Culture

The Greatest Playwrights in History 

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Updated June 14, 2019 36.6k votes 7.2k voters 310.6k views 167 items

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
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth
2
Henrik Ibsen is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Doll's House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler
3
Sophocles is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Oedipus the King, Ajax, Electra
4
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Three Sisters, The Seagull, A Marriage Proposal
5
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Importance of Being Earnest, An Ideal Husband
6
Tennessee Williams is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
7
Molière is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Miser, The Misanthrope, Dom Juan
8
Arthur Miller is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Crucible, Death of a Salesman
9
Euripides is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Medea, The Trojan Women, Alcestis
10
Aeschylus is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Oresteia, The Persians, Seven Against Thebes
11
Samuel Beckett is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Happy Days
12
Aristophanes is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Thesmophoriazusae, The Knights of Aristophanes, The Clouds
13
Eugene O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Long Day's Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh
14
Christopher Marlowe is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus
15
Johann Wolfgang von Goet... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
ElijahKaganer added Faust: The First Part of the Tragedy, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Elective Affinities
16
George Bernard Shaw is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arms and the Man, Pygmalion
17
Luigi Pirandello is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Six Characters in Search of an Author, The Rules of the Game, Herbstreise
18
Edward Albee is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance
19
Harold Pinter is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Betrayal, The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter
20
Neil Simon is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Odd Couple, Murder by Death, The Goodbye Girl
21
Tom Stoppard is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Arcadia, The Real Thing, Jumpers
22
Victor Hugo is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
RazvanPop added Les Misérables, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Odes et Ballades
23
August Wilson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Fences, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars
24
Bertolt Brecht is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
The Threepenny Opera, Life of Galileo
25
August Strindberg is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Playwrights in History
Miss Julie, The Gather, A Dream Play