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
2,194 471
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

2
899 504
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal

3
910 369
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler

4
637 232
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

5
388 163
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

6
538 302
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

7
421 200
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
669 274
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

9
546 216
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

10
290 139
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

11
574 194
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
263 127
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

13
282 147
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

14
304 127
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
238 93
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

16
144 94
Luigi Pirandello is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Rules of the Game, Herbstreise

17
276 150
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

18
153 85
Eugène Ionesco is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Rhinoceros, The Seven Deadly Sins, Exit the King

19
327 130
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

20
228 125
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

21
110 102
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
123 95
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

23
197 116
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Elective Affinities

24
150 127
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

25
155 101
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl

26
199 87
Edward Albee is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance

27
109 71
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
124 87
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

29
77 63
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

30
122 116
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Phedre, Berenice

31
84 79
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
101 57
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall

33
155 111
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arcadia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

34
72 54
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
190 128
T. S. Eliot is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Waste Land, The Hollow Men, Four Quartets

36
132 79
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

37
90 60
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
75 65
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Intrigue and Love, Ode to Joy, On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

39
108 83
Lope de Vega is listed (or ranked) 39 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.
 

40
101 56
Ben Jonson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Alchemist, Volpone, Every Man in His Humour

41
126 102
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
99 80
Sarah Kane is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Blasted, Crave, Cleansed

43
112 72
Noël Coward is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Private Lives, Hay Fever, Tonight at 8:30

44
71 67
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

45
61 78
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

46
59 53
Alexander Ostrovsky is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added The Storm, Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man, The Forest

47
90 68
Martin McDonagh is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
PeteBoyle added Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges, The Pillowman

48
61 56
Dario Fo is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Master Breasts: Objectified, Aesthetisized, Fantasized

49
92 52
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

50
142 105
Stephen Sondheim is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Into the Woods, Company