Top Ten Best Playwrights

The Top Ten

1 William Shakespeare William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist.

The G.O.A.T. without a doubt. If you disagree, just name some Beckett trained actors, or some Ibsen or Miller trained actors. I'll name off a ton of Shakespearean trained actors.

Sad so many think Shakespeare is boring. There has been no other playwright who so understood man's strengths and weaknesses. And his command of the English language! I was recently at a performance of the Scottish play, I was laughing at one part and no one else got the humor (which was pure word-play). He was really good at comic relief to break the tension in an intense drama, and then building up the dramam again.

All his plays grasp the human spirit in many ways, and his characters are so memorable that many of us think of them as real people or archetypes of people. Directors of his plays have interpreted them in various ways, and actors have played the characters in various ways. The pleasures and enlightenments he gives us are endless and flexible and adaptable to any age and point of view.

He possessed a diverse understanding of people or a clear, realistic perspective of a cross-range of society. His expression when writing from these individual perspectives is so fresh that the audience begins to draw out characteristics they too see in people, this anthropological representation is still vivid over 400 years later. A TITAN OF THE OF THE PEN!

2 Samuel Beckett Samuel Barclay Beckett (13 April 1906 – 22 December 1989) was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in Paris for most of his adult life and wrote in both English and French. He is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century.

His philosophical insights are simplistic, but he deserves credit for creating a vivid, cartoonlike dramatization of intellectual despair.

The heir to Joyce and one of very few writers to master both the dramatic and epic forms - a nonpareil playwright and novelist.

Never tire of his offbeat wit. I could read and watch his plays over and over and come away with a different feeling every time.

Beckett, the analyzer, displayed a mastery of the human condition outmatched only by Tolstoy and Shakespeare.

3 Henrik Ibsen Henrik Johan Ibsen (20 March 1828 – 23 May 1906) was a major 19th-century Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is often referred to as "the father of realism" and is one of the founders of Modernism in theatre.

There's a great bias against Ibsen in the U.S. , where he is known primarily for A Doll House and Hedda Gabler, with his many other fine plays (Peer Gynt, An Enemy of the People, The Wild Duck, The Master Builder, etc. ) mostly forgotten. Globally, however, he is one of the most respected--and produced--playwrights. By their own admissions, Arthur Miller and George Bernard Shaw would have been nobodys had it not been for Ibsen.

Henrik Ibsen, the father of modern drama. Creator of "A Doll's House", "An Enemy of the People", "The Wild Duck". Who influenced Anton Chekhov, George Bernard Shaw, August Strindberg deserves a higher position on this list.
P.S.
Why does August Strindberg is not on this list

It is outrageous that a vicious old charlatan like Henrik should have achieved such hallowed status. His effigy should be burnt in public squares throughout the civilized world.

Ibsen's works are the second most played in the world, only second to Shakespear. To this day, philosophers and writers study his works for their deep, exsistensial characters and are considered the best interpetation of Kirkegaardian philosophy. How is he not higher on the list?

4 Arthur Miller Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright, essayist, and figure in 20th-century American theater. He was often in the public eye, particularly between the late 1940s and early 1960s. During this time, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, testified ...read more.

In all my years of high school education (currently a Junior), Arthur Miller has been an excellent choice for projects in my AP American Lit class. His books flow like Nutella, unlike the banal, monotone literature received from more "elevated" and "scholarly" playwrights such as Shakespeare.

The Crucible is an absolutely brilliant work. All of Arthur Miller's plays are. I have not read a playwright that I appreciate the way I appreciate him. Even Shakespeare, who I do passionately love, has not affected me the way Miller has.

I like!
It's so much good! Also, There are many plays and good things about it and acting character insight also directing and theme flow plot subtext and beauty.

All My Sons, one undereconized but will always be poignant as long as there is war

5 Jean Racine Jean Racine, baptismal name Jean-Baptiste Racine (22 December 1639 – 21 April 1699), was a French dramatist, one of the three great playwrights of 17th-century France (along with Molière and Corneille), and an important literary figure in the Western tradition.

Known by contemporaries as 'the Clean Racine'.

He has long hair

Truly the greatest neo-classical writer. His myth-inspired plays ally great sparseness and economy of form with purity and simple elegance of language in wrenching tragedies inspired by the tremendous passions of heroes and gods. His greatest plays, Athalie, Phèdre, Iphigénie, Andromaque, Bérénice, all portraits of major female figures of Greek and Hebraic legend, showcase vibrant energy and magnificently contained emotion.

Not as good as Moliere

6 Kalidasa

This writes is especially a brilliant drama literature with the mental of a true genius.

He is the worthy play write inspiring many young play writers of that time

I have always revered his work apart from the comedies.

He is a better playwright than Shakespeare.

7 Sophocles Sophocles (c. 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC) is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides. Sophocles wrote 120 plays during the course of his life, but only seven have ...read more.

Please! That's like saying a WW2 surgeon is better than any surgeon today. People have this puppet mentality that the first means the best. He was the first and not even close to the best! Hendrix was the first, not the best.

"Antigone", greatest of all plays not written by Shakespeare. As relevant today as it was then. How far can the State go in over riding family and religious obligations

One of the rarest Dramatist ever. We still couldn't be able to write down a play like him.

A crashing bore and a certified theatrical nincompoop.

8 Noel Coward

A flaming exhibitionist with a closet full of skeletons.

Dialogue like a crisply ironed white shirt.

His ways with word are deeply appealing especially in the witty mode. this international class of its own.

9 Oscar Wilde Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel ...read more.

Definitely a great prose writer and had a good knowledge in literature, but this man wrote bundles that's it, there is no meaning in his work, and his ideologies are full of crap.

