writers The Greatest American Writers of All Time  

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List Rules Vote up and rerank U.S.-born writers in any genre, alive or dead

Who are the greatest American authors of all time? In just two short centuries, the great U.S. of A. has produced an incredible number of writers that have influenced literature and art the world over. This list includes great American novelists, poets, playwrights, and writers in the all genres of fiction and nonfiction alike. What American writers did you read in school and actually like? While most kids in this country are assigned works by top novelists like Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, many don't truly love to read until their teen years, when they first find less traditional writers like J.D. Salinger or Kurt Vonnegut. Others are swept away by authors as varied as Stephen King, Harper Lee, or good ol' Dr. Seuss.

Who are the greatest American authors? This list include writers in all mediums, both living and deceased. Maybe your all-time favorites include poets like Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost. If your tastes are more for the pictures, you may consider Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, or even Wes Anderson among the top American screenwriters. Other authors on this list have created some of the most beloved and widely read series in history, including Louisa May Alcott and George R. R. Martin.

The greatest American writers are some of the tops in their fields, producing some of the best novels, essays, films, short stories, stage plays, and poems of all time. While many have stood the test of time and are firmly represented in the literary canon, it remains to be seen whether more contemporary American authors of the 21st Century will be remembered in decades to come. Vote up your the absolute best, and please add many that are missing.
list ordered by

1
+ - 268 82
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

The Greatest American Novels The Greatest Love Poems Ever Written

2
+ - 255 94
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher

3
+ - 220 78
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

4
+ - 253 83
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises

5
+ - 181 64
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily, As I Lay Dying

6
+ - 196 64
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night

7
+ - 168 56
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Moby Dick

8
+ - 140 50
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Jack London The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Martin Eden

9
+ - 133 53
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Emily Dickinson Wild Nights: Selected Poems

10
+ - 139 70
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451

11
+ - 150 68
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five

12
+ - 124 44
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Frost Birches, The Road Not Taken

13
+ - 117 56
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables

14
+ - 107 62
Cormac McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men

15
+ - 111 59
H.-P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror

The Best American Poets Last Words Written By Famous People In Their Suicide Notes

16
+ - 117 56
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire

17
+ - 134 50
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

18
+ - 106 27
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

19
+ - 106 37
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience, Walden

20
+ - 110 59
Dr. Seuss is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Dr. Seuss The Cat in the Hat, Oh the Places You'll Go!, Green Eggs and Ham

21
+ - 171 110
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen King Carrie, The Shining, The Dark Tower series

22
+ - 128 69
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey

23
+ - 82 39
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

24
+ - 133 75
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

25
+ - 94 50
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Arthur Miller The Crucible

26
+ - 79 40
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry James The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady

27
+ - 86 54
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Truman Capote In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's

28
+ - 57 18
E. B. White is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
E. B. White Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Elements of Style

29
+ - 62 28
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth

Famous Irish American Writers Ways to Make Sure You Die Happy

30
+ - 88 33
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance

31
+ - 78 43
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner

32
+ - 60 17
James Fenimore Cooper is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
James Fenimore Cooper The Last of the Mohicans, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea

33
+ - 65 22
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Eugene O'Neill The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie, Mourning Becomes Electra

34
+ - 57 17
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My √Āntonia

35
+ - 75 38
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Flannery O'Connor A Good Man is Hard to Find, Everything that Rises Must Converge

36
+ - 44 10
Stephen Crane is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage, The Red Badge of Courage, Poems of Stephen Crane

37
+ - 55 27
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, At the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror and Others

38
+ - 40 10
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

39
+ - 47 30
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Isaac Asimov I, Robot, Foundation

40
+ - 60 28
Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

41
+ - 23 3
Thomas Paine is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Paine Common Sense, Rights of Man, The crisis

42
+ - 29 10
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Jefferson The family letters of Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 3: June 1779 to September 1780

43
+ - 32 13
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Penn Warren All the King's Men, American Literature, Flood

The Best Rolling Stone Covers The Best Baby Names For Twins

44
+ - 34 9
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ezra Pound Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos, A B C of economics

45
+ - 60 54
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye

46
+ - 57 52
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

47
+ - 67 38
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

48
+ - 41 17
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
O. Henry The Gift of the Magi, Cabbages and Kings, The last leaf

49
+ - 30 26
Norman Mailer is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Norman Mailer The Naked and the Dead, The Executioner's Song, Ancient Evenings

50
+ - 55 29
John Updike is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Updike Rabbit Run, Rabbit at Rest, Rabbit is Rich