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8.4k voters

The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

Updated November 10, 2020 42.9k votes 8.4k voters 366.8k views171 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1
    1,712
    351
    Taganrog, Russia
    The Lady with the Dog, The Bet, The Darling, Vanka, The Death of a Clerk, The Duel, A Boring Story
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  • 2
    1,732
    601
    Boston, Massachusetts
    The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat
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  • 3
    1,065
    337
    Oak Park, Illinois
    The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Capital of the World, Indian Camp, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
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  • 4
    1,065
    369
    Prague, Czech Republic
    The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster
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  • 5
    643
    197
    Clatskanie, Oregon
    Where I'm Calling From, Cathedral, Neighbors, So Much Water Close to Home
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  • 6
    839
    281
    Savannah, Georgia
    A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River
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  • 7
    886
    183
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths
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  • 8
    662
    185
    Tourville-sur-Arques, France
    Boule de Suif, Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi
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  • 9
    514
    177
    carlybobarly addedNew Albany, Mississippi
    A Rose for Emily, Barn Burning, Dry September, That Evening Sun, Red Leaves
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  • 10
    749
    285
    mrblond addedFlorida, Missouri
    The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The War Prayer, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Eve's Diary
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  • 11
    632
    193
    Waukegan, Illinois
    All Summer in a Day, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Pedestrian, The Last Night of the World
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  • 12
    658
    245
    Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    The Adventure of the Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem, The Man with the Twisted Lip
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  • 13
    503
    167
    looksharp addedRathgar, Republic of Ireland
    The Dead, Araby, The Sisters, Eveline, The Boarding House, An Encounter
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  • 14
    551
    164
    Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
    The Three Questions, What Men Live By, Ivan the Fool, Father Sergius
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  • 15
    375
    114
    ElijahKaganer addedVelyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine
    The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman, The Portrait
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  • 16
    782
    326
    Greensboro, North Carolina
    The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, After Twenty Years, A Retrieved Reformation
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  • 17
    661
    268
    AnastasiaSmith addedDublin, Republic of Ireland
    The Nightingale and the Rose, The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates
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  • 18
    460
    177
    Llandaff, Cardiff
    The Landlady, Skin, Man from the South 
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  • 19
    377
    138
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    The Lost Decade, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Offshore Pirate
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  • 20
    375
    123
    California, United States of America
    To Build a Fire, The Mexican, A Piece of Steak, Batard
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  • 21
    281
    103
    Ansim addedBrussels, Ixelles
    Axolotl, Blow-Up, Headache
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  • 22
    348
    121
    Aracataca, Colombia
    A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Eva Is Inside Her Cat, The Autumn of the Patriarch
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  • 23
    437
    214
    New York City, New York
    A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter, For ‎Esmé—with Love and Squalor
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  • 24
    418
    200
    Mumbai, India
    Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Man Who Would Be King, Lispeth, Mowgli's Brothers
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  • 25
    357
    140
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Harrison Bergeron, 2 B R 0 2 B, Miss Temptation, The Report on the Barnhouse Effect
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