Plays The Greatest Playwrights in History  

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List Rules Top writers of theatre and stage plays, including musicals

List of the best playwrights ever that span all time periods and issues in the plays that they wrote. Well known playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller are included on this list along with more modern playwrights that have yet to have the same kind of recognition as these big names and their classic plays.

A playwright writes dramatic literature or a drama and can be used as performance pieces or as closet dramas that are not performed and only read as literary works. Recognizable titles are listed with the author’s name, like “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare or “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. You may even recognize there are some popular movies based on plays from this list.

This list of the best playwrights asks the question, "Who is the best playwright ever?" and can be voted on by readers to change the order of who is on top. Each playwright is listed with a picture of themselves and have some of their most famous works listed next to their name to be identified easier. If you do not see a popular or your favorite playwright on the list, be sure to add them to have others be able to vote on them, as well.

1
1,894 409
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
William Shakespeare Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

2
774 437
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Anton Chekhov Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal

3
770 326
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Henrik Ibsen A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler

4
547 205
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Sophocles Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

5
338 146
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Euripides Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

6
482 280
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

7
379 181
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Molière The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
255 119
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Aeschylus Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

9
609 254
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

10
525 178
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

11
485 198
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arthur Miller The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

12
231 112
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

13
246 128
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

14
279 111
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Eugene O'Neill Long Day's Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh

The Greatest Musicals Ever Performed on Broadway, Ranked

15
128 81
Luigi Pirandello is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Luigi Pirandello Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Rules of the Game, Herbstreise

16
249 135
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Bertolt Brecht The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

17
197 78
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Victor Hugo Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

18
295 115
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
George Bernard Shaw Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

19
205 111
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Harold Pinter Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

20
128 76
Eugène Ionesco is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Eugène Ionesco Rhinoceros, The Seven Deadly Sins, Exit the King

21
112 84
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Nikolai Gogol Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

The Best Free eBooks

22
136 112
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Strindberg Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

23
98 92
Pedro Calderón de la Barca is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
anamaria added Pedro Calderón de la Barca Andrómeda y Perseo, Fieras Afemina Amor, La nave del mercader - La vida es sueño,El alcalde de Zalamea,El médico de su honra

24
180 106
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Elective Affinities

25
179 79
Edward Albee is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Edward Albee Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance

26
132 89
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Neil Simon The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl

27
97 62
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Miguel de Cervantes Don Quijote de la Mancha, Ḍāna Kvigjoṭa, El gallardo español

28
109 78
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Voltaire Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

Movies That Should Be Made Into Broadway Musicals

29
114 106
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean Racine Phedre, Berenice

30
66 56
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Plautus Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

31
76 71
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Aleksandr Pushkin Eugene Onegin, The Captain's Daughter, The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda

32
139 101
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tom Stoppard Arcasia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

33
87 51
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Albert Camus The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall

34
63 46
Tony Kushner is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Linn Bartel added Tony Kushner Lincoln, Munich, Caroline - Angels in America Part 1 and 2

35
102 76
Lope de Vega is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Lope de Vega Fuenteovejuna, Viuda, Casada Y Doncella - La dama boba, E perro del hortelano, Fuenteovejuna, Perbáñez y el comendador de Ocaña, El mejor alcalde, el rey.  

The Most Heartbreaking Novels Ever Written

36
174 121
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Four Quartets

37
69 60
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Friedrich Schiller Intrigue and Love, Ode to Joy, On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

38
80 55
Thornton Wilder is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Countermoon added Thornton Wilder Shadow of a Doubt, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, We Live Again

39
113 72
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Wilson Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

40
118 96
Jean-Paul Sartre is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean-Paul Sartre No Exit, Les Mains Sales, Les jeux sont faits

41
56 48
Alexander Ostrovsky is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Alexander Ostrovsky The Storm, Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man, The Forest

42
58 71
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Pierre Corneille Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

Child Actors Who Tragically Died Young

43
88 51
Ben Jonson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Ben Jonson The Alchemist, Volpone, Every Man in His Humour

44
62 59
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added James Joyce Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

45
43 37
Jean Anouilh is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mary Kate Pagano added Jean Anouilh Monsieur Vincent, Circle of Love, Anna Karenina

46
89 74
Sarah Kane is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Sarah Kane Blasted, Crave, Cleansed

47
79 60
Martin McDonagh is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
PeteBoyle added Martin McDonagh Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges, The Pillowman

48
101 67
Noël Coward is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Noël Coward Private Lives, Hay Fever, Tonight at 8:30

49
133 100
Stephen Sondheim is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Stephen Sondheim Into the Woods, Company

50
55 52
Dario Fo is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Dario Fo Master Breasts: Objectified, Aesthetisized, Fantasized