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, 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 many that are missing.
list ordered by

1
363 122
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

Famous Schizophrenics The Best African American Poets of All Time

2
340 105
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 2 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

3
287 110
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

4
320 129
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
243 85
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
251 82
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
199 79
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Moby Dick

8
180 73
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
194 82
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
170 87
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451

11
167 74
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Emily Dickinson Wild Nights: Selected Poems

12
149 58
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Frost Birches, The Road Not Taken

13
134 80
Cormac McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men

14
138 74
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables

15
132 74
H.-P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror

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16
136 67
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire

17
162 64
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

18
142 73
Dr. Seuss is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
116 54
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Arthur Miller The Crucible

20
153 81
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey

21
161 87
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

22
214 136
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen King Carrie, The Shining, The Dark Tower series

23
125 45
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
122 53
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience, Walden

25
90 50
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry James The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady

26
69 26
E. B. White is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
E. B. White Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Elements of Style

27
91 50
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

28
94 53
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner

29
108 46
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance

The Best Books With Hell in the Title The 20 Most Epic Wedding FAILs of All Time

30
101 71
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Truman Capote In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's

31
60 17
Stephen Crane is listed (or ranked) 31 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

32
68 38
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Garvin added Isaac Asimov I, Robot, Foundation

33
88 46
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
68 39
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth

35
74 32
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Eugene O'Neill The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie, Mourning Becomes Electra

36
66 26
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My √Āntonia

37
67 31
James Fenimore Cooper is listed (or ranked) 37 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

38
48 19
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Clark Benson added Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

39
75 67
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye

40
63 39
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, At the Mountains of Madness, The Dunwich Horror and Others

41
74 66
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

42
69 37
Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

43
44 23
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 43 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 Greatest American Writers of All Time The Greatest Dystopian Novels

44
45 34
Tom Wolfe is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
65 37
Joseph Heller is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Joseph Heller Catch-22

46
44 20
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Mollevangsvagen added Ezra Pound Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos, A B C of economics

47
43 26
Henry Miller is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Henry Miller Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Sexus

48
37 21
L. Frank Baum is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
L. Frank Baum The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz

49
64 37
John Updike is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Updike Rabbit Run, Rabbit at Rest, Rabbit is Rich

50
53 28
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 50 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