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The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

Updated November 10, 2020 42.9k votes 8.3k voters 363.9k 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
    1,703
    346

    Anton Chekhov

    Taganrog, Russia
    The Lady with the Dog, The Bet, The Darling, Vanka, The Death of a Clerk, The Duel, A Boring Story
  • 2
    1,743
    599

    Edgar Allan Poe

    Boston, Massachusetts
    The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat
  • 3
    1,060
    334

    Ernest Hemingway

    Oak Park, Illinois
    The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Capital of the World, Indian Camp, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
  • 4
    642
    186

    Raymond Carver

    Clatskanie, Oregon
    Where I'm Calling From, Cathedral, Neighbors, So Much Water Close to Home
  • 5
    834
    271

    Flannery O'Connor

    Savannah, Georgia
    A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River
  • 6
    1,068
    366

    Franz Kafka

    Prague, Czech Republic
    The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster
  • 7
    881
    181

    Jorge Luis Borges

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths
  • 8
    668
    176

    Guy de Maupassant

    Tourville-sur-Arques, France
    Boule de Suif, Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi
  • 9
    756
    281

    Mark Twain

    Florida, Missouri
    The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The War Prayer, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Eve's Diary
  • 10
    547
    156

    Leo Tolstoy

    Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
    The Three Questions, What Men Live By, Ivan the Fool, Father Sergius
  • 11
    654
    239

    Arthur Conan Doyle

    Eurasia, United Kingdom
    The Adventure of the Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem, The Man with the Twisted Lip
  • 12
    515
    175

    William Faulkner

    New Albany, Mississippi
    A Rose for Emily, Barn Burning, Dry September, That Evening Sun, Red Leaves
  • 13
    631
    190

    Ray Bradbury

    Waukegan, Illinois
    All Summer in a Day, There Will Come Soft Rains, The Pedestrian, The Last Night of the World
  • 14
    497
    165

    James Joyce

    Rathgar, Republic of Ireland
    The Dead, Araby, The Sisters, Eveline, The Boarding House, An Encounter
  • 15
    373
    110

    Nikolai Gogol

    Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine
    The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman, The Portrait
  • 16
    668
    264

    Oscar Wilde

    Dublin, Republic of Ireland
    The Nightingale and the Rose, The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates
  • 17
    788
    325

    O. Henry

    Greensboro, North Carolina
    The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, After Twenty Years, A Retrieved Reformation
  • 18
    378
    133

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    The Lost Decade, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Offshore Pirate
  • 19
    458
    172

    Roald Dahl

    Llandaff, Cardiff
    The Landlady, Skin, Man from the South 
  • 20
    375
    115

    Jack London

    California, United States of America
    To Build a Fire, The Mexican, A Piece of Steak, Batard
  • 21
    351
    114

    Gabriel García Márquez

    Aracataca, Colombia
    A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Eva Is Inside Her Cat, The Autumn of the Patriarch
  • 22
    269
    97

    Julio Cortázar

    Ixelles, Belgium
    Axolotl, Blow-Up, Headache
  • 23
    435
    208

    J. D. Salinger

    New York City, New York
    A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenter, For ‎Esmé—with Love and Squalor
  • 24
    422
    199

    Rudyard Kipling

    Mumbai, India
    Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Man Who Would Be King, Lispeth, Mowgli's Brothers
  • 25
    359
    135

    Kurt Vonnegut

    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Harrison Bergeron, 2 B R 0 2 B, Miss Temptation, The Report on the Barnhouse Effect