Famous British Playwrights

If you think penning a drama is as easy as picking a pen and scribbling a sequential story or plot, go ahead. It won’t be too long before you realize that there is more to playwriting that mere play of words. You need inherent creative prowess, engrained ingenuity, vivid imagination and a gripping story to actually write a play. And still it is a job half done for what is a playwright if not for great actors who live up the characters! Coming to playwriting and playwrights, Britain has been the hotspot of theatrical shows since times immemorial. London stage has had the privilege of hosting plays by some of the most creative and original playwrights of the world. Needless to say, British playwrights are masters in this art form of literature – they have an intrinsic understanding of dramatic structure and a deep-embedded insight and knowledge for playwriting. Some of the flourishing British playwrights who have swayed the audience with their play of words and storytelling capabilities include William Shakespeare, Harold Pinter, John Osborne, Lord Byron, D.H. Lawrence, Caryl Churchill, Howard Barker, George Bernard Shaw, Alan Plater, Stephen Lowe and Roy Williams. Keep on reading to get an exhaustive list of some of the famous British playwrights of all times.

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

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 1 William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British
Died: April 23, 1616

English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is also often called England's national poet. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and his plays continue to be produced till day. Popular during his lifetime, he acquired an iconic status after his death.

 2 Sophie Hunter

Sophie Hunter
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Famous As: Theatre Director
Birthdate: March 16, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British

Sophie Hunter is an English playwright, opera director, and former performer. She is credited with co-founding and popularizing a theatre company called Boileroom, which was honored with the Samuel Theatre Trust Award in 2007 for its play The Terrific Electric, which marked Sophie Hunter's directorial debut.

 3 Zoe Kazan

Zoe Kazan
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British, American

 4 Michaela Coel

Michaela Coel
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 1, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Ghanaian, British

 5 Peter Morgan

Peter Morgan
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Famous As: Screenwriter
Birthdate: April 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan is the man behind the critically acclaimed films Frost/Nixon and The Queen. He has also written the TV film Longford and the Netflix series The Crown. He specializes in biographical projects and has been awarded the CBE and a BFI fellowship for his work.

 6 Mark Rylance

Mark Rylance
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 18, 1960
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British

Mark Rylance is an English actor, playwright, and theatre director. He is one of the eight actors to have been honored twice with the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. He is also one of the eight people to have won the British Triple Crown of Acting, having received the BAFTA Television Award, BAFTA Film Award, and Laurence Olivier Award.

 7 Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe
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Famous As: Playwright, Poet
Birthdate: February 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British
Died: May 30, 1593

English playwright, poet, and translator, Christopher Marlowe, was one of the major literary figures of the Elizabethan era. It is believed that he greatly influenced his contemporary William Shakespeare. He led a troubled life and died young under mysterious circumstances. Despite his early death, he is regarded as one of the foremost dramatists of the 16th century London.  

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 8 Rory Kinnear

Rory Kinnear
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 17, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British

 9 Sir James Matthew Barrie

Sir James Matthew Barrie
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 9, 1860
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British, Scottish
Died: June 19, 1937

Sir James Matthew Barrie was a Scottish playwright and novelist. He is credited and remembered for creating the famous fictional character, Peter Pan. In the 1922 New Year Honours, Barrie was made a member of the Order of Merit. Before his death, he gifted the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children with the rights of his Peter Pan works.

 10 D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 11, 1885
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: March 2, 1930

English writer, D. H. Lawrence, was known for exploring sensitive issues, such as sexuality, emotional health,  and instinct. In his works, he often reflected upon the dehumanizing effects of modernity and industrialization. The sexual nature of his writings earned him many enemies. Even though he died at the relatively young age of 44, he left behind a rich literary legacy.

 11 Jeffrey Archer

Jeffrey Archer
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Famous As: Politician, Novelist, Writer, Playwright, Science fiction writer, Children's writer
Birthdate: April 15, 1940
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British

 12 Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett
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Famous As: Actor, Screenwriter, Playwright, Diarist, Writer
Birthdate: May 9, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British

 13 Philip Pullman

Philip Pullman
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Famous As: Writer, Novelist, University teacher, Playwright, Librarian, Children's writer
Birthdate: October 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British

 14 Lashana Lynch

Lashana Lynch
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: November 27, 1987
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Lashana Lynch is best known for her roles of Rosaline Capulet in the series Still Star-Crossed and Maria Rambeau in the film Captain Marvel. She received the Laurence Olivier bursary in drama school. Lynch will be seen as Nomi in the upcoming James Bond film No Time to Die

