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
2,078 450
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

2
849 477
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal

3
854 353
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler

4
605 219
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

5
371 155
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

6
518 293
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

7
408 192
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
641 263
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

9
281 132
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

10
551 186
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

11
523 212
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

12
249 121
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

13
268 140
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

14
292 120
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
137 88
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
263 143
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

17
220 87
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades

18
311 123
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

19
139 80
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
219 119
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

21
118 88
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

22
104 97
Pedro Calderón de la Barca is listed (or ranked) 22 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

23
190 111
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
142 119
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

25
193 82
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
146 96
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
105 67
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 82
Voltaire is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Candide, Zaïre, The age of Louis XIV

29
74 60
Plautus is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Epidicus, The birds, by Aristophanes

30
119 111
Jean Racine is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Phedre, Berenice

31
83 74
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
148 106
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arcadia, The Real Thing, Jumpers

33
95 54
Albert Camus is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added The Stranger, The Plague, The Fall

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
184 125
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
123 75
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars

37
85 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
104 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
123 98
Jean-Paul Sartre is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
No Exit, Les Mains Sales, Les jeux sont faits

40
71 63
Friedrich Schiller is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Intrigue and Love, Ode to Joy, On Naive and Sentimental Poetry

41
95 54
Ben Jonson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Alchemist, Volpone, Every Man in His Humour

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
96 77
Sarah Kane is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Blasted, Crave, Cleansed

44
59 75
Pierre Corneille is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Corneille – Brecht, Le Cid, The Liar

45
89 50
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

46
59 54
Dario Fo is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Master Breasts: Objectified, Aesthetisized, Fantasized

47
86 65
Martin McDonagh is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
PeteBoyle added Seven Psychopaths, In Bruges, The Pillowman

48
45 38
Jean Anouilh is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Mary Kate Pagano added Monsieur Vincent, Circle of Love, Anna Karenina

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
138 103
Stephen Sondheim is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Into the Woods, Company