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
428 143
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 Lamest Authors of All Time

2
328 125
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

3
363 142
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 3 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

4
273 104
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
382 118
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 5 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

6
285 96
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
209 88
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Jack London The Call of the Wild, White Fang, Martin Eden

8
220 92
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Moby Dick

9
220 92
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
184 81
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Emily Dickinson Wild Nights: Selected Poems

11
167 63
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
151 81
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables

13
180 94
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451

14
150 90
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
182 72
Walt Whitman is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

The Best American Poets Last Words Written By Famous People In Their Suicide Notes

16
149 90
H.-P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror

17
172 90
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories, Franny and Zooey

18
140 50
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 18 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

19
134 61
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
144 74
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire

21
107 61
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Minority Report, Total Recall, Blade Runner

22
157 85
Dr. Seuss is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
98 56
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

24
95 56
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry James The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady

25
108 78
Truman Capote is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Truman Capote In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's

26
241 151
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen King Carrie, The Shining, The Dark Tower series

27
119 54
Ralph Waldo Emerson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance

28
78 45
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Garvin added Isaac Asimov I, Robot, Foundation

29
98 52
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 29 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

Famous Irish American Writers Ways to Make Sure You Die Happy

30
128 63
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Arthur Miller The Crucible

31
74 46
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
171 100
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

33
76 36
James Fenimore Cooper is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
86 76
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Post Office, Women, Ham on Rye

35
78 39
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
69 33
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
70 21
Stephen Crane is listed (or ranked) 37 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

38
53 41
Tom Wolfe is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
74 43
Thomas Pynchon is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

40
77 45
John Updike is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Updike Rabbit Run, Rabbit at Rest, Rabbit is Rich

41
72 42
Joseph Heller is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Joseph Heller Catch-22

42
54 28
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Clark Benson added Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train, The Big Sleep

43
48 31
Henry Miller is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Henry Miller Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn, Sexus

The Best Rolling Stone Covers The Druggiest Rock Stars of All Time

44
83 53
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

45
33 11
Upton Sinclair, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
2probb added Upton Sinclair, Jr. The Jungle, A World to Win, The Gnomobile

46
39 40
Norman Mailer is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
mattpassant added Norman Mailer The Naked and the Dead, The Executioner's Song, Ancient Evenings

47
72 32
E. B. White is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
E. B. White Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, The Elements of Style

48
42 29
Robert Penn Warren is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
looksharp added Robert Penn Warren All the King's Men, American Literature, Flood

49
84 69
Hunter S. Thompson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

50
49 28
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 50 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