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.

list ordered by

1
1,776 383
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
William Shakespeare Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

2
726 407
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
719 301
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
523 192
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Sophocles Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

5
322 133
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Euripides Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

6
457 265
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

7
364 176
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Molière The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
241 107
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Aeschylus Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

9
583 247
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
508 173
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
465 191
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arthur Miller The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

12
223 106
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
232 122
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

14
267 108
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
121 79
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
236 132
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Bertolt Brecht The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

17
284 112
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
George Bernard Shaw Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

18
184 74
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Victor Hugo Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

19
126 74
Eugène Ionesco is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Eugène Ionesco Rhinoceros, The Seven Deadly Sins, Exit the King

20
196 108
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Harold Pinter Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

21
108 80
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

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22
132 109
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
94 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
169 105
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
128 85
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Neil Simon The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl

26
172 77
Edward Albee is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Edward Albee Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance

27
93 60
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
114 103
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean Racine Phedre, Berenice

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29
104 75
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Voltaire Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

30
63 53
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Plautus Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

31
72 70
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
134 99
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tom Stoppard Arcasia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

33
83 50
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
170 116
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Four Quartets

35
99 74
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.  

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36
55 43
Tony Kushner is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Linn Bartel added Tony Kushner Lincoln, Munich, Caroline - Angels in America Part 1 and 2

37
67 59
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
77 53
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
114 93
Jean-Paul Sartre is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean-Paul Sartre No Exit, Les Mains Sales, Les jeux sont faits

40
109 70
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Wilson Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

41
57 70
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Pierre Corneille Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

42
43 35
Jean Anouilh is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mary Kate Pagano added Jean Anouilh Monsieur Vincent, Circle of Love, Anna Karenina

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43
84 49
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
53 47
Alexander Ostrovsky is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Alexander Ostrovsky The Storm, Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man, The Forest

45
101 65
Noël Coward is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Noël Coward Private Lives, Hay Fever, Tonight at 8:30

46
76 56
Martin McDonagh is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
PeteBoyle added Martin McDonagh Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges, The Pillowman

47
131 98
Stephen Sondheim is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Stephen Sondheim Into the Woods, Company

48
82 48
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

49
58 58
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added James Joyce Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

50
84 73
Sarah Kane is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Sarah Kane Blasted, Crave, Cleansed