Famous American Non-Fiction Writers

What can be more joyous than re-reading your favorite book for the nth time just because you love it so much? Reading, as any book lover will tell you, is therapeutic and when it is from the stable of one of your most favorite writers, the joy just doubles up. Whether you are looking for inspiration or just need something to read during your downtime, we have got America’s best non-fiction writers covered for you. Here is an extensive list of must-read American non-fiction writers who deserve to be in the wish list of all book lovers. Some new, some old, some you've no doubt already read, these non-fiction writers were, are and will always list on top of every book lover’s catalogue. Now only if you thought non-fiction was stranger and boring than fantasy and fiction, make out time to check out the work by some of these great writers. But before that, don’t miss out to delve into the biography, trivia and facts about America’s famous non-fiction writers.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite American Non-Fiction Writers

 1 Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway.
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: July 21, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oak Park, Illinois, United States
Died: July 2, 1961

Ernest Hemingway was an American novelist and short-story writer who had a strong impact on 20th-century fiction. He published seven novels and six short-story collections and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea are some of his classic works. He ended his own life in July 1961.

 2 Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass.
4
Famous As: American orator
Birthdate: February 1, 1818
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Talbot County, Maryland, U.S
Died: February 20, 1895

Social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York. Born into slavery, he had a difficult early life. Eventually, he managed to escape and dedicated the rest of his life to promoting the cause of abolition. He was a great orator and writer.

 3 Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson.
6
Famous As: 3rd U.S. President
Birthdate: April 13, 1743
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Shadwell, Virginia, United States
Died: July 4, 1826

The 2nd Vice President and the 3rd President of America, Thomas Jefferson was one of the Founding Fathers of USA and the principal draftsman of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was a staunch advocate of democracy and a strong believer of individual rights and religious freedom, despite the fact that he himself owned nearly 600 slaves.

 4 Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath.
4
Famous As: Poet, Novelist, and Writer
Birthdate: October 27, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 11, 1963

Sylvia Plath was an American short-story writer, novelist, and poet. Plath is credited with popularizing confessional poetry and won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Sylvia Plath achieved popularity and critical acclaim despite suffering from clinical depression for the most part of her adult life. Her story inspired the 2003 film Sylvia in which she was portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow.

 5 James Baldwin

James Baldwin.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 2, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: December 1, 1987

Amongst the greatest writers of the 20th century and a leading literary voice in the civil rights movement, James Baldwin extensively explored issues like race, sexuality and humanity in his work. His best known work include his debut novel Go Tell It on the Mountain and his books of essays Notes of a Native Son and Nobody Knows My Name.

 6 David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace.
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 21, 1962
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Ithaca, New York, United States
Died: September 12, 2008

David Foster Wallace was an American author who is regarded as one of the most innovative and influential writers of the past 20 years. His best-known work, Infinite Jest, was named one of the best English-language novels between 1923 and 2005 by Time magazine. Wallace continues to serve as an inspiration to writers like Darin Strauss and George Saunders.

 7 Truman Capote

Truman Capote.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 30, 1924
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died: August 25, 1984
Truman Capote is best known for his novella Breakfast at Tiffany's, which was made into a movie that starred Audrey Hepburn, and the non-fiction novel In Cold Blood. His short story Shut a Final Door won the O. Henry Award. He was a lifelong friend of author Harper Lee.
You May Like

 8 Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau.
4
Famous As: Writer and Philosopher
Birthdate: July 12, 1817
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 6, 1862

Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, essayist, poet, and naturalist. He is credited with popularizing transcendentalism and simple living. His philosophy of civil disobedience, which was detailed in his essay of the same name, later influenced world-renowned personalities like Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi.

 9 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson.
4
Famous As: American Lecturer, Philosopher, Essayist & Poet
Birthdate: May 25, 1803
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 27, 1882

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher who led the transcendentalist movement that developed in the eastern United States in the 1820s and 1830s. He is credited with popularizing individualism through his numerous lectures and essays. Emerson influenced many thinkers and writers that followed him; he mentored Henry David Thoreau, who went on to become a leading transcendentalist.

 10 Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell.
4
Famous As: Writer, Journalist
Birthdate: September 3, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Fareham, Hampshire, England
Malcolm Gladwell is best known for his bestselling books The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. He has also written for The New Yorker and The Washington Post. His writings encompass subjects such as psychology, economics, and sociology. Gladwell has also co-founded a podcast company and hosts the podcast Revisionist History.

