The United States is a relatively young country, only approximately two hundred and forty years old. However, its short history is rich, eventful, and has shaped world events. The same can be said about its literature because in that brief span of time, it has produced more than its own share of literary geniuses. When asked about famous American authors, the names Twain, Hemingway, and Faulkner immediately come to mind. While they are indeed a few of the most famous American authors, those who keep them company in the most famous list do not lag far behind. Their works are equally great, moving, and timeless. Because of that, coming up with a concrete and comprehensive list is an impossible task. Thus, this list of famous American authors is subjective. This list includes those authors whose works made the biggest impact on literature and culture. Their pure timelessness cannot be disputed.
Mark Twain – One of the greatest writers in American literature. The Adventures and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn forever changed the way succeeding generations of authors used the written language as medium.
William Faulkner – A product of the American South, he brought Southern to the American reader’s consciousness by way his eloquence and diction, evidenced by A Rose for Emily and As I Lay Dying.
Ernest Hemingway – Known for his powerful narratives and simplistic use of language, his most frequent themes include war, love, loss, and the untamed wild. Due to his mastery of getting the most out of the simplest and fewest of words, his style is often regarded as the opposite of Faulkner’s.
Herman Melville – One of the central figures in American Renaissance, he rose to fame with his themes that dwelt on philosophy at a time when the United States was experiencing vast sociopolitical changes. His experiences as teacher and sailor greatly contributed to his masterpiece, Moby Dick, published in 1851.
F. Scott Fitzgerald – Considered as one of the greatest American writers of the first half of the 20th century, he produced works that often explored joys of youth, sexuality, and the gloom of aging. Among his notable works are The Great Gatsby and The Beautiful and the Damned.
John Steinbeck – A central California native, most of his work revolved around common man protagonists and social realism. His works reflect humor, social relevance, and injustice. Among his greatest works are Of Mice and Men, and East of Eden.
Nathaniel Hawthorne – Another American Renaissance figure, his works represented dark romanticism and conveyed anti-religious and anti-establishment stance. This is evident in his best work, The Scarlet Letter.
Emily Dickinson – Arguably the most reclusive literary figure. Her poems centered around nature, dying, and death. Most of the depth of her work was only discovered after her death in 1886. Through her unconventional approach, her poems are considered as way ahead of their time.
Edgar Allan Poe – Generally acknowledged to be the first master of the horror genre, he is also hailed as one of the very first prolific writers of the short story format. His greatest works include The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, and Annabel Lee.