Best Authors: Discovering the Best Authors and Storytellers of All Time
Great authors have a way of being able to draw you into any story that they are telling. In this list of the best authors, we have compiled a list of authors that can do this with ease. From across genres, these authors are the best of the best in storytelling and the masters in their craft. Scene setting, character and plot development, twists, surprise endings, hidden lessons, and philosophy that have influenced individuals who influenced societies, good or bad, are the hallmarks of the best and have left a powerful legacy in human history in politics, social justice, education, and popular thought and interests.
This list of the best authors will highlight a number of top authors from a wide range of genres. Some are still alive today, while others have passed on and left us with their timeless written works. Whether you are looking to discover who the top authors are or are looking for a new book based on a specific author, this list will have you covered.
Who can’t think of a time when a long car ride, airport wait, bus ride, or lonely night wasn’t made better thanks to one of these top authors? And who hasn’t enjoyed at least one of these writers’ masterpieces coming to life on the big screen, watching with a critical eye to see if Hollywood “got it as I imagined it” or experiencing in a movie theater the terror or joy your hero felt?
There is many a movie masterpiece that these writers have inspired. So enjoy this list of the best authors and then start reading some of their best works. You will quickly see why they made this list of the top authors. For more book-related lists, check out our list of the best young adult books, best sports books, and best mystery books So what are you waiting for? Go to the library, bookstore, or Kindle store, and start reading!
Top 25 Authors:
1. J.R.R. Tolkien
Born: January 3, 1892
Birthplace: Bloemfontein, South Africa
Author’s Notable Works: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
About Author: J.R.R. Tolkien or John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is best known for his fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was an English scholar who wrote a number of other stories as well, though. Beloved by fantasy readers everywhere, Tolkien stands out amongst the crowd of fantasy writers as an exceptional author.
2. Charles Dickens
Born: February 7, 1812
Birthplace: Portsmouth, England
Author’s Notable Works: A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist
About Author: British novelist Charles Dickens is responsible for classics like A Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist. Outside of these classics, he also has a variety of other excellent works as well. Dickens’ novels have stood the test of time and continue to enthrall readers today.
3. Tana French
Born: May 10, 1973
Birthplace: Burlington, VT, United States
Author’s Notable Works: In the Woods, The Likeness, The Secret Place
About Author: Contemporary Irish novelist Tana French is one of the premier crime novelists of the modern age. Her first novel, In the Woods, won Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for Best First Novel. Also, the Washington Post called French “one of the most talented crime writers alive.” So if you love crime novels, Tana French needs to be at the top of your list of must-reads.
4. George Orwell
Born: June 25, 1903
Birthplace: Motihari, India
Author’s Notable Works: Animal Farm and 1984
About Author: George Orwell is famous for his satirical novels Animal Farm (1945) and 1984 (1949). Outside of being an excellent author, Orwell was also known for addressing social issues of the time. Even today, Orwell’s works continue to be popular, demonstrating Orwell’s skill as an author.
5. Stephen King
Born: September 21, 1947
Birthplace: Portland, ME, United States
Author’s Notable Works: The Shining, Carrie, Pet Sematary
About Author: American author Stephen King is a master of horror, suspense, supernatural fiction, and fantasy books. Some of King’s books are now also popular movies, including The Shining and Carrie. With a long list of excellent books under his name, King is a contemporary author that knows how to tell a great story.
6. Ken Follett
Born: June 5, 1949
Birthplace: Cardiff, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: The Pillars of the Earth, Eye of the Needle, and Lie Down with Lions
About Author: A Welsh novelist, popular author Ken Follett has written a number of best-selling thrillers and historical novels. Some of Follett’s more popular books include The Pillars of the Earth, Eye of the Needle, and Lie Down with Lions. If you love historical novels, you should check out Ken Follett.
7. Lee Child
Born: October 29, 1954
Birthplace: Coventry, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: The Jack Reacher Series
About Author: Famous for his iconic character Jack Reacher, British novelist Lee Child is a crime fiction, mystery, and thriller writer. The Jack Reacher Series has seen great success, with the first in the series, Killing Floor, receiving immediate acclaim. For a character-rich storyline, Lee Child is a great option.
8. William Shakespeare
Born: April 26, 1564
Birthplace: Warwickshire, England
Author’s Notable Works: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Macbeth
About Author: No list of the top authors is complete without William Shakespeare as many consider him to be the greatest dramatist of all time. From comedies to tragedies, Shakespeare covered it all. He created masterpieces like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, and Macbeth. If you have not read Shakespeare’s works, you are doing yourself a disservice.
