Culture
7.9k voters

The Best Novelists of All Time

Updated July 28, 2020 102.3k votes 7.9k voters 138.7k 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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  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky1
    2,071
    729

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Russian Empire
    The Double and Notes from the Underground 
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  • Leo Tolstoy2
    1,574
    543
    War and Peace, Anna Karenina
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  • George Orwell3
    1,500
    631
    Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four
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  • Jane Austen4
    1,070
    342

    Jane Austen

    United Kingdom, England
    Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)
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  • Mark Twain5
    1,325
    566

    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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  • Charles Dickens6
    1,684
    718

    Charles Dickens

    United Kingdom
    Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities
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  • Ernest Hemingway7
    1,371
    611

    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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  • J. R. R. Tolkien8
    1,512
    660

    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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  • Victor Hugo9
    963
    375
    Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
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  • William Faulkner10
    890
    380

    William Faulkner

    United States of America
    As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!
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  • Miguel de Cervantes11
    787
    354
    Don Quixote
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  • F. Scott Fitzgerald12
    909
    373

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    United States of America
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  • James Joyce13
    933
    427

    James Joyce

    Republic of Ireland
    Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
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  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez14
    641
    281
    Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
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  • Albert Camus15
    622
    255
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  • Joseph Conrad16
    679
    287

    Joseph Conrad

    United Kingdom, Russian Empire
    Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 
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  • John Steinbeck17
    1,152
    587

    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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  • Mary Shelley18
    463
    174

    Mary Shelley

    United Kingdom, England
    Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know
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  • Aldous Huxley19
    540
    232

    Aldous Huxley

    United Kingdom, England
    Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island
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  • Jules Verne20
    666
    329
    Journey to the Center of the earth
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  • Robert Louis Stevenson21
    620
    306

    Robert Louis Stevenson

    Scotland, United Kingdom
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  • Alexandre Dumas22
    604
    270
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  • Virginia Woolf23
    755
    379
    Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves
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  • Arthur Conan Doyle24
    917
    431
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  • Franz Kafka25
    1,059
    588

    Franz Kafka

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