50 of the Greatest Authors of All Time

The greatest authors of all time have done more than dominate bookshelves across the world.

Their words have shaped human thought, encapsulated the human experience, and given a creative outlet to the millions who have turned through their pages.

50 of the greatest authors of all time

Who Are the Greatest Authors of All Time?

From old-school classic authors like Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, and Bram Stoker to contemporary writers like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, George R.R. Martin, and Joan Didion, we’ve compiled 50 of the greatest authors of all time for your reading pleasure.

Now, crack those books and get to turning those pages!

1. Ernest Hemingway

From The Old Man and the Sea to The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway is unmatched in his influence on American literature.

View Best Price on Amazon
The Sun Also Rises
View Best Price on Amazon

2. Jane Austen

Mr. Darcy is the love of millions of people’s lives, created by the inimitable Jane Austen in her mega-bestseller Pride & Prejudice.

The Jane Austen Collection
View Best Price on Amazon

3.Gabriel García Marquez

Known best for One Hundred Years of Solitude, no one does beautiful fiction quite like Gabriel García Marquez.

One Hundred Years of Solitude
View Best Price on Amazon

4. John Steinbeck

Whether exploring the intricacies of life during The Great Depression in The Grapes of Wrath or biblical allegory in East of Eden, Steinbeck explores the human condition during hard times.

The Grapes of Wrath
View Best Price on Amazon
East of Eden
View Best Price on Amazon

5. Margaret Atwood

A science and dystopian fiction magnate, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale paints the horrifying story of a dystopian future in a land called Gilead – just one of Atwood’s many thrilling reads.

The Handmaid's Tale
View Best Price on Amazon

6. Agatha Christie

A prolific mystery writer, Christie has written well over 50 mystery novels and short stories, including Murder on the Orient Express and And Then There Were None.

Murder on the Orient Express
View Best Price on Amazon
And Then There Were None
View Best Price on Amazon

7. Daphne du Maurier

Daphne du Maurier wrote one of the most pivotal books in mystery history with Rebecca, cementing her place as a powerhouse.

Rebecca
View Best Price on Amazon

8. Arthur Conan Doyle

You simply cannot have mystery without Sherlock Holmes, which is where Arthur Conan Doyle comes in.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes
View Best Price on Amazon

9. Mary Higgins Clark

With millions and millions and millions of book sales under her belt, Mary Higgins Clark has been a bestseller since the beginning – in fact, her debut Where Are the Children? has been printed well over 50 times.

Where Are the Children
View Best Price on Amazon

10. Gillian Flynn

Everyone loves an unreliable heroine, and Gillian Flynn does it best, whether with her runaway bestseller Gone Girl or her insanely popular Sharp Objects.

Gone Girl
View Best Price on Amazon
Sharp Objects
View Best Price on Amazon

11. Stephen King

From Pet Sematary to The Shining, Stephen King has a style and repertoire that is completely unmatched.

Pet Sematary
View Best Price on Amazon
The Shining
View Best Price on Amazon

12. Bram Stoker

There just simply is no horror genre without Bram Stoker and his Dracula.

Dracula
View Best Price on Amazon

13. Mary Shelley

No one would have ever heard the story of a man-made of pieces without Shelley’s iconic Frankenstein.

Frankenstein
View Best Price on Amazon

14. Edgar Allan Poe

Suspense, darkness, and mystery reign in Edgar Allan Poe’s writings, from The Tell-Tale Heart to The Raven.

The Tell-Tale Heart
View Best Price on Amazon
The Raven
View Best Price on Amazon

15. Anne Rice

Modern-day vampire stories wouldn’t exist without Anne Rice, whose famous The Vampire Chronicles series paved the way.

Complete Vampire Chronicles
View Best Price on Amazon

16. Flannery O’Connor

Flannery O’Connor’s brilliant short stories and fiction won the National Book Award with her collection The Complete Stories, showcasing her immense talent.

The Complete Stories
View Best Price on Amazon

17. Neil Gaiman

Gaiman is famous for his beautifully woven stories, and his collection Fragile Things showcases some of his best works.

Fragile Things
View Best Price on Amazon

18. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A brilliant novelist and essayist, Adichie is also a phenomenal short story writer, especially in The Thing Around Your Neck.

