Theater 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.

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list ordered by

1
2,344 498
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth

2
952 530
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal

3
968 380
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler

4
671 246
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra

5
568 314
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days

6
407 175
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis

7
441 211
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan

8
577 221
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Crucible, Death of a Salesman

9
692 280
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband

10
598 197
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
307 148
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes

12
274 139
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds

13
292 155
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus

14
322 132
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
159 97
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
256 100
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
290 155
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo

18
166 90
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
342 132
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arms and the Man, Pygmalion

20
241 126
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter

21
163 129
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play

22
132 99
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Dead Souls, Nevsky Prospekt, The gamblers

23
114 106
Pedro Calderón de la Barca is listed (or ranked) 23 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

24
206 118
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
165 104
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl