Playwrights

Playwrights are the persons who write dramatic literature. Most of the times, these dramas are written specifically for performance by actors though some dramatists may also write ‘closet dramas’ which are literary works written in a dramatic format, but not meant for performance. The work of a playwright is similar to that of a screenwriter though it must be noted that playwrights have limited creative freedom as compared to screenwriters. Playwrights create scripts which tell stories through the words and actions of the characters. The success of a play depends a lot upon the storyline and characterization. Thus to be a good playwright one needs a vivid imagination to produce stories that would interest the audience and hold their attention. Like most writers, playwrights often work alone though they also have to collaborate with the actors and directors in producing the final script. The art of writing plays for the stage is an ancient one and some of the earliest known playwrights were from ancient Greece. The best known playwright of all time is undoubtedly William Shakespeare, the 16th century English writer. Coming to the modern times, Samuel Beckett is regarded as the greatest playwright of the 20th century. Browse on to learn more about the life and works of famous dramatists and playwrights from all over the world.
More From Playwrights

 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 Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde
1
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: October 16, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Irish
Died: November 30, 1900

Widely regarded as one of the most popular writers of all time, Oscar Wilde is best remembered for his plays and epigrams. He was also one of the best-known personalities during his time as he was popular for his conversational skills, flamboyant dressing sense, and biting wit. Imprisoned in 1895 for consensual homosexual acts, Oscar Wilde was pardoned posthumously in 2017.

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 3 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.

 4 Sam Shepard

Sam Shepard
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 5, 1943
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: July 27, 2017
Ten-time Obie Award-winning playwright, author, director, and actor Samuel Shepard had also won a Pulitzer Prize for the play Buried Child. He was also the drummer of the rock band The Holy Modal Rounders. Fans remember him for his Academy Award-nominated performance as Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff.

 5 Yukio Mishima

Yukio Mishima
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Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: January 14, 1925
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: Japanese
Died: November 25, 1970

Japanese author, poet, and playwright Yukio Mishima is counted amongst the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. His best-known works feature a fusion of traditional Japanese and modern Western literary styles. He was the founder of the Tatenokai, an unarmed private militia dedicated to traditional Japanese values. He was considered controversial due to his political activities. 

 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.

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 7 Marilyn vos Savant

Marilyn vos Savant
2
Famous As: Columnist
Birthdate: August 11, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: American
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 8 Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas
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Birthdate: July 24, 1802
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: December 5, 1870

One of the most widely read French authors of all time, Alexandre Dumas was prolific in several genres. He joined the army as a young man and later became a full-time writer. Starting his writing career as a playwright, he moved on to writing novels. His novels have been adapted into nearly 200 films in the past century.

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 9 Arthur Miller

Arthur Miller
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Birthdate: October 17, 1915
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: February 10, 2005

Arthur Miller was an American essayist and playwright. Miller is credited with creating popular plays, such as Death of a Salesman, which is widely regarded as one of the best American plays of the 20th century. Thanks to his illustrious career, which spanned more than 70 years, Arthur Miller is regarded as one of the 20th century's greatest dramatists.

 10 Henry James

Henry James
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 15, 1843
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: February 28, 1916

Henry James was an author, regarded as one of the greatest novelists ever to write in the English language. One of his novellas titled The Turn of the Screw has been the most analyzed ghost story in the history of English language literature. While his works have been adapted into films, he has been the subject of several other stories.

 11 Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley
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Famous As: Linguist, Poet, Translator, Writer, Playwright, Novelist, Author
Birthdate: August 4, 1792
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: British
Died: July 8, 1822

 12 Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan
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Famous As: Actor, Playwright, Stage actor, Television actor
Birthdate: April 29, 1955
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 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 Zoe Kazan

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

 15 Tracy Letts

Tracy Letts
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Famous As: Actor, Screenwriter
Birthdate: July 4, 1965
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

Tracy Letts is a highly acclaimed American actor, screenwriter, and playwright. Letts has received several prestigious awards, including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a couple of Tony Awards. Tracy Letts is credited with popularizing Edward Albee's play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which he revived in 2012.

 16 Michaela Coel

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

 17 Rod Serling

Rod Serling
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Famous As: Screenwriter, TV Producer, Narrator
Birthdate: December 25, 1924
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: June 28, 1975

Rod Serling was an American playwright, screenwriter, narrator, and television producer. One of the first writers to write specifically for television, Serling is often credited with legitimizing television drama. He is also credited with creating the much-acclaimed series The Twilight Zone. For his much-publicized clashes with TV executives, Serling was often referred to as the angry young man of Hollywood.

