Culture

The Greatest American Writers of All Time 

Ranker Books
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Updated November 13, 2019 65.9k votes 7.2k voters 178.9k views 383 items

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.

list ordered by
1
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
2
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises
3
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher
4
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night
5
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Of Mice and Men
6
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily, As I Lay Dying
7
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Moby Dick
8
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Wild Nights: Selected Poems
9
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five
10
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451
11
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Birches, The Road Not Taken
12
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Leaves of Grass
13
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey
14
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
To Kill a Mockingbird
15
Dr. Seuss is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Cat in the Hat, Oh the Places You'll Go!, Green Eggs and Ham
16
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Martin Eden
17
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats
18
Cormac McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men
19
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables
20
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
A Streetcar Named Desire
21
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Carrie, The Shining, The Dark Tower series
22
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Civil Disobedience, Walden
23
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
A Good Man is Hard to Find, Everything that Rises Must Converge
24
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Crucible
25
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady