Culture

The Greatest American Writers of All Time  

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List Rules Vote up and rerank U.S.-born writers in any genre, alive or dead

Who are the greatest American authors of all time? In just two short centuries, the great U.S. of A. has produced an incredible number of writers that have influenced literature and art the world over. This list includes great American novelists, poets, the best playwrights, and writers in the all genres of fiction and nonfiction alike. What American writers did you read in school and actually like? While most kids in this country are assigned works by top novelists like Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, many don't truly love to read until their teen years, when they first find less traditional writers like J.D. Salinger or Kurt Vonnegut. Others are swept away by authors as varied as Stephen King, Harper Lee, or good ol' Dr. Seuss.

Who are the greatest American authors? This list include writers in all mediums, both living and deceased. Maybe your all-time favorites include poets like Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost. If your tastes are more for the pictures, you may consider Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, or even Wes Anderson among the top American screenwriters. Other authors on this list have created some of the most beloved and widely read series in history, including Louisa May Alcott and George R. R. Martin.

The greatest American writers are some of the tops in their fields, producing some of the best novels, essays, films, short stories, stage plays, and poems of all time. While many have stood the test of time and are firmly represented in the literary canon, it remains to be seen whether more contemporary American authors of the 21st Century will be remembered in decades to come. Vote up your the absolute best, and please add any famous American authors that are missing.

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26
H.-P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror
27
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Crucible
28
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
29
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Self-Reliance
30
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady
31
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner
32
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye
33
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72
34
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth
35
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added The Gift of the Magi, Cabbages and Kings, The last leaf
36
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added The family letters of Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 3: June 1779 to September 1780
37
Tom Wolfe is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
clash1977 added Almost Heroes, The Last American Hero, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
38
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
39
James Fenimore Cooper is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added The Last of the Mohicans, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea
40
Ralph Ellison is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
TommyLobotomy added Invisible Man, The collected essays of Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act
41
James Baldwin is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Go Tell It on the Mountain, Another Country, Notes of a Native Son
42
Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Crying of Lot 49
43
Thomas Paine is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Common Sense, Rights of Man, The crisis
44
Ken Kesey is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
45
Stephen Crane is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Red Badge of Courage, The Red Badge of Courage, Poems of Stephen Crane
46
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie, Mourning Becomes Electra
47
William S. Burroughs is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Drugstore Cowboy, Naked Lunch, Junkie
48
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Clark Benson added Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep
49
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added Lincoln on Race and Slavery, Of the People, By the People
50
Frederick Douglass is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave