books The Best Short Story Writers of All Time  

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List Rules Vote based on only each writer's short fiction, no other work

List of the best short story writers of all time. From Voltaire to George Saunders, a complete list of the greatest short story authors who have written works in English or whose works have been translated into English. Usually, short fiction features a small cast of characters and is focused on one incident or anecdote and one overall mood, such as romance, humor, or sadness. Complex stories with sweeping timelines and superfluous characters are not often written in the short story medium, because there is simply not enough time to develop more than one or two cohesive thoughts. The best short story writers think that writing short-fiction is a completely separate art form than writing a novel, but some would argue that writing short stories is great practice for writing a full length work of fiction. 

Because of the constraints of page length, great short story writers have to use language that is descriptive and quickly sets the scene or develops their characters. Hemingway is notoriously good at short, pithy stories. One of his most famous is the world's shortest short story: “For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” Very short stories are also known as flash-fiction.

Like Hemingway, the best short story authors can paint a picture with their words in a short amount of time. If you like books but don't have time to read novels, reading short stories could be a great option for you. Many of the best novelists of all time  have also written good short stories. Often, this type of fiction is sold in short story collections or anthologies. Use this list to discover new authors of short-fiction and vote on your favorites.

list ordered by

1
875 262
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America - The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat

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2
599 206
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Franz Kafka Prague, Czech Republic - The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster

3
838 161
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Anton Chekhov Taganrog, Russia - The Lady with the Dog, The Bet, The Darling, Vanka, The Death of a Clerk, The Duel, A Boring Story

4
467 144
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
mrblond added Mark Twain Florida, Missouri, United States of America - The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The War Prayer, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Eve's Diary

5
653 185
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Ernest Hemingway Oak Park, Illinois, United States of America - The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Capital of the World, Indian Camp, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber

6
369 145
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
AnastasiaSmith added Oscar Wilde Dublin, Republic of Ireland - The Nightingale and the Rose, The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates

7
528 105
Jorge Luis Borges is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Jorge Luis Borges Buenos Aires, Argentina - The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths

8
388 153
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
O. Henry Greensboro, North Carolina, United States of America - The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, After Twenty Years, A Retrieved Reformation

9
442 146
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Flannery O'Connor Savannah, Georgia, United States of America - A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River

10
341 102
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
carlybobarly added William Faulkner New Albany, Mississippi, United States of America - A Rose for Emily, Barn Burning, Dry September, That Evening Sun, Red Leaves

11
384 101
Guy de Maupassant is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Guy de Maupassant Tourville-sur-Arques, France - Boule de Suif, Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi

12
255 117
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Rudyard Kipling Mumbai, India - Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Man Who Would Be King, Lispeth, Mowgli's Brothers

13
189 106
Herman Melville is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Manhattan, New York City, New York - Bartleby, the Scrivener, The Lighning-Rod Man, Encantadas

14
357 123
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Arthur Conan Doyle Edinburgh, United Kingdom - The Adventure of the Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem, The Man with the Twisted Lip

15
299 90
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Leo Tolstoy Yasnaya Polyana, Russia - The Three Questions, What Men Live By, Ivan the Fool, Father Sergius

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16
298 92
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
looksharp added James Joyce Rathgar, Republic of Ireland - The Dead, Araby, The Sisters, Eveline, The Boarding House, An Encounter

17
357 100
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury Waukegan, Illinois, United States of America - All Summer in a Day, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Pedestrian, The Last Night of the World

18
243 107
H. P. Lovecraft is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
hasrvwill added H. P. Lovecraft Eastern United States, New England, Rhode Island - At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, History of the Necronomicon

19
173 59
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Nikolai Gogol Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine - The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman, The Portrait

20
348 107
Raymond Carver is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Raymond Carver Clatskanie, Oregon, United States of America - Where I'm Calling From, Cathedral, Neighbors, So Much Water Close to Home

21
281 137
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger New York City, New York, United States of America - A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter, For ‎Esmé—with Love and Squalor

22
203 88
H. G. Wells is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
hasrvwill added H. G. Wells Bromley, United Kingdom - The Red Room, The Country of the Blind, The New Accelerator, The Stolen Body

23
248 91
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America - The Lost Decade, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Offshore Pirate

24
229 85
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Kurt Vonnegut Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America - Harrison Bergeron, 2 B R 0 2 B, Miss Temptation, The Report on the Barnhouse Effect

