People who write or have written books, though not necessarily for a living. Remember, There Is No Such Thing As Notability
The preponderance of recent authors probably reflects the fact that the less memorable authors of the past don't have so many fans nowadays — or at least not enough of the Young and Nerdy
persuasion. The nearly exclusive emphasis on authors of fiction reflects the basic purpose of the wiki.
When adding examples, please put them in the correct chronological section.
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Before A.D. 500 (Classical)
Regrettably, many of the oldest classics such as The Epic of Gilgamesh
and The Bible
(Well, sections of the Bible, especially the Old Testament) are essentially anonymous works. For the purposes of this page, "Classical" refers to all writers before the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the fifth century AD. These authors are arranged chronologically, divided by place of origin.
- Laozi (Lao Tse, Lao-Tsu; traditionally, he is said to have lived from 600 BC to 470 BC): Early Chinese philosopher; author of Daodejing (Tao Te Ching)
- Kong Qiu (Confucius; traditionally, September 28, 551 BC - 479 BC): The most influential philosopher in the history of China; author of his Analects.
- Zhuangzi (Chuang Tsu, Master Chuang; believed to have lived c. 370 BC to c. 301 BC): Another founding figure of Taoism along with Laozi; author of Zhuangzi. Probably best known in the West for what is probably the ur-example of Schrödinger's Butterfly:
Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi.
- Sunzi (Sun Tzu; believed to have lived sometime between 476 BC and 221 BC): Author of The Art of War (there are others by this title, but this one's the most famous out of them).
- Shang Yang (d. 338 BC): Author of The Book Of Lord Shang, foundational treatise of Legalism.
- Homer (c. 800 BC - c. 750 BC): Author/collector of The Iliad and The Odyssey, the oldest written examples of many tropes. Homer himself was blind and illiterate, so his works were transmitted by oral tradition.
- Hesiod: Rough contemporary of Homer whose Theogony set down the relationships between the gods and other beings of Classical Mythology.
- Sappho (c. 620 BC - c. 570 BC): The only surviving female poet from antiquity, she was a native of Lesbos and the reason modern-day lesbians are called lesbians.
- Aeschylus (c. 525 BC - c. 456 BC): a Greek playwright who adapted many myths and legends.
- Sophocles (c. 496 BC - c. 406 BC): a Greek playwright who adapted many myths and legends.
- Euripides (c. 480 BC - c. 406 BC): a Greek playwright who adapted many myths and legends.
- Aristophanes: Comic playwright, contemporary with Euripides and Sophocles, as well as Socrates. The Modern Major General knows his "Croaking Frogs". The opening lines of The Frogs contain what may be the earliest reference to Dead Horse Tropes, as one character beseeches another to do whatever comedy bits he pleases, but not [long list of bits apparently already considered over-used].
- Herodotus: "The Father of History", he compiled a history — aptly titled Histories — of the known world (Greeks, Persians, and Egyptians, mostly, with Scythians and barbarians around the edges) that sought to explain the causes of the Persian Wars.
- Thucydides: What Herodotus did for the Persian Wars, Thucydides did for the Peloponnesian War (but with fewer digressions, more analysis and some awesome speeches). Considered to be the first materialist with respect to history: he completely disregarded supernatural explanations for the events of the war. The result is sad, includes elements of proto-realism, and includes one of the earliest expressions of the sentiment that Might Makes Right.
- Xenophon: A slightly less famous historian, whose most famous writings cover events he experienced himself. He can be thought of as the first war correspondent. Most famous for the Anabasis, the trek of 10000 Greek mercenaries from Mesopotamia through Armenia to the Black Sea. It has inspired quite a lot of fictional knockoffs.
- Socrates: Greek philosopher. Left no writings, but was of great influence because of his effect on Plato.
- Plato: The first Greek philosopher from whom we have complete works with great influence on later thought.
- Aristotle: one of Plato's students, also a Greek philosopher; author of Poetics, oldest existing work of literary criticism, in which he identified quite a few tropes.
- Aesop: The author, or at least attributed author, of Aesop's Fables. May never have existed.
- Plutarch (46 AD - 120): Late Greek biographer living under the Roman Empire who wrote parallel Lives of prominent Greeks and Romans, ranging from the legendary Theseus and Romulus to Gaius Julius Caesar, Cicero, and Alexander the Great.
- Lucian of Samosata (120 AD - 200): Wrote among other works Ἀληθῆ διηγήματα (True History, or True Story), which is often called "the first known text that could be called science fiction".
- Plautus: Roman comic playwright, the author of Miles Gloriosus and thus namer of the corresponding trope.
- Gaius Julius Caesar: Roman general, politician, and dictatorm, but also one of the great Roman authors, writing in a deceptively simple style. His Gallic Wars and The Civil War are the only surviving descriptions of a Roman general's campaigns written in his own hand. Still widely read, and often the first books studied by Latin students.
- Cicero: Roman politician, lawyer, and philosopher. Contemporary of Julius Caesar. Cicero's Cataline Orations, legal and other speeches, letters, philosophical works, and rhetorical treatises are still widely read.
- Virgil: Roman poet, contemporary of Augustus, who composed The Aeneid, setting out how Trojan refugees founded the greatest city in the world. Or, rather, founded the tribe that would later give birth to the founders.
- Ovid: Poet, contemporary of Virgil, who wrote The Metamorphoses, a large collection of myths dealing with love and transformations, and much other material, including a makeup manual.
- Livy: Roman historian who wrote an account of the city's history from its founding by Romulus and Remus on down to his own time (Augustus's reign).
- Petronius: Roman senator and Nero's "Arbiter of Elegance," traditionally credited with the Satyricon, a bawdy and satirical proto-novel that lampoons the nouveau-riche and lower orders alike.
