americans The Greatest American Writers of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
13.3k votes 1.2k voters 30.5k views 343 items Embed

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
334 105
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

The Greatest American Novels The Greatest Horror Books of All Time

2
264 98
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

3
308 99
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
225 76
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
300 123
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
232 76
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
186 72
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Moby Dick

8
163 66
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
157 66
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Emily Dickinson Wild Nights: Selected Poems

10
172 78
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five

11
140 52
Robert Frost is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Frost Birches, The Road Not Taken

12
152 82
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
131 66
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables

14
126 71
Cormac McCarthy is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses, The Road, No Country for Old Men

15
130 63
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire

The Best American Poets The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

16
153 59
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

17
124 69
H.-P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror

18
129 68
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
117 45
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
118 38
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
141 78
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey

22
199 132
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
149 84
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

24
106 54
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Arthur Miller The Crucible

25
66 21
E. B. White is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
E. B. White Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Elements of Style

26
88 44
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

27
86 45
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry James The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady

28
98 63
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Truman Capote In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's

29
99 40
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance

Famous Irish American Writers Things You Miss Most About College

30
86 42
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 30 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

31
65 34
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth

32
54 13
Stephen Crane is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
85 52
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner

34
71 27
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Eugene O'Neill The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie, Mourning Becomes Electra

35
62 22
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My √Āntonia

36
64 26
James Fenimore Cooper is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
41 15
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 37 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

38
56 37
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Garvin added Isaac Asimov I, Robot, Foundation

39
60 34
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 39 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

40
67 33
Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

41
69 61
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye

42
41 14
Ezra Pound is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
66 60
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

20 Books to Read in Your 20s The Worst Oscar-Winning Actors Ever

44
42 16
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Clark Benson added Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

45
74 42
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

46
39 21
Henry Miller is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Henry Miller Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Sexus

47
48 23
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
30 8
Thomas Paine is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Thomas Paine Common Sense, Rights of Man, The crisis

49
39 29
Tom Wolfe is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
36 41
William S. Burroughs is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added William S. Burroughs Drugstore Cowboy, Naked Lunch, Junkie