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The Best Short Story Writers of All Time 

Ranker Books
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Updated June 10, 2019 43.5k votes 7.2k voters 340.1k views 171 items

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
Anton Chekhov is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Taganrog, Russia
The Lady with the Dog, The Bet, The Darling, Vanka, The Death of a Clerk, The Duel, A Boring Story
2
Edgar Allan Poe is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Boston, Massachusetts
The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat
3
Franz Kafka is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Prague, Czech Republic
The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster
4
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Savannah, Georgia
A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River
5
Ernest Hemingway is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
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
Mark Twain is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
mrblond added Florida, Missouri, United States of America
The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The War Prayer, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Eve's Diary
7
Jorge Luis Borges is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths
8
Raymond Carver is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Clatskanie, Oregon
Where I'm Calling From, Cathedral, Neighbors, So Much Water Close to Home
9
Arthur Conan Doyle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
The Adventure of the Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem, The Man with the Twisted Lip
10
O. Henry is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Greensboro, North Carolina
The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, After Twenty Years, A Retrieved Reformation
11
William Faulkner is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
carlybobarly added New Albany, Mississippi
A Rose for Emily, Barn Burning, Dry September, That Evening Sun, Red Leaves
12
Oscar Wilde is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
AnastasiaSmith added Ireland, Ireland, Europe
The Nightingale and the Rose, The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates
13
Ray Bradbury is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Waukegan, Illinois, United States of America
All Summer in a Day, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Pedestrian, The Last Night of the World
14
Guy de Maupassant is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Tourville-sur-Arques, France
Boule de Suif, Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi
15
James Joyce is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
looksharp added Rathgar, Republic of Ireland
The Dead, Araby, The Sisters, Eveline, The Boarding House, An Encounter
16
J. D. Salinger is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
New York City, New York
A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter, For ‎Esmé—with Love and Squalor
17
Roald Dahl is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Cardiff, United Kingdom
The Landlady, Skin, Man from the South 
18
Leo Tolstoy is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
The Three Questions, What Men Live By, Ivan the Fool, Father Sergius
19
F. Scott Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States of America
The Lost Decade, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Offshore Pirate
20
Jack London is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
California, United States of America
To Build a Fire, The Mexican, A Piece of Steak, Batard
21
Rudyard Kipling is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Mumbai, India
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Man Who Would Be King, Lispeth, Mowgli's Brothers
22
Nikolai Gogol is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
ElijahKaganer added Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine
The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman, The Portrait
23
Gabriel García M&... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Aracataca, Colombia
A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Eva Is Inside Her Cat, The Autumn of the Patriarch
24
Julio Cortázar is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Ansim added Brussels, Ixelles, Belgium
Axolotl, Blow-Up, Headache
25
Kurt Vonnegut is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Indianapolis, Indiana, United States of America
Harrison Bergeron, 2 B R 0 2 B, Miss Temptation, The Report on the Barnhouse Effect