writers The Best Novelists of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
43.0k votes 2.8k voters 76.7k views 237 items Embed

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
697 291
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 

The Greatest Female Novelists Ever The Best Novels About World War 2

2
728 338
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
586 227
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
465 267
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
498 257
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
666 237
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 6 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. 

7
521 253
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe United States of America

8
665 190
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
429 165
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
566 238
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
358 186
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. G. Wells United Kingdom

12
323 198
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Herman Melville United States of America - Moby Dick, Billy Budd

13
661 245
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 13 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 

14
280 147
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson United Kingdom

15
418 189
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!

The 30+ Best Living Novelists & Fiction Authors Today, Ranked The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

16
332 183
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ber718 added Kurt Vonnegut United States of America

17
297 125
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Miguel de Cervantes Spain - Don Quixote

18
431 196
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland

19
341 175
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Virginia Woolf England - Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves

20
424 171
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
James Joyce Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

21
312 134
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Joseph Conrad United Kingdom, Russian Empire - Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 

22
367 175
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
325 142
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ray Bradbury United States of America

24
419 150
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald United States of America

25
351 160
Jules Verne is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jules Verne France - Journey to the Center of the earth

26
150 106
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added Thomas Mann United States of America, Czechoslovakia, Germany - The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, etc.

27
263 127
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jack London United States of America

28
391 308
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
calistylie added Stephen King United States of America

29
246 99
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
sudeeshab added Alexandre Dumas France

The Greatest Novelist Characters in Film 51 High-Paying, Flexible Jobs

30
463 131
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 30 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)

31
196 133
Hermann Hesse is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Hermann Hesse Switzerland, Germany - Steppenwolf, Siddartha, The Glass Bead Game

32
241 128
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Rudyard Kipling England

33
192 113
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
202 89
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JacobWestman added Albert Camus France

35
444 134
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
lalispeter added William Shakespeare England

36
309 126
Homer is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
korlsa added Homer Greece

37
270 110
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
390 154
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 38 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. 

39
264 133
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Gabriel García Márquez Colombia - Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude

40
160 99
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
158 81
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
240 103
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added Charlotte Brontë England - Jane Eyre

43
163 88
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added George Eliot England - Silas Marner

The Best Russian Authors The Best Netflix Original Documentary Movies

44
119 133
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
255 124
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Emily Brontë England - Wuthering Heights

46
94 70
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
127 66
Jonathan Swift is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mainpleine added Jonathan Swift Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom

48
164 111
Marcel Proust is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
173 120
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
D. H. Lawrence England - Lady Chatterley's Lover

50
190 95
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Anton Chekhov Russian Empire - The Seagull