books The Greatest Playwrights in History  

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List Rules Top writers of theatre and stage plays, including musicals

List of the best playwrights ever that span all time periods and issues in the plays that they wrote. Well known playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller are included on this list along with more modern playwrights that have yet to have the same kind of recognition as these big names and their classic plays.

A playwright writes dramatic literature or a drama and can be used as performance pieces or as closet dramas that are not performed and only read as literary works. Recognizable titles are listed with the author’s name, like “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare or “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller.

This list of the best playwrights asks the question, "Who is the best playwright ever?" and can be voted on by readers to change the order of who is on top. Each playwright is listed with a picture of themselves and have some of their most famous works listed next to their name to be identified easier. If you do not see a popular or your favorite playwright on the list, be sure to add them to have others be able to vote on them, as well.
list ordered by

1
1,267 256
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
William Shakespeare Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

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2
522 278
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Anton Chekhov Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal

3
517 197
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Henrik Ibsen A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler

4
345 191
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

5
246 85
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Euripides Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

6
279 125
Molière is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Molière The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

7
402 140
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Sophocles Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

8
454 182
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

9
180 69
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Aeschylus Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

10
165 80
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

11
396 143
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

12
363 157
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arthur Miller The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

13
199 78
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Eugene O'Neill Long Day's Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh

14
94 44
Eugène Ionesco is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Eugène Ionesco Rhinoceros, The Seven Deadly Sins, Exit the King

15
174 94
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

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16
88 43
Luigi Pirandello is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Luigi Pirandello Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Rules of the Game, Herbstreise

17
179 100
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Bertolt Brecht The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

18
219 86
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
George Bernard Shaw Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

19
78 52
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Nikolai Gogol Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

20
149 81
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Harold Pinter Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

21
103 84
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Strindberg Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

22
124 42
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Victor Hugo Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

23
76 65
Pedro Calderón de la Barca is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
anamaria added Pedro Calderón de la Barca Andrómeda y Perseo, Fieras Afemina Amor, La nave del mercader - La vida es sueño,El alcalde de Zalamea,El médico de su honra

24
147 79
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Elective Affinities

25
101 81
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean Racine Phedre, Berenice

26
130 61
Edward Albee is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Edward Albee Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance

27
90 63
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Neil Simon The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl

28
73 37
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Miguel de Cervantes Don Quijote de la Mancha, Ḍāna Kvigjoṭa, El gallardo español

29
85 54
Lope de Vega is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Lope de Vega Fuenteovejuna, Viuda, Casada Y Doncella - La dama boba, E perro del hortelano, Fuenteovejuna, Perbáñez y el comendador de Ocaña, El mejor alcalde, el rey.  

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30
76 61
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Voltaire Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

31
56 43
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Friedrich Schiller Intrigue and Love, Ode to Joy, On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

32
151 100
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Four Quartets

33
48 36
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Plautus Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

34
32 19
Jean Anouilh is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mary Kate Pagano added Jean Anouilh Monsieur Vincent, Circle of Love, Anna Karenina

35
57 32
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Albert Camus The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall

36
48 51
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Pierre Corneille Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

37
51 53
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Aleksandr Pushkin Eugene Onegin, The Captain's Daughter, The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda

38
110 85
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tom Stoppard Arcasia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

39
37 25
Tony Kushner is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Linn Bartel added Tony Kushner Lincoln, Munich, Caroline - Angels in America Part 1 and 2

40
59 36
Thornton Wilder is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Countermoon added Thornton Wilder Shadow of a Doubt, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, We Live Again

41
95 75
Jean-Paul Sartre is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean-Paul Sartre No Exit, Les Mains Sales, Les jeux sont faits

42
48 42
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added James Joyce Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

43
27 21
Peter Handke is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mollevangsvagen added Peter Handke Wings of Desire, The afternoon of a writer, The left-handed woman

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44
84 57
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Wilson Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

45
63 35
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

46
29 27
Alfred Jarry is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Alfred Jarry Ubu Roi, Supermale

47
44 33
Carlo Goldoni is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Carlo Goldoni Servant of Two Masters, The Venetian Twins, The Venetian Twins

48
53 42
Martin McDonagh is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
PeteBoyle added Martin McDonagh Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges, The Pillowman

49
35 36
Alexander Ostrovsky is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Alexander Ostrovsky The Storm, Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man, The Forest

50
60 39
Ben Jonson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Ben Jonson The Alchemist, Volpone, Every Man in His Humour