literature The Best Novelists of All Time  

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List Rules Authors who are primarily novelists

List of the best authors of all time as voted on by normal, book-loving people. For this list, we will consider writers who are mainly novelists. Many of the people included on this list are famous authors who wrote popular books; others may not be as well-known, but are masters of their craft. 

The most popular authors are ones that have somehow enriched our lives. J.D. Salinger gave us Holden Caulfield and the term "phony," James Joyce introduced us to stream-of-consciousness prose and Carson McCullers immortalized the misfits and outcasts of the U.S. South in the first half of the 20th century.
The best writers are ones that changed the literary landscape in some way, introduced an iconic character, experimented with form and style and captured our imagination with their language.

While lists of "best novelists" are often attempted by individuals, they can be easily disputed because they often amount to no more than one person's opinion. Since this Ranker list is crowdsourced and open to voting, it benefits from the collective wisdom of many rather than the whims of a few. 

Feel free to vote on this list of top authors, add some that may have been left off, or ReRank this list entirely. 
list ordered by

1
794 351
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Russian Empire - The Double and Notes from the Underground 

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2
828 377
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Charles Dickens England - Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities

3
662 259
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Leo Tolstoy Russian Empire - War and Peace, Anna Karenina

4
516 319
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Franz Kafka Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary - The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle

5
570 301
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
John Steinbeck United States of America - One of the great American writers you were forced to read in High School and probably didn't come to appreciate until later in life. Most famous for The Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden, Of Mice And Men, Tortilla Flat

6
598 290
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe United States of America

7
745 277
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Mark Twain United States of America - Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 

8
770 217
George Orwell is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
George Orwell England - Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four

9
374 222
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Herman Melville United States of America - Moby Dick, Billy Budd

10
488 184
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Victor Hugo France - Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

11
414 209
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. G. Wells United Kingdom, England

12
647 269
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ernest Hemingway United States of America - Member of the "Lost generation" and author of The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls

13
325 166
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson Scotland, United Kingdom

14
480 208
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
William Faulkner United States of America - As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!

15
753 271
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
J. R. R. Tolkien United Kingdom, England - Author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Fellowship of the Ring 

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16
391 213
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ber718 added Kurt Vonnegut United States of America

17
490 218
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland

18
395 191
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Virginia Woolf England - Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves

19
490 185
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
James Joyce Republic of Ireland - Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

20
330 162
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Miguel de Cervantes Spain - Don Quixote

21
352 148
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Joseph Conrad United Kingdom, Russian Empire - Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 

22
425 202
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Agatha Christie England - British Crime Writer and Author of And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, the Mousetrap, Death on the Nile"

23
470 171
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald United States of America

24
359 168
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ray Bradbury United States of America

25
171 143
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added Thomas Mann United States of America, Czechoslovakia, Germany - The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, etc.

26
449 352
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
calistylie added Stephen King United States of America

27
377 196
Jules Verne is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jules Verne France - Journey to the Center of the earth

28
300 150
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jack London United States of America

29
534 137
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JoséValente added Jane Austen United Kingdom - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)

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30
276 124
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
sudeeshab added Alexandre Dumas France

31
274 145
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Rudyard Kipling England

32
215 166
Hermann Hesse is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Hermann Hesse Switzerland, Germany - Steppenwolf, Siddartha, The Glass Bead Game

33
226 139
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov United States of America, Russian Empire

34
523 150
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
lalispeter added William Shakespeare England

35
346 138
Homer is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
korlsa added Homer Greece

36
230 115
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JacobWestman added Albert Camus France

37
289 165
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
kent787 added Gabriel Garcia Marquez Colombia - Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude

38
308 120
Aldous Huxley is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Aldous Huxley United Kingdom, England - Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island

39
435 169
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
C. S. Lewis United Kingdom - Creator of Narnia and all things in it. 

40
171 129
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added Henry James United States of America, United Kingdom - The Portrait of a Lady, Daisy Miller, The Bostonians

41
282 113
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added Charlotte Brontë England - Jane Eyre

42
188 96
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
noémi-csiki added Isaac Asimov United States of America

43
135 152
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Raymond Chandler United States of America, United Kingdom

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44
291 134
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Emily Brontë England - Wuthering Heights

45
153 80
Jonathan Swift is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mainpleine added Jonathan Swift Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom

46
181 106
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added George Eliot England - Silas Marner

47
113 94
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft United States of America

48
197 136
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
D. H. Lawrence England - Lady Chatterley's Lover

49
185 137
Marcel Proust is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added Marcel Proust France - In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past), perhaps excluding Vol. 3, The Guermantes Way

50
136 92
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time