Help your students start to develop a love of literature with these pages about famous authors.

This collection of worksheets offers short reading passages about the lives and work of famous authors. Students will learn about authors from many different periods of time, and discover why their contributions to different genres are so important. Each short essay is accompanied by two answer sheets (multiple choice and short answer), as well as a one page “organizer,” in which students can note brief facts about the author. Answer keys are provided for each sheet.

Project idea: Have your students write a report on a book written by one of the authors presented in these worksheets.

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Printable Famous Authors Worksheets

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William Shakespeare

When Shakespeare was alive, records were not kept the way they are today. Therefore, his biography has been pieced together by the few facts that exist, such as birth records, wills, and property purchases.

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William Shakespeare: Graphic Organizer

Some of Shakespeare’s most famous works include Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth and the famous 154 Sonnets.

William Shakespeare Multiple Choice Questions

Shakespeare’s career, based in London, is thought to have begun with acting - and then writing.

Shakespeare Short Answer

Shakespeare is buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. His gravestone declares a curse over anyone who dares to move his bones!

Virginia Woolf - Reading Passage

Her father was the first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, and her family was quite distinguished.

Virginia Woolf Graphic Organizer

She became active in the women's' suffrage movement, and was also a member of the Women’s Cooperative Movement.

Virginia Woolf Multiple Choice Questions

She also wrote many non-fiction pieces, and was very respected in the literary world.

Virginia Woolf Short Answers

Her 1929 book A Room of One's Own is one of her most famous publications, and explores the history of feminism and the need for women to have economic independence.

George Orwell - Reading Passage

George Orwell is the pen name for Eric Arthur Blair, a writer, essayist, novelist, political activist and literary critic who was born on June 25th, 1903.

Orwell Graphic Organizer

Although he was extremely intelligent and did well in school, he was not able to go on to university because it was too expensive.

Orwell Multiple Choice Questions

Orwell was devoted to politics and was particularly interested in issues such as class, social stratification, and power.

Orwell Short Answers

In 1940, George combined his political savvy with his gift of writing and went to work against World War II, fighting for freedom by writing propaganda for the BBC.

Ernest Hemingway- Reading Passage

When the USA joined World War 1, Hemingway went to Italy to volunteer with an ambulance unit. Unfortunately, he was badly injured.

Hemingway Graphic Organizer

In the 1920s, Ernest was part of the expatriate community in Paris. An expatriate is someone who was expelled from a country and resides in another, although these days the term is used quite loosely to refer to someone who is living in a country other than their own, such as a British man living in Korea, for example.

Hemingway Multiple Choice Questions

The best part of this one is finding the area where you need new letters.

Hemingway Short Answers

In 1953, he received the Pulitzer Price for this book The Old Man and the Sea, which was a story about a seaman's battle with the sea – and himself.

James Joyce- Reading Passage

He is famous for using a unique style of writing which included many puns, invented words, and allusions.

Joyce Graphic Organizer

He used many parallels in his writing and drew from his knowledge of history, literature, and mythology to create his own sort of experimental language.

Joyce Multiple Choice Questions

James was interested in writing from an early age, and his first essay was published in The Fortnightly Review in 1900.

Joyce Short Answers

James Joyce published many pieces, including a collection of poems called Chamber Music in 1907, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1916, and Dubliners in 1914.

Kurt Vonnegut - Reading Passage

An American writer who has long been applauded for his ability to sharply portray modern society.

Vonnegut Graphic Organizer

Kurt was interested in writing from an early age, and in high school he wrote and was one of the editors of The Shortridge Daily Echo, which was the first high school newspaper in the country that was produced on a daily basis.

Vonnegut Multiple Choice Questions

Although his family was fourth-generation German, growing up in America he had never been exposed to his German roots.

Vonnegut Short Answers

The seventies were a difficult period for Vonnegut, as he got divorced, went through a depression, and removed himself from the public eye, although he published three novels in the seventies, he avoided fame.

William Faulkner - Reading Passage

William Faulkner was considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.

Faulkner Graphic Organizer

Faulkner wanted to join the army, but because of his height (he was 5 feet, 6 inches), he was not allowed.

Faulkner Multiple Choice Questions

He also received two Pulitzer prizes, for A Fable in 1955 and The Reivers in 1962. He also wrote acclaimed novels The Sound of Fury and Absalom, Absolom!

Faulkner Short Answers

He wrote six screenplays, including the screenplay for Ernest Hemmingway’s To Have and Have Not. This was the only time in history that two Nobel Prize winning authors were associated to one motion picture.

Ayn Rand - Reading Passage

Ayn Rand was born in St Petersburg, Russia. At the young age of six, she taught herself to read and write.

Rand Graphic Organizer

When she graduated in 1924, the university was taken over my Communist thugs.

Rand Multiple Choice Questions

She moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as a screen writer. She sold her first screenplay to Universal Pictures in 1932.

Rand Short Answers

Ayn published her first novel, We the Living, in 1936. It was a fairly autobiographical book was based on her years of life living under Soviet tyranny.

Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) - Reading Passage

He then dabbled in a variety of careers, none of which lasted long. He wanted to be a riverboat captain, but when the Civil War broke out, all traffic was halted on the Mississippi river.

Clemens Graphic Organizer

He found a niche in travel writing after completing a well-received piece about Hawaii - which was then known as "the Sandwich Islands."

Clemens Multiple Choice Questions

Sam had already enjoyed some success as a writer, and his first book was published in 1869, called The Innocents Abroad, which was inspired by his travel letters.

Clemens Short Answers

In 1873, he and his publisher co-wrote a book about the perils of society’s obsession with gaining wealth, called The Gilded Age.

J.D. Salinger - Reading Passage

He wrote primarily for The New Yorker which is a very famous and well-respected publication. He published thirty five stories and essays!

Salinger Graphic Organizer

Salinger is most famous for his well-read book, The Catcher in the Rye which was published in 1951.

Salinger Multiple Choice Questions

His main character, Holden Caulfield, is a teenage boy who runs away from the real world because he finds it "phony." The book is still studied in many class rooms today and is considered a "coming of age" story.

Salinger Short Answers

J.D. Salinger has lived in New Hampshire since 1953, where he lives a very private life.