A list of famous people, chosen mainly from the nineteenth, twentieth or twenty-first centuries. This list includes famous actors, politicians, entrepreneurs, writers, artists and humanitarians.
- Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962) American actress, singer, model
- Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) US President during American civil war
- Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997) Macedonian Catholic missionary nun
- John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963) US President 1961 – 1963
- Martin Luther King (1929 – 1968) American civil rights campaigner
- Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) South African President anti-apartheid campaigner
- Queen Elizabeth II (1926 – ) British monarch since 1954
- Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965) British Prime Minister during WWII
- Donald Trump (1946 – ) Businessman, politician
- Bill Gates (1955 – ) American businessman, founder of Microsoft
- Muhammad Ali (1942 – 2016) American Boxer and civil rights campaigner
- Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948) Leader of Indian independence movement
- Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013) British Prime Minister 1979 – 1990
- Christopher Columbus (1451 – 1506) Italian explorer
- Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) British scientist, theory of evolution
- Elvis Presley (1935 – 1977) American musician
- Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955) German scientist, theory of relativity
- Paul McCartney (1942 – ) British musician, member of Beatles
- Queen Victoria ( 1819 – 1901) British monarch 1837 – 1901
- Pope Francis (1936 – ) First pope from the Americas
- Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964) Indian Prime Minister 1947 – 1964
- Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) Italian, painter, scientist, polymath
- Vincent Van Gogh (1853 – 1890) Dutch artist
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945) US President 1932 – 1945
- Pope John Paul II (1920 – 2005) Polish Pope
- Thomas Edison ( 1847 – 1931) American inventor
- Rosa Parks (1913 – 2005) American civil rights activist
- Aung San Suu Kyi (1945 – ) Burmese opposition leader
- Lyndon Johnson (1908 – 1973) US President 1963 – 1969
- Ludwig Beethoven (1770 – 1827) German composer
- Oprah Winfrey (1954 – ) American TV presenter, actress, entrepreneur
- Indira Gandhi (1917 – 1984) Prime Minister of India 1966 – 1977
- Eva Peron (1919 – 1952) First Lady of Argentina 1946 – 1952
- Benazir Bhutto (1953 – 2007) Prime Minister of Pakistan 1993 – 1996
- George Orwell (1903 – 1950) British author
- Desmond Tutu (1931 – ) South African Bishop and opponent of apartheid
- Dalai Lama (1938 – ) Spiritual and political leader of Tibetans
- Walt Disney (1901 – 1966) American film producer
- Neil Armstrong (1930 – 2012) US astronaut
- Peter Sellers (1925 – 1980) British actor and comedian
- Barack Obama (1961 – ) US President 2008 – 2016
- Malcolm X (1925 – 1965) American Black nationalist leader
- J.K.Rowling (1965 – ) British author
- Richard Branson (1950 – ) British entrepreneur
- Pele (1940 – ) Brazilian footballer, considered greatest of 20th century.
- Angelina Jolie (1975 – ) Actress, director, humanitarian
- Jesse Owens (1913 – 1980) US track athlete, 1936 Olympics
- Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) American author
- John Lennon (1940 – 1980) British musician, member of the Beatles
- Henry Ford (1863 – 1947) US Industrialist
- Haile Selassie (1892 – 1975) Emperor of Ethiopia 1930 – 1974
- Joseph Stalin (1879 – 1953) Leader of Soviet Union 1924 – 1953
- Lord Baden Powell (1857 – 1941) British Founder of scout movement
- Michael Jordon (1963 – ) US Basketball star
- George Bush Jnr (1946 – ) US President 2000-2008
- Vladimir Lenin (1870 – 1924) Leader of Russian Revolution 1917
- Ingrid Bergman (1915 – 1982) Swedish actress
- Fidel Castro (1926 – ) President of Cuba 1976 – 2008
- Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910) Russian author and philosopher
- Pablo Picasso (1881 – 1973) Spanish modern artist
- Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) Irish author, poet, playwright
- Coco Chanel (1883 – 1971) French fashion designer
- Charles de Gaulle (1890 – 1970) French resistance leader and President 1959 – 1969
- Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937) Aviator
- John M Keynes (1883 – 1946) British economist
- Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) French chemist and microbiologist
- Mikhail Gorbachev (1931 – ) Leader of Soviet Union 1985 – 1991
- Plato (423 BC – 348 BC) Greek philosopher
- Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945) leader of Nazi Germany 1933 – 1945
- Sting (1951 – ) British musician
- Mary Magdalene (4 BCE – 40CE) devotee of Jesus Christ
- Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980) English / American film producer, director
- Michael Jackson (1958 – 2009) American musician
- Madonna (1958 – ) American musician, actress, author
- Mata Hari (1876 – 1917) Dutch exotic dancer, executed as spy
- Cleopatra (69 – 30 BCE) Queen of Egypt
- Grace Kelly (1929 – 1982) American actress, Princess of Monaco
- Steve Jobs (1955 – 2012) co-founder of Apple computers
- Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004) US President 1981-1989
- Lionel Messi (1987 – ) Argentinian footballer
- Babe Ruth (1895 – 1948) American baseball player
- Bob Geldof (1951 – ) Irish musician, charity worker
- Leon Trotsky (1879 – 1940) Russian Marxist revolutionary
- Roger Federer (1981 – ) Swiss Tennis player
- Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) Austrian psychoanalyst
- Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924) US president 1913 – 1921
- Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) Leader of Chinese Communist revolution
- Katherine Hepburn (1907 – 2003) American actress
- Audrey Hepburn (1929 – 1993) British actress and humanitarian
- David Beckham (1975 – ) English footballer
- Tiger Woods (1975 – ) American golfer
- Usain Bolt (1986 – ) Jamaican athlete and Olympian
- Carl Lewis (1961 – ) US athlete and Olympian
- Prince Charles (1948 – ) Heir to British throne
- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929 – 1994) American wife of JF Kennedy
- C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) British author
- Billie Holiday (1915 – 1959) American jazz singer
- J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973) British author
- Billie Jean King (1943 – ) American tennis player and human rights activist
- Anne Frank (1929 – 1945) Dutch Jewish author who died in Holocaust
More famous people
- Simon Bolivar (1783 – 1830) Venezuelan independence activist in South America.
- Marie Antoinette (1755 – 1793) French Queen, executed during the French revolution
- Cristiano Ronaldo (1985 – ) Portuguese footballer.
- Emmeline Pankhurst (1858 – 1928) English suffragette.
- Emile Zatopek (1922 – 2000) Czech athlete
- Lech Walesa (1943 – ) Polish leader of Solidarity movement
- Julie Andrews (1935 – ) British singer, actress
- Florence Nightingale (1820 – 1910) British nurse
- Marie Curie (1867 – 1934) Polish / French scientist
- Stephen Hawking (1942 – ) British scientist
- Tim Berners Lee (1955 – ) English creator of World Wide Web
- Lance Armstrong (1971 – ) American cyclist
- Shakira (1977 – ) Colombian singer
- Jon Stewart (1962 – ) American comedian
- Wright Brothers Orville (1871 – 1948) and Wilbur (1867 – 1912) American inventors, aviation pioneers
- Roman Abramovich (1966 – ) Russian oligarch
- Tom Cruise (1962 – ) American actor
- Rupert Murdoch (1931 – ) Media owner of News Corporation
- Al Gore (1948 – ) US presidential candidate and environmental campaigner
- Sacha Baron Cohen (1971 – ) English comedian
- George Clooney (1961 – ) American actor and political activist
- Paul Krugman (1953 – ) American Nobel Prize winning economist
- Jimmy Wales (1966 – ) American creator of Wikipedia
- Brad Pitt (1963 – ) Actor
- Kylie Minogue (1968 – ) Australian singer and actress
- Malala Yousafzai (1997 – ) Pakistani human rights activist
- Stephen King (1947 – ) American author
More Famous people
Famous historical figures: A list of famous people throughout the ages, which includes people from ancient civilisations to the present.
100 Famous Women: A list of 100 famous women from the arts, sport, literature, acting and politics.
100 most influential people – A list of 100 most influential people as chosen by Michael H. Hast, from his book 100 most influential people in the world. Includes; Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Lord Buddha, Confucius, St Paul and Johann Gutenberg.
People who changed the world – Famous people who changed the course of history including Socrates, Newton, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Queen Victoria, Catherine the Great, Einstein and Gandhi.
