Tu Fu was a great Chinese poet of the T'ang dynasty, a family that ruled China from 618 to 907. He is known as a poet-historian for his portrayal of the social and political disorders of his time and is also noted for his artistry and craftsmanship.
Tutankhamen was the twelfth king of the eighteenth Egyptian dynasty (reigned 1361–1352 B.C.E.). Although his reign was relatively unimportant, Tutankhamen became the most famous of the pharaohs (Egyptian kings) when his treasure-filled tomb was discovered in the early twentieth century.
In the 1980s Archbishop Desmond Tutu became South Africa's most well-known opponent of apartheid, that country's system of racial discrimination, or the separation of people by skin color. In 1984, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in South Africa.
Mark Twain, American humorist (comic writer) and novelist, captured a world audience with stories of boyhood adventure and with commentary on man's faults that is humorous even while it probes, often bitterly, the roots of human behavior.
Author John Updike mirrored his America in poems, short stories, essays, and novels, especially the four-volume "Rabbit" series.
Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch painter whose formal distortions and humanistic concerns made him a major pioneer of twentieth-century expressionism, an artistic movement that emphasized expression of the artist's experience.
The Dutch painter Jan Vermeer of Delft transformed traditional Dutch themes into images of fantastic poise and peace, rich with symbolic meaning.
The French novelist Jules Verne was the first authentic writer of modern science fiction. The best of his works, such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth, are characterized by his intelligent foresight into the technical achievements that are within man's grasp.
A Florentine navigator and pilot major of Castile, Spain, Amerigo Vespucci, for whom America is named, played a major part in exploring the New World.
Victoria was queen of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 to 1901 and empress of India from 1876 to 1901. During her reign, England grew into an empire of 4 million square miles and 124 million people.
Gore Vidal is one of America's most important literary figures on the basis of an enormous quantity of work, including novels, essays, plays, and short stories.
Virgil, or Publius Vergilius Maro, is regarded as one of the greatest Roman poets. The Romans regarded his Aeneid, published two years after his death, as their national epic (a long poem centered around a legendary hero).
Antonio Vivaldi was an Italian violinist and composer whose concertos—pieces for one or more instruments—were widely known and influential throughout Europe.
The French poet, dramatist, historian, and philosopher Voltaire was an outspoken and aggressive enemy of every injustice but especially of religious intolerance (the refusal to accept or respect any differences).
The German-born American space scientist Wernher von Braun, the "father of space travel," developed the first practical space rockets and launch vehicles. His advancements were instrumental in space exploration and in putting the first men on the moon.
Kurt Vonnegut is acknowledged as a major voice in American literature and applauded for his subtle criticisms and sharp portrayal of modern society.
The German operatic composer Richard Wagner was one of the most important figures of nineteenth-century music. Wagner was also a crucial figure in nineteenth-century cultural history for both his criticism and polemical writing, or writing that attacks established beliefs.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker is best known for her stories about African American women who achieve heroic stature within the borders of their ordinary day-to-day lives.
As a manufacturer of hair care products for African American women, Madame C. J.
Drawing the highest pay in the history of television broadcasting at the time, Barbara Walters became the first woman coanchor of a network evening newscast. She developed to a high art the interviewing of public figures.
An Wang made important inventions relating to computer memories and to electronic calculators. He was the founder and longtime executive officer of Wang Laboratories Incorporated, a leading American manufacturer of computers and word processing systems.
Booker T. Washington, African American educator and leader, founded Tuskegee Institute for black students.
George Washington (1732–1799) was commander in chief of the American and French forces in the American Revolution (1775–83) and became the first president of the United States.
The British instrument maker and engineer James Watt developed an efficient steam engine that was a universal (covering everything) source of power and thereby provided one of the most essential technological parts of the early industrial revolution (a period of rapid economic growth that involved increased reliance on machines and large factories).
American actor John Wayne played characters that typically showed a heroic American "can-do" spirit in over seventy-five films, mostly Westerns and war movies. He is considered an icon in American film.
Daniel Webster, a notable public speaker and leading constitutional lawyer, was a major congressional spokesman for the Northern Whigs during his twenty years in the U.S. Senate.
Noah Webster, American lexicographer (one who compiles a dictionary), remembered now almost solely as the compiler of a continuously successful dictionary, was for half a century among the more influential and most active literary men in the United States.
Orson Welles was a Broadway and Hollywood actor, radio actor, and film director. His earliest film production, Citizen Kane, was his most famous, although most of his other productions were notable as well.