The Thing Around Your Neck
View Best Price on Amazon

19. Junot Diaz

Junot Diaz’s short fiction has appeared in the pages of the New Yorker, alongside winning him a myriad of awards. While his short stories can be mostly found online, his Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, is a great place to start with his work.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
View Best Price on Amazon

20. James Joyce

Joyce is one of the best-known and influential writers in history, and his book Dubliners combines 15 of his beautifully written short stories about the city in which he was raised.

Dubliners
View Best Price on Amazon

21. George R.R. Martin

Martin’s world of Westeros is completely unmatched in its scope in literature and in world influence as he tells an epic story of the battle between the changing tides of time and family.

A Game of Thrones
View Best Price on Amazon

22. J.K. Rowling

The hallowed halls of Hogwarts and the many adventures of a lightning-scarred boy have brought joy to millions of readers as a brainchild of J.K. Rowling.

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set
View Best Price on Amazon

23. Diana Gabaldon

Romance, magic, and fantasy abound in Gabaldon’s beautiful Outlander series.

Diana Gabaldon Outlander Series 8 Book Set
View Best Price on Amazon

24. C.S. Lewis

Beyond the wardrobe, adventure and challenges await in Lewis’ iconic Chronicles of Narnia.

Chronicles of Narnia Box Set
View Best Price on Amazon

25. J.R.R. Tolkien

It’s hard to imagine popular culture without the epic story centered around a certain ring, with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series.

The Lord of the Rings
View Best Price on Amazon

26. Joan Didion

Didion’s distinctive voice has made her one of the most distinctive memoir writers of her time, from The White Album to The Year of Magical Thinking.

The White Album
View Best Price on Amazon
The Year of Magical Thinking
View Best Price on Amazon

27. Nora Ephron

With her famous biting wit and style, Nora Ephron’s words have graced movie screens and books alike, and many of her best writings are collected in The Most of Nora Ephron.

The Most of Nora Ephron
View Best Price on Amazon

28. Frank McCourt

Perhaps most well-known for the hauntingly beautiful Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt’s memoirs delve deep into childhood and the coming-of-age.

Angela's Ashes
View Best Price on Amazon

29. Mary Karr

With a smash hit memoir of her own, The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr teaches the memoir form too, and has a book on it, The Art of Memoir.

The Liars' Club
View Best Price on Amazon
The Art of Memoir
View Best Price on Amazon

30. Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain spent years embroiled in the culinary scene, and his memoirs speak to both his experience in the kitchen and the life that it led to, from Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly to Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.

Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition
View Best Price on Amazon
View Best Price on Amazon

31. Roald Dahl

Whether rolling around in a giant peach with James and the Giant Peach or delving into books and magic with Matilda, Dahl has no shortage of childhood adventures in his repertoire.

Matilda
View Best Price on Amazon

32. Dr. Seuss

Whether you’re reading Cat in the Hat or The Lorax, there’s simply no childhood literature without Dr. Seuss.

The Cat in the Hat
View Best Price on Amazon
The Lorax
View Best Price on Amazon

33. Madeleine L’Engle

L’Engle manages to combine fantasy, science, and religious undertones masterfully in her books, from A Wrinkle in Time to A Ring of Endless Light.

A Wrinkle in Time
View Best Price on Amazon
A Ring of Endless Light
View Best Price on Amazon

34. Ludwig Bemelmans

The tales and adventures of a certain French girl named Madeline have captured the hearts of readers everywhere, thanks to Bemelmans.

Madeline
View Best Price on Amazon

35. Bill Martin, Jr.

From Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Martin’s books have been on pretty much every child’s bookshelves.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
View Best Price on Amazon
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See
View Best Price on Amazon

36. Jon Krakauer

Krakauer told the stories of his tragic climb up Mount Everest in Into Thin Air that captured millions of readers along the way, and has also written about tragic, adventurous, and beautiful stories of others in his books like Into the Wild and Under the Banner of Heaven.

