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.

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
1,353 270
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
William Shakespeare Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

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2
554 299
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
558 212
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
364 199
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

5
425 144
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Sophocles Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

6
259 91
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Euripides Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

7
290 131
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Molière The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
468 198
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oscar Wilde The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

9
194 73
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Aeschylus Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

10
409 147
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
175 85
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

12
375 161
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arthur Miller The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

13
95 47
Luigi Pirandello is listed (or ranked) 13 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

14
207 83
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

15
98 49
Eugène Ionesco is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Eugène Ionesco Rhinoceros, The Seven Deadly Sins, Exit the King

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16
183 98
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Christopher Marlowe The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

17
134 48
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
189 105
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Bertolt Brecht The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

19
227 91
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
George Bernard Shaw Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

20
84 57
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Nikolai Gogol Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

21
80 69
Pedro Calderón de la Barca is listed (or ranked) 21 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

22
155 87
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Harold Pinter Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

23
109 88
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Strindberg Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

24
150 87
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
78 43
Miguel de Cervantes is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Miguel de Cervantes Don Quijote de la Mancha, Ḍāna Kvigjoṭa, El gallardo español

26
104 88
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean Racine Phedre, Berenice

27
135 65
Edward Albee is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Edward Albee Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance

28
93 67
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Neil Simon The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl

29
51 39
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Plautus Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

33 Child Actors Who Died Young The Best Things About Fall

30
87 59
Lope de Vega is listed (or ranked) 30 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.  

31
77 67
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Voltaire Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

32
64 40
Thornton Wilder is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
154 106
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Four Quartets

34
58 48
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Friedrich Schiller Intrigue and Love, Ode to Joy, On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

35
113 90
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Tom Stoppard Arcasia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

36
55 59
Aleksandr Pushkin is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
61 38
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Albert Camus The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall

38
34 23
Jean Anouilh is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mary Kate Pagano added Jean Anouilh Monsieur Vincent, Circle of Love, Anna Karenina

39
50 58
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Pierre Corneille Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

40
37 29
Tony Kushner is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Linn Bartel added Tony Kushner Lincoln, Munich, Caroline - Angels in America Part 1 and 2

41
97 80
Jean-Paul Sartre is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Jean-Paul Sartre No Exit, Les Mains Sales, Les jeux sont faits

42
50 45
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added James Joyce Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

43
87 60
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
August Wilson Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

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44
42 41
Dario Fo is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Dario Fo Master Breasts: Objectified, Aesthetisized, Fantasized

45
66 42
Ben Jonson is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Ben Jonson The Alchemist, Volpone, Every Man in His Humour

46
31 29
Alfred Jarry is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Alfred Jarry Ubu Roi, Supermale

47
66 40
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Jean Cocteau Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

48
27 24
Peter Handke is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mollevangsvagen added Peter Handke Wings of Desire, The afternoon of a writer, The left-handed woman

49
46 34
Carlo Goldoni is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Carlo Goldoni Servant of Two Masters, The Venetian Twins, The Venetian Twins

50
56 45
Martin McDonagh is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
PeteBoyle added Martin McDonagh Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges, The Pillowman