writers The Best Novelists of All Time  

Originally by
41k votes 2.6k voters 74k views 237 items Follow Embed

List Rules Authors who are primarily novelists

List of the best authors of all time as voted on by normal, book-loving people. For this list, we will consider writers who are mainly novelists. Many of the people included on this list are famous authors who wrote popular books; others may not be as well-known, but are masters of their craft. 

The most popular authors are ones that have somehow enriched our lives. J.D. Salinger gave us Holden Caulfield and the term "phony," James Joyce introduced us to stream-of-consciousness prose and Carson McCullers immortalized the misfits and outcasts of the U.S. South in the first half of the 20th century.
The best writers are ones that changed the literary landscape in some way, introduced an iconic character, experimented with form and style and captured our imagination with their language.


While lists of "best novelists" are often attempted by individuals, they can be easily disputed because they often amount to no more than one person's opinion. Since this Ranker list is crowdsourced and open to voting, it benefits from the collective wisdom of many rather than the whims of a few. 

Feel free to vote on this list of top authors, add some that may have been left off, or ReRank this list entirely. 
list ordered by

1
+ - 650 278
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Russian Empire - The Double and Notes from the Underground 

The Greatest Female Novelists Ever The Best Books About Sex

2
+ - 695 325
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Charles Dickens United Kingdom - Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities

3
+ - 549 218
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Leo Tolstoy Russian Empire - War and Peace, Anna Karenina

4
+ - 444 256
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Franz Kafka Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary - The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle

5
+ - 482 240
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
John Steinbeck United States of America - One of the great American writers you were forced to read in High School and probably didn't come to appreciate until later in life. Most famous for The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice And Men, Tortilla Flat

6
+ - 505 238
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe United States of America

7
+ - 640 221
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Mark Twain United States of America - Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 

8
+ - 629 178
George Orwell is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
George Orwell England - Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four

9
+ - 412 156
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Victor Hugo France - Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

10
+ - 541 227
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ernest Hemingway United States of America - Member of the "Lost generation" and author of The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls

11
+ - 314 189
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Herman Melville United States of America - Moby Dick, Billy Budd

12
+ - 338 176
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. G. Wells United Kingdom, England

13
+ - 404 178
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
William Faulkner United States of America - As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!

14
+ - 267 138
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson United Kingdom

15
+ - 316 169
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Kurt Vonnegut United States of America, Germany

The 30+ Best Living Novelists & Fiction Authors Today, Ranked Last Words Written By Famous People In Their Suicide Notes

16
+ - 626 233
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
J. R. R. Tolkien United Kingdom - Author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Fellowship of the Ring 

17
+ - 284 118
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Miguel de Cervantes Spain - Don Quixote

18
+ - 412 189
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time

19
+ - 322 168
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Virginia Woolf England - Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves

20
+ - 406 164
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
James Joyce Republic of Ireland - Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

21
+ - 300 127
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Joseph Conrad United Kingdom, Russian Empire - Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 

22
+ - 402 141
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald United States of America

23
+ - 337 151
Jules Verne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jules Verne France - Journey to the Center of the earth

24
+ - 346 167
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Agatha Christie England - British Crime Writer and Author of And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, the Mousetrap, Death on the Nile"

25
+ - 304 135
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ray Bradbury United States of America

26
+ - 142 101
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Thomas Mann United States of America, Czechoslovakia, Germany - The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, etc.

27
+ - 374 284
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Stephen King United States of America

28
+ - 252 118
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jack London United States of America

29
+ - 236 93
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time

The Greatest Novelist Characters in Film How To Annoy Your Bartender

30
+ - 442 122
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jane Austen United Kingdom - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)

31
+ - 188 124
Hermann Hesse is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Hermann Hesse Switzerland, Germany - Steppenwolf, Siddartha, The Glass Bead Game

32
+ - 234 118
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Rudyard Kipling England

33
+ - 175 108
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov United States of America, Russian Empire

34
+ - 191 82
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Albert Camus France

35
+ - 416 123
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time

36
+ - 300 116
Homer is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Homer Greece

37
+ - 261 103
Aldous Huxley is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Aldous Huxley United Kingdom, England - Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island

38
+ - 372 146
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
C. S. Lewis United Kingdom - Creator of Narnia and all things in it. 

39
+ - 252 128
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Gabriel García Márquez Colombia - Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude

40
+ - 154 96
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Henry James United States of America, United Kingdom - The Portrait of a Lady, Daisy Miller, The Bostonians

41
+ - 146 74
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Isaac Asimov United States of America

42
+ - 156 84
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
George Eliot England - Silas Marner

43
+ - 225 99
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Charlotte Brontë England - Jane Eyre

The Best Russian Authors The Best Netflix Original Comedy Movies

44
+ - 114 126
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Raymond Chandler United States of America, United Kingdom

45
+ - 122 60
Jonathan Swift is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jonathan Swift Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom

46
+ - 242 118
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Emily Brontë England - Wuthering Heights

47
+ - 85 64
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft United States of America

48
+ - 160 107
Marcel Proust is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Marcel Proust France - In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past), perhaps excluding Vol. 3, The Guermantes Way

49
+ - 180 88
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Anton Chekhov Russia - The Seagull

50
+ - 167 117
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
D. H. Lawrence England - Lady Chatterley's Lover