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7.7k voters

The Best Short Story Writers of All Time

Updated November 10, 2020 43.1k votes 7.7k voters 350.1k 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
    Anton Chekhov
    1,638
    326

    Anton Chekhov

    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
    Edgar Allan Poe
    1,764
    594

    Edgar Allan Poe

    Boston, Massachusetts
    The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Black Cat
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  • 3
    Ernest Hemingway
    1,051
    322

    Ernest Hemingway

    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
    Flannery O'Connor
    810
    255

    Flannery O'Connor

    Savannah, Georgia
    A Good Man Is Hard to Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge, The Geranium, The River
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  • 5
    Franz Kafka
    1,073
    383

    Franz Kafka

    Prague, Czech Republic
    The Metamorphosis, In the Penal Colony, Description of a Struggle, The Village Schoolmaster
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  • 6
    Jorge Luis Borges
    890
    181

    Jorge Luis Borges

    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    The Library of Babel, The Other, The Circular Ruins, The Garden of Forking Paths
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  • 7
    Raymond Carver
    612
    168

    Raymond Carver

    Clatskanie, Oregon
    Where I'm Calling From, Cathedral, Neighbors, So Much Water Close to Home
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  • 8
    Mark Twain
    792
    271

    Mark Twain

    Florida, Missouri
    The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, The War Prayer, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg, Eve's Diary
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  • 9
    Arthur Conan Doyle
    650
    225

    Arthur Conan Doyle

    Edinburgh, Scotland
    The Adventure of the Speckled Band, A Scandal in Bohemia, The Final Problem, The Man with the Twisted Lip
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  • 10
    Guy de Maupassant
    650
    176

    Guy de Maupassant

    Tourville-sur-Arques, France
    Boule de Suif, Deux Amis, Mother Savage, Mademoiselle Fifi
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  • 11
    Ray Bradbury
    638
    175

    Ray Bradbury

    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
    William Faulkner
    528
    179

    William Faulkner

    New Albany, Mississippi
    A Rose for Emily, Barn Burning, Dry September, That Evening Sun, Red Leaves
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  • 13
    Leo Tolstoy
    521
    165

    Leo Tolstoy

    Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
    The Three Questions, What Men Live By, Ivan the Fool, Father Sergius
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  • 14
    James Joyce
    494
    176

    James Joyce

    Rathgar, Republic of Ireland
    The Dead, Araby, The Sisters, Eveline, The Boarding House, An Encounter
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  • 15
    O. Henry
    805
    347

    O. Henry

    Greensboro, North Carolina
    The Gift of the Magi, The Ransom of Red Chief, After Twenty Years, A Retrieved Reformation
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  • 16
    Nikolai Gogol
    354
    118

    Nikolai Gogol

    Velyki Sorochyntsi, Ukraine
    The Overcoat, The Nose, Diary of a Madman, The Portrait
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  • 17
    Oscar Wilde
    677
    286

    Oscar Wilde

    Ireland, Ireland
    The Nightingale and the Rose, The Happy Prince, A House of Pomegranates
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  • 18
    F. Scott Fitzgerald
    394
    143

    F. Scott Fitzgerald

    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    The Lost Decade, Bernice Bobs Her Hair, A Diamond as Big as the Ritz, The Offshore Pirate
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  • 19
    Roald Dahl
    455
    172

    Roald Dahl

    Cardiff, United Kingdom
    The Landlady, Skin, Man from the South 
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  • 20
    Jack London
    376
    108

    Jack London

    California, United States of America
    To Build a Fire, The Mexican, A Piece of Steak, Batard
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  • 21
    Gabriel García Márquez
    357
    114

    Gabriel García Márquez

    Aracataca, Colombia
    A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, Eva Is Inside Her Cat, The Autumn of the Patriarch
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  • 22
    Julio Cortázar
    278
    98

    Julio Cortázar

    Brussels, Ixelles
    Axolotl, Blow-Up, Headache
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  • 23
    Rudyard Kipling
    438
    208

    Rudyard Kipling

    Mumbai, India
    Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Man Who Would Be King, Lispeth, Mowgli's Brothers
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  • 24
    J. D. Salinger
    433
    218

    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
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  • 25
    Hans Christian Andersen
    249
    81
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