title page of Shakespeare’s collected works, the First Folio of 1623.
If you like this ruler, you might also be interested in Great Women Rulers of Literature, Rulers of Britain, Rulers of Art, Rulers of Music, or Rulers of the Opera.