Culture
7.7k voters

The Best Novelists of All Time

Updated July 28, 2020 102.2k votes 7.7k voters 135.8k views303 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
    Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    2,053
    741

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Russian Empire
    The Double and Notes from the Underground 
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  • 2
    Leo Tolstoy
    1,566
    532

    Leo Tolstoy

    Russian Empire
    War and Peace, Anna Karenina
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  • 3
    George Orwell
    1,523
    602
    Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four
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  • 4
    Mark Twain
    1,335
    562

    Mark Twain

    United States of America
    Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 
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  • 5
    Jane Austen
    1,082
    324

    Jane Austen

    United Kingdom, England
    Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)
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  • 6
    Charles Dickens
    1,685
    737

    Charles Dickens

    United Kingdom
    Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities
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  • 7
    Ernest Hemingway
    1,377
    604

    Ernest Hemingway

    United States
    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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  • 8
    J. R. R. Tolkien
    1,519
    669

    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 
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  • 9
    William Faulkner
    905
    371

    William Faulkner

    United States of America
    As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!
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  • 10
    Victor Hugo
    972
    367
    Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
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  • 11
    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    928
    359

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    United States of America
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  • 12
    James Joyce
    948
    426

    James Joyce

    Republic of Ireland
    Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
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  • 13
    Miguel de Cervantes
    791
    355
    Don Quixote
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  • 14
    Albert Camus
    611
    252
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  • 15
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    637
    275
    Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
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  • 16
    Joseph Conrad
    682
    288

    Joseph Conrad

    United Kingdom, Russian Empire
    Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 
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  • 17
    Aldous Huxley
    544
    225

    Aldous Huxley

    United Kingdom, England
    Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island
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  • 18
    Mary Shelley
    465
    166

    Mary Shelley

    United Kingdom, England
    Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know
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  • 19
    John Steinbeck
    1,161
    608

    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
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  • 20
    Robert Louis Stevenson
    637
    302
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  • 21
    Virginia Woolf
    774
    377
    Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves
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  • 22
    Alexandre Dumas
    615
    266
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  • 23
    Jules Verne
    662
    336
    Journey to the Center of the earth
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  • 24
    Ray Bradbury
    668
    339

    Ray Bradbury

    United States of America
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  • 25
    Franz Kafka
    1,062
    603

    Franz Kafka

    Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia
    The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle
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