Top 15 American Authors of All Time

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Writing is a proud tradition known to the world for centuries. There have been numerous writers worldwide with plays, novels, poems, biographies, etc., and American authors are no less in this field. America has witnessed some great writers, including women and men, making outstanding contributions. I will talk about 15 Top American authors of all time that you should read.

Being a reader, what you want is good content, and I always strive for what’s best. There have been great writers from many countries, and some of them include American writers too. The first book published in America was the Bay Psalm Book in 1640, produced by thirty ministers, led by Richard Mather and John Cotton.

The American literary tradition began when some early English colonists recounted their adventures in the New World for the benefit of readers in their mother country. Some of those early writings were quite accomplished, such as the account of his adventures by Captain John Smith in Virginia and the journalistic histories of John Winthrop and William Bradford in New England.

By now, you must have understood that we will discuss some of the best American writers. So let’s hop on to the list and get to their brief introduction and some of their best works.

15 American Authors of All Time

1. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864)

Nathaniel Hawthorne image | American Authors of All Time

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a novelist and short story writer. Hawthorne’s works have been labeled ‘dark romanticism,’ dominated as they are by cautionary tales that suggest that guilt, sin, and evil are the most inherent natural qualities of humankind.

His novels and stories, set in a past New England, are versions of historical fiction used as a vehicle to express themes of ancestral sin, guilt, and retribution.

2. Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)

Edgar Allan Poe image | American Authors of All Time

Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, editor, and literary critic. He is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and suspense. He is generally considered the inventor of detective fiction.

Poe’s editor, poet, and critic profoundly impacted American and international literature. In addition to his detective stories, he is one of the originators of horror and science fiction. He is often credited as the architect of the modern short story.

3. Herman Melville (1819–1891)

Herman Melville image | American Authors of All Time

Herman Melville was an American writer of novels, short stories, and poems. He is best known for the novel Moby-Dick and a romantic account of his experiences in Polynesian life, Typee

His whaling novel, Moby-Dick, is often spoken of as ‘the great American’ vying with Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for that title.

4. Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

Walt Whitman Image | American Authors of All Time

Walt Whitman was a poet, essayist, and journalist who transformed poetry worldwide with disregard for traditional rhyme and meter and celebrated democracy and sensual pleasure.

His masterpiece, Leaves of Grass, a collection of poems, is widely studied by poets, students, and academics, set to music, translated into numerous languages, and is widely quoted. His influence can be found everywhere in contemporary bestseller lists to feature films and musical works, both “serious” and popular.

5. Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)

Emily Dickinson Image | American Authors of All Time

Unknown as a poet during her lifetime, Emily Dickinson is now regarded by many as one of the most powerful voices of American culture. Her poetry has inspired many other writers, including the Brontes

In 1994 the critic, Harold Bloom, listed her among the twenty-six central writers of Western civilization. After she died, her sister found the almost two thousand poems the poet had written.

6. Mark Twain (1835–1910)

Mark Twain Image | American Authors of All Time

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, was an American writer, businessman, publisher, and lecturer. He progressed from his day job as a pilot of a Mississippi riverboat to a legend of American literature.

His work shows a deep seriousness, and at the same time, it is hilariously satirical, as seen in his many quotes on all aspects of life. His masterpiece is Huckleberry Finn, which is regularly referred to as ‘the great American novel.

7. Henry James (1843–1916)

Henry James image | American Authors of All Time

Henry James is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He is noted for writing from a character’s point of view, which allowed him to explore consciousness and perception.

His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue, and unreliable narrators brought a new depth to narrative fiction, all influential on the writing of the novelists who followed him. He was nominated for the Nobel prize for literature three times.

8. T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

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Thomas Stearns Eliot was an American-born British poet, essayist, playwright, and critic, now regarded as one of the twentieth century’s major poets.

He received more rewards than any other writer of the past two centuries, including the Nobel prize, the Dante Gold Medal, the Goethe prize, the US Medal of Freedom, and the British Order of Merit.

9. F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940)

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Francis Scott Fitzgerald was an American novelist widely regarded as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, American writers of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel, The Great Gatsby, which vies for the title ‘Great American Novel’ with Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.

Fitzgerald’s place on this list is justified by his great novel being about America.

10. William Faulkner (1897–1962)

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William Cuthbert Faulkner was a Nobel Prize laureate, awarded the literature prize in 1949. He wrote novels, short stories, poetry, and screenplays. He is known mainly for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha Country, Mississippi. Faulkner is one of the most celebrated American writers, regarded, generally, as the great writer of the American South.

11. Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)

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Thomas Lanier Williams III, known as Tennessee Williams, is one of America’s most popular playwrights and is now regarded as one of the most significant writers of the twentieth century. He wrote more than thirty plays, some of which have become classics of Western drama.

He also wrote novels and short stories but is known almost exclusively for his plays. His genius was in the honesty with which he represented society and the art of presenting that in the form of absorbing drama

12. Arthur Miller (1915–2005)

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Arthur Miller was a playwright and ‘great man’ of American theatre, which he championed throughout his life. His many dramas were among the most popular by American authors, and several are considered to be among the best American plays, among them the classics, The Crucible, All My Sons, A View from the Bridge, and, above all, the iconic American drama, Death of a Salesman. He also wrote film scripts, notably the classic, The Misfit, etc.

13. Joseph Heller (1923–1999)

Joseph Heller Image

Joseph Heller was an American writer of satirical novels, short stories, and plays. Although he wrote several acclaimed novels, his reputation rests firmly on his masterpiece, the great American anti-war satire, Catch 22. Because of the novel’s quality and its impact on American culture, it has catapulted Heller into the ranks of the great American writers.

14. Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)

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Ernest Hemingway was a novelist, short story writer, and journalist. He published seven novels, six short story collections, and two non-fiction works and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. More works, including three novels, four short story collections, and three non-fiction works, were published posthumously.

15. Raymond Chandler (1888–1959)

Raymond Chandler image

Raymond Chandler was a British-American novelist who wrote several screenplays and short stories. He published seven novels during his lifetime. The first, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. Another great crime writer, Robert B Parker, completed an eighth, Poodle Springs, unfinished at his death. Six of Chandler’s novels have been made into films, some more than once.

Conclusions | Top 15 American Authors Of All Time

In this article, we discussed some of the greatest authors of America. These are the top 15 authors one should know about as they created a legacy over the years with their great work. There cannot be a certain answer as to which author is the best, but they are the best among many who lived.

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