 11 Stephen King

Stephen King.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 21, 1947
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portland, Maine

One of the most popular American authors, Stephen King has sold over 350 million copies of his works. Many of his books have been adapted into television series, miniseries, and films. One of the most decorated authors, King believes in giving back to society as he and his wife are noted philanthropists.

 12 Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 9, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States
The former stock broker, who was convicted for stock-market manipulation and cheating several investors, Jordan Belfort spent 22 months in prison before he was released and altered his way of living. Using his life experiences, he became a motivational speaker and also authored two memoirs, one of which, The Wolf of Wall Street, was adapted into an award winning film.

 13 Fran Drescher

Fran Drescher.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 30, 1957
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kew Gardens, New York, United States

Fran Drescher is an American actress and comedian. Characterized by her thick New York accent and nasal voice, Fran Drescher serves as an inspiration to many cancer patients as she successfully fought off the disease after suffering from uterine cancer. She is also an outspoken LGBT rights activist and healthcare advocate.

 14 Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 27, 1957
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cornell Medical Center Hospital, New York City, New York, U.S.

Caroline Kennedy is an American author, diplomat, and attorney. The only surviving child of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Caroline served as the US Ambassador to Japan between 2013 and 2017. A prolific author who writes about civil liberties, Caroline Kennedy has also served as a spokesperson for the Kennedy family's legacy.

 15 Mara Wilson

Mara Wilson.
6
Famous As: Writer, Actress
Birthdate: July 24, 1987
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Burbank, California

Mara Wilson stole the hearts of many with her performance as a child actress in films like Mrs. Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street, and Matilda. After growing up, she decided to pursue a career as a writer. In one of her interviews, she spoke about her mental illnesses, including OCD, depression, and anxiety. She also came out as bisexual.

 16 Mick Mars

Mick Mars.
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: May 4, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States
Mick Mars gained fame as the guitarist for the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe and came to be known for his aggressive style of playing the instrument. He has also written songs for bands such as Crashdïet. He has suffered from ankylosing spondylitis since his teenage years. 

 17 Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy.
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: April 12, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Baltimore County, Maryland, United States of America
Died: October 1, 2013
Tom Clancy is best remembered for his espionage- and war-themed novels, many of which, such as The Hunt for Red October, The Sum of All Fears, and Clear and Present Danger, have been made into hit films. He was also a co-owner of the MLB team Baltimore Orioles

 18 James Watson

James Watson.
4
Famous As: Molecular Biologist
Birthdate: April 6, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

James Watson is a geneticist, molecular biologist, and zoologist. He is credited with co-authoring the academic paper that propounded the double helix structure of nucleic acids such as DNA for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. In 1977, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1997, he was awarded the National Medal of Science.

 19 Anthony Rapp

Anthony Rapp
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 26, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Joliet, Illinois, USA

 20 Mackenzie Phillips

Mackenzie Phillips.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 10, 1959
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Alexandria, Virginia
Mackenzie Phillips made her acting debut at 12, with American Graffiti. Fans loved her in the series One Day at a Time and So Weird. She has struggled with drug issues and has appeared on Celebrity Rehab. She also confessed to being raped by her father, in her memoir.

 21 Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: January 17, 1927
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: North, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2008

Eartha Kitt was an American actress, comedian, dancer, and singer-songwriter. Renowned for her distinctive singing style, Kitt recorded several chartbusting songs during the 1950s. Also a well-known activist, Eartha Kitt established a non-profit organization called the Kittsville Youth Foundation, which helped underprivileged youths in Los Angeles. She was also an ardent advocate for same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.

 22 Sean Hannity

Sean Hannity.
4
Famous As: Talk Show Host
Birthdate: December 30, 1961
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City

Sean Hannity is a conservative political commentator and talk show host. As one of the most-watched and most-listened-to hosts, he has played a key role in shaping American politics in the last decade or so. Due to his closeness to President Donald Trump, he is characterized as the shadow Chief of Staff.