 15 Douglas Hodge

Douglas Hodge
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 25, 1960
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British

 16 Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan
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Famous As: Writer, Screenwriter, Novelist, Playwright, Film producer, Author
Birthdate: June 21, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British

 17 Harold Pinter

Harold Pinter
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Famous As: Nobel Prize Winner in Literature
Birthdate: October 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: December 24, 2008

 18 Anthony Minghella

Anthony Minghella
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Famous As: Screenwriter, Playwright, Film director, Film producer, Writer
Birthdate: January 6, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British
Died: March 18, 2008

 19 Alfred Douglas

Alfred Douglas
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 22, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: March 20, 1945

 20 Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson
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Famous As: Dramatist, Poet & Actor
Birthdate: June 11, 1572
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: August 6, 1637

 21 Steven Berkoff

Steven Berkoff
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: August 3, 1937
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British

 22 Arnold Ridley

Arnold Ridley
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 7, 1896
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British
Died: March 12, 1984

 23 Beverley Cross

Beverley Cross
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Famous As: Screenwriter, Librettist
Birthdate: April 13, 1931
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: British
Died: March 20, 1998

 24 Ben Elton

Ben Elton
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Famous As: Actor, Comedian, Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Playwright, Lyricist, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 3, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Australian, British

 25 Mike Leigh

Mike Leigh
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Famous As: Film director, Actor, Playwright, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Writer
Birthdate: February 20, 1943
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British

 26 Robert Greene

Robert Greene
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Famous As: Writer, Playwright
Birthdate: May 14, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: British, American

Robert Greene is best known for his international bestsellers such as The 48 Laws of Power, The 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction. Some of his books have been banned in American prisons and have been described as manipulative, while some have been mentioned in popular songs.

 27 Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing
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Famous As: Novelist, Short Story Writer
Birthdate: October 22, 1919
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British
Died: November 17, 2013

 28 Sarah Solemani

Sarah Solemani
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 4, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British

 29 John Dryden

John Dryden
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Famous As: poet
Birthdate: August 9, 1631
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: May 12, 1700

 30 J. B. Priestley

J. B. Priestley
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Famous As: Novelist and Playwright
Birthdate: September 13, 1894
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British
Died: August 14, 1984

 31 Rupert Holmes

Rupert Holmes
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Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 24, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: British, American

 32 David Haig

David Haig
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 20, 1955
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British

 33 Ian Ogilvy

Ian Ogilvy
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 30, 1943
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: British

 34 Christopher Isherwood

Christopher Isherwood
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 26, 1904
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British, American
Died: January 4, 1986

 35 Amelia Bullmore

Amelia Bullmore
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 31, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British

 36 Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 13, 1893
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British
Died: December 17, 1957

 37 Frances Hodgson Burnett

Frances Hodgson Burnett
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 24, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British, American
Died: October 29, 1924

 38 Leigh Lawson

Leigh Lawson
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 21, 1945
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British

 39 Len Deighton

Len Deighton
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 18, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British

 40 Julia Donaldson

Julia Donaldson
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Famous As: Writer, Playwright, Author, Children's writer
Birthdate: September 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: British

 41 Sally Wainwright

Sally Wainwright
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Famous As: television producer, screenwriter, playwright
Birthdate: 1963 AD
Nationality: British

 42 Joe Orton

Joe Orton
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Famous As: Playwright, Screenwriter, Writer
Birthdate: January 1, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British
Died: August 9, 1967

 43 Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl
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Famous As: Singer, Playwright, Record producer, Composer
Birthdate: January 25, 1915
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: October 22, 1989

 44 John Osborne

John Osborne
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Famous As: Actor, Playwright, Screenwriter, Writer
Birthdate: December 12, 1929
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British
Died: December 24, 1994

 45 Kate Atkinson

Kate Atkinson
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: British

 46 Ivor Novello

Ivor Novello
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Famous As: Actor, Playwright, Composer, Writer, Screenwriter, Songwriter
Birthdate: January 15, 1893
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: British
Died: March 6, 1951

 47 Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 26, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British

 48 Ralph Brown

Ralph Brown
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: June 18, 1957
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: British

 49 Winston Graham

Winston Graham
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 30, 1908
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: British
Died: July 10, 2003

 50 William Congreve

William Congreve
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Famous As: Playwright, Poet, Writer, Translator
Birthdate: January 24, 1670
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: British
Died: January 19, 1729