Into Thin Air
View Best Price on Amazon
Under the Banner of Heaven
View Best Price on Amazon

37. Ron Chernow

Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer Ron Chernow has written several incredible epic histories and biographies, some of his most notable being Alexander Hamilton – which influenced the musical – and Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

Alexander Hamilton
View Best Price on Amazon
Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
View Best Price on Amazon

38. Jon Meacham

An incredible biographer, Meacham has written books on everyone from presidents like George H.W. Bush and Thomas Jefferson to Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush
View Best Price on Amazon
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
View Best Price on Amazon
Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship
View Best Price on Amazon

39. Betty Friedan

Perhaps one of the most absolutely influential feminist writings to ever exist, Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique is pretty much-required reading.

The Feminine Mystique
View Best Price on Amazon

40. Stephen Hawking

Known as one of the most absolutely brilliant minds of our time, Hawking’s scientific musings in The Theory of Everything and A Brief History of Time were groundbreaking.

The Theory of Everything
View Best Price on Amazon
A Brief History of Time
View Best Price on Amazon

41. Nora Roberts

With over 200 novels, there is simply no romance without the books of Nora Roberts, from the swoony Bride Quartet to the more suspenseful Tribute.

The Bride Quartet Set
View Best Price on Amazon
Tribute
View Best Price on Amazon

42. Nicholas Sparks

Modern-day romance is, in huge part, due to Nicholas Sparks and his literal blockbuster bestsellers, from The Notebook to A Walk to Remember.

The Notebook
View Best Price on Amazon
A Walk to Remember
View Best Price on Amazon

43. Emily Giffin

By exploring relationships deeper than just romantic ones – sibling dynamics, friendships gone wrong, and broken families – Giffin cements herself as a leader in her genre, especially with books like Something Borrowed and Where We Belong.

Something Borrowed
View Best Price on Amazon
Where We Belong
View Best Price on Amazon

44. Taylor Jenkins Reid

By constantly reinventing her own wheel, Taylor Jenkins Reid has always remained far away from the typical romance trope, instead of spiking it with a tragedy like in her early Forever, Interrupted or exploring the world of old Hollywood in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Forever, Interrupted
View Best Price on Amazon
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
View Best Price on Amazon

45. Christina Lauren

The dynamic duo of Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings put out saucy, hilarious romantic fiction – some fan favorites being Love and Other Words and Dating You/Hating You.

Love and Other Words
View Best Price on Amazon
Dating You / Hating You
View Best Price on Amazon

46. Orson Scott Card

Most famous for the incredible Ender’s Game series, Orson Scott Card has written magical science fiction for young readers and older ones alike.

The Ender Quartet Boxed Set
View Best Price on Amazon

47. Ray Bradbury

From Fahrenheit 451 to Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury writes dystopian literature and science fiction at its best.

Fahrenheit 451
View Best Price on Amazon
Something Wicked This Way Comes
View Best Price on Amazon

48. Aldous Huxley

A prolific novelist and essayist, Huxley’s Brave New World — his most famous novel — is an icon in itself.

Brave New World
View Best Price on Amazon

49. Andy Weir

Andy Weir is a science fiction novelist for the modern age, and his novel The Martian was recently made into a movie starring Matt Damon.

The Martian
View Best Price on Amazon

50. George Orwell

George Orwell wrote one of the most influential novels of all time with 1984, cementing his place in science fiction and dystopian history.

1984
View Best Price on Amazon


The best thing about reading is the large variety of genre and writers you can read, and we’ve done our best to pull out as many of the greatest authors of all time as we possibly could.

Get to reading, and let us know who you think we may have left out. To whom would you give the title of greatest author of all time? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

At the ripe old age of 3, Susannah decided that life was just a blank canvas and took Magic Marker to the newly installed carpet in her room just to “see what happened.” She’s taken that approach to life since, curious about pretty much everything. She earned a journalism degree from Texas A&M University with the mission of making asking questions and telling stories her life, and since then has done everything from social media strategizing and content creation on the national level to writing a career column for USA TODAY. Susannah is a high school teacher and yearbook adviser with a huge passion for reading (Harry Potter is her absolute favorite), and is excited to bring another book-loving voice to Hooked to Books.

More from Susannah Hutcheson

17 of the Best Mystery Books and Thrillers

Whether it’s a stormy night by the fire or a sunny day...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.