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
2,180 469
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

2
893 500
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal

3
908 367
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler

4
635 231
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

5
387 162
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

6
535 301
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

7
419 199
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
667 273
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

9
543 215
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

10
289 139
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

11
573 194
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
262 126
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
303 126
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
235 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
142 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
274 150
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

18
150 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
326 129
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

20
226 125
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
149 126
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

24
196 116
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
154 101
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
198 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
123 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
121 116
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
100 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
154 111
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
89 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
112 72
Noël Coward is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Private Lives, Hay Fever, Tonight at 8:30

43
71 67
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

44
59 53
Alexander Ostrovsky is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added The Storm, Enough Stupidity in Every Wise Man, The Forest

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
98 80
Sarah Kane is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Blasted, Crave, Cleansed

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
92 52
Jean Cocteau is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Beauty and the Beast, Orpheus, The Testament of Orpheus

49
142 105
Stephen Sondheim is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Into the Woods, Company

50
60 56
Dario Fo is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Master Breasts: Objectified, Aesthetisized, Fantasized