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
849 367
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 

2
882 391
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Charles Dickens United Kingdom - Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities

3
695 272
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
608 313
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
541 333
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Franz Kafka Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia - The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle

6
636 299
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
779 286
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
812 222
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
509 190
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Victor Hugo France - Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

10
396 234
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Herman Melville United States of America - Moby Dick, Billy Budd

11
686 280
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
437 221
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. G. Wells United Kingdom, England

13
349 175
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson Scotland, United Kingdom

14
423 223
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ber718 added Kurt Vonnegut United States of America

The Greatest Female Novelists Ever

15
506 216
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 15 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!

16
800 286
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
J. R. R. Tolkien United Kingdom - Author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Fellowship of the Ring 

17
522 225
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland

18
418 202
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
512 195
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
349 168
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
455 213
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Agatha Christie United Kingdom - British Crime Writer and Author of And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, the Mousetrap, Death on the Nile"

The Best Novels Written by Famous Actors

22
372 156
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Joseph Conrad United Kingdom, Russian Empire - Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 

23
500 175
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
388 173
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ray Bradbury United States of America

25
483 370
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
calistylie added Stephen King United States of America

26
183 153
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added Thomas Mann German Empire, United States of America, Czechoslovakia - The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, etc.

27
395 201
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
322 155
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jack London United States of America

The 30+ Best Living Novelists & Fiction Authors Today, Ranked

29
297 128
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
sudeeshab added Alexandre Dumas France

30
568 145
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JoséValente added Jane Austen United Kingdom, England - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)

31
295 149
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Rudyard Kipling England

32
227 176
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
239 143
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
564 160
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
lalispeter added William Shakespeare England

35
369 145
Homer is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
korlsa added Homer Greece

The Most Overrated Books of All Time

36
248 118
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JacobWestman added Albert Camus France

37
327 125
Aldous Huxley is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Aldous Huxley United Kingdom - Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island

38
299 174
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 38 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

39
462 173
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
C. S. Lewis Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom - Creator of Narnia and all things in it. 

40
307 117
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added Charlotte Brontë England - Jane Eyre

41
204 101
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
noémi-csiki added Isaac Asimov United States of America

42
179 133
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 42 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

Being a Novelist Is. . .

43
147 154
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

44
320 137
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Emily Brontë England - Wuthering Heights

45
171 83
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
129 99
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft United States of America

47
191 109
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added George Eliot England - Silas Marner

48
209 141
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
198 145
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
194 136
Douglas Adams is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JakeFraser added Douglas Adams England