books The Greatest Playwrights in History  

Originally by
16k votes 2.7k voters 186k views 176 items Follow Embed

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.

1
+ - 1,184 231
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
William Shakespeare Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

10 Graphic and Twisted Stage Plays Sure to Disturb Your Sleep The Greatest Graphic Novels and Collected Editions

2
+ - 489 256
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
+ - 470 177
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
+ - 322 179
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

5
+ - 261 119
Molière is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Molière The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

6
+ - 380 135
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Sophocles Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

7
+ - 224 80
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Euripides Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

8
+ - 423 176
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
+ - 339 147
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arthur Miller The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

10
+ - 164 66
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Aeschylus Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

11
+ - 153 78
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

12
+ - 368 142
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

13
+ - 186 75
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
+ - 85 40
Eugène Ionesco is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Eugène Ionesco Rhinoceros, The Seven Deadly Sins, Exit the King

15
+ - 166 90
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

The Best Broadway Musicals Last Words Written By Famous People In Their Suicide Notes

16
+ - 79 39
Luigi Pirandello is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Luigi Pirandello Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Rules of the Game, Herbstreise

17
+ - 71 48
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Nikolai Gogol Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

18
+ - 204 83
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
+ - 165 99
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Bertolt Brecht The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

20
+ - 139 77
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
+ - 96 82
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
+ - 71 60
Pedro Calderón de la Barca is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
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

23
+ - 112 39
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Victor Hugo Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

24
+ - 137 76
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Elective Affinities

25
+ - 95 79
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean Racine Phedre, Berenice

26
+ - 121 60
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
+ - 78 60
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
+ - 65 35
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Miguel de Cervantes Don Quijote de la Mancha, Ḍāna Kvigjoṭa, El gallardo español

29
+ - 73 59
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Voltaire Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

21 Famous Schizophrenics The Biggest Turn Ons in a Person

30
+ - 77 51
Lope de Vega is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
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. 

31
+ - 146 94
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Four Quartets

32
+ - 57 32
Thornton Wilder is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Thornton Wilder Shadow of a Doubt, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, We Live Again

33
+ - 45 48
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Pierre Corneille Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

34
+ - 48 50
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Aleksandr Pushkin Eugene Onegin, The Captain's Daughter, The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda

35
+ - 29 17
Jean Anouilh is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean Anouilh Monsieur Vincent, Circle of Love, Anna Karenina

36
+ - 51 41
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Friedrich Schiller Intrigue and Love, Ode to Joy, On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

37
+ - 44 34
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Plautus Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

38
+ - 33 22
Tony Kushner is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tony Kushner Lincoln, Munich, Caroline - Angels in America Part 1 and 2

39
+ - 104 83
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tom Stoppard Arcasia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

40
+ - 49 30
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Albert Camus The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall

41
+ - 89 74
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
+ - 25 19
Peter Handke is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Peter Handke Wings of Desire, The afternoon of a writer, The left-handed woman

43
+ - 41 38
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
James Joyce Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The Best Movies Based on Short Stories The Best and Worst Disney Animated Movies

44
+ - 79 53
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Wilson Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

45
+ - 20 15
Niccolò Machiavelli is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Niccolò Machiavelli The Prince, Discourses on Livy, Florentine Histories - La Mandragola (The Mandrake)

46
+ - 101 80
Stephen Sondheim is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Stephen Sondheim Into the Woods, Company

47
+ - 74 53
Noël Coward is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Noël Coward Private Lives, Hay Fever, Tonight at 8:30

48
+ - 33 34
Alexander Ostrovsky is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Alexander Ostrovsky The Storm, Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man, The Forest

49
+ - 55 33
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

50
+ - 32 33
Cyrano de Bergerac is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Cyrano de Bergerac Voyages to the Moon and the Sun, Selenarchia: The Government of the World in the Moon, The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon and Sun