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.
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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 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.
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 3 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.

 4 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.

 5 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.

 6 Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde
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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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 7 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.

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 8 Zoe Kazan

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

 10 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.

 11 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

 12 Michaela Coel

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

 13 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
 

 14 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

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was an Indian politician and independence activist. He formulated the Hindu nationalist philosophy of Hindutva and was a leading figure in the Hindu Mahasabha. He was known for his strong oratory skills and was an eloquent writer. He was initially charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi but was later acquitted.

 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 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.

 17 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.

 18 Martin McDonagh

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

The director and writer of the Academy Award-winning short film, Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh is also well known as a playwright and stage director. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is one of the his noted works. The crime drama film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was another successful venture of McDonagh. He says he prefers films to plays.

 19 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

Samuel Beckett was a legendary Nobel Prize-winning Irish postmodernist and minimalist playwright and author, regarded as a prominent figure of the "Theatre of the Absurd.” He is best known for the play Waiting for Godot and for his tragi-comic themes and black comedy. He was also the Saoi of Aosdána.

 20 Ernie Hudson

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

 21 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
Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet, playwright, and prose writer W. B. Yeats is remembered as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century. Known for works such as The Tower, he also helped establish the Abbey Theatre. An occult enthusiast, he was also part of The Ghost Club.

 22 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.  

 23 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
Novelist Thomas Wolfe is remembered for his novels Look Homeward, Angel and Of Time and the River. He had also authored countless short stories and plays. His signature style included elements of autobiographical writing mixed with poetic and lyrical prose. His works influenced Beat Generation writers, too.

 24 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. 

 25 Rory Kinnear

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

 26 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.

 27 Robby Benson

Robby Benson
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Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: January 21, 1956
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American

Robby Benson is an American actor, filmmaker, composer, singer, and teacher. He gained popularity in the late-1970s when he established himself as a teen idol, appearing in films like Ice Castles and One on One. Apart from being an entertainer, Robby Benson is also a fundraiser and activist for heart research.

 28 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.

 29 Girish Karnad

Girish Karnad
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Famous As: Linguist, Author, Film director, Actor, Translator, Screenwriter
Birthdate: May 19, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Indian

 30 Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer
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Famous As: Singer, Street artist, Composer, Pianist, Musician, Playwright, Blogger, Songwriter
Birthdate: April 30, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 31 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.

 32 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.

 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 Lewis Black

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

 35 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

Eugene O'Neill was an American playwright whose works earned him several prestigious awards, including four Pulitzer Prizes for Drama and the 1936 Nobel Prize in Literature. His play Long Day's Journey into Night is frequently named among the 20th century's finest American plays. In the 1981 film Reds, Eugene O'Neill is played by actor Jack Nicholson.

 36 Neil Simon

Neil Simon
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Famous As: Playwright & Screenwriter
Birthdate: July 4, 1927
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: August 26, 2018

 37 Alan Bennett

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

 38 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

 39 Andrew Upton

Andrew Upton
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Famous As: Film director, Screenwriter, Librettist
Birthdate: February 1, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Australian

 40 David Mamet

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

Author, screenwriter, and playwright David Mamet is best known for his Pulitzer-winning and Tony-nominated play Glengarry Glen Ross. He has written for many Broadway and off-Broadway plays and also for films such as House of Games. He has produced and written for the show The Unit and authored several books.

 41 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

Honoré de Balzac was a French playwright and novelist. Since his works gave a detailed, unfiltered representation of society, Honoré de Balzac is generally considered one of the founders of realism and an important figure in European literature. Renowned for creating multi-faceted characters, Balzac influenced several popular writers like Charles John Huffam Dickens, Émile Zola, Henry James, and Gustave Flaubert.

 42 Yolanda King

Yolanda King
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Famous As: Activist
Birthdate: November 17, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: May 15, 2007

African American activist, Yolanda King, was the first-born child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Exposed to social justice activism at a young age, she grew up to be an outspoken supporter of civil rights and LGBTQA+ rights. She was also known for her artistic endeavors. She died of heart disease at 51. 

 43 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

 44 Stephen Tobolowsky

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

 45 Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen
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Famous As: Playwright, Poet.
Birthdate: March 20, 1828
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Norwegian
Died: May 23, 1906

Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian theatre director and playwright. One of the most influential and popular playwrights of his generation, Ibsen is credited with co-founding modernism in theatre, for which he is often called the father of realism. After William Shakespeare, Henrik Ibsen is the world's most often performed dramatist. His works have influenced other playwrights like George Bernard Shaw.

 46 Saadat Hasan Manto

Saadat Hasan Manto
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 11, 1912
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Pakistani
Died: January 18, 1955

Saadat Hasan Manto was a Pakistani playwright, writer, and author. Best remembered for his 22 collections of short stories, Manto was renowned for writing about the bitter truths of society. Not surprisingly, he was tried for obscenity on six occasions but was never convicted. Considered one of the 20th century's finest Urdu-language writers, Manto is the subject of two movies.

 47 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

 48 Douglas Hodge

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

 49 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

 50 Ruby Dee

Ruby Dee
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Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: October 27, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: American
Died: June 11, 2014
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