Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian humanist author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher and cryptographer; he epitomised the Renaissance Man. Although he is often characterized exclusively as an architect, as James Beck has observed, "to single out one of Leon Battista's 'fields' over others as somehow functionally independent and self-sufficient is of no help at all to any effort to characterize Alberti's extensive explorations in the fine arts." Although Alberti is known mostly for being an artist, he was also a mathematician of many sorts and made great advances to this field during the 15th century. Alberti's life was described in Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.
Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. Hugo is considered to be one of the greatest and best-known French writers. Outside of France, his most famous works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame , 1831. In France, Hugo is known primarily for his poetry collections, such as Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles .
Zadie Smith FRSL is a contemporary British novelist, essayist, and short-story writer. Her début novel, White Teeth , immediately became a best-seller and won a number of awards. Her most recent book is Feel Free . She has been a tenured professor in the Creative Writing faculty of New York University since September 2010.