The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

20k votes 2.8k voters 216k views 156 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Vote based on only each writer's short fiction, no other work

List of the best short story writers of all time. From Voltaire to George Saunders, a complete list of the greatest short story authors who have written works in English or whose works have been translated into English. Usually, short fiction features a small cast of characters and is focused on one incident or anecdote and one overall mood. Complex stories with sweeping timelines and superfluous characters are not often written in the short story medium, because there is simply not enough time to develop more than one or two cohesive thoughts. The best short story writers think that writing short-fiction is a completely separate art form than writing a novel, but some would argue that writing short stories is great practice for writing a full length work of fiction. 

Because of the constraints of page length, great short story writers have to use language that is descriptive and quickly sets the scene or develops their characters. Hemingway is notoriously good at short, pithy stories. One of his most famous is the world's shortest short story: “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” Very short stories are also known as flash-fiction.

Like Hemingway, the best short story authors can paint a picture with their words in a short amount of time. If you like books but don't have time to read novels, reading short stories could be a great option for you. Many of the best novelists of all time  have also written good short stories. Often, this type of fiction is sold in short story collections or anthologies. Use this list to discover new authors of short-fiction and vote on your favorites.
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 & most listed
    Prague, Czech Republic The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster

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  2. 2
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    Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat

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  3. 3
    + 311
    - 102

    often listed & added by AnastasiaSmith
    Dublin, Republic of Ireland The Nightingale and the Rose, The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates

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  4. 4
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    ranked low on reranks
    Taganrog, Russia The Lady with the Dog, The Bet, The Darling, Vanka, The Death of a Clerk, The Duel, A Boring Story

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  5. 5
    + 379
    - 110

    added by mrblond
    Florida, Missouri, United States of America The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The War Prayer, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Eve's Diary

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  6. 6
    + 536
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    Oak Park, Illinois, United States of America The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Capital of the World, Indian Camp, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

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  7. 7
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Greensboro, North Carolina, United States of America The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, After Twenty Years, A Retrieved Reformation

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  8. 8
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    ranked low on reranks
    Buenos Aires, Argentina The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths

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  9. 9
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    Savannah, Georgia, United States of America A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River

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  10. 10
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    added by carlybobarly
    New Albany, Mississippi, United States of America A Rose for Emily, Barn Burning, Dry September, That Evening Sun, Red Leaves

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  11. 11
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    Tourville-sur-Arques, France Boule de Suif, Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi

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  12. 12
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    Eurasia, United Kingdom, Scotland The Adventure of the Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem, The Man with the Twisted Lip

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  13. 13
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    Yasnaya Polyana, Russia The Three Questions, What Men Live By, Ivan the Fool, Father Sergius

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  14. 14
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Manhattan, New York City, New York Bartleby, the Scrivener, The Lighning-Rod Man, Encantadas

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    Mumbai, India Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Man Who Would Be King, Lispeth, Mowgli's Brothers

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  16. 16
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    added by looksharp
    Rathgar, Republic of Ireland The Dead, Araby, The Sisters, Eveline, The Boarding House, An Encounter

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  17. 17
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    Waukegan, Illinois, United States of America All Summer in a Day, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Pedestrian, The Last Night of the World

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  18. 18
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    added by ElijahKaganer
    Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman, The Portrait

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  19. 19
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    added by hasrvwill
    Providence, Rhode Island, United States of America At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, History of the Necronomicon

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  20. 20
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    added by hasrvwill
    Bromley, United Kingdom The Red Room, The Country of the Blind, The New Accelerator, The Stolen Body

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  21. 21
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    ranked low on reranks
    Clatskanie, Oregon, United States of America Where I'm Calling From, Cathedral, Neighbors, So Much Water Close to Home

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  22. 22
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    New York City, Area code 917, Contiguous United States A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter, For ‎Esmé—with Love and Squalor

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  23. 23
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    Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America Harrison Bergeron, 2 B R 0 2 B, Miss Temptation, The Report on the Barnhouse Effect

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  24. 24
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Manhattan, New York City, New York Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Devil and Tom Walker

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  25. 25
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    Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America The Lost Decade, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Offshore Pirate

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  26. 26
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    Llandaff, Cardiff, United Kingdom The Landlady, Skin, Man from the South 

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  27. 27
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    added by Ansim
    Ixelles, Belgium Axolotl, Blow-Up, Headache

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  28. 28
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    California, United States of America To Build a Fire, The Mexican, A Piece of Steak, Batard

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  29. 29
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    Aracataca, Colombia A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Eva Is Inside Her Cat, The Autumn of the Patriarch

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  30. 30
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    often listed & added by BISKIT
    California, United States of America The Lottery, Louise Please Come Home, Charles, The Possibility of Evil, The Lovely House

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  31. 31
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    added by AtanuMukherjee
    Kolkata, India

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  32. 32
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    added by clash1977
    Andernach, Germany All the Assh*les in the World Plus Mine, Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts

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  33. 33
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    added by tushar.at7
    Chicago, Illinois, United States of America The Minority Report, Second Variety, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, Paycheck

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  34. 34
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    added by carlybobarly
    Quincy, Massachusetts, United States of America The Swimmer, Goodbye My Brother, The Enormous Radio, The Five-Forty-Eight

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  35. 35
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    added by Dani Porter
    Wingham, Ontario, Canada The Boy Came Over the Mountain, Deep Holes, The View from Castle Rock, Voices

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  36. 36
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    Eastwood, United Kingdom The Rocking-Horse Winner, The Princess, St Mawr, The Fox, The Woman Who Rode Away

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  37. 37
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    added by looksharp
    Berdychiv, Ukraine Youth, The Lagoon, The Idiot, Tales of Unrest, An Outpost of Progress

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  38. 38
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    added by stubb
    Odense, Denmark

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  39. 39
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    added by tushar.at7
    Torquay, United Kingdom The Witness for the Protection, Accident, Philomel Cottage, The Chocolate Box, The Second Gong

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  40. 40
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    Lübeck, Germany Death in Venice, Felix Krull, Mario and the Magician, Little Herr Friedemann, The Clown

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  41. 41
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    Salem, United States of America, United States Young Goodman Brown, The Birth-Mark, Rappaccini's Daughter, The Minister's Black Veil

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  42. 42
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    often listed & added by nnmalvankar
    Guildford, United Kingdom Carry On Jeeves, The Custody of Pumpkin, Extricating Young Gussie, Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

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  43. 43
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    Portland, Maine, United States of America The Mangler, The Lawnmower Man, Graveyard Shift, The Boogeyman, Sometimes They Come Back

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    added by stubb

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  45. 45
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    added by DavidHowarth
    Sittwe, Myanmar The Interlopers, Gabriel-Ernest, The Toys of Peace, The Open Window

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  46. 46
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    Saint Petersburg, Russia Signs and Symbols, The Vane Sisters, Terra Incognita, A Nursery Tale

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  47. 47
    + 70
    - 37

    added by venkat.sunderam
    Paris, France

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  48. 48
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    added by Zimble
    Petrovichi, Russia The Bicentennial Man, Nightfall, The Last Question, The Fun They Had, The Last Answer

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  49. 49
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    added by MadHatter84
    Columbus, Ohio, United States of America

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  50. 50
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    added by carlybobarly
    Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan The Second Bakery Attack, The Year of Spaghetti, The Kidney-Shaped Stoned That Moves Every Day

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