American Classic Authors: A Definitive List

When it comes to American literature, there are certain authors whose works have stood the test of time and continue to be revered as classics. From the early 19th century to the present day, these writers have made significant contributions to the literary landscape of America and the world. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the most influential and beloved classic authors in American literature.

1. Mark Twain

Hailing from Missouri, Mark Twain is a name that is synonymous with American literature. His most famous works include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. His writing style is known for its humor and realism, reflecting the issues and concerns of the time in which he wrote.

2. Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was a Nobel Prize-winning author who became known for his minimalist writing style. His works, including The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms, deal with themes such as war, love, and death. Hemingway’s writing continues to influence writers and readers alike to this day.

3. F. Scott Fitzgerald

Most famous for his novel The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald is a staple of American literature. His books often explore themes of decadence, excess, and the pitfalls of the American Dream. Though his writing in his own time was not always appreciated for its full worth, Fitzgerald’s work continues to be studied and revered today as a window into the Jazz Age of the 1920s and 30s.

4. Jane Austen

While Jane Austen was not American by birth, her impact on American literature cannot be overstated. Her works, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, deal with the social conventions and expectations of her time, particularly with regards to women. Austen’s work remains popular and influential today, nearly two centuries after her death.

5. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a philosopher, writer, and poet whose work helped shape American culture in the early 19th century. His essays, such as “Self-Reliance” and “The American Scholar,” are still studied today and celebrated for their insights on individualism, nature, and the power of the human spirit.

6. Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson is known for her poetry, which explores themes of love, death, and individuality. Though she was not widely recognized in her lifetime, her work has since become a cornerstone of American literature. Her concise and insightful poems remain popular today, nearly two centuries after her birth.

7. William Faulkner

William Faulkner was a writer from Mississippi whose work often focuses on the psychology of individuals and communities in the American South. His most famous works, including The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, are often studied for their use of stream of consciousness narration and explorations of race, class, and family dynamics.

8. Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison was a Nobel Prize-winning author who explored themes of race, gender, and identity in her works. Her most well-known books, including Beloved and The Bluest Eye, deal with issues such as slavery, motherhood, and self-discovery. Morrison’s work continues to be studied and celebrated today for its insights and contributions to American literature.


These are just a few of the many classic American authors whose work has influenced and shaped the literary landscape of the United States and beyond. Whether you’re a literature buff or just discovering these authors for the first time, there’s no denying the impact and importance of their enduring contributions to American culture and beyond.

Similar Posts