- Juvenal: Roman satirist writing in the early second century AD. Treated greed, sexual immorality, and the generally terrible quality of urban life.
- Horace: Another poet active around the time of Augustus, wrote a variety of material, including satire and odes. Coined several phrases still in current use, including Carpe diem.
- Martial: The epigrammist who wrote pithy little verses about the life of the upper class around the time Juvenal was active.
- Suetonius: Contemporary of Juvenal and Martial who is best known for his biographies of the Emperors from Julius Caesar to Domitian. They can be described as a mixture of official record and tabloid journalism.
- Tacitus: Contemporary of Juvenal and Martial who recorded events from the death of Augustus up to the assassination of Domitian; most of his work has been lost. He and Suetonius were friends of the younger Pliny and their work form much of the basis for I Claudius.
- Pliny: Father and (adoptive) Son, known as Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, respectively; both historians. Among many other works, the Elder Pliny undertook a work on Natural History, which is now mostly lost. Pliny the Younger is mostly known through his letters, but his description of the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius and subsequent destruction of Pompeii in 79AD (and his uncle and later adoptive father's death there) in a letter to Tacitus is considered the standard reference work on the subject.
- Vegetius: Late Roman writer, mostly known for his treatise on military matters.
- King David: Warrior Poet and author of almost a hundred Psalms (including "The Lord is my Shepherd" and "Have Mercy on Me, O God").
- Ezra The Scribe: Ezra is credited with compiling the Torah in its final form, as well as writing (what else?) the Book of Ezra.
- Matthew bar-Alpheus, Mark, Luke, and John bar-Zebedee: Wrote the the four canonical Gospels, accounts of Jesus' life and ministry. Luke also wrote The Acts of the Apostles.
- Paul Of Tarsus: Writer (in Greek) of most of the New Testament, in the form of his Epistles.
- Josephus: Jewish writer active around 100AD. Chronicled Jewish history, in particular the Jewish Revolt of 66-70AD, which resulted in the destruction of the Second Temple. His own part in the war was not particularly creditable, as he surrendered to Vespasian early on after fast-talked his way out of a Suicide Pact. Claimed to have been the first to pour boiling oil on top of a besieging army.
- Valmiki (c. 400 BC) author of Ramayana, and attributed with establishing the form for Sanskrit poetry.
- Vyasa: Author of Mahabharata.
- Kalidasa (c. 4th/5th century AD): Founder of the classical Indian theater, writing all manner of plays.
- Enheduanna (c. 2285-2250 BC), Akkadian high priestess, poet and composer, possibly the earliest known author in any genre and also possibly the earliest known woman in human history.
500 AD to 1400 AD (Mediaeval)
These are the writers between the fall of Rome and the Renaissance, loosely dated as between the fifth and fourteenth centuries AD. A number of pieces from this period are also anonymous, including Beowulf
and The Song of Roland
. These are listed in chronological order and divided by geographic area.
- Chrétien de Troyes (mid- to late-1100's): French troubadour who made great contributions to the Arthurian canon, including the quest for the Holy Grail and possibly Sir Launcelot.
- Murasaki Shikibu (c. 973 - c. 1014 or 1025): Author of The Tale of Genji, Japanese noblewoman, novelist and poet. Her real name is unknown.
- Sei Shonagon (c. 966 - 1017): Author of The Pillow Book. A lady-in-waiting of Empress Sadako, her real name is not known for certain, but most scholars believe it is Kiyohara Nagiko.
1400- 1650 AD (Renaissance)
These writers wrote between the fifteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries—a very broad span of time, which includes the Reformation and the beginnings of modern thought. The Renaissance began in Italy, but its influence spread slowly to the rest of Europe. These authors are listed in chronological order, divided by area.
- Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405 - March 14, 1471): English. Compiler or author of Le Morte d'Arthur, generally regarded as the foundation of modern Arthurian tales.
- Sir Thomas More (February 7, 1478 - July 6, 1535): English. Author of Utopia.
- Christopher Marlowe (baptised February 26, 1564 - May 30, 1593): English. Poet, dramatist, and translator, he is probably best known for The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, The Jew of Malta, and Tamburlaine. He was one of the first to write English drama in blank verse.
- William Shakespeare (baptised April 26, 1564 - April 23, 1616): English. 38 plays, 154 sonnets and other works. He is the inventor or best-known source of many tropes, phrases and words; generally well-quoted and well-recognized even outside the English-speaking world.
- John Milton (December 9, 1608 - November 8, 1674): English. Poet and pamphleteer, his most seminal works are Areopagitica and Paradise Lost.
- Wu Cheng'en (c. 1500 - c. 1582): wrote Journey to the West, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature. Unlike most serious literature in China at the time, it was written in the vernacular.
- Francois Rabelais (c. 1494 - April 9, 1553): Author of Gargantua and Pantagruel, an extravagantly comic Humanist satire.
- Martin Luther (November 10, 1483 - February 18, 1546): A teacher, a monk for a time, a minister, social and political critic and a religious reformer. Writer of the Ninety-Five Theses, which inspired many different factions within the Catholic church to break away and form their own denominations. Also wrote many hymns, several socio-political commentaries on both Turkish Islamic and European Jewish communities. Also wrote Luther's Large and Small Catechisms. His works would later inspire many other Protestant reformers, such as Ulrich Zwingli in Switzerland and John Calvin in France, as they formed their own churches and separated from Roman Catholicism.
- Philipp Melanchthon (February 16, 1497 - April 19, 1560): Another Protestant reformer and a contemporary of Luther. Considered the primary (but not sole) author of the Augsburg Confession, a treatise on Lutheran Church doctrines.
