literature The Best Novelists of All Time  

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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
980 415
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 

2
977 429
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Charles Dickens United Kingdom, England - Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities

3
796 303
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
681 352
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 4 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

5
610 374
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Franz Kafka Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary - The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle

6
711 334
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe United States of America

7
898 249
George Orwell is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
George Orwell England - Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four

8
855 316
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 8 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. 

9
770 305
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 9 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

10
476 249
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. G. Wells United Kingdom, England

11
561 247
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Arthur Conan Doyle Scotland

12
561 216
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
James Joyce Republic of Ireland - Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

13
557 214
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Victor Hugo France - Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

14
551 231
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 14 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!

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15
876 312
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
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 

16
391 186
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Miguel de Cervantes Spain - Don Quixote

17
431 260
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Herman Melville United States of America - Moby Dick, Billy Budd

18
397 189
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Robert Louis Stevenson Scotland, United Kingdom

19
461 239
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ber718 added Kurt Vonnegut United States of America

20
463 217
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Virginia Woolf England - Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves

21
502 230
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Agatha Christie England - British Crime Writer and Author of And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, the Mousetrap, Death on the Nile"

Being a Novelist Is. . .

22
394 169
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Joseph Conrad United Kingdom, Russian Empire - Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 

23
422 189
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Ray Bradbury United States of America

24
535 194
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
542 401
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
calistylie added Stephen King United States of America

26
426 209
Jules Verne is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jules Verne France - Journey to the Center of the earth

27
197 172
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added Thomas Mann German Empire, United States of America, Czechoslovakia - The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, etc.

28
352 166
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Jack London United States of America

The Best Autobiographies Ever Written

29
358 194
Hermann Hesse is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Hermann Hesse Switzerland, Germany - Steppenwolf, Siddartha, The Glass Bead Game

30
324 136
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
sudeeshab added Alexandre Dumas France

31
331 158
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Rudyard Kipling England

32
623 154
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JoséValente added Jane Austen United Kingdom, England - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)

33
636 165
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
lalispeter added William Shakespeare England

34
262 159
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov United States of America, Russian Empire

35
404 154
Homer is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
korlsa added Homer Greece

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36
276 134
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JacobWestman added Albert Camus France

37
350 134
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
325 185
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
kent787 added Gabriel Garcia Marquez Colombia - Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude

39
190 91
Jonathan Swift is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mainpleine added Jonathan Swift Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom

40
501 184
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
C. S. Lewis United Kingdom - Creator of Narnia and all things in it. 

41
205 117
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added George Eliot England - Silas Marner

42
228 108
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
noémi-csiki added Isaac Asimov United States of America

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43
212 144
Douglas Adams is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JakeFraser added Douglas Adams England

44
158 161
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
221 113
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Holy Roman Empire, German Confederation

46
184 143
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
145 107
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft United States of America

48
219 146
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
D. H. Lawrence England - Lady Chatterley's Lover

49
183 174
Michael Crichton is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mainpleine added Michael Crichton United States of America

50
218 48
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
BenjaminLatting added Mary Shelley United Kingdom, England - Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know