15 Writers Who’ve Graced the Cover of Time

The cover of this week’s Time Magazine features writer Jonathan Franzen, whose new novel, Freedom, publishes at the end of August. As the New York Times points out, he’ll be the first living writer on the cover in ten years. To get there, an author must brew the perfect combination of sales, publicity, and cultural impact. (Only a small fraction of the authors on Time’s 100 Novels list ever made the cut for a spot on the cover.) After the jump, we’ll take you through the last 15 Time covers featuring a living writer, and explain what landed them there.

There was once a time when a writer — of novels, non-fiction, short stories, or poetry — regularly appeared within the red border of the weekly. In the 1950s and ’60s it happened every few months, or even weeks. This new cover is both an obvious mark of the digital age and a great honor for Franzen. As we look back at this celebrated list we hope this cover is the start of a new trend for Time.

Note: Click any of the covers to proceed to the associated Time article.