- Gil Vicente: Often considered the father of Portuguese drama, although he wrote in Spanish as well.
- Miguel De Cervantes (September 29, 1547 - April 23, 1616): Author of Don Quixote and a pile of plays. Don Quixote is often considered the first Western novel.
1650 - 1800 (Enlightenment)
These are listed chronologically, divided by geographic area
- Alexander Hamilton: Co-author of The Federalist Papers and the United States Constitution.
- James Madison: Primary author of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and one of the authors of the Federalist Papers.
- Thomas Jefferson: The Declaration of Independence (principal author), Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom.
- "Publius": a pen name used by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison in writing The Federalist Papers, American political philosophy.
- Thomas Paine: Common Sense, The Rights of Man, and The Age of Reason, among other works. Famous for involvement in The American Revolution.
- Benjamin Franklin: Epigrammist and author/publisher of Poor Richard's Alamanack. He's credited with such pithy sayings as "A penny saved is a penny earned.", "Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes. ", and "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." He was also the publisher of several newspapers over the years.
- Samuel Pepys: English civil servant famous for his diary of the years 1660 to 1669.
- Jonathan Swift (1667 - 1745): Irish. Gulliver's Travels, "A Modest Proposal", and other works. His merit as a satirist can be summed up by his description of lawyers: "A society of men among us, bred from their youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black white, according as they are paid."
- Colley Cibber (1671 - 1757): English. Poet Laureate from 1730. Actor and playwright, adapter of Shakespeare, and object of Pope's heroic-couplet satire The Dunciad.
- Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744): English. Penned numerous poems, among them An Essay on Criticism, An Essay on Man, An Epistle to Arbuthnot, The Dunciad, and The Rape Of The Lock.
- Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797): Anglo-Irish. Political figure who wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France and many others. Considered by many as the father of modern political conservatism (having supported The American Revolution but not the French Revolution, supporting freedom but not complete systemic overhauls based strictly on ideas).
- Samuel Johnson: English. First compiler of an English Dictionary.
- Marquis de Sade (1740-1814)
- Molière (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin; January 15, 1622 - February 17, 1673): Playwright and actor, considered by many to have written some of the most brilliant comedies in the Western theatre. Best known for Tartuffe, The Misanthrope, The School for Wives, and The Imaginary Invalid. Les Fourberies de Scapin (literally, "Scapin's Deceits") was adapted for the Broadway stage as Scapino!.
- François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680), renowned to this day for his Maxims. Perhaps the first to dispense advice and observation a sentence at a time.
- Charles Perrault (January 12, 1628 - May 16, 1703): Credited creating the genre of Fairy Tale when he published Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals (Histoires ou Contes du Temps passe) in 1697 with the subtitle Tales of Mother Goose (Les Contes de ma Mere l'Oie).
- Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet; 1694 - 1778): Prolific author of over 20,000 works ranging from pamphlets to treatises to novels. Best known for Candide and the short story Micromegas (one of the earliest works depicting aliens visiting Earth).
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778): Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of French expression. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought. Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and On the Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought.
- Cao Xueqin: (c. 1715 - c. 1764); Dream of the Red Chamber, one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It is believed by many to be the greatest novel written in the Chinese language.
- Ambrose Bierce: Author of The Devil's Dictionary and contributor to the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Robert W. Chambers: Author of The King in Yellow, which inspired (and was subsumed into) the Cthulhu Mythos.
- Emily Dickinson (poet)
- O. Henry, best known for his short fiction chock-full of twist endings.
- Henry James: Known for intimate, psychologically complex prose that helped lay a foundation for Modernism. Famous works include Daisy Miller, Washington Square, Portrait Of A Lady and The Turn of the Screw.
- Jack London: Best known for The Call of the Wild.
- Herman Melville: Author of Moby-Dick and the short story "Bartleby The Scrivener".
- Dorothy Parker: Poet, screenwriter, comedian, journalist and short story author.
- Edgar Allan Poe: Pretty much the horror story writer. Also wrote the first detective story.
- Gene Stratton Porter: Author of children's books.
- Henry David Thoreau: Essayist and thinker, best known for Walden and Civil Disobedience.
- Mark Twain: Author and humorist. Best known for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and for being endlessly quotable due to his rather... direct outlook on life. Other notable works include Puddnhead Wilson and A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthurs Court
- Horatio Alger, Jr.: Author of Ragged Dick and many other similar stories; the Trope Maker for Rags to Riches.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson
- Jane Austen: A Genre Savvy Deadpan Snarker who loved Conversational Troping and would probably have been One of Us if born a few centuries later; most famously known for Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.
- William Blake
- The Brontë sisters:
- Edward Bulwer-Lytton ("It was a dark and stormy night...")
- Lord Byron (Trope Namer for Byronic Hero)
- Lewis Carroll (Wrote Alice in Wonderland, which probably inspired the first use of the critique "What was he smoking?")
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
- Wilkie Collins: Author of The Moonstone, arguably the first detective novel in English literature, and The Woman in White.
- Charles Dickens: Voluminous English writer known for A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, etc.; a great deal of his writings shine a spotlight on the social ills of his day.
- Benjamin Disraeli (also known in his other career as a Prime Minister)
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Creator of Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger (from The Lost World).
- George Eliot
- Elizabeth Gaskell
- H. Rider Haggard: Author of adventure stories including King Solomon's Mines and She
- Thomas Hardy: English novelist and poet.
- Joseph Jacobs: Fairy Tale collector
- John Keats: Romantic poet with oodles of potential who popped his clogs at 25.
- Andrew Lang: Fairy Tale collector
- George MacDonald
- Arthur Machen
- William Morris
- Amanda McKittrick Ros
- Walter Scott: Author of Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and a pile of 'Scottish novels'. He was the first to write historical novels in Europe.