 18 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

 19 Jules Verne

Jules Verne
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 8, 1828
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: March 24, 1905
French author Jules Verne, also known as the “Father of Science Fiction,” is best remembered for his legendary adventure novels Journey to the Center of the Earth, Around the World in Eighty Days, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He also became the world’s second most-translated writer since 1979.

 20 Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron
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Famous As: Screenwriter, Producer, Director
Birthdate: May 19, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron was an American writer, filmmaker, and journalist. She is known for writing films like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally... The Nora Ephron Prize was created by the Tribeca Film Festival in her memory. Her life and work inspired the 2016 documentary film Everything Is Copy, which was directed by her son Jacob Bernstein.

 21 Aeschylus

Aeschylus
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Famous As: Greek Tragedian
Birthdate: 0525 BC
Nationality: Greek
Died: 0456 BC
Aeschylus is credited with pioneering the trend of using multiple characters in theater, allowing them to interact among themselves, instead of the chorus. He is best remembered for his tragedies, most notably The Persians, the trilogy The Oresteia, and Prometheus Bound. His works were awarded at the City Dionysia.

 22 Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal
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Birthdate: October 3, 1925
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: July 31, 2012

Gore Vidal was an American intellectual and writer. He served as a major inspiration to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals as he was openly bisexual and often incorporated LGBT characters in his novels, which was very unusual at the time. He was also known for his debates with William F. Buckley Jr., which inspired the 2015 documentary film Best of Enemies.

 23 Lisa Edelstein

Lisa Edelstein
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Famous As: Playwright, Television actor, Actor, Film actor, Voice actor
Birthdate: May 21, 1966
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 24 Colman Domingo

Colman Domingo
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 28, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 25 Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams
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Famous As: American playwright
Birthdate: March 26, 1911
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: February 25, 1983
Pulitzer Prize-winning Tennessee Williams is regarded as one of the most significant playwrights of the 20th century, and had also written short stories, essays, and poetry. He is best remembered for his plays A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
 

 26 W B Yeats

W B Yeats
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Famous As: Poet & Dramatist
Birthdate: June 13, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Irish
Died: January 28, 1939

 27 Danai Gurira

Danai Gurira
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: February 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American, Zimbabwean
Danai Gurira is best known as Michonne from The Walking Dead and as Okoye from the Marvel films Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. She earned a Tony nomination for writing the Broadway play Eclipsed. She has been a UN Goodwill Ambassador and promotes arts and women empowerment.

 28 Ernie Hudson

Ernie Hudson
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 17, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 29 Patrisse Cullors

Patrisse Cullors
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Famous As: Artist
Birthdate: June 20, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 30 Sophie Hunter

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

 31 Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett
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Famous As: Novelist, Playwright, Theater Director
Birthdate: April 13, 1906
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: Irish
Died: December 22, 1989

 32 David Mamet

David Mamet
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Birthdate: November 30, 1947
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 33 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

 34 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

 35 Martin McDonagh

Martin McDonagh
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Famous As: Playwright, Screenwriter, Filmmaker
Birthdate: March 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: Irish, British

 36 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

 37 Douglas Hodge

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

 38 Matthew Cowles

Matthew Cowles
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Famous As: Television actor, Film actor, Stage actor
Birthdate: September 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: May 22, 2014

 39 Honoré de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac
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Famous As: French Novelist and Playwright
Birthdate: May 20, 1799
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: August 18, 1850

 40 Alejandro Jodorowsky

Alejandro Jodorowsky
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Famous As: Writer, Film director, Actor, Playwright, Screenwriter, Film editor, Science fiction writer
Birthdate: February 17, 1929
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Chilean, French

 41 Pier Paolo Pasolini

Pier Paolo Pasolini
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Famous As: Film director
Birthdate: March 5, 1922
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Italian
Died: November 2, 1975

 42 Lewis Black

Lewis Black
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Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: August 30, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

 43 Stephen Tobolowsky

Stephen Tobolowsky
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 30, 1951
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 44 Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
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Famous As: Independence Activist, Reformer
Birthdate: May 28, 1883
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Indian
Died: February 26, 1966

 45 Rory Kinnear

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

 46 Eugene O'Neill

Eugene Gladstone O'Neill
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Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: October 16, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: November 27, 1953

 47 Saul Rubinek

Saul Rubinek
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: July 2, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Canadian

 48 Gypsy Rose Lee

Gypsy Rose Lee
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Famous As: Entertainer
Birthdate: January 8, 1911
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American
Died: April 26, 1970

 49 Thomas Clayton Wolfe

Thomas Clayton Wolfe
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 3, 1900
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: September 15, 1938

 50 Tom Stoppard

Tom Stoppard
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Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: July 3, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Czech, British
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