Women who changed the world – Famous women who changed the world. Features female Prime Ministers, scientists, cultural figures, authors and royalty. Includes; Cleopatra, Princess Diana, Marie Curie, Queen Victoria, and Joan of Arc.
Famous People Through History
Famous by Nationality
Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Top 100 Famous People”, Oxford, UK. www.biographyonline.net, 31/01/2016. Last updated 28 Feb 2018.
1000 Years of Famous People at Amazon
Famous People by Category
Famous by religion
Write a Biography
How to pick a subject, research, and write a profile for class.
PART I: BRAINSTORM
Biography means "writing about life." The key to writing a good biography is picking a good subject who has lead an interesting life. While it may be tempting to write about your favorite celebrity, you are strongly encouraged to select someone who has lived an important life and made a lasting contribution to the world.
People you are familiar with are also good subjects for profiles. They are easily accessible for interviews. Also, you can easily interview others about them.
Step 1: Make a list of 10 possible subjects for your biography. Think about all the people in the world who fascinate you. Examples:
- Bill Clinton (former President)
- William Shakespeare (famous writer)
- Serena Williams (famous athlete)
- Your principal
- Queen Elizabeth (famous queen)
- Albert Einstein (famous scientist)
- One of your teachers
- Frida Kahlo (famous painter)
- A relative
- A mentor
Step 2: Choose three people from your list who seem like the best candidates for a biography.
Step 3: Run a quick search on the Internet to see how much information you can easily find about your three candidates.
Note: For people in your communitysuch as your principal or teacherthe Internet will not be a helpful research tool. You will have to talk to the person directly to see how much info you can quickly find out.
Step 4: Answer the following questions for each of your three candidates (yes or no).
- Is the person's life worth writing about?
- Do you feel strongly about the person?
- Has the person made a difference in the world?
- Does the person fascinate you?
- Does the person's life make a good story?
Step 5: Which person's life stands out as the best story? That's your subject!
PART II: RESEARCH
Now that you've selected a subject, the real fun begins! Biographical research is like detective work. Your assignment: Uncover fun facts about your subject!
To help you get started, we've provided you with a list of Research Resources.
Step 1: Visit the library to gather information about your subject. No detail is too small, no story too great! Take good notes! Investigate! You should browse:
- The Internet (See Research Resources)
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine articles and interviews
- History books
If your subject is a community member, dig up details through interviews.
- Interview your subject.
- Interview people who know your subject.
- Interview people who have an opinion about your subject.
Step 2: Track down basic facts about your subject, such as:
- Date of birth/death
- Place of origin
- Educational background
- Favorite books, music, art
Step 3: Find out which events shaped your subject's life, such as:
- Greatest accomplishments
- Worst failure
- Biggest obstacles overcome
- Lasting contribution to the world
Step 4: Find out which people influenced your subject's life:
- Most influential teacher
- Worst enemies
- Best friend(s)
- Heroes and role models
- Favorite family member
Step 5: Gather three quotations by and three quotations about your subject. Be accurate!
PART III: WRITE
Now that you've gathered enough facts and quotes, it's time to write!
Step 1: To help organize your biography, draw a time line of important events in your subject's life. Keep this handy when you begin to write. Include things like:
What is the most interesting thing you learned about your subject. That's where your story should begin. Work in the rest of the details as the story unfolds. Follow this basic outline for storytelling:
- Quote from or about your subject that backs up your lead.
- A paragraph that gives the who, what, where, why of your subject. This paragraph tells your readers what the story is about and why they should read it.
- Another quote from or about your subject.
- Several paragraphs that tell your storycan include more quotes.
- A conclusion that takes your readers back to the information in the first paragraph.
Not all biographies follow this format. This format is most often used by journalists writing news stories.
Step 2: Write a first draft of your biography.
- Be honest. Tell the truth about your subject, good and bad.
- Be accurate. Check facts by cross-referencing in other sources.
- Be clear. Always keep your readers in mind.
Step 3: Read your biography out loud. Answer the following questions:
- What new information have I learned about my subject?
- Is my story always clear? If not, where does it break down?
- What more would I like to know about my subject?
- Do the transitions between paragraphs make sense? Does the story flow from paragraph to paragraph without confusing the reader?
Step 4: Based on your answers, revise your biography.
- Check spelling and grammar.
- Check quotations for accuracy.
- Double check all facts.
Congratulations on finishing your biography!