 23 Joan Didion

Joan Didion
4
Famous As: Screenwriter, Novelist, Journalist, Writer, Essayist
Birthdate: December 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States

 24 Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer
4
Famous As: Journalist, Explorer, Writer
Birthdate: April 12, 1954
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, United States

 25 Sam Harris

Sam Harris.
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Author
Birthdate: April 9, 1967
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: United States of America

One of the "Four Horsemen of Atheism," neuroscientist and author Sam Harris is known for his works on topics such as religion, artificial intelligence, and terrorism. His books include the New York Times bestseller The End of Faith. He hosted the podcast Making Sense and released a meditation app, too.

 26 Doris Roberts

Doris Roberts.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 4, 1925
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: April 17, 2016

Five-time Emmy Award-winning actor Doris Roberts is best remembered as Marie Barone from the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and as Mildred Krebs from Remington Steele. She also appeared on various talk/game shows and in films such as The Honeymoon Killers. She was a prominent animal rights activist, too.

 27 Michelle McNamara

Michelle McNamara.
4
Famous As: Freelance Writer, Blogger
Birthdate: April 14, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: United States
Died: April 21, 2016

True-crime writer, Michelle McNamara, is remembered for coining the name "Golden State Killer" for the serial killer later identified as Joseph James DeAngelo. Sadly, the author died before his identification and arrest. Fascinated by true crime from a young age, she launched her website TrueCrimeDiary in 2006 and dedicated her life to researching and writing about true crime.

 28 Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie.
4
Famous As: Self-Help Writer, Motivational Guru, Public Speaker
Birthdate: November 24, 1888
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Maryville, Missouri, United States
Died: November 1, 1955
Writer and academic Dale Carnegie is best remembered for his work on courses in areas such as corporate training, self-improvement, and salesmanship. He started his career as a salesperson. He wrote many books, including the international bestseller How to Win Friends and Influence People, and was a successful lecturer, too.

 29 Cybill Lynne Shepherd

Cybill Lynne Shepherd.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Cybill Shepherd is best known for her roles in films such as The Heartbreak Kid, Taxi Driver, and Alice. Fans also loved her for her Golden Globe-winning portrayals of Madelyn 'Maddie' Hayes in the series Moonlighting and Cybill Sheridan in the sitcom Cybill. She is a follower of goddess-worshipping Paganism.

 30 Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: August 22, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Suffern, New York
Valerie Harper is best remembered as Rhoda Morgenstern from The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spin-off, Rhoda, with the role winning her four Emmys. She also hosted Nova and was seen as Valerie Hogan in the sitcom Valerie. She also earned a Tony nomination for the play Looped.

 31 Anita Hill

Anita Hill
4
Famous As: Attorney
Birthdate: July 30, 1956
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Morns, Oklahoma, USA

 32 Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 30, 1975
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates gained international prominence while serving as the national correspondent at The Atlantic. His writings on socio-political issues related to African Americans and white supremacy garnered him much appreciation. He is a recipient of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center Prize for Writing to Advance Social Justice. He also writes fiction and comics.

 33 Kayden Kross

Kayden Kross
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 15, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, USA

 34 Sela Ward

Sela Ward.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 11, 1956
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Meridian, Mississippi

Sela Ann Ward is best known for her Emmy-winning role of Teddy Reed in Sisters. She won another Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing Lily Manning in Once and Again. Fans also loved her in the series House and CSI: NY, and the movie The Day After Tomorrow.

 35 Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw.
4
Famous As: Baseball Pitcher
Birthdate: March 19, 1988
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas, United States

An eight-time MLB All-Star, Clayton Kershaw is an American professional baseball player, often described as the best pitcher in the history of baseball. Also known for his humanitarian work, Clayton Kershaw has been honored with the Branch Rickey Award and Roberto Clemente Award. A prolific donator, Kershaw donated $260,000 to build an orphanage called Hope's Home.

 36 Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag.
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 28, 2004
Susan Sontag is best known for her essay anthologies such as Against Interpretation and her novels such as In America. She wrote about diverse issues such as human rights, photography, AIDS, and leftist beliefs, and also visited war-torn areas. The National Book Award-winning author was also openly bisexual. 

 37 Jocko Willink

Jocko Willink.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 8, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Torrington, Connecticut, United States

Jocko Willink is an American podcaster, author, and retired US Navy officer. Willink, who served in the Navy SEALs, played an important role in the Iraq War. He served as the commanding officer for Task Unit Bruiser, which fought the Iraqi insurgents in Ramadi. He was honored with the Bronze Star and Silver Star Medal for his service.

