Literature The Best Novelists of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
68.7k votes 5k voters 98.8k views 260 items

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
1,202 489
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Russian Empire - The Double and Notes from the Underground 

2
1,113 520
Charles Dickens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United Kingdom - Great Expectations, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities

3
946 343
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Russian Empire - War and Peace, Anna Karenina

4
716 444
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Czechoslovakia, Austria-Hungary - The Trial, The Metamorphosis, The Castle

5
779 422
John Steinbeck is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
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

6
817 412
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America

7
1,026 302
George Orwell is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
England - Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four

8
974 377
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America - Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, gambler, traveler and all-around funny dude. 

9
893 355
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
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
1,014 383
J. R. R. Tolkien is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United Kingdom - Author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Fellowship of the Ring 

11
521 306
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United Kingdom, England

12
641 246
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
France - Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

13
654 257
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Republic of Ireland - Ulysses, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

14
646 303
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added Scotland

15
464 215
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Spain - Don Quixote

16
632 260
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America - As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!

17
494 289
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America - Moby Dick, Billy Budd

18
441 231
Robert Louis Stevenson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Scotland, United Kingdom

19
521 252
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
England - Mrs. Dalloway, A Room of One's Own, The Waves

20
519 293
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ber718 added United States of America

21
464 192
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United Kingdom, Russian Empire - Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim 

22
571 282
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
England - British Crime Writer and Author of And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, the Mousetrap, Death on the Nile"

23
613 219
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America

24
227 205
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added United States of America, German Empire, Czechoslovakia - The Magic Mountain, Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, Joseph and His Brothers, etc.

25
468 229
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America

26
611 484
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
calistylie added United States of America

27
468 243
Jules Verne is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
France - Journey to the Center of the earth

28
386 200
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America

29
401 226
Hermann Hesse is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Switzerland, Germany - Steppenwolf, Siddartha, The Glass Bead Game

30
372 159
Alexandre Dumas is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
sudeeshab added France

31
368 189
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
England

32
718 172
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JoséValente added United Kingdom - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (No, not the zombie version)

33
334 176
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added United States of America, Russian Empire

34
747 204
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
lalispeter added England

35
338 148
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JacobWestman added France

36
553 216
C. S. Lewis is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom - Creator of Narnia and all things in it. 

37
463 178
Homer is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
korlsa added Greece

38
381 203
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
kent787 added Colombia - Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude

39
393 151
Aldous Huxley is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United Kingdom, England - Brave New World, The Doors of Perception, Island

40
229 103
Jonathan Swift is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
doremifasola added Republic of Ireland, United Kingdom

41
244 128
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
freelancerrh added England - Silas Marner

42
177 189
Raymond Chandler is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
mrblond added United States of America, United Kingdom

43
218 164
Henry James is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added United States of America, United Kingdom - The Portrait of a Lady, Daisy Miller, The Bostonians

44
253 134
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Holy Roman Empire, German Confederation

45
252 140
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
noémi-csiki added United States of America

46
232 183
Douglas Adams is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
JakeFraser added England

47
177 138
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
United States of America

48
256 161
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
England - Lady Chatterley's Lover

49
254 169
Marcel Proust is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
2probb added France - In Search of Lost Time (aka Remembrance of Things Past), perhaps excluding Vol. 3, The Guermantes Way

50
270 61
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Novelists of All Time
BenjaminLatting added United Kingdom - Author of Frankenstein = All you need to know