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
2,132 460
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

2
874 488
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal

3
885 359
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler

4
625 224
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

5
380 159
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

6
528 295
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

7
415 194
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
651 268
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

9
285 134
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

10
533 213
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

11
563 190
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

12
255 123
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

13
275 143
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

14
297 122
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Long Day's Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh

15
138 90
Luigi Pirandello is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Rules of the Game, Herbstreise

16
226 89
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

17
269 147
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

18
321 125
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

19
145 81
Eugène Ionesco is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Rhinoceros, The Seven Deadly Sins, Exit the King

20
221 121
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

21
107 99
Pedro Calderón de la Barca is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
anamaria added Andrómeda y Perseo, Fieras Afemina Amor, La nave del mercader - La vida es sueño,El alcalde de Zalamea,El médico de su honra

22
120 92
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

23
146 123
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

24
192 114
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Elective Affinities

25
196 84
Edward Albee is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance

26
149 98
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl

27
107 69
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Don Quijote de la Mancha, Ḍāna Kvigjoṭa, El gallardo español

28
120 84
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

29
120 113
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Phedre, Berenice

30
74 62
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

31
83 76
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Eugene Onegin, The Captain's Daughter, The Tale of the Priest and of His Workman Balda

32
97 55
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall

33
149 108
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arcadia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

34
70 51
Tony Kushner is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Linn Bartel added Lincoln, Munich, Caroline - Angels in America Part 1 and 2

35
128 76
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

36
185 126
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Four Quartets

37
87 57
Thornton Wilder is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Countermoon added Shadow of a Doubt, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, We Live Again

38
107 80
Lope de Vega is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Fuenteovejuna, Viuda, Casada Y Doncella - La dama boba, E perro del hortelano, Fuenteovejuna, Perbáñez y el comendador de Ocaña, El mejor alcalde, el rey.
 

39
73 63
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Intrigue and Love, Ode to Joy, On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

40
98 54
Ben Jonson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Alchemist, Volpone, Every Man in His Humour

41
124 100
Jean-Paul Sartre is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
No Exit, Les Mains Sales, Les jeux sont faits

42
58 51
Alexander Ostrovsky is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added The Storm, Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man, The Forest

43
91 50
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

44
96 78
Sarah Kane is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Blasted, Crave, Cleansed

45
88 66
Martin McDonagh is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
PeteBoyle added Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges, The Pillowman

46
59 76
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

47
46 39
Jean Anouilh is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mary Kate Pagano added Monsieur Vincent, Circle of Love, Anna Karenina

48
59 54
Dario Fo is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Master Breasts: Objectified, Aesthetisized, Fantasized

49
67 64
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

50
139 103
Stephen Sondheim is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Into the Woods, Company