Culture
7.8k voters

The Best Novelists of All Time

Updated July 28, 2020 105.0k votes 7.8k voters 137.4k 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. 
Photo:
...more
  • Leo Tolstoy1
    1,599
    552

    Leo Tolstoy

    Russian Empire
    War and Peace, Anna Karenina
    Amazon buy button
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky2
    2,103
    760

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky

    Russian Empire
    The Double and Notes from the Underground 
    Amazon buy button
  • George Orwell3
    1,553
    628
    Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four
    Amazon buy button
  • Mark Twain4
    1,364
    575

    Mark Twain

    United States of America
    Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 
    Amazon buy button
  • Jane Austen5
    1,103
    341

    Jane Austen

    United Kingdom, England
    Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)
    Amazon buy button
  • Charles Dickens6
    1,719
    747

    Charles Dickens

    United Kingdom
    Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities
    Amazon buy button
  • Ernest Hemingway7
    1,410
    623

    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
    Amazon buy button
  • J. R. R. Tolkien8
    1,554
    683

    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 
    Amazon buy button
  • Victor Hugo9
    992
    379
    Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
    Amazon buy button
  • William Faulkner10
    918
    386

    William Faulkner

    United States of America
    As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!
    Amazon buy button
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald11
    942
    379

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    United States of America
    Amazon buy button
  • Miguel de Cervantes12
    813
    362
    Don Quixote
    Amazon buy button
  • James Joyce13
    968
    439

    James Joyce

    Republic of Ireland
    Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
    Amazon buy button
  • Albert Camus14
    634
    265
    Amazon buy button
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez15
    656
    289
    Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude
    Amazon buy button
  • Joseph Conrad16
    691
    294

    Joseph Conrad

    United Kingdom, Russian Empire
    Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 
    Amazon buy button
  • John Steinbeck17
    1,189
    615

    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
    Amazon buy button
  • Aldous Huxley18
    555
    234

    Aldous Huxley

    United Kingdom, England
    Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island
    Amazon buy button
  • Mary Shelley19
    480
    175

    Mary Shelley

    United Kingdom, England
    Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know
    Amazon buy button
  • Robert Louis Stevenson20
    644
    314

    Robert Louis Stevenson

    Scotland, United Kingdom
    Amazon buy button
  • Jules Verne21
    679
    342
    Journey to the Center of the earth
    Amazon buy button
  • Virginia Woolf22
    788
    393
    Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves
    Amazon buy button
  • Alexandre Dumas23
    626
    276
    Amazon buy button
  • Ray Bradbury24
    678
    348

    Ray Bradbury

    United States of America
    Amazon buy button
  • Franz Kafka25
    1,091
    615

    Franz Kafka

    Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary
    The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle
    Amazon buy button