- Robert Louis Stevenson : Author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and other novels.
- Bram Stoker: Author of Dracula.
- Anthony Trollope
- Mary Shelley: Author of Frankenstein and mother of Science Fiction.
- Percy Bysshe Shelley: Husband of Mary Shelley, friend of Lord Byron. Poet.
- H.G. Wells: British science fiction writer, who, along with Jules Verne, practically invented the genre. The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine are probably his two best known works.
- Oscar Wilde: Author of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Known for his wit as well as his life's Downer Ending.
- William Wordsworth
- William Butler Yeats
- Honoré de Balzac, who wrote La Comédie Humaine.
- Alexandre Dumas, père et fils: The father wrote The Three Musketeers, The Count of Monte-Cristo and a pile of other stuff; the son wrote La Dame aux Camelias.
- Paul Féval, author of John Devil, The Black Coats, The Vampire Countess, and Vampire City
- Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables.
- Guy de Maupassant, a pioneer of the modern short story.
- Arthur Rimbaud, poet, teenage prodigy and cultural icon.
- Jules Verne: Father of Science Fiction and author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days.
20th and 21st Centuries
- Lloyd Alexander, author of The Chronicles of Prydain.
- Sherman Alexie
- Steve Allen
- Aaron Allston
- Kevin J. Anderson
- Catherine Anderson
- Matthew Tobin Anderson
- Poul Anderson
- V. C. Andrews: You can tell the books are popular when they keep writing them after the author's death.
- Piers Anthony: creator of Xanth and the Incarnations of Immortality.
- K.A. Applegate: Creator of Animorphs, Everworld, and Remnants.
- Isaac Asimov: Prolific founder of modern Science Fiction.
- Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
- Paolo Bacigalupi
- E. D. Baker
- Wayne Barlowe
- Dave Barry: Syndicated newspaper humor columnist, he is largely responsible for the popularization of the memes "I am not making this up!" and "..., which would be A Good Name for a Rock Band."
- Donald Barthelme
- L. Frank Baum: Creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- Peter S. Beagle
- Elizabeth Bear: Speculative Fiction author; writes cyberpunk, urban fantasy, alternate history and post-apocalyptic Magitek fantasy with equal facility.
- Greg Bear
- Hilari Bell
- John Bellairs: Author of The Face in the Frost, a work mixing humor and horror, and many scary novels for children.
- Peter Benchley: Author of Jaws and numerous other maritime novels.
- Gregory Benford
- Alfred Bester
- Holly Black
- James Blish
- Judy Blume: (born February 12, 1938), Author of teen-age novels dealing straight-forwardly with the problems of growing up. Probably the best known are Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
- Larry Bond: Author of Possible War and spy-thriller novels; a sometime associate of Tom Clancy.
- Sandra Boynton: Children's books
- Ray Bradbury: prolific in a wide number of media, but best known for his speculative fiction like Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles.
- Marion Zimmer Bradley: (June 3, 1930 – September 25, 1999) Speculative fiction author, most well-known for the Darkover series and The Mists Of Avalon, her version of the Arthurian legend told from the perspective of the female characters.
- Richard Brautigan
- Patricia Briggs
- David Brin
- Poppy Z. Brite
- Terry Brooks: American fantasy author, best known for the Shannara franchise.
- Dale Brown
- Dan Brown: (born June 22, 1964) Author of mystery-thrillers; Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code are the best-known. Particularly noted in some circles for his insistence that his books are factually accurate despite the fact that they are riddled with factual errors. Trope Namer for Dan Browned for this reason.
- Fredric Brown
- Steven Brust
- Bill Bryson
- Jimmy Buffett
- Lois McMaster Bujold
- Charles Bukowski
- Emma Bull
- Edgar Rice Burroughs: Creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, among other works.
- William S. Burroughs: Author of the influential but incredibly controversial Naked Lunch, a novel that essentially ended literary censorship in the United States.
- Jim Butcher
- Octavia E. Butler
- Meg Cabot
- Martin Caidin
- James M. Cain
- John W. Campbell, author of Who Goes There? and influential editor of Astounding Science Fiction
- Orson Scott Card, author of Ender's Game and its continuation series.
- John Dickson Carr
- Michael Chabon
- Jack Chalker
- Raymond Chandler
- C.J. Cherryh
- Tom Clancy: While not the first to write techno-thrillers (that was Craig Thomas), Clancy defined the genre.
- Cassandra Clare
- Chris Claremont
- Beverly Cleary
- Hal Clement
- Brian Clevinger
- Walt Coburn
- Paulo Coelho
- Suzanne Collins
- Aaron Cometbus
- Michael Connelly
- Glen Cook
- Rick Cook
- Robert Cormier
- Greg Costikyan
- Bruce Coville
- Jean Craighead George
- Michael Crichton — Author of Jurassic Park and various other techno-thrillers.
- Jennifer Crusie
- E. E. Cummings
- Peter David
- Avram Davidson
- Bryan Davis
- Pamela Dean
- L. Sprague de Camp
- Ted Dekker: author of over twenty novels. He most famous works are The Books Of History Chronicles, Adam, Thr3e, and The Bride Collector.
- Samuel R. Delany
- Troy Denning
- August Derleth
- Sarah Dessen
- Kate DiCamillo
- Peter De Vries
- Philip K. Dick
- Gordon R. Dickson
- David Drake: Scifi and fantasy author. Known for his realistic portrayal of combat.
- Diane Duane: Fantasy author most well-known for her Young Wizards series and several of Star Trek's best (and best-loved) novels, including Spock's World, The Wounded Sky, Doctor's Orders, and the Rihannsu series.
- Lois Duncan
- Amanda Downum
- Edward Eager
- Roger Ebert: Extremely well-known film critic; also a screenwriter, and has written several books besides about film.
- David Eddings: Took most of the High Fantasy tropes, smushed them together, and wrote four rather excellent quintets with them. They're so good mostly because he knows he's using them, so he doesn't take himself very seriously. Airport Fantasy at its finest.
- George Alec Effinger
- Teresa Edgerton
- T. S. Eliot
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Harlan Ellison: Noted not only for his works and influence, but also for his temper and tendency to sue at the drop of a hat. Once posted a dead gopher to a New York publisher because said publisher placed cigarette ads in a collection of short stories, in violation of contract.
- James Ellroy
- Jeffrey Eugenides
- Philip José Farmer: Taboo-busting sci-fi and fantasy writer with a wild array of original ideas. Best known for the Riverworld and World of Tiers series.
- William Faulkner
- Raymond E. Feist, author of The Riftwar Cycle
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Sid Fleischman: Author of children's books including the Newbery winner The Whipping Boy.
- Eric Flint
- Michael Flynn
- Vince Flynn
- Leo Frankowski
- Esther Friesner
- Phil Foglio
- John M. Ford
- William R. Forstchen: Author of science fiction and historical fiction novels.
- Alan Dean Foster: Sci-fi author, and responsible for some truly awesome novelisations.
- Al Franken: Comedy writer, political satirist, Senator.
- Jonathan Franzen
- Kinky Friedman
- Robert Frost: Poet, probably best known for "two roads diverged in a yellow wood."
- Alan Furst
- Randall Garrett
- William Gibson: Grandfather of Cyberpunk.
- Dorothy Gilman
- Newt Gingrich: Also a former Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- William Goldman: Not even slightly dead.
- Terry Goodkind, author of the popular fantasy series Sword of Truth.
- Michael Grant - Wrote the Gone and BZRK series on his own, and co-wrote Animorphs, Everworld, and Remnants with his wife, K.A. Applegate.
- John Green - Author of several awesome books, including Paper Towns, and co-founder (kinda) of Nerdfighteria.
- John Grisham
- Joe Haldeman
- Shannon Hale
- Barbara Hambly
- Dashiell Hammett
- Jack Handey: Humorist best known for his Deep Thoughts series.
- Victor Davis Hanson: Classicist, Military Historian, Farmer and Political Columnist. Writes mostly nonfiction but at least one fiction, The End of Sparta.
- Lyndon Hardy
- Thomas Harlan
- Charlaine Harris
- Harry Harrison
- Robert A. Heinlein: Dean of Science Fiction: the man who perfected the young adult SF novel, assuming you believe he didn't invent it. Defined time loop/time paradox stories with All You Zombies.
- Ernest Hemingway: Those who consider Purple Prose as the cardinal writing sin can take refuge in his work.
- Frank Herbert, author of the epic Dune series and more.
- Carl Hiaasen
- Joe Hill
- Sandra Hill
- Jim C. Hines
- Kenneth Hite
- Robin Hobb: author of the Low Fantasy trilogy-of-trilogies the Realm of the Elderlings
- Edward D. Hoch
- Ellen Hopkins
- Robert E. Howard: Widely regarded as the father of the Sword and Sorcery genre, he was the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane (long before he was a comic book character), Kull the Conqueror, and Bran Mak Morn, as well as making contributions to the Cthulhu Mythos. Along with J.R.R. Tolkien, he is one of the most influential figures in modern fantasy.
- L. Ron Hubbard
- Erin Hunter: Pseudonym used by four women; author of the Warrior Cats and Seeker Bears series.
- Evan Hunter, a.k.a. Ed McBain
- David Ives
- Shirley Jackson, best known for her creepy, influential story "The Lottery".
- S. Douglas Johnson
- Cleolinda Jones
- James Jones: Lived through the worst of World War II and wrote prolifically about it.
- William Joyce
- Janet Kagan
- Morgan Kalka
- Harry Stephen Keeler: Prolific writer of very odd books.
- William H. Keith, Jr.: Prolific author of science and military fiction.
- Jack Kerouac, spiritual father of the Beatnik counterculture movement.
- Ken Kesey: Author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Also major player in 1960s psychedelic culture.
- Alexander Key
- Stephen King: Hugely successful author of modern horror and fantasy.
- James Kirkwood
- Chuck Klosterman
- Richard Knaak
- Damon Knight
- Dean Koontz: Not quite so popular as Stephen King, but still, a successful author of modern horror and fantasy.
- Mary Robinette Kowal: Sci-fi/fantasy author, puppeteer, blogger. friend of John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow, and many others (she has served in several leadership capacities in the SFWA). Author of Shades of Milk And Honey and its sequels, as well as The Transfigured Lady.
- Tom Kratman: Writes fairly hard Military Science Fiction, usually with politics rather prominently featured in them. Has started to play in contemporary military fiction, with his Countdown series.
- Nancy Kress
- Michael Kurland: writes mystery and speculative fiction.
- Katherine Kurtz: writes historical fantasy, most notably the Deryni novels.
- Henry Kuttner: Science fiction author
- Mercedes Lackey: Does fantasy (Heralds of Valdemar) and Urban Fantasy.
- Louis L'Amour: Western novelist.
- Ring Lardner: Best known as a sportswriter, his 1916 book You Know Me Al is considered one of the high-water marks in American humor.
- Keith Laumer
- Ursula K. Le Guin, prolific and influential science fiction writer and feminist.
- Dennis Lehane, best known for Mystic River and Shutter Island.
