The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

Over 9.3K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Short Story Writers of All Time
Voting 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.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
Ranked by
  • Anton Chekhov
    2,509 votes
    Taganrog, Russia
    The Lady with the Dog, The Bet, The Darling, Vanka, The Death of a Clerk, The Duel, A Boring Story
  • Jorge Luis Borges
    1,378 votes
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths
  • Edgar Allan Poe
    2,753 votes
    Boston, Massachusetts
    The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat
  • Ernest Hemingway
    1,740 votes
    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
  • Franz Kafka
    1,756 votes
    Prague, Czech Republic
    The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster
  • Flannery O'Connor
    1,398 votes
    Savannah, Georgia
    A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River