The Best Documentaries About Writers

Voting Rules
Documentary films about authors, journalists, novelists, poets, playwrights, and any other types of writers

There are many documentaries out there today that look at writers throughout history, specifically with a focus on their personal lives, struggles, inspirations, and motivations in the artistic arena. This list of the best documentaries about writers will shed light on the life and craft of many different writers and authors.

The films featured on this list have been ranked by the community as the best documentaries that feature the stories of writers, their personal lives, struggles, and accomplishments. These films address the historical aspects of what shaped their lives in the early years, the successes and failures of their careers, what influenced their personal stories, awards they received, and how they made an impact on society through their works.

 What are the best documentaries about writers? This list has them all, including: Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth, Charles Dickens’s England, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, Finding Farley, An Impression with John Steinbeck: Writer, In the Wake of the Flood, and Breakfast with Hunter. Vote up for your favorite writer documentary or add one you love that isn't already on the list.
Photo: flickr / CC0
Ranked by
  • Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time
    Kurt Vonnegut, Jerome Klinkowitz, Sidney Offit
    14 votes
    • Released: 2021
    • Directed by: Robert B. Weide, Don Argott
    Filmmaker Robert B. Weide examines the extraordinary life of author Kurt Vonnegut, as well as his 25-year friendship with the celebrated writer.
  • This stylized documentary uses journalist Hunter S. Thompson's own words, his home movies, interviews with his fans and critics and passionate narration by Johnny Depp to give some insight into the ...more

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  • William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

    William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

    Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, William S. Burroughs
    12 votes
    • Released: 2010
    • Directed by: Yony Leyser
    "As director John Waters puts it in Yony Leyser’s long-awaited documentary, William S. Burroughs became famous “for all the things you were supposed to hide: He was gay; he was a junkie; he shot his ...more
  • Life Itself
    Roger Ebert, Ava DuVernay
    25 votes
    • Released: 2014
    • Directed by: Steve James
    Filmmaker Steve James chronicles the life of film critic Roger Ebert, especially his career highlights, his battle with alcohol, and his sometimes ruthless rivalry with fellow critic Gene Siskel.

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  • Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No

    Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No

    15 votes
    Gore Vidal: The Man Who Said No is a documentary film directed, produced, and edited by Gary Conklin. The film follows famed American writer and political gadfly Gore Vidal in his quixotic campaign ...more
  • Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen

    Cooper & Hemingway: The True Gen

    Sam Waterston, Len Cariou, Elmore Leonard
    8 votes
    • Released: October 13, 2013
    • Directed by: John Mulholland

    Explores author Ernest Hemingway's 20-year friendship with actor Gary Cooper.