10 Best Known Authors Who Are Famous Worldwide

Discover our guide to the best known authors who have made names for themselves worldwide. 

Authors don’t always seek fame and fortune when writing their first books. For some of the best known authors on our list, inspiration struck like a bolt of lightning. In contrast, for others, that first book was a slow-burning flame that could only be extinguished by putting pen to paper. These authors have achieved fame because of the quality of their writing, the compelling stories they tell, and how those stories resonate with their audiences worldwide.

Sometimes, popular writing isn’t so much about great literature as great storytelling. Our list represents authors who write the kinds of captivating stories that used to be told around campfires, holding your attention until the last word on the last page. These authors know how to mesmerize with words like a hypnotist mesmerizes with a watch on a chain. If you’re interested in writing your own novel, check out our writing tips for fiction.

Here Are The Best Known Authors

1. James Patterson, 1947 –

James Patterson
James Patterson via Wikipedia, Public Domain

James Patterson is an acclaimed American author renowned for his crime thrillers. His sales of more than 325 million copies surpass those of Stephen King, John Grisham, and Dan Brown combined, placing him firmly in the realm of success. He was born in Newburgh, New York, and graduated from Manhattan College. Prior to writing full-time, he worked as a junior copywriter at J Walter Thompson Advertising Agency.

Patterson was inspired by his childhood in a devout Catholic family to pursue writing as an adult. His first novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, won the Edgar Award for best mystery of 1976. His success as a writer has been built upon the same founding principles that have made his work popular in commercial markets: stories that are quick and effortless to read. He writes them using sparing language, creating captivating plot lines across hundreds of chapters never longer than four or two pages in length. You might also interested in our guide on the best international books.

“He and Ben Toy had watched its approach for six or eight miles of scruffy Panhandle desert. They were doing nothing.”

James Patterson, The Thomas Berryman Number
The Thomas Berryman Number
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Patterson, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 292 Pages - 06/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

2. Dan Brown, 1964 –

Dan Brown
Dan Brown via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Dan Brown was born and raised in Exeter, New Hampshire, USA, and is the best-selling author of novels such as The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, and Deception Point, among many others. He attended the elite boarding school of Phillips Exeter Academy. There, he joined a fraternity, sang with a glee club, and studied writing with visiting novelist Alan Lelchuk.

After graduating, he worked as an English teacher in Rye, New Hampshire. Later, he taught sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade Spanish classes at Lincoln Akerman School in Hampton Falls, NH. Brown’s early aspiration was to become a professional singer. He released several CDs of music, which continue to sell well.

He began writing full-time while vacationing in Tahiti, where he read Sidney Sheldon’s The Doomsday Conspiracy. Brown decided he could do as well or better and pursued a writing career. In 1993, Brown published The Digital Fortress, followed by Angels & Demons two years later. His books always make bestseller lists; many have been made into movies featuring Tom Hanks playing the lead character.

“Langdon stared at the picture, his horror now laced with fear.”

Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code: A Novel (Robert Langdon)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Brown, Dan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 496 Pages - 03/18/2003 (Publication Date) - Anchor (Publisher)

3. J.K. Rowling, 1965 –

J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Born in Gloucestershire, England, as Joanne Kathleen Rowling, J.K. Rowling is the author of the beloved Harry Potter series of children’s books that have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and inspired a blockbuster film franchise. Harry Potter was created while Rowling was stuck on a delayed train from Manchester to London. Reportedly, she dreamed about a magical world where three best friends could share their magic and help each other when needed.

Her debut novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was published in 1997 and quickly rose to become one of the most beloved children’s novels ever created. It quickly went on to become a number one bestseller in many countries. Due to the success of the first Harry Potter book, Rowling wrote six more in the series. Blockbuster movies have been made from all the books, and Harry Potter has now known the world over as the Boy Wizard who defeated He Who Must Not be Named.

“It was a dream. I dreamed a giant called Hagrid came to tell me I was going to a school for wizards. When I open my eyes I’ll be at home in my cupboard.”

J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Illustrated [Kindle in Motion]: The Illustrated Edition (Illustrated Harry Potter Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rowling, J.K. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 258 Pages - 09/05/2017 (Publication Date) - Pottermore from J.K. Rowling (Publisher)

4. John Grisham, 1955 –

John Grisham
John Grisham via Wikipedia, Public Domain

John Grisham was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and, as a boy, had aspirations of becoming an accomplished professional baseball player. But upon discovering that his talent wasn’t quite up to par, he turned instead towards accounting and law school. He graduated from law school in 1981 and opened a small legal practice in Southaven, Mississippi, focusing on criminal defense and personal injury litigation. Elected to the state legislature twice between 1983 and 1985, he served two terms.

Grisham began writing fiction while serving in the legislature, inspired by witnessing a trial. After three years of work on A Time to Kill, which was rejected by 28 publishers, Grisham found an independent publisher who released it as 5,000 copies. Grisham’s next works were better received. His novel, The Firm, became a major Hollywood movie starring Tom Cruise. He is now the author of 50 novels and counting.

“Billy Ray Cobb was the younger and smaller of the two rednecks. At twenty-three he was already a three-year veteran of the state penitentiary at Parchman.”

John Grisham, A Time to Kill
A Time to Kill: A Novel (Jake Brigance Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Grisham, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 504 Pages - 03/09/2010 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

5. Nora Roberts, 1950 –

Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Nora Roberts is a bestselling American author of romance, romantic suspense, and fantasy novels. She was born on October 10, 1950, in Silver Spring, Maryland, and grew up in a small town near Washington. Roberts began writing in 1979 and published her first novel, Irish Thoroughbred, in 1981. Since then, she’s written over 200 novels and has become one of the most popular and successful romance writers ever. Her books have been translated into over 35 languages and have sold hundreds of millions of copies worldwide.

