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The Best Novelists of All Time

Updated June 19, 2021 104.3k votes 8.3k voters 144.3k 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
    2,099
    734

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Russian Empire
    The Double and Notes from the Underground 
  • 2
    1,605
    550

    Leo Tolstoy

    Russian Empire
    War and Peace, Anna Karenina
  • 3
    1,320
    574

    Mark Twain

    United States of America
    Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 
  • 4
    1,694
    707

    Charles Dickens

    United Kingdom
    Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities
  • 5
    1,502
    664
    Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • 6
    1,372
    616

    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
  • 7
    1,523
    675

    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 
  • 8
    1,094
    361
    JoséValente added

    Jane Austen

    United Kingdom
    Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)
  • 9
    802
    349
    ElijahKaganer added

    Miguel de Cervantes

    Spain
    Don Quixote
  • 10
    965
    371
    Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • 11
    879
    388

    William Faulkner

    United States of America
    As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!
  • 12
    929
    428

    James Joyce

    Republic of Ireland
    Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • 13
    682
    291

    Joseph Conrad

    United Kingdom, Russian Empire
    Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 
  • 14
    655
    297
    kent787 added

    Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    Colombia
    Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • 15
    889
    392

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    United States of America
  • 16
    629
    269
    JacobWestman added

    Albert Camus

    France
  • 17
    1,136
    570

    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
  • 18
    544
    240

    Aldous Huxley

    United Kingdom, England
    Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island
  • 19
    611
    271
    sudeeshab added

    Alexandre Dumas

    France
  • 20
    621
    307

    Robert Louis Stevenson

    Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 21
    664
    333
    Journey to the Center of the earth
  • 22
    915
    425
    mrblond added

    Arthur Conan Doyle

    Scotland
  • 23
    1,050
    569

    Franz Kafka

    Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary
    The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle
  • 24
    697
    364

    Herman Melville

    United States of America
    Moby Dick, Billy Budd
  • 25
    742
    383
    Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves
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List Rules: Authors who are primarily novelists