Culture

The Greatest American Writers of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
57.7k votes 6.4k voters 159.4k views 382 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.

Ranker may collect a commission from links on this page.
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
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher
3
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 3 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
4
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Of Mice and Men
5
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night
6
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Martin Eden
7
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five
8
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily, As I Lay Dying
9
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Wild Nights: Selected Poems
10
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Moby Dick
11
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables
12
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451
13
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Birches, The Road Not Taken
14
Dr. Seuss is listed (or ranked) 14 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
15
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Leaves of Grass
16
Cormac McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men
17
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Garvin added I, Robot, Foundation
18
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Carrie, The Shining, The Dark Tower series
19
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
A Good Man is Hard to Find, Everything that Rises Must Converge
20
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 20 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
21
Henry David Thoreau is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Civil Disobedience, Walden
22
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Self-Reliance
23
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72
24
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's
25
H.-P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror