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
285 86
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 Graphic Novels and Collected Editions

2
265 99
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
228 81
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

4
193 64
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
264 87
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
205 66
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
173 57
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Moby Dick

8
144 51
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
140 54
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Emily Dickinson Wild Nights: Selected Poems

10
129 44
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Frost Birches, The Road Not Taken

11
153 70
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
141 72
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451

13
120 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
114 63
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
115 60
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 The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

16
122 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
140 50
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

18
111 27
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

19
116 60
Dr. Seuss is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
107 38
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience, Walden

21
133 69
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey

22
140 75
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

23
175 114
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen King Carrie, The Shining, The Dark Tower series

24
83 39
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

25
91 54
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Truman Capote In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's

26
97 50
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Arthur Miller The Crucible

27
81 40
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry James The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady

28
63 28
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth

29
58 18
E. B. White is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
E. B. White Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Elements of Style

Famous Irish American Writers The Best Ways to Create Your Own Good Luck

30
89 34
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance

31
68 22
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Eugene O'Neill The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie, Mourning Becomes Electra

32
81 46
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner

33
61 18
James Fenimore Cooper is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added James Fenimore Cooper The Last of the Mohicans, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea

34
80 38
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 34 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

35
59 17
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My √Āntonia

36
45 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
42 10
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Clark Benson added Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

38
56 28
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
65 29
Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

40
49 30
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Garvin added Isaac Asimov I, Robot, Foundation

41
38 9
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Mollevangsvagen added Ezra Pound Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos, A B C of economics

42
31 11
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Thomas Jefferson The family letters of Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 3: June 1779 to September 1780

43
37 23
Tom Wolfe is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
clash1977 added Tom Wolfe Almost Heroes, The Last American Hero, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

20 Books to Read in Your 20s The Best Soju Brands

44
63 56
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye

45
33 14
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added Robert Penn Warren All the King's Men, American Literature, Flood

46
44 17
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added O. Henry The Gift of the Magi, Cabbages and Kings, The last leaf

47
60 54
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

48
33 35
William S. Burroughs is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added William S. Burroughs Drugstore Cowboy, Naked Lunch, Junkie

49
67 39
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

50
35 19
Henry Miller is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Henry Miller Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Sexus