Literature The Best Novelists of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
66.4k votes 4.7k voters 95.8k views 256 items

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. 

1
1,155 467
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
1,080 494
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
911 329
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
689 424
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
755 399
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
785 392
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
993 284
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
942 357
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
857 333
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
946 361
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 10 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 

11
502 296
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. G. Wells United Kingdom

12
629 246
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 12 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

13
617 240
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
618 291
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland

15
447 204
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
607 252
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 16 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!

17
476 281
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
429 218
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson Scotland, United Kingdom

19
501 278
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
503 241
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
440 186
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Joseph Conrad United Kingdom, Poland - Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 

22
552 268
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 22 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"

23
586 211
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
220 196
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added Thomas Mann United States of America, German Empire, Czechoslovakia - The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, etc.

25
455 219
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ray Bradbury United States of America

26
587 461
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
452 235
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
377 192
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jack London United States of America

29
389 218
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
358 151
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
sudeeshab added Alexandre Dumas France

31
352 182
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Rudyard Kipling England

32
691 165
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 32 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)

33
315 170
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
715 192
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
lalispeter added William Shakespeare England

35
533 210
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 35 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. 

36
315 143
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JacobWestman added Albert Camus France

37
373 197
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
436 174
Homer is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
korlsa added Homer Greece

39
382 147
Aldous Huxley is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Aldous Huxley United Kingdom, England - Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island

40
219 99
Jonathan Swift is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
doremifasola added Jonathan Swift Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom

41
233 125
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added George Eliot England - Silas Marner

42
172 183
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Raymond Chandler United States of America, United Kingdom

43
207 157
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
242 130
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Holy Roman Empire, German Confederation

45
225 175
Douglas Adams is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JakeFraser added Douglas Adams England

46
242 134
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
noémi-csiki added Isaac Asimov United States of America

47
166 132
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
246 155
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
243 166
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
251 58
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
BenjaminLatting added Mary Shelley United Kingdom - Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know