The Greatest American Writers of All Time

Over 10.8K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Voting 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.

Most divisive: Chuck Palahniuk
Ranked by
  • Mark Twain
    3,617 votes
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
  • John Steinbeck
    2,888 votes
    Of Mice and Men
  • Edgar Allan Poe
    3,078 votes
    The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado, The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Ernest Hemingway
    3,179 votes
    For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
    2,206 votes
    The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night
  • William Faulkner
    2,075 votes
    The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily, As I Lay Dying