- Fritz Leiber
- Murray Leinster: Prolific science fiction author, pioneer of Alternate History fiction, coiner of the term "First Contact", and predicter of the Internet.
- Madeleine L'Engle
- Elmore Leonard: The Lay's Potato Chip of crime fiction — can't read just one. His terse prose and chatty dialog make for effortlessly enjoyable reading.
- Jonathan Lethem
- David Levithan
- Thomas Ligotti
- Jane Lindskold
- Bentley Little
- Hugh Lofting
- H. P. Lovecraft: "weird fiction" author who had a major impact on the horror genre; created the Cosmic Horror Story, and changed how we see "monsters".
- David Lubar: Young adult fiction writer.
- Robert Ludlum
- R. A. MacAvoy
- Elliot S! Maggin
- David Mamet: Pretty fuckin' good playwright/screenwriter.
- Bill Mantlo: Comic book author of Rom Spaceknight and The Micronauts.
- George R. R. Martin: Famous for A Song of Ice and Fire. He also helped kick-start the Wild Cards series.
- Melissa Marr
- Lisa Mason
- Richard Matheson
- Anne McCaffrey: Author of the Dragonriders of Pern series.
- Cormac McCarthy
- Scott McCloud
- Jack McDevitt
- Seanan McGuire
- Patricia A. McKillip
- Robin McKinley
- Patrick McManus
- Stephenie Meyer
- Miss Manners: pen name of etiquette expert Judith Martin
- Carlton Mellick III: Author of Satan Burger, which inspired the Bizarro Fiction literary movement
- H. L. Mencken
- Fern Michaels
- Melisa Michaels
- Sarah Monette
- Devon Monk
- Elizabeth Moon
- Christopher Moore
- John Moore
- Perry Moore
- Toni Morrison
- Mark L. Van Name
- Ogden Nash: poet, noted for wordplay and odd rhymes.
- Larry Niven: Author of Ringworld and the Known Space universe.
- Andre Norton
- Flannery O'Connor
- Nnedi Okorafor: Born and raised in America, though both her parents are Nigerian and she often writes about Nigerian characters.
- Chuck Palahniuk
- Christopher Paolini: Inheritance Cycle.
- James Patterson: Thriller writer.
- S. J. Perelman: Humorist. Know that he wrote scripts for the Marx Brothers, and you get a pretty clear picture of his style.
- Jodi Picoult
- Tamora Pierce: Fantasy author known for inverting The Smurfette Principle. Really likes writing quartets, although not so much lately.
- Christopher Pike
- Daniel Pinkwater
- H. Beam Piper: Science fiction writer; worked out an extensive future history as well as several Alternate History stories. Committed suicide in 1964 because of financial problems. A check was literally in the mail.
- Sylvia Plath
- Frederik Pohl
- Tim Powers
- Steven H. Propp
- Thomas Pynchon
- Ellery Queen
- Julia Quinn: Regency romance novelist.
- Seabury Quinn
- Nathan Rabin: Film critic and head writer for The AV Club
- Melanie Rawn
- Robert Reed
- Ruthanne Reid
- Mike Resnick
- Anne Rice
- Christopher Rice
- John Ridley
- John Ringo: Started with Military Science Fiction works (the first book of the Legacy of the Aldenata was his authorial debut), but has branched out to other genres, including fantasy (urban and traditional) and adventure stories.
- Rick Riordan
- Tom Robbins
- Nora Roberts: Synonymous with well-written romance.
- Philip Roth
- Patrick Rothfuss
- Greg Rucka: crime novelist, also noted for his work on Batman, Wonder Woman and his own comic book titles, such as Whiteout and Queen & Country.
- Matt Ruff
- Damon Runyon
- Kristine Kathryn Rusch (also pen-names Kris Rusch, Kris Nelscott, Kristine Grayson, Sandy Schofield (joint works with husband Dean Wesley Smith), and Kathryn Wesley)
- Bertrand Russell: Tremendously influential philosopher and mathematician who focused on essay writing in his later years, and apparently kicked enough ass at it to win the 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature. Famous for his vigorous skepticism and anti-war work.
- Fred Saberhagen
- Carl Sagan
- J. D. Salinger
- John Sandford
- Brandon Sanderson
- John Scalzi
- Richard Scarry
- James H. Schmitz
- David Sedaris
- Dr. Seuss: The definitive picture-book author.
- Lisa Shearin
- Robert Sheckley
- Sidney Sheldon: His tales of treachery amongst The Beautiful Elite made his books blockbusters from The Seventies through the Turn of the Millennium.
- Sam Shepard: Cowboy playwright
- Josepha Sherman
- Robert Silverberg
- Shel Silverstein
- Clifford Simak: one of the best SF writers.
- Dan Simmons: Former public-school English teacher turned writer, he is responsible for the sci-fi epic, The Hyperion Cantos, as well as Ilium. Olympos, The Terror, and most recently Drood — among many others.
- Gene Siskel
- William Sleator
- Clark Ashton Smith: Known best for his dark fantasy short stories, but also wrote horror, science fiction, and poetry.
- Cordwainer Smith: Classic author of Science Fiction, also wrote the first definitive book on modern psychological warfare. His style is a generally excerpts from the Days of Future Past, and is nearly all set in his The Verse 'verse: The Instrumentality of Mankind. Philosophically, He fused Christian symbolism with Chinese philosophy. Studio Gainax have an affinity for his work and keep naming things after it.
- E. E. “Doc” Smith, author of the Lensman series. One of the first major science fiction writers. Ultimately responsible for, or provided some of the earliest descriptions of, a fair proportion of the weaponry and gadgetry seen in modern SF, and some in reality as well.
- Lisa Jane Smith, author of Night World, The Vampire Diaries, and The Secret Circle.