9. Bernard Cornwell
Born: February 23, 1944
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: Last Kingdom Series, Sharpe Series, and the Grail Quest
About Author: If you are a Netflix fan, you may recognize Bernard Cornwell as the creator of the Last Kingdom Series. And, while Netflix does a great job with the series, nothing does the series justice like the books. Along with the Last Kingdom Series, Cornwell also offers some other excellent historical fiction series as well.
There is the Sharpe Series, the Grail Quest, and more. If you love well-written fictional history, look no further than Bernard Cornwell.
10. Agatha Christie
Born: September 15, 1890
Birthplace: Torquay, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: Murder on the Orient Express, And Then There Were None, A Murder is Announced
About Author: Agatha Christie is in a class all her own when it comes to detective novels. In her lifetime, she wrote 66 detective novels, several making our list of the best mystery books. She also wrote 14 short stories and the world’s longest-running play – The Mousetrap. For all things mystery, Agatha Christie is going to be your best bet.
11. J.K. Rowling
Born: July 31, 1965
Birthplace: Yate, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: Harry Potter Series
About Author: You may have loved the Harry Potter movies (like most people), but nothing does the story true justice like the books. J.K. Rowling created a young adult book series that all ages of readers love. Maybe a little less known, J.K. Rowling also writes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
Some of the stories written under this pseudonym are The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil. If you haven’t read the Harry Potter books yet, start there, but anything that J.K. Rowling touches is going to be worth reading.
12. John Grisham
Born: February 8, 1955
Birthplace: Jonesboro, AR, United States
Author’s Notable Works: Pelican Brief, The Firm, and Runaway Jury
About Author: With a number of NY Best Sellers and books that are also now movies, you most likely will already recognize a lot of John Grisham’s works. Some of his more well-known books are the Pelican Brief, The Firm, and Runaway Jury. The name John Grisham is synonymous with the modern-day legal thriller. Having a background in law, John Grisham brings his stories to life in a way that will keep you looking forward to the next page.
13. Mark Twain
Born: November 30, 1835
Birthplace: Florida, MO, United States
Author’s Notable Works: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and the Pauper
About Author: Best known for his characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain has had a number of memorable characters in his stories. In all, he wrote “28 books, numerous short stories, letters, and sketches.” Even though he passed away in 1910, many of his works are still enjoyed today by readers of all ages. So for timeless, well-written stories that transcend time, pretty much anything by Mark Twain will do.
14. Herman Melville
Born: August 1, 1819
Birthplace: New York City, NY, United States
Author’s Notable Works: Moby Dick, Bartleby the Scrivener
About Author: As true genius oftentimes is, Herman Melville’s works were not fully appreciated until after his death. Highlighting his most significant works is a book that most are required to read in school, Moby Dick. What adds to the allure of this book is the fact that Melville was inspired to write after his real-life adventures as a Seaman. Considered one of America’s most celebrated authors, Herman Melville offers a variety of excellent works.
15. Virginia Woolf
Born: January 25, 1882
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse
About Author: Virginia Woolf is “one of the most innovated writers of the 20th century.” With a variety of quality works, her most popular books are Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. In the early 1900s, at a time when the world was rapidly changing, Virginia Woolf used her writings to influence the world around her. Her many essays, diaries, letters, and biographies speak to this.
16. Jane Austen
Born: December 16, 1775
Birthplace: Steventon, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility
About Author: Whereas some of the authors on this list have completed numerous works, Jane Austen only completed six. The fact that she is still considered as one of the top authors speaks to the quality of these six works. Her two most famous works are Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. Her books are still enjoyed by many today, as well as are being used to make movies and TV shows.
17. Oscar Wilde
Born: October 16, 1854
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Author’s Notable Works: The Picture of Dorian Gray, A Woman of No Importance, and The Importance of Being Earnest
About Author: Coming from literary parents, Oscar Wilde had a head start on his journey to becoming one of the best authors ever to live. Some of his more notable works are The Picture of Dorian Gray, A Woman of No Importance, and The Importance of Being Earnest. During his time as a writer in the 1880s, Wilde was well known for his wit and flamboyance. He even had a character based on him in a comic opera called Patience.
18. Dr. Seuss
Born: March 2, 1904
Birthplace: Springfield, MA, United States
Author’s Notable Works: The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs in Ham
About Author: It is hard to imagine anyone growing up without having been introduced to a Dr. Seuss children’s book. With a vast imagination, Dr. Seuss wrote well-known books like The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs in Ham. And, during Christmas time, you are sure to see his book turned movie How the Grinch Stole Christmas on regularly. Dr. Seuss is a prime example that you can be an excellent author regardless of genre, topic, or age.
