Culture
8.2k voters

The Best Novelists of All Time

Updated June 19, 2021 102.8k votes 8.2k voters 143.1k 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. 
Photo:
...more
  • 1
    2,106
    732

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Russian Empire
    The Double and Notes from the Underground 
  • 2
    1,603
    543

    Leo Tolstoy

    Russian Empire
    War and Peace, Anna Karenina
  • 3
    1,501
    659
    Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four
  • 4
    1,695
    708

    Charles Dickens

    United Kingdom
    Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities
  • 5
    1,522
    674

    J. R. R. Tolkien

    United Kingdom, England
    Author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Fellowship of the Ring 
  • 6
    1,315
    574

    Mark Twain

    United States of America
    Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 
  • 7
    1,368
    612

    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
  • 8
    803
    342
    Don Quixote
  • 9
    1,093
    350

    Jane Austen

    United Kingdom
    Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)
  • 10
    967
    367
    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
    659
    288
    Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • 13
    684
    287

    Joseph Conrad

    United Kingdom, Russian Empire
    Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 
  • 14
    930
    429

    James Joyce

    Republic of Ireland
    Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  • 15
    628
    264
  • 16
    885
    388

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    United States of America
  • 17
    1,141
    574

    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
    541
    237

    Aldous Huxley

    United Kingdom
    Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island
  • 19
    613
    268
  • 20
    624
    302

    Robert Louis Stevenson

    Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 21
    669
    335
    Journey to the Center of the earth
  • 22
    914
    425
  • 23
    1,060
    568

    Franz Kafka

    Austria-Hungary, Czechoslovakia
    The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle
  • 24
    460
    189

    Mary Shelley

    United Kingdom
    Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know
  • 25
    744
    379
    Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves
not on the list?add item #307add new item
List Rules: Authors who are primarily novelists