- Wen Spencer
- Mickey Spillane: pulp crime author and creator of private eye Mike Hammer.
- Norman Spinrad
- Ryk E. Spoor
- Michael Stackpole
- Robert Stanek
- John Steakley
- Allen Steele
- John Steinbeck: Pulitzer and Noble Peace Prize-winning author of many books such as The Grapes Of Wrath commonly used in School Study Media. Influential in both his views and writing style. Responsible for traumatizing generations of schoolchildren forever more.
- Danielle Steel
- Neal Stephenson: Cyberpunk author, Trope Maker of The Metaverse
- Bruce Sterling
- Caroline Stevermer: Historical fantasy, author of A College of Magics and co-author of Sorcery & Cecilia
- S.M. Stirling
- Matt Stover: Writer of The Acts Of Caine series as well as many fine Star Wars novels
- Theodore Sturgeon: SpeculativeFiction writer, and the man who gave us Sturgeon's Law.
- Amy Tan
- Travis S. Taylor: Super science genius with two doctorates, three master's, and one bachelor's degree, all in hard science and engineering. Also writes Sci-Fi.
- Sheri S. Tepper
- Cate Tiernan Young Adult fantasy author, best known as the author of Sweep.
- Jim Thompson Pulp writer known for his hard-boiled style and bleak worldview. Known for works such as The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters, Pop. 1280, and After Dark, My Sweet. Many of his books have been adapted for film.
- Hunter S. Thompson: Madcap drug-addled journalist best known for writing Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. One of the main reasons Rolling Stone Magazine took off instead of folding early like many other magazines of the time.
- James Thurber
- Barbara Tuchman: A historian who gave great examples of real life idiotic tropes. Her March of Folly is especially noteworthy in that respect.
- Harry Turtledove: Alternative-fiction author probably best-known for his Timeline 191 series.
- Andrew Vachss
- Catherynne M. Valente: Trope Namer of Mythpunk.
- Jack Vance: Author of the stories of The Dying Earth, which served as the inspiration for the magic system of D&D, called "Vancian magic". Also wrote several SF series, and stand-alones.
- John Varley
- Brian K. Vaughan
- Gore Vidal
- Vernor Vinge
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Howard Waldrop
- David Foster Wallace
- Anne B. Walsh
- Matthew Waterhouse
- Lawrence Watt-Evans
- David Weber
- Margaret Weis: co-creator of the Dragonlance setting and co-author of a number of books in that setting. Also author of numerous other fantasy novels.
- Manly Wade Wellman
- Dan Wells
- Robison Wells
- Rosemary Wells: Prolific picture book author of Max and Ruby, Timothy Goes To School, Bunny Planet and many others; occasionally writes titles for older audiences
- K. D. Wentworth
- Mae West
- Scott Westerfeld
- Tad Williams
- Tennessee Williams
- Walter Jon Williams
- Jack Williamson
- Connie Willis
- Robert Anton Wilson: Master of the Mind Screw
- Gary Wolf: Author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? and Space Vulture
- Gene Wolfe: Author of The Book of the New Sun and other works.
- Cornell Woolrich
- Patricia C. Wrede
- John C. Wright
- Janny Wurts
- Laurence Yep
- Jane Yolen
- Eliezer Yudkowsky
- Timothy Zahn
- Roger Zelazny: Poetic sci-fi and fantasy writer: The Chronicles of Amber, Damnation Alley, Lord of Light and Doorways In The Sand. Winner of 6 Hugos, 3 Nebulas, and 2 Locus Awards, among other awards.
- Maureen Johnson
British (United Kingdom)
- Dan Abnett: Comic book writer for 2000AD and Marvel (along with a few DC pieces), who is also known for writing a number of Warhammer 40,000 novels, particularly the Gaunt's Ghosts series.
- Douglas Adams: author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in its many, many mediums.
- Richard Adams
- Brian W. Aldiss
- Martin Amis
- Iain Banks: major science fiction author, known for grand Space Opera — particularly his The Culture novels.
- Clive Barker
- Stephen Baxter
- Robert Bloch
- Enid Blyton - possibly the most prolific and famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) children's authors ever.
- Raymond Briggs
- Christopher Brookmyre
- John Brunner
- Anthony Burgess
- Angela Carter
- G. K. Chesterton: English writer who is the Christian apologist to know, probably second in popularity only to C. S. Lewis. Known primarily for his witty essays and use of paradoxical statements, but also for his "Father Brown" Mysteries
- Agatha Christie: Epitomises the classic age of mystery fiction. See her bibliography also.
- John Christopher
- Arthur C. Clarke
- Jackie Collins : author of many bestselling soap opera novels about rich, beautiful people.
- John Connolly
- Storm Constantine
- Susan Cooper: The Dark Is Rising
- Paul Cornell: Writer for the Doctor Who New Adventures, creator of Bernice Summerfield and also did a few Doctor Who Magazine comics.
- Bernard Cornwell
- Ben Counter
- Aleister Crowley: Author of Moonchild, founder of the magical and religious school of Thelema, and seminal contributor to modern occult thought. Put the "k" in "magick", to the chagrin of many.
- Roald Dahl: A highly influential children's author, known for his macabre sense of humour. After all, "Violence accompanied by wit is much loved."
- Andrew Davies
- Richard Dawkins: Author of several scientific books, and the well-known The God Delusion. Known for his political activism on behalf of atheism.
- Len Deighton: British spy writer and historian.
- Peter Dickinson
- Terrance Dicks: Prolific Doctor Who novelisation author
- Dougal Dixon: Set the stage for speculative biology.
- J.T. Edson: Prolific British author of Westerns.