"To live is the rarest thing in the world most people exits that is all"

Maybe he took his own quote too seriously, he cheated on his wife as a result, and gave his sons a childhood where they saw their mother crying every day.

He wrote too much rubbish just to defend his act, he was a copy cat, and faced too much critisism in his early career.
Most of his quotes make no sense to me, he was more like a "talker".

I didn't even care about playwrighting until I read "VERA". I was enchanted with the way Oscar Wilde wrote it! Of course, I afterwards kept reading his plays. Amazing, insightful, witty and undoubtly, one of the best.

This man is the greatest prose lesson topic included that he was the story teller and writer the lesson the model millionaire.

If there weren't his witty and humorous stage plays, the world theatre would be poor and boring.

10 Graham Greene Henry Graham Greene OM CH (2 October 1904 – 3 April 1991), better known by his pen name Graham Greene, was an English novelist regarded by some as one of the great writers of the 20th century.

This Englishman is genius of literary novelists - and even writing the plays!

One of the most evil men since Adolf Hitler.

As novelist perhaps - as a playwright he ranks well below Pinter.

He was addicted to brothels.

The Contenders

11 Harold Pinter

The early plays are already classics, especially 'The Caretaker' and 'The Homecoming'. Certainly among the greatest plays of the 20th century.

Giant of British playwrights. A unique talent.

A loony leftist with a deep hatred of America.

In a class of his own. Comparisons are futile.

12 Molière Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière (15 January 1622 – 17 February 1673), was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. He was the official author of court entertainments under the reign of Louis XIV.

He wrote under a pseudonym to avoid retribution from his critics.

Moliere is far the best ever

13 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and ...read more.

One of the true-blue, old-style 'word bottlers'.

14 Anton Chekhov Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (29 January 1860 – 15 July 1904) was a Russian playwright and short story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. ...read more.

Chekhov's humor is gentle and sophisticated, his writings juxtaposed with hints and subtext. I cannot believe he is not at the top of this list (well, maybe second to Shakespeare...)

Yes, must be within top ten very easily. A theatrical equivalent of Rembrandt, painted human life in darker tones unimaginably well.

Number two behind Will. No question. Ability to use the stage, as well as to create dramas, and consummate irony.

Not sure how you can be a master of 'unending hopes' but he was certainly a great playwright.

15 Friedrich Schiller Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (10 November 1759 – 9 May 1805) was a German poet, philosopher, physician, historian, and playwright.

These sound more like advertising slogans than meaningful comment.

Better than all the rest!

One of the best, indeed.

16 Jonathan Larson

'The Far Side' is his greatest work.

Ah yes, but he owed a great debt to Kliban!

17 Alexandre Dumas Alexandre Dumas, born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas, père, was a French writer. His works have been translated into nearly 100 languages, and he is one of the most widely read French authors.

Y isn't he first?! Shakespeare is so boring!

Did obesity affect his later work?

A verbal 'gastronomer' with a vital heartbeat,

18 Aeschylus Aeschylus (c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greek tragedian. He is often described as the father of tragedy. Academics' knowledge of the genre begins with his work, and understanding of earlier tragedies is largely based on inferences from his surviving plays.

Given that the majority of playwrights weren't born thousands of years ago, this is hardly surprising.

He created tragedy and in one of few whose work has lasted over thousands of years.

'The reek of human blood smiles out at me. '

19 Athol Fugard

Fugard is the second most performed playwright in history because his stories are relevant and serve to push both political and human narratives.

His plays have a particular pertinence wherever race is an issue.

He is the best play wrigt of the contemporary world. He fought for the humanbeings. Ifwe read his playes of pre and post appartheid time we will surely understand it. P a m rasheed

20 Pierre Corneille

Pierre often wrote with his feet in a tub of warm water. He claimed it 'stimulated the imaginative capacity'.

21 Euripides Euripides (c. 480 – c. 406 BC) was a tragedian of classical Athens. He is one of the few whose plays have survived, with the others being Aeschylus, Sophocles, and potentially Euphorion.
22 Tennessee Williams Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American playwright. Along with Eugene O'Neill and Arthur Miller, he is considered among the three foremost playwrights of 20th-century American drama.

Nothing moves me like the plays of Williams. Played by amateurs or professionals, they always seem to work unlike most other plays. The writing is exquisite and the drama, compelling!

Yesterday I watched 'The glass Menagerie' and that once more confirmed my view of Williams as a great dramatic poet.

The realism in his plays is fantastic. A genuine talent.

The poet playwright. One of the greats.

23 Neil Simon

More human beings have seen Neil Simon plays than ANY other playwright in history!
That's #1, numero uno, the Top Dude; even though Shakespeare had a 500 year head start and, certainly, has always been produced and popular. Still, Simon is tops. Live with it!

Looked down upon by hi-brows but a master of his craft.

Great humour and a wry tolerance of human frailty.

Neil Simon is THE MAN.

24 Luigi Pirandello

Since he is Italian, not many people consider him and his deeply innovative and revolutionary ideology. If read and understood with critical attitude, he turns out to be a genius. Only Aeschylus, Sophocles, Shakespeare and probably Ibsen could beat him.

Don't like the words 'beat him'. What is this, a wrestling match?

Ah yes...Italians are always overlooked. just ask Leonardo da Vinci.

25 Mark Twain Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer.

Is he dead, the name of one of the funniest plays I ever had the fortune of seeing, may not be as good as shakespeare, but this guy is a genius.

Twain wrote no plays. Other writers have dramatized his stories.

What plays did Mark Twain write?

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