 38 Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson.
3
Famous As: Marine biologist
Birthdate: May 27, 1907
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Springdale
Died: April 14, 1964

Rachel Carson was a conservationist, marine biologist, and author. She is credited with authoring an influential book titled Silent Spring, which played a significant role in advancing the global environmental movement. Carson is also remembered for her book, The Sea Around Us, which earned her a U.S. National Book Award. She was posthumously honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 39 Morris Chestnut

Morris Chestnut.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 1, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Cerritos, California

Actor Morris Chestnut is best known for his role in the film Boyz n the Hood. Beginning his career as a young man, he appeared in a few TV shows before venturing into films. He steadily evolved as an actor and went on to co-star alongside major actors in big-budget films. He has co-authored a book on health and fitness.

 40 Gary Burghoff

Gary Burghoff.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 24, 1943
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bristol, Connecticut

Gary Burghoff is an American actor who is credited with originating the popular role of Charlie Brown in the 1967 Broadway musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. He is also known for originating the role of Walter Eugene O'Reilly in the 1970 black comedy war movie MASH and the popular TV series of the same name.

 41 Ann Coulter

Ann Coulter.
10
Birthdate: December 8, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, United States
Ann Coulter is a political commentator and has written countless bestselling books, including High Crimes and Misdemeanors, which enumerated the reasons why Bill Clinton should have been impeached. She assisted Paula Jones’s attorneys for free. Her columns are featured on various conservative websites. She opposes same-sex marriage and hate-crime laws.

 42 Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller
4
Famous As: Politician writer
Birthdate: August 23, 1985
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Santa Monica, California, U.S.

 43 Suzanne Somers

Suzanne Somers
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 16, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: San Bruno, California, United States

 44 Betty Friedan

Betty Friedan.
3
Famous As: Feminist, Writer
Birthdate: February 4, 1921
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: eoria, Illinois, United States
Died: February 4, 2004

 45 Taya Kyle

Taya Kyle.
4
Famous As: Activist, Author
Birthdate: September 4, 1974
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Portland, Oregon

Taya Kyle is an American political commentator and author. Since the death of her husband US Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, Taya Kyle has been working towards the welfare of military veterans' family. In 2014, she established the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation as part of her work. In the 2014 movie American Sniper, Taya Kyle was played by Sienna Miller.

 46 Loretta Swit

Loretta Swit.
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 4, 1937
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Passaic, New Jersey, U.S.

Loretta Swit is a veteran American stage and small screen actress who became a household name with her award-winning portrayal of Major Margaret ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan in M*A*S*H, a comedy-drama series on CBS television. Apart from playing a wide range of character roles on television and stage, she also appeared in movies and hosted a documentary on the Korean war.

 47 George Kennedy

George Kennedy.
4
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 18, 1925
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 28, 2016

George Kennedy was an American actor who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Dragline in the 1967 prison drama film, Cool Hand Luke. A multi-talented person, George Kennedy was also an aviator and writer; he owned a Beechcraft Bonanza as well as a Cessna 210 and wrote three books, including his autobiography titled Trust Me.

 48 John J. Pershing

John J. Pershing.
4
Famous As: US Army Officer During WW I
Birthdate: September 13, 1860
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Laclede, Missouri, United States
Died: July 15, 1948

John J. Pershing was a senior United States Army officer who served as the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) in World War I. In his later years, he mentored generals who led the United States Army during World War II.  He was promoted to General of the Armies rank, the highest possible rank in the United States Army. 

 49 Terence McKenna

Terence McKenna.
4
Famous As: Philosopher, Psychonaut, Ethnobotanist, Author
Birthdate: November 16, 1946
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paonia, Colorado, United States
Died: April 3, 2000
Philosopher, ethnobotanist, and public speaker Terence McKenna was the proponent of concepts such as the Novelty Theory and Machine Elf. His work revolved around subjects such as psychedelic drugs, shamanism, alchemy, and metaphysics. He wrote several books and supported the usage of psychedelic mushrooms to experience different states of mind.

 50 Rick Riordan

Rick Riordan.
4
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: June 5, 1964
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: San Antonio, Texas, United States

Rick Riordan is an author whose Percy Jackson & the Olympians series was adapted into a film series. Known for writing books based on the mythologies of various cultures, Riordan's works have been translated into 42 languages. In the US alone, his books have sold over 30 million copies and he is a two-time winner of Mark Twain Award.