literature The Best Novelists of All Time  

Ranker Books
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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
1,030 432
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
1,007 446
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Charles Dickens United Kingdom, England - Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities

3
832 307
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
633 386
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
702 371
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
729 351
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
925 263
George Orwell is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
George Orwell England - Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four

8
883 329
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 8 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. 

9
794 319
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
488 261
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. G. Wells United Kingdom

11
586 222
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 11 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

12
580 261
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland

13
575 220
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Victor Hugo France - Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

14
569 239
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!

The Greatest Female Novelists Ever

15
406 191
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Miguel de Cervantes Spain - Don Quixote

16
899 324
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 16 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 

17
444 266
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Herman Melville United States of America - Moby Dick, Billy Budd

18
407 197
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson Scotland, United Kingdom

19
480 253
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ber718 added Kurt Vonnegut United States of America

20
479 222
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Virginia Woolf England - Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves

21
517 243
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 21 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"

The Scariest Novels of All Time

22
405 174
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
553 198
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
435 201
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ray Bradbury United States of America

25
203 178
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 25 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.

26
559 425
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
433 218
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
357 175
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
365 204
Hermann Hesse is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Hermann Hesse Switzerland, Germany - Steppenwolf, Siddartha, The Glass Bead Game

30
336 139
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
sudeeshab added Alexandre Dumas France

31
339 164
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Rudyard Kipling England

32
639 155
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 32 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)

33
281 160
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
660 178
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
lalispeter added William Shakespeare England

35
414 162
Homer is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
korlsa added Homer Greece

Last Words Written By Famous People In Their Suicide Notes

36
283 138
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JacobWestman added Albert Camus France

37
341 191
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
359 138
Aldous Huxley is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Aldous Huxley United Kingdom - Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island

39
198 93
Jonathan Swift is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
doremifasola added Jonathan Swift Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom

40
514 192
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
C. S. Lewis United Kingdom - Creator of Narnia and all things in it. 

41
215 118
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added George Eliot England - Silas Marner

42
218 153
Douglas Adams is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JakeFraser added Douglas Adams England

Being a Novelist Is. . .

43
232 116
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
noémi-csiki added Isaac Asimov United States of America

44
160 167
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Raymond Chandler United States of America, United Kingdom

45
225 117
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Holy Roman Empire, German Confederation

46
192 145
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
152 113
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
224 147
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
227 50
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
BenjaminLatting added Mary Shelley United Kingdom, England - Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know

50
125 64
Daniel Defoe is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Daniel Defoe United Kingdom