- Warren Ellis: Vitriolic comic book writer best-known for writing the Transmetropolitan series.
- Ben Elton
- Garth Ennis: co-created the Preacher comic book series and revived The Punisher line.
- Jasper Fforde
- Nicholas Fisk
- Ian Fleming: Creator of James Bond and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
- George MacDonald Fraser: Creator of Flashman
- Dick Francis: British jockey and crime/mystery writer
- Frederick Forsyth
- Stephen Fry
- Neil Gaiman: Creator of The Sandman as well as accomplished novelist and screenplay writer.
- Alan Garner
- David Gemmell
- Mary Gentle
- Simon R. Green
- Philippa Gregory
- Peter F. Hamilton: Author of The Nights Dawn Trilogy, Greg Mandel, Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogies.
- Frances Hardinge
- L. P. Hartley
- Ralph Hayes, Jr.
- James Herriot — The archetypal Kindly Vet.
- Georgette Heyer: Does Regency Romance. Heavily inspired by Jane Austen.
- William Hope Hodgson
- Tom Holt
- Anthony Horowitz
- Stephen Hunt
- Erin Hunter
- David Icke: Conspiracy theorist
- Montague Rhodes James
- Robin Jarvis
- Diana Wynne Jones
- Mark Kermode
- Dick King Smith
- Rudyard Kipling: Widely prolific Indian-born author and poet, best known for The Jungle Book and a good deal of poetry.
- Jennifer Kirk
- Zoe Kirk Robinson
- David Langford
- Nigella Lawson: Journalist, restaurant critic, food writer and author of several bestselling cookery books.
- John le Carré: Master of the Cold War spy thriller, he was instrumental in creating the spy anti-hero in counterpoint to the high-adventure James Bond-type spy. Notable works include The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, The Tailor Of Panama, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
- Tanith Lee
- C. S. Lewis: best known for writing The Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters. A good friend of J. R. R. Tolkien, with whom he had a friendly rivalry.
- Brian Lumley
- Ken MacLeod
- John Masefield
- Ian McDonald
- Graham McNeill
- China Mieville
- Martin Millar
- A.A. Milne
- MeiLin Miranda
- Sandy Mitchell: Pseudonym used by author of the Ciaphas Cain HERO OF THE IMPERIUM novels.
- Richard K. Morgan: Sci-fi and fantasy writer. Also known for his work on the 2012 Syndicate reboot and Crysis 2.
- Michael Moorcock
- Alan Moore: Comic book writer and novelist. Best known for his work on Swamp Thing as well as his stories such as the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, V for Vendetta, and Watchmen.
- E. Nesbit
- Kim Newman
- George Orwell: Political writer and journalist. Creator of such depressing works as 1984 and Animal Farm. Has contributed several well-known phrases to the English language, including "Orwellian" as a byword for authoritarianism and censorship. Trope Namer for Big Brother Is Watching.
- Ellis Peters
- Harold Pinter
- Alan Plater: Wrote Misterioso (1987) and Oliver's Travels (1994).
- Marc Platt
- Beatrix Potter: Writer and illustrator of much-loved morality tales for children, including a series revolving around the feisty Civilized Animal Peter Rabbit.
- Anthony Price
- Christopher Priest (novelist) The British author, as distinct from the American comic book writer of the same name.
- Terry Pratchett: Author of the Discworld series.
- Philip Pullman, author of the controversial fantasy series His Dark Materials.
- Robert Rankin: Author of Far Fetched Fiction.
- Mary Renault
- Ruth Rendell
- Alastair Reynolds: Sci-fi/Space Opera author, creator of the Revelation Space universe.
- Derek Robinson
- J.K. Rowling: The creator of Harry Potter.
- Eric Frank Russell
- Edward Rutherfurd
- Saki (pen name of H.H. Munro)
- Dorothy L. Sayers
- Rafael Sabatini
- Siegfried Sassoon
- Tom Sharpe
- Muriel Spark: Known best for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
- Nicholas Sparks
- Olaf Stapledon
- Mary Stewart
- Tom Stoppard
- Charles Stross: writer of Accelerando and other works concerning posthumanism (as well as Bond crossed with the Cthulhu Mythos).
- Rosemary Sutcliff: writer of historical fiction; best known for The Eagle of the Ninth.
- James Swallow
- Josephine Tey
- Dylan Thomas
- J. R. R. Tolkien: Oxford professor and linguist who created the Middle-Earth legendarium, The Lord of the Rings. The father of modern fantasy. Good friends with C. S. Lewis.
- Karen Traviss
- Elleston Trevor, who wrote under several pseudonyms, including Adam Hall (author of the Quiller espionage novels)
- Danny Wallace
- Jo Walton
- Evelyn Waugh
- Catherine Webb
- Irvine Welsh
- Dennis Wheatley
- Charles Williams
- Robert Westall
- Jacqueline Wilson: Popular author of children's and teenage fiction.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein: Became a British citizen in 1939.
- P. G. Wodehouse: Prolific and enormously entertaining comic writer, helped shape the image of the Genteel Interbellum Setting.
- Virginia Woolf: Modernist, famous for her feminist politics and being the Trope Maker for "stream of consciousness" writing.
- John Wyndham
- Jin Yong: Prolific author, and one of, if not the biggest author in the genre of Wuxia.
- Lu Xun: Founder of modern Chinese literature.
- Karel Čapek: Author of various genres, best known for philosophical and speculative fiction. Indirectly coined the word robot in its modern meaning, in his play R.U.R..
- Franz Kafka: Author of surrealist literature. Considered a rather influential writer despite completing and publishing very little. Best known for The Metamorphosis and The Trial.
- Jiri Kulhanek: Author of vampire fiction