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The 10 Best American Authors of All Time

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America is widely recognized for its literary contributions. It has introduced the world to numerous renowned authors, playwrights, short story novelists, and poets. Many American writers have been awarded the Nobel Prize and have gifted the world with some of the most memorable books that continue to be cherished today. American literature holds a prominent place for its capacity to engage readers with society, delving into diverse global cultures through its novel settings. American novels personally accentuate social issues. This blog will discuss the most distinguished American authors and delve into their literary works.

Let’s begin!

1. Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Birth year: 1804
  • First book: Fanshawe
  • Best works: The Scarlet Letter, Gables, The House of the Seven

Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American novelist, and short-story writer, based his novels’ settings on medieval New England. Critics often classify his works as examples of dark romanticism, as his stories vividly portray ancestral Sin, Guilt, and Evil. Hawthorne’s books center around themes of history, morality, and religion, and he conveyed his thoughts through his compelling short stories. He holds a prominent position on the list of the best American authors. His best-selling book, “The Scarlet Letter,” which was published in 1850, achieved remarkable sales, with 2,500 copies sold within just 10 days.

2. Edgar Allen Poe

  • Birth year: 1809
  • First book: Tamerlane
  • Best works: The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Fall of the House of Usher

Edgar Allan Poe actively engaged as a writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. He remains renowned for crafting captivating short stories, novels, and poems infused with mystery and suspense. He pioneered the concept of fan fiction and earned the title of the architect of modern storytelling. His narratives predominantly embrace romantic themes while also playing a pivotal role in originating both horror and science fiction genres. Edgar’s stories vividly portray concepts such as Death, Regret, and Lost love. Among his literary accomplishments, his best-selling book, “The Raven,” which he published in 1845, garnered impressive sales of 1500 copies.

3. Herman Melville

  • Birth year: 1819
  • First book: Typee
  • Best works: Moby Dick, Billy Budd, Sailor

Herman Melville holds the third position on the list of the finest American authors. He stands as an American novelist, short story writer, and poet. His novels exhibit great density and complexity, featuring abundant mystical imagery, philosophy, myths, visual arts, and scriptures. One of his renowned works, “Moby Dick,” stands as the epitome of the great American novel. Melville crafted novels that centered around human life, consistently emphasizing the discovery of shared avenues for communication. His masterpiece, “Moby Dick,” which saw publication in 1851, garnered an approximate sale of 4000 copies.

4. Mark Twain

  • Birth year: 1835
  • First book: The Innocents Abroad
  • Best works: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Mark Twain, an acclaimed American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer, stands out as one of the most renowned figures. William Faulkner attributed him the title of the father of American literature. Twain’s novels established a strong connection with the readers due to their profound impact. His books are particularly notable for infusing serious themes with humor. Twain primarily delved into the realms of human nature and social issues through his novels, which often carried themes of humor, travel, adventure, and informal cultural exploration. Among his works, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” a bestseller, boasts an impressive record of 12.5 million copies sold.

5. Henry James

  • Birth year: 1843
  • First book: Watch and Ward
  • Best works: Daisy Miller, The Turn of the Screw, The Portrait of a Lady,

Henry served as a transitional figure bridging the gap between literary realism and modernism. He stands out as one of the greatest novelists in the English language. His novels primarily tackled the social and marital interactions among migrant Americans, British, and Europeans. He focused on depicting the social dynamics and psychology of the characters in his works. In 1878, he published the novel “Daisy Miller,” which garnered an impressive 20,000 copies in sales within a few weeks and underwent five reprints.

6. F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Birth year: 1896
  • First book: The Side of Paradise
  • Best works: The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Fitzgerald served as an American novelist, essayist, and short story writer. His novels gained fame for portraying flamboyance and excess within jazz. He crafted novels that revolved around the idea of the American Dream. His prose style remains a point of widespread recognition. He explored themes such as Ambition and loss, Discipline versus self-indulgence, Love and romance, as well as money and class in his literary works. His most renowned novel, The Great Gatsby, which he published in 1925, surpassed 25 million copies in sales.

7. William Faulkner

  • Birth year: 1897
  • First book: Soldiers’ Pay
  • Best works: A Fable of the Reviers, The Sound and the Fury, A Rose for Emily

William Faulkner’s fame rests upon his novels and short stories that he set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, modeled after Lafayette County in Mississippi, his lifelong home. He earned the Nobel laureate title and holds the mantle of the greatest writer of Southern literature. His distinctive vocabulary and intricate prose style are noteworthy. He crafted emotionally rich, nuanced, complex, and psychological stories. His novels delved into themes of Community, History, Race, Ambition, and Love. One of Faulkner’s novels, “The Sound of Fury,” which he published in 1929, garnered sales of up to 1,789 copies.

8. Tennesse Williams

  • Birth year: 1911
  • First book: The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone
  • Best works: Memoirs, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,

The author Williams, who ranked 8th among the best American authors, functioned as both an American playwright and screenwriter. He holds a position among the top three playwrights of 20th-century American drama. His plays relentlessly delve into the depths of the human experience, addressing subjects such as frigidity and nymphomania, impotence and rape, pedophilia and fetishism, cannibalism, as well as alcohol and drug addiction, and violence. One of his most popular works, “Memoirs,” achieved an approximate sale of 500 copies.

9. Joseph Heller

  • Birth year: 1923
  • First book: Catch-22
  • Best works: Catch-22, Something Happened, Good as Gold

Joseph Heller, an American author, authored novels, short stories, plays, and screenplays. He earned the Nobel Prize in literature. He gained widespread recognition for crafting satirical and black comedy novels. The 1961 novel “Catch-22,” which he is most renowned for, exemplifies the absurdities of war and bureaucracy and has come to symbolize an illogical or conflicting choice. His literary themes primarily centered on human psychology, politics, justice, authority, duty, patriotism, and humor. His bestseller, “Catch-22,” published in 1961, exceeded sales of 10 million copies.

10. Ernest Hemingway

  • Birth year: 1899
  • First book: Three Stories and Ten Poems
  • Best works: The Old Man and The Sea, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms

Ernest Hemingway, a novelist, short story writer, and journalist, earned the Nobel Prize in literature. He established a benchmark for 20th-century prose writing in the English language. He crafted thought-provoking fiction. His novels drew inspiration from the experiences of the lost generation of World War 1. He explored themes of Heroic fatalism, Disillusionment after warfare, and Ideal masculinity in his works. The year 1952 saw the publication of his renowned work “The Old Man and The Sea,” which sold approximately 5.3 million copies.

In conclusion, American authors have made significant contributions to the field of literature over the years. Each of these authors has brought a fresh perspective to literature across many eras. They have been a great source of inspiration for both the current and the upcoming generation of authors. We hope that you all enjoyed learning about the top 10 finest American authors.

Sushmita Nibandhe


1. Which American author has written the most books?

L. Ron Hubbard is an American author who has written the most books.  He has published more than 250 books in his lifetime.

2. Which American best-sellers have been rejected by publishers?

The Sun Also Rises by Ernst Hemingway, The Help by Kathyrn Stockett, Carrie by Stephen King, Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling, etc. are some of the best-sellers by American authors that were initially rejected for publication.

3. Which American writer always wears a white suit?

Tom Wolfe is the writer who adopted wearing a white suit as a trademark in 1962.

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