Culture
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The Best Novelists of All Time

Updated June 19, 2021 103.7k votes 8.3k voters 144.8k views306 items

List RulesAuthors 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. 
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  • 1
    2,102
    732
    Russian Empire
    The Double and Notes from the Underground 
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  • 2
    1,604
    550
    Russian Empire
    War and Peace, Anna Karenina
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  • 3
    1,522
    671
    United Kingdom
    Author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Fellowship of the Ring 
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  • 4
    1,315
    573
    United States of America
    Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 
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  • 5
    1,693
    699
    United Kingdom
    Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities
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  • 6
    1,363
    615
    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
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  • 7
    1,491
    660
    Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four
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  • 8
    798
    348
    ElijahKaganer addedSpain
    Don Quixote
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  • 9
    1,091
    362
    JoséValente addedUnited Kingdom
    Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)
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  • 10
    963
    370
    Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
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  • 11
    874
    387
    United States of America
    As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!
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  • 12
    926
    427
    Republic of Ireland
    Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
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  • 13
    678
    291
    United Kingdom, Russian Empire
    Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 
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  • 14
    654
    299
    kent787 addedColombia
    Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
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  • 15
    631
    271
    JacobWestman addedFrance
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  • 16
    886
    394
    United States of America
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  • 17
    1,129
    572
    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
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  • 18
    542
    243
    United Kingdom, England
    Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island
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  • 19
    609
    274
    sudeeshab addedFrance
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  • 20
    661
    331
    Journey to the Center of the earth
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  • 21
    914
    424
    mrblond addedScotland
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  • 22
    619
    307
    Scotland, United Kingdom
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  • 23
    1,049
    567
    Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary
    The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle
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  • 24
    737
    379
    Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves
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  • 25
    693
    361
    United States of America
    Moby Dick, Billy Budd
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List Rules: Authors who are primarily novelists