19. C.S. Lewis
Born: November 29, 1898
Birthplace: Belfast, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: Chronicles of Narnia Series, Mere Christianity, and The Screwtape Letters
About Author: C.S. Lewis is best known for his Chronicles of Narnia Series, which has sold over 100 million copies and has been made into several movies. Outside of the Chronicles of Narnia, he is well known for a variety of Christian-based books as well.
Books like Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters are still enjoyed by many today. In all, C.S. Lewis wrote more than thirty books. With great fiction and non-fiction books, C.S. Lewis is a well-rounded author that is one of the best Christian authors of all time.
20. George R. R. Martin
Born: September 20, 1948
Birthplace: Bayonne, NJ, United States
Author’s Notable Works: Game of Thrones Series
About Author: It is hard to imagine anyone today not having yet heard of George R. R. Martin’s masterpiece Game of Thrones. Whether you have read the books or watched the show, though, it is easy to see Martin’s masterful storytelling and his ability to flip the script. And, well Game of Thrones is easily his most well-known work, he also offers a variety of other excellent books. He even shows off his writing prowess as a children’s book author.
21. Ernest Hemingway
Born: July 21, 1899
Birthplace: Oak Park, IL, United States
Author’s Notable Works: The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and A Farewell to Arms
About Author: Having received a Nobel Prize in Literature, it is pretty easy to see why Ernest Hemingway made this list. An American author, Hemingway, has a ton of well-known writings that are still enjoyed today. A few of them are The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and A Farewell to Arms.
With a life as impressive as his writings, the life of Ernest Hemingway has captivated many throughout the years. Being wounded in World War I, his love for bullfighting, and so much more contributed to his exciting life and his writings.
22. James Patterson
Born: March 22, 1947
Birthplace: Newburgh, NY, United States
Author’s Notable Works: Alex Cross Series, Women’s Murder Club Series, and Daniel X Series
About Author: James Patterson is an author with a wide range of skills. At the same time, he has had books on both the New York Times adult and children’s best seller lists. Between all of his different books, he has had over 380 million books sold worldwide. With popular book series like Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club, and Daniel X, it is easy to see why so many people love reading anything by James Patterson.
23. Leo Tolstoy
Born: September 9, 1828
Birthplace: Yasnaya Polyana, Russia
Author’s Notable Works: Anna Karenina and War and Peace
About Author: Leo Tolstoy or Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was a Russian author that lived from 1828-1910. With two of his works placed on Time magazine’s ten greatest novels, his writings have stood the test of time. The two books that made the list were Anna Karenina and War and Peace. With more than twenty total works, though, Leo Tolstoy has a lot of other great writings to offer readers as well.
24. Thomas Hardy
Born: June 2, 1840
Birthplace: Stinsford, United Kingdom
Author’s Notable Works: Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure
About Author: A 19th-century English novelist, Thomas Hardy, has written a number of classics. Some of Hardy’s more famous novels include Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure. Hardy has many masterpieces that you will be able to choose from.
25. Paulo Coelho
Born: August 24, 1947
Birthplace: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Author’s Notable Works: The Alchemist and The Valkyries
About Author: The author of best sellers and the winner of several different awards, Paulo Coelho, is a Brazilian novelist. Born in 1947, Coelho is best known for heartfelt books like The Alchemist and The Valkyries. For inspiring, thought-provoking books, Coelho is a must.
Best Authors Conclusion
A great book can take you back in time, to another planet, or anywhere the author wants to guide you. This list of authors is able to do this better than the rest. Expect to be enthralled, engaged, and introduced to the positively profound and infinitely impossible and expect to question, learn, and understand.
Hike and fight through mystical worlds and learn about the obsession with power, be terrified of cars and clowns, learn about the beginnings of Women’s Suffrage, or what it was like to be a slave in the eyes of a boy. Learn about the world they experienced, what and where we were, and how and why we moved to where we are
So don’t stop with just learning about each author; put together a game plan to start reading through some of their amazing books. And when you do, make yourself a snack from our list of the best snack ideas or a drink from our list of the best mixed drinks. You will be able to sit and enjoy your book for hours without disruption.
Do you have a favorite book by one of these authors? We would love to hear your feedback in the comments below!
Kyle has a background in sports, fitness/health, and business. However, he also has a passion about researching all topics, and is dedicated to making lists that will help make your life easier.