25
263 98
Roald Dahl is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Roald Dahl Llandaff, Cardiff, United Kingdom - The Landlady, Skin, Man from the South 

26
160 86
Washington Irving is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Manhattan, New York City, New York - Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Devil and Tom Walker

27
128 68
Shirley Jackson is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
BISKIT added Shirley Jackson California, United States of America - The Lottery, Louise Please Come Home, Charles, The Possibility of Evil, The Lovely House

28
164 52
Julio Cortázar is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Ansim added Julio Cortázar Ixelles, Belgium - Axolotl, Blow-Up, Headache

29
215 61
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Jack London USA, California, San Francisco - To Build a Fire, The Mexican, A Piece of Steak, Batard

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30
221 74
Gabriel García Márquez is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Gabriel García Márquez Aracataca, Colombia - A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Eva Is Inside Her Cat, The Autumn of the Patriarch

31
241 87
Alice Munro is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Dani Porter added Alice Munro Wingham, Ontario, Canada - The Boy Came Over the Mountain, Deep Holes, The View from Castle Rock, Voices

32
126 62
Rabindranath Tagore is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
AtanuMukherjee added Rabindranath Tagore Kolkata, India

33
93 23
Hans Christian Andersen is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
stubb added Hans Christian Andersen Odense, Denmark

34
140 39
Joseph Conrad is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
looksharp added Joseph Conrad Berdychiv, Ukraine - Youth, The Lagoon, The Idiot, Tales of Unrest, An Outpost of Progress

35
169 80
John Cheever is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
carlybobarly added John Cheever Quincy, Massachusetts, United States of America - The Swimmer, Goodbye My Brother, The Enormous Radio, The Five-Forty-Eight

36
152 95
Charles Bukowski is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
clash1977 added Charles Bukowski Andernach, Germany - All the Assh*les in the World Plus Mine, Confessions of a Man Insane Enough to Live with Beasts

37
148 69
Philip K. Dick is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
tushar.at7 added Philip K. Dick Chicago, Illinois, United States of America - The Minority Report, Second Variety, We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, Paycheck

38
131 57
D. H. Lawrence is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
D. H. Lawrence Eastwood, United Kingdom - The Rocking-Horse Winner, The Princess, St Mawr, The Fox, The Woman Who Rode Away

39
99 53
Thomas Mann is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Thomas Mann Eurasia, Lübeck, Schleswig-Holstein - Death in Venice, Felix Krull, Mario and the Magician, Little Herr Friedemann, The Clown

40
149 75
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
tushar.at7 added Agatha Christie Torquay, United Kingdom - The Witness for the Protection, Accident, Philomel Cottage, The Chocolate Box, The Second Gong

41
256 156
Stephen King is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Stephen King Portland, Maine, United States of America - The Mangler, The Lawnmower Man, Graveyard Shift, The Boogeyman, Sometimes They Come Back

42
179 77
Nathaniel Hawthorne is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Salem, Massachusetts, United States of America - Young Goodman Brown, The Birth-Mark, Rappaccini's Daughter, The Minister's Black Veil

43
77 24
Brothers Grimm is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
stubb added Brothers Grimm

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44
96 46
W. Somerset Maugham is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
venkat.sunderam added W. Somerset Maugham France, Paris

45
130 55
Saki is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
DavidHowarth added Saki (H. H. Munro) Sittwe, Myanmar - The Interlopers, Gabriel-Ernest, The Toys of Peace, The Open Window

46
85 61
P. G. Wodehouse is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
nnmalvankar added P. G. Wodehouse Guildford, England - Carry On Jeeves, The Custody of Pumpkin, Extricating Young Gussie, Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend

47
111 47
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Vladimir Nabokov Saint Petersburg, Russia - Signs and Symbols, The Vane Sisters, Terra Incognita, A Nursery Tale

48
105 41
Isaac Asimov is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Zimble added Isaac Asimov Petrovichi, Russia - The Bicentennial Man, Nightfall, The Last Question, The Fun They Had, The Last Answer

49
73 7
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Moscow, Russia

50
121 88
Haruki Murakami is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
carlybobarly added Haruki Murakami Fushimi-ku, Kyoto, Japan - The Second Bakery Attack, The Year of Spaghetti, The Kidney-Shaped Stoned That Moves Every Day