americans 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.

1
856 341
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

2
705 300
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher

3
612 266
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

4
706 225
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises

5
468 214
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily, As I Lay Dying

6
495 187
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night

7
383 174
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Moby Dick

8
371 201
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Jack London The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Martin Eden

9
384 160
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five

10
310 132
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Emily Dickinson Wild Nights: Selected Poems

11
256 140
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables

12
311 151
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451

13
274 124
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Frost Birches, The Road Not Taken

14
282 116
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

The Greatest American Novels

15
245 162
Cormac McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men

16
286 162
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey

17
299 145
Dr. Seuss is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Dr. Seuss The Cat in the Hat, Oh the Places You'll Go!, Green Eggs and Ham

18
239 165
H.-P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror

19
213 107
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience, Walden

20
173 96
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Garvin added Isaac Asimov I, Robot, Foundation

21
222 115
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire

The Greatest Graphic Novels and Collected Editions

22
160 95
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

23
228 91
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

24
174 135
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Truman Capote In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's

25
193 93
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance

26
197 99
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Arthur Miller The Crucible

27
166 94
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Flannery O'Connor A Good Man is Hard to Find, Everything that Rises Must Converge

28
399 271
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen King Carrie, The Shining, The Dark Tower series

The Best American Poets

29
136 71
James Fenimore Cooper is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added James Fenimore Cooper The Last of the Mohicans, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea

30
154 126
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye

31
281 162
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

32
164 114
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner

33
122 59
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added O. Henry The Gift of the Magi, Cabbages and Kings, The last leaf

34
146 98
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry James The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady

35
114 58
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Thomas Jefferson The family letters of Thomas Jefferson, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 3: June 1779 to September 1780

The Best Books Written Under Pen Names

36
148 87
Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

37
119 69
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Eugene O'Neill The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie, Mourning Becomes Electra

38
143 106
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

39
105 45
Stephen Crane is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage, The Red Badge of Courage, Poems of Stephen Crane

40
105 58
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added Abraham Lincoln Lincoln on Race and Slavery, Of the People, By the People

41
136 71
Joseph Heller is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Joseph Heller Catch-22

42
107 76
Ken Kesey is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Famous Irish American Writers

43
90 77
Tom Wolfe is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
clash1977 added Tom Wolfe Almost Heroes, The Last American Hero, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

44
116 88
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth

45
98 51
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Clark Benson added Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

46
71 29
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Benjamin Franklin The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin

47
130 78
John Updike is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Updike Rabbit Run, Rabbit at Rest, Rabbit is Rich

48
78 34
Upton Sinclair, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Upton Sinclair, Jr. The Jungle, A World to Win, The Gnomobile

49
72 42
Ralph Ellison is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
TommyLobotomy added Ralph Ellison Invisible Man, The collected essays of Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act

50
122 50
E. B. White is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
E. B. White Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Elements of Style