The Guardian’s list of 10 best beards in literature, featuring the most impressive beards in fiction and poetry, got me to thinking about the great writers and their beards. Here, in no particular order, are a few of the best.

Walt Whitman

I’ve not read much if any of his poetry but his beard of biblical proportions makes me want to. This is exactly the kind of beard you want at the end of your life, something that makes you look as old as time itself.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

The giants of Russian literature have some of the greatest beards and few are greater than Dostoevsky’s classic tongue of bristle.


Anton Chekhov

I don’t know whether it’s the gravitas of Chekhov’s expression or the pince-nez that give Chekhov’s beard its elegance but you can’t argue with the authority of this look.

Ernest Hemingway

Papa’s beard matches his overtly masculine image. He famously bragged that he could out-fight, fuck, fish, write, or hunt any other man alive. Apparently he could out-beard most men too.



Edward Lear

Though not nearly nonsensical enough, Edward Lear’s beard is clearly well groomed.

D. H. Lawrence

Lawrences beard almost looks fake in this photo.

J. M. Coetzee

One of the few contemporary writers to sport a beard. Surprised by how much Coetzee looks like Clint Eastwood.

Allen Ginsberg

Ginsberg’s is easily one of the best beards ever to grace a literary chin.

Charles Dickens

Dickens’ beard seems designed for stroking.

Count Lyev Nikolayevich Tolstoy

Tolstoy’s beard has to be the ultimate literary beard though. So good I had to include two photos from its lengthy lifespan.