Grateful American® Foundation

The Best of America’s
20th Century Authors

1. J. D. Salinger
(1919-2010)
Since its 1951 debut, The Catcher in the Rye has sold more than 60,000,000 copies; seventy years later, Holden Caulfield is still discovered by thousands of adolescents.
2. Harper Lee
(1926-2016)
Her only book was the Pulitizer-prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird; sixty-one years later, it is still read and revered from Africa to America. The work helped dislodge some of America’s stubbornly embedded ideas about race.
3. Tennessee Williams
(1911-1983)
America’s Shakespeare wrote poetically–and prolifically about love, hate, and envy in a myriad of masterpieces:
A Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The Glass Menagerie.
4. Maya Angelou
(1928-2014)
Poet; Performer; Playwright; Author of cookbooks;
Seven memoirs, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
5. Joan Didion
(b. 1934)
Essayist. Hollywood Script Writer. Novelist. Known for the acerbic
The White Album; Play It as It Lays; The Year of Magical Thinking.
6. Willa Cather
(1873-1947)
Known for her life-on-the-plains novels:
My Antonia; O Pioneers! Lucy Gayheart,
and the Pulitzer prize winning, One of Ours.
7. Toni Morrison
(1931-2019)
The Bluest Eye; Sula; Tar Baby, and Beloved.
First African American Woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature (1993).
8. Truman Capote
(1924-1984)
His childhood friend and neighbor, Harper Lee, assisted with the In Cold Blood research; he wrote Other Voices, Other Rooms; The Grass Harp; and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
9. Anne Tyler
(b. 1941)
Baltimore; Quirky families. Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant;
The Accidental Tourist; Noah’s Compass; Clock Dance.
Deserves the Nobel.
10. John Steinbeck
(1902-1968)
An oeuvre about conflict; The Grapes of Wrath; The Pearl; Of Mice and Men.
1962 Nobel Prize Recipient.

Sources: The Grateful American Foundation
Ranking the 10 Best American Authors from the 20th Century–Ed A. Murray