writers The Best Short Story Writers of All Time  

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List Rules 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, such as romance, humor, or sadness. 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.

list ordered by

1
+ - 828 247
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe 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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2
+ - 573 196
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Franz Kafka Prague, Czech Republic - The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster

3
+ - 807 157
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Anton Chekhov Taganrog, Russia - The Lady with the Dog, The Bet, The Darling, Vanka, The Death of a Clerk, The Duel, A Boring Story

4
+ - 449 137
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Mark Twain Florida, Missouri, United States of America - The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The War Prayer, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Eve's Diary

5
+ - 359 138
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Oscar Wilde Dublin, Republic of Ireland - The Nightingale and the Rose, The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates

6
+ - 631 182
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Ernest Hemingway Oak Park, USA, Illinois - The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Capital of the World, Indian Camp, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

7
+ - 368 148
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
O. Henry Greensboro, North Carolina, United States of America - The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, After Twenty Years, A Retrieved Reformation

8
+ - 515 103
Jorge Luis Borges is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Jorge Luis Borges Buenos Aires, Argentina - The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths

9
+ - 424 144
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Flannery O'Connor Savannah, Georgia, United States of America - A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River

10
+ - 328 98
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
William Faulkner New Albany, Mississippi, United States of America - A Rose for Emily, Barn Burning, Dry September, That Evening Sun, Red Leaves

11
+ - 376 101
Guy de Maupassant is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Guy de Maupassant Tourville-sur-Arques, France - Boule de Suif, Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi

12
+ - 349 119
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Arthur Conan Doyle Edinburgh, United Kingdom - The Adventure of the Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem, The Man with the Twisted Lip

13
+ - 245 113
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Rudyard Kipling Mumbai, India - Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Man Who Would Be King, Lispeth, Mowgli's Brothers

14
+ - 185 105
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Manhattan, New York City, New York - Bartleby, the Scrivener, The Lighning-Rod Man, Encantadas

15
+ - 287 89
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Leo Tolstoy Yasnaya Polyana, Russia - The Three Questions, What Men Live By, Ivan the Fool, Father Sergius

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16
+ - 286 90
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
James Joyce Rathgar, Republic of Ireland - The Dead, Araby, The Sisters, Eveline, The Boarding House, An Encounter

17
+ - 346 94
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury Waukegan, USA, Illinois - All Summer in a Day, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Pedestrian, The Last Night of the World

18
+ - 162 58
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Nikolai Gogol Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine - The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman, The Portrait

19
+ - 233 105
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft Providence, Rhode Island, United States of America - At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, History of the Necronomicon

20
+ - 200 87
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
H. G. Wells Bromley, United Kingdom - The Red Room, The Country of the Blind, The New Accelerator, The Stolen Body

21
+ - 333 106
Raymond Carver is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Raymond Carver Clatskanie, Oregon, United States of America - Where I'm Calling From, Cathedral, Neighbors, So Much Water Close to Home

22
+ - 274 136
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger New York City, New York, United States of America - A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter, For ‎Esmé—with Love and Squalor

23
+ - 220 83
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Kurt Vonnegut Indianapolis, United States of America, United States - Harrison Bergeron, 2 B R 0 2 B, Miss Temptation, The Report on the Barnhouse Effect

24
+ - 157 82
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Manhattan, New York City, New York - Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Devil and Tom Walker

25
+ - 243 89
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America - The Lost Decade, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Offshore Pirate

26
+ - 252 96
Roald Dahl is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Roald Dahl Llandaff, Cardiff, United Kingdom - The Landlady, Skin, Man from the South 

27
+ - 159 51
Julio Cortázar is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Julio Cortázar Ixelles, Belgium - Axolotl, Blow-Up, Headache

28
+ - 119 66
Shirley Jackson is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Shirley Jackson California, United States of America - The Lottery, Louise Please Come Home, Charles, The Possibility of Evil, The Lovely House

29
+ - 209 60
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Jack London USA, California, San Francisco - To Build a Fire, The Mexican, A Piece of Steak, Batard

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30
+ - 214 73
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Gabriel García Márquez Aracataca, Colombia - A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Eva Is Inside Her Cat, The Autumn of the Patriarch

31
+ - 90 22
Hans Christian Andersen is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Hans Christian Andersen Odense, Denmark

32
+ - 114 59
Rabindranath Tagore is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Rabindranath Tagore Kolkata, India

33
+ - 227 86
Alice Munro is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Alice Munro Wingham, Ontario, Canada - The Boy Came Over the Mountain, Deep Holes, The View from Castle Rock, Voices

34
+ - 136 39
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Joseph Conrad Berdychiv, Ukraine - Youth, The Lagoon, The Idiot, Tales of Unrest, An Outpost of Progress

35
+ - 148 93
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Andernach, Germany - All the Assh*les in the World Plus Mine, Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts

36
+ - 164 80
John Cheever is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
John Cheever USA, Massachusetts, Quincy - The Swimmer, Goodbye My Brother, The Enormous Radio, The Five-Forty-Eight

37
+ - 96 53
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Thomas Mann Eurasia, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein - Death in Venice, Felix Krull, Mario and the Magician, Little Herr Friedemann, The Clown

38
+ - 140 69
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Chicago, Illinois, United States of America - The Minority Report, Second Variety, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, Paycheck

39
+ - 145 73
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Agatha Christie Torquay, United Kingdom - The Witness for the Protection, Accident, Philomel Cottage, The Chocolate Box, The Second Gong

40
+ - 123 57
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
D. H. Lawrence Eastwood, United Kingdom - The Rocking-Horse Winner, The Princess, St Mawr, The Fox, The Woman Who Rode Away

41
+ - 246 154
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Stephen King Portland, Maine, United States of America - The Mangler, The Lawnmower Man, Graveyard Shift, The Boogeyman, Sometimes They Come Back

42
+ - 174 77
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Salem, Massachusetts, United States of America - Young Goodman Brown, The Birth-Mark, Rappaccini's Daughter, The Minister's Black Veil

43
+ - 73 23
Brothers Grimm is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

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44
+ - 92 44
W. Somerset Maugham is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
W. Somerset Maugham Paris, France

45
+ - 123 55
Saki is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Saki (H. H. Munro) Sittwe, Myanmar - The Interlopers, Gabriel-Ernest, The Toys of Peace, The Open Window

46
+ - 80 61
P. G. Wodehouse is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
P. G. Wodehouse Guildford, United Kingdom - Carry On Jeeves, The Custody of Pumpkin, Extricating Young Gussie, Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

47
+ - 109 47
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Vladimir Nabokov Saint Petersburg, Russia - Signs and Symbols, The Vane Sisters, Terra Incognita, A Nursery Tale

48
+ - 101 40
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Isaac Asimov Petrovichi, Russia - The Bicentennial Man, Nightfall, The Last Question, The Fun They Had, The Last Answer

49
+ - 70 7
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Moscow, Russia

50
+ - 54 46
James Thurber is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
James Thurber Area code 614, Columbus, Ohio