In addition to her writing, Roberts is also known for her philanthropic work. She and her husband, Bruce Wilder, established the Nora Roberts Foundation, which supports several charitable organizations, including literacy programs, animal shelters, and environmental causes.

“Little Dee, I would have known you anywhere.” He pulled back and studied her face, eyes misty, smile tender. “It’s like looking into Kate’s face again-it’s the image of your mother you are.”

Nora Roberts, Irish Thoroughbred
Irish Thoroughbred (Irish Hearts Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Roberts, Nora (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages - 09/15/2020 (Publication Date) - St. Martin's Paperbacks (Publisher)

6. Stephen King, 1947 –

Stephen King
Stephen King via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Stephen King is a famous American author and screenwriter known for his works in the horror, supernatural fiction, suspense, science fiction, and fantasy genres. He was born on September 21, 1947, in Portland, Maine, and grew up in a small town in the state. King began writing at a young age and published his first novel, Carrie, in 1974. The novel was a huge success and was later adapted into a film starring Sissy Spacek. Since then, King has written over 60 novels and numerous short stories, many of which have been adapted into films, television shows, and comic books.

King’s most famous works include The Shining, Salem’s Lot, Pet Sematary, It, Misery, and The Stand. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the Bram Stoker Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the O. Henry Award. In 2003, King was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.

“It was reliably reported by several persons that a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky on Carlin Street in the town of Chamberlain on August 17.”

Stephen King, Carrie
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • King, Stephen (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 322 Pages - 06/24/2008 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

7. Michael Connelly, 1956 –

Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Michael Connelly is a renowned author of detective and other crime fiction novels. He holds the number one New York Times sales record with close to thirty novels and several short stories. Connelly majored in journalism and began working as a newspaper reporter in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He and two other reporters were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 after writing articles about the aftermath of a famous airliner crash. Connelly relocated to Los Angeles to pursue his writing career on the heels of that success.

Connelly never intended to write novels, yet his passion has led him to become a bestselling author. He’s well known for his character Harry Bosch, featured in over twenty novels and the popular Amazon TV series Bosch. Connelly is also known for his legal thriller series, The Lincoln Lawyer, which was adapted into a movie starring Matthew McConaughey and a television series.

“The morning air off the Mojave in late winter is as clean and crisp as you’ll ever breathe in Los Angeles County.”

Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer
The Lincoln Lawyer (A Lincoln Lawyer Novel Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Connelly, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 528 Pages - 10/01/2005 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

8. Brian Jacques, 1939 – 2011

Brian Jacques
Brian Jacques via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Brian Jacques was a British author best known for his Redwall series of fantasy novels. He was born in Liverpool, England, and grew up in the city’s working-class community. Jacques began writing at a young age and published his first book, Redwall, in 1986. The novel was an instant success and was followed by a number of sequels, including Mossflower, Mattimeo, and Martin the Warrior.

The Redwall series is set in a world of talking animals and follows the adventures of the residents of Redwall Abbey as they defend their home from evil forces. In addition to the Redwall series, Jacques wrote several other books, including Castaways of the Flying Dutchman and The Legend of Luke. He was a talented storyteller, and his books were known for their richly imagined worlds, memorable characters, and action-packed adventures.

“Matthias cut a comical little figure as he wobbled his way along the cloisters, with his large sandals flip-flopping and his tail peeping from beneath the baggy folds of an oversized novice’s habit.”

Brian Jaques, Redwall
Redwall: A Tale from Redwall
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Jacques, Brian (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 351 Pages - 09/30/2002 (Publication Date) - Firebird (Publisher)

9. Malcolm Gladwell, 1963 –

Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Malcolm Gladwell is an English-born Canadian journalist, author, and public speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996, and his five books have all achieved bestseller status. Gladwell has a bachelor’s degree in history and years of experience working with some of the most prestigious magazine publications, including The Washington Post and The American Spectator, in addition to the aforementioned New Yorker. His first book, The Tipping Point, because a bestseller, as did his follow-up book, Blink, which covers the little-appreciated benefits of not overthinking.

By all accounts, Malcolm Gladwell has brought critical thinking to the masses with his accessible books filled with fascinating anecdotes that support the hypotheses that he puts forth. Each of his subsequent books has hit the bestseller lists, including Outliers, David and Goliath, What the Dog Saw, and more. Gladwell is a prolific author and a highly esteemed public speaker.

“When people are in a group, in other words, responsibility for acting is diffused.”

Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Gladwell, Malcolm (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 298 Pages - 11/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

10. Eckhart Tolle, 1948 –

Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart Tolle via Wikipedia, Public Domain

Eckhart Tolle is a spiritual teacher and author best known for his books The Power of Now and A New Earth. He was born in Germany in 1948 and spent much of his early life with anxiety and depression. Only after a profound spiritual awakening in his late twenties did Tolle discover his life’s purpose as a teacher and writer. Tolle’s teachings and writings focus on the importance of being present at the moment and living in a state of mindfulness and awareness.

He emphasizes that true happiness and fulfillment can only be found by letting go of negative thoughts and emotions and living in the present moment. In addition to his books, Tolle also offers workshops, retreats, and online courses on meditation, mindfulness, and spiritual awakening. He has a large following of students and fans worldwide and is widely recognized as one of the leading spiritual teachers of modern times. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best historical fiction books!

“The collective manifestations of the insanity that lies at the heart of the human condition constitute the greater part of human history.”

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Tolle, Eckhart (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 330 Pages - 08/29/2006 (Publication Date) - Penguin Life (Publisher)