America's "Greatest" Writer: A Comprehensive List

Who is America's greatest writer?

  • Jonathan Edwards

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • William Cullen Bryant

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Henry David Thoreau

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • James Russell Lowell

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Walt Whitman

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Emily Dickinson

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Stephen Crane

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Eugene O'Neill

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Robert Frost

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Sherwood Anderson

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters


Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
I'm going to be awkward and ask why John Steinbeck isn't there?

And while we're at it, how come there's no Joseph Heller, Bret Easton Ellis, Tom Wolfe, Sinclair Lewis, Arthur Miller, Jack Kerouc, J.D. Salinger, Hunter S. Thompson and (Maybe, perhaps, controversially) Stephen King? /quote]
I was going to ask that - but will just join you. For me - Steinbeck. :)

I may also add Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury.

Of those listed - I chose Mark Twain. The greatest poet, I think, is Edgar Allan Poe.
Jan 2009
I had to go with James Cooper. He really did have more of a lasting affect on American minds than he is given credit for. He perfectly captured the American frontier movement.
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He was possibly the first to bring the medicine to start the healing. He taught us that the Native Americans were not just something to shoot at. They could be noble and honest, and our best friends. And I love this score in the link too.
Mar 2010
The Land of Pleasant Living
I'm going to be awkward and ask why John Steinbeck isn't there?...
I was thinking the same thing when I saw the list. I voted for Hemingway and that was a hard decision as so many authors on this list are deserving. But, I truly enjoy Steinbeck and think not only should he be on the list but could be the best.
Jan 2009
Minneapolis, MN
I can't call one of them best or most important or most influential because by next month (or next week) I'd change my mind.

John Steinbeck should be right alongside Ernest Hemingway. Sinclair Lewis is also in there as a Nobel prize novel writer, but I wouldn't consider any of his as powerful as, say, Of Mice and Men or Grapes of Wrath on the one hand or as sweeping as For Whom the Bell Tolls. Yet Elmer Gantry is a great snapshot of American culture.

Upton Sinclair was a muckraker, but his Jungle was certainly inflluential. "I meant to get America's heart; instead I got to their stomach," said he. But his novel was largely responsible for the establishment of the FDA.

I'm still rereading James Fenimore Cooper's novels. And Melville's Moby Dick was a failure in his own time but has become a classic. Is it a history of whaling disguised as a novel? Or is it a very, very complex novel with very real and complex characters? God, how many ways can you read it?!!!

So I'm not voting for any of them.
Jan 2009
Minneapolis, MN
In your opinion, of these writers, who is the greatest? What I mean is,

1. Who had a lasting impact?
2. Whose literature is most talked about?
3. Who had the greatest influence?

My vote is Edgar Allan Poe. Hands down, he's my favorite author. All of his work is talked about, he invented the short story, and has a very large corps of followers.
In what sense did Poe invent the short story?
Mar 2010
Ernest Hemingway, for his lean, no frills prose style.

Having said that, I only like his works that do not involve killing or hunting of animals or bullfighting that is totally repugnant and unacceptable to me. So I ignore that part of his personality.

But the man knew how to write, let's face it. My favorite works are "For Whom The Bells Toll" "The Old Man And the Sea" and particulary "A Movable Feast" a recollection of his life in Paris in the 1920s.

And after Papa Hem, Scott Fitzgerald, who owned the Jazz Age.;)

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