writers The Greatest American Writers of All Time

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List Rules Vote up and rerank U.S.-born writers in any genre, alive or dead

Who are the greatest American authors of all time? In just two short centuries, the great U.S. of A. has produced an incredible number of writers that have influenced literature and art the world over. This list includes great American novelists, poets, playwrights, and writers in the all genres of fiction and nonfiction alike. What American writers did you read in school and actually like? While most kids in this country are assigned works by top novelists like Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway, many don't truly love to read until their teen years, when they first find less traditional writers like J.D. Salinger or Kurt Vonnegut. Others are swept away by authors as varied as Stephen King, Harper Lee, or good ol' Dr. Seuss.

Who are the greatest American authors? This list include writers in all mediums, both living and deceased. Maybe your all-time favorites include poets like Emily Dickinson or Robert Frost. If your tastes are more for the pictures, you may consider Mel Brooks, Quentin Tarantino, or even Wes Anderson among the top American screenwriters. Other authors on this list have created some of the most beloved and widely read series in history, including Louisa May Alcott and George R. R. Martin.

The greatest American writers are some of the tops in their fields, producing some of the best novels, essays, films, short stories, stage plays, and poems of all time. While many have stood the test of time and are firmly represented in the literary canon, it remains to be seen whether more contemporary American authors of the 21st Century will be remembered in decades to come. Vote up your the absolute best, and please add many that are missing.

1
+ - 209 60
Mark Twain 
                    is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

2
+ - 202 72
Edgar Allan Poe 
                    is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Edgar Allan Poe The Raven, The Cask of Amontillado The Fall of the House of Usher

3
+ - 171 55
John Steinbeck 
                    is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
John Steinbeck Of Mice and Men

4
+ - 184 68
Ernest Hemingway 
                    is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea The Sun Also Rises

5
+ - 143 46
William Faulkner 
                    is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily As I Lay Dying

6
+ - 155 47
F. Scott Fitzgerald 
                    is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night

7
+ - 136 36
Herman Melville 
                    is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Herman Melville Moby Dick

8
+ - 115 37
Jack London 
                    is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Jack London The Call of the Wild, White Fang Martin Eden

9
+ - 116 49
Ray Bradbury 
                    is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451

10
+ - 109 30
Robert Frost 
                    is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Frost Birches, The Road Not Taken

11
+ - 102 36
Nathaniel Hawthorne 
                    is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Nathaniel Hawthorne Young Goodman Brown, The Scarlet Letter The House of Seven Gables

12
+ - 106 40
Emily Dickinson 
                    is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Emily Dickinson Wild Nights: Selected Poems

13
+ - 118 50
Kurt Vonnegut 
                    is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Kurt Vonnegut Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five

14
+ - 79 46
Cormac McCarthy 
                    is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Cormac McCarthy All the Pretty Horses, The Road No Country for Old Men

15
+ - 85 47
H.-P. Lovecraft 
                    is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft At the Mountain of Madness, The Dunwich Horror

16
+ - 86 15
T. S. Eliot 
                    is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
T. S. Eliot The Waste Land, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats

17
+ - 102 41
Tennessee Williams 
                    is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Tennessee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire

18
+ - 108 35
Walt Whitman 
                    is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Walt Whitman Leaves of Grass

19
+ - 88 43
Dr. Seuss 
                    is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Dr. Seuss The Cat in the Hat, Oh the Places You'll Go! Green Eggs and Ham

20
+ - 85 27
Henry David Thoreau 
                    is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry David Thoreau Civil Disobedience, Walden

21
+ - 129 81
Stephen King 
                    is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen King Carrie, The Shining The Dark Tower series

22
+ - 68 27
Washington Irving 
                    is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Washington Irving Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

23
+ - 73 32
Henry James 
                    is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Henry James The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady

24
+ - 68 41
Truman Capote 
                    is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Truman Capote In Cold Blood, Breakfast at Tiffany's

25
+ - 52 22
Edith Wharton 
                    is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence The House of Mirth

26
+ - 105 54
J. D. Salinger 
                    is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
J. D. Salinger The Catcher in the Rye, Nine Stories Franny and Zooey

27
+ - 98 60
Harper Lee 
                    is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

28
+ - 57 14
Eugene O'Neill 
                    is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Eugene O'Neill The Long Voyage Home, Anna Christie Mourning Becomes Electra

29
+ - 43 12
E. B. White 
                    is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
E. B. White Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little The Elements of Style

30
+ - 75 27
Ralph Waldo Emerson 
                    is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ralph Waldo Emerson Self-Reliance

31
+ - 81 41
Arthur Miller 
                    is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Arthur Miller The Crucible

32
+ - 61 35
Philip K. Dick 
                    is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Philip K. Dick Minority Report, Total Recall Blade Runner

33
+ - 48 11
James Fenimore Cooper 
                    is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
James Fenimore Cooper The Last of the Mohicans, The Last of the Mohicans The Pilot: A Tale of the Sea

34
+ - 48 11
Willa Cather 
                    is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady My √Āntonia

35
+ - 64 33
Flannery O'Connor 
                    is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Flannery O'Connor A Good Man is Hard to Find, Everything that Rises Must Converge

36
+ - 36 7
Stephen Crane 
                    is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage, The Red Badge of Courage Poems of Stephen Crane

37
+ - 42 19
H. P. Lovecraft 
                    is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
H. P. Lovecraft The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, At the Mountains of Madness The Dunwich Horror and Others

38
+ - 24 27
William S. Burroughs 
                    is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
William S. Burroughs Drugstore Cowboy, Naked Lunch Junkie

39
+ - 49 47
Charles Bukowski 
                    is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Charles Bukowski Post Office, Women Ham on Rye

40
+ - 29 11
Robert Penn Warren 
                    is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Robert Penn Warren All the King's Men, American Literature Flood

41
+ - 30 19
Tom Wolfe 
                    is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Tom Wolfe Almost Heroes, The Last American Hero The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

42
+ - 31 7
Raymond Chandler 
                    is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Raymond Chandler Double Indemnity, Strangers on a Train The Big Sleep

43
+ - 26 24
Norman Mailer 
                    is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Norman Mailer The Naked and the Dead, The Executioner's Song Ancient Evenings

44
+ - 51 25
Thomas Pynchon 
                    is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49

45
+ - 34 26
Isaac Asimov 
                    is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Isaac Asimov I, Robot Foundation

46
+ - 28 6
Ezra Pound 
                    is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ezra Pound Social Credit. An Impact, The Cantos A B C of economics

47
+ - 42 34
Ken Kesey 
                    is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

48
+ - 48 51
Hunter S. Thompson 
                    is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72

49
+ - 38 15
O. Henry 
                    is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
O. Henry The Gift of the Magi, Cabbages and Kings The last leaf

50
+ - 50 27
Joseph Heller 
                    is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest American Writers of All Time
Joseph Heller Catch-22