A canon, besides being a weapon, is also defined as a collection of great works. We've got a canon of Christmas Carols, for example, the ones everybody knows and loves. The writers in this stamp collection are known throughout the world because their work has gone into the canon of Great Literature.
Charles Dickens lived from 1812 to 1870 in Victorian England. His most famous work, and the work you'll most probably read in high school, is Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, a Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield. He liked to work a lot with themes of poverty and riches, of good people and bad people. You'll find all of these ideas in A Christmas Carol.
F. Scott Fitzgerald lived from 1896 to 1940 and his full name was Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald because he was a relative of Scott Francis Key, the man who wrote "The Star-Spangled Banner." F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul and died in Hollywood. He wrote the very important novel, The Great Gatsby.
Jane Austen lived from 1775 to 1817 in England. Jane Austen played a lot with the ideas of happiness and unhappiness, freedom and captivity in the upper classes of society, especially in matters of marriage and courtship. Her most famous works are Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. She was only 41 when she died, but her books have found a new audience with each generation.
Mark Twain's real name was Samuel Clemens and he lived from 1835 to 1910. He was born in Missouri and died in Connecticut. To this day, he is known as the "father of American literature" and author of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He traveled widely and led a very interesting life.
Maya Angelou, born in 1928, is an African-American writer, poet and activist. Her most famous book is autobiographical in nature, which means it has material that came from her own life. It is called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She didn't actually start out studying or practicing writing or literature, for a long time in her career, she was a dancer and danced in many famous clubs.
Nathaniel Hawthorne lived from 1804 to 1864 in Salem, Massachusetts. He added the 'w' to his last name to get away from his old relative, John Hathorne, who was one of the judges who condemned women to hang during the Salem Witch Trials. Some of his most famous works, written in the Romantic style, are The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables.
Walt Whitman was a poet who lived from 1819 to 1892 on the east coast, between Long Island and New Jersey. His poetry was said to have invented the practice of "free verse," which means poetry in a much looser organization, without structure and rhyme. His volume, Leaves of Grass, is a great example of this and really caused a stir in the poetry community when it came out.
William Shakespeare, who lived from 1564 to 1616, wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and various other works. He is considered to be one of the best writers in the English language. His most famous works include Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Tempest, Hamlet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. He was born and died in a town called Stratford-Upon-Avon in England.