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The 222 Greatest Plays

Are plays literature? Almost all have been created to be viewed, enjoyed as theatrical presentations, rather than to be read. But most have also been published in books like other forms of literature. They are studied as literature in educational institutions.

Dramatic works are chosen for The Greatest Plays of All Time on the same basis that reading materials have been chosen for our lists for other literary forms, such as The Greatest Novels and The Greatest Stories. It is the result of extensive research and surveys involving thousands of readers, writers, critics and scholars.

Every effort has been made to include the significant dramas from all cultures and from all periods—from ancient times to recent years.

Of course the Greatest Plays list is not perfect and never can be, as new dramatic works are continually discovered and older works are appreciated anew. Check back for updates.

Latest update: February 16, 2024

BCE
472
The Persians
Aeschylus
Greece, play
458
Agamemnon
Aeschylus
Greece, play
 
The Eumenides
Aeschylus
Greece, play
 
The Libation Bearers
Aeschylus
Greece, Play trilogy
c.450–425
Prometheus Bound
Aeschylus
Greece, play
442–441
Ajax
Sophocles
Greece, play
 
missing graphic
Antigone
Sophocles
Greece, play
431
Medea
Euripides
Greece, play
429
missing graphic
Oedipus Rex
Sophocles
Greece, play
428
Hippolytus
Euripides
Greece, play
c.428
Andromache
Euripides
Greece, play
423
The Clouds
Aristophanes
Greece, play
422
The Wasps
Aristophanes
Greece, play
c.420–410
Electra
Sophocles
Greece, play
418
Electra
Euripides
Greece, play
415
The Trojan Women
Euripides
Greece, play
414
The Birds
Aristophanes
Greece, play
412
Helen
Euripides
Greece, play
411
Lysistrata
Aristophanes
Greece, play
405
The Frogs
Aristophanes
Greece, play
406
The Bacchae
Euripides
Greece, play
401
Oedipus at Colonus
Sophocles
Greece, play
c.200
Menaechmi (The Twin Brothers)
Plautus
Rome, play
 
Miles Gloriosus
Plautus
Rome, play
166
Andria
Terence
Rome, play
161
Eunuchus
Terence
Rome, play
CE
c.300
The Vision of Vasavadatta
Bhasa
India, play
c.400
The Recognition of Sakuntala
Kalidasa
India, play

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c.1300
The Chalk Circle
Li Qianfu
China, play
c.1400
Atsumori
Zeami Motokiyo
Japan, play
c.1500
The Feather Mantle
Anonymous
Japan, play
1584
Sapho and Phao
John Lyly
England, play
 
Campaspe
John Lyly
England, play
1586
The Spanish Tragedy
Thomas Kyd
England, play
 
The Siege of Numantia
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Spain, play
1587
Tamburlaine the Great
Christopher Marlowe
England, play
 
Doctor Faustus
Christopher Marlowe
England, play
1591
Richard III
England, play
c.1591
The Battle of Alcazar
George Peele
England, play
 
The Taming of the Shrew
England, play
1592
Doctor Faustus
Christopher Marlowe
England, play
 
missing graphic
Edward II
Christopher Marlowe
England, play
1594
A Midsummer Night's Dream
England, play
c.1595
Richard II
England, play
c.1596
missing graphic
Romeo and Juliet
England, play
1597
Love's Labour's Lost
England, play
c.1597
missing graphic
Henry IV, Part 1
England, play
 
Henry IV, Part 2
England, play
 
The Merchant of Venice
England, play
1598
The Peony Pavilion
Tang Xianzu
China, play
1598–1599
Much Ado About Nothing
England, play
1599
As You Like It
England, play
 
Henry V
England, play
 
missing graphic
Julius Caesar
England, play
1601
missing graphic
Hamlet
England, play
1601–1602
Twelfth Night
England, play
1603
A Woman Killed with Kindness
Thomas Heywood
England, play
1604
Measure for Measure
England, play
 
missing graphic
Othello
England, play
1604–1605
The Honest Whore
Thomas Dekker, Thomas Middleton
England, play
1606
Volpone
Ben Jonson
England, play
c.1606
missing graphic
King Lear
England, play
 
missing graphic
Macbeth
England, play
c.1608
Coriolanus
England, play
1610
The Alchemist
Ben Jonson
England, play
1611
The Winter's Tale
England, play
 
missing graphic
The Tempest
England, play
1613
Henry VIII
William Shakespeare, John Fletcher
England, play
 
The Duchess of Malfi
John Webster
England, play
1619
Lost in a Mirror
Lope de Vega
Spain, play
1622
The Changeling
Thomas Middleton, William Rowley
England, play
1631
Punishment Without Revenge
Lope de Vega
Spain, play
1633
missing graphic
'Tis Pity She's a Whore
John Ford
England, play
1635
Life Is a Dream
Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Spain, play
1636
Le Cid
Pierre Corneille
France, play
1643
The Mayor of Zalamea
Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Spain, play
1662
The School for Wives
France, play
1664
missing graphic
Tartuffe
France, play
1666
missing graphic
The Misanthrope
France, play
1667
Andromaque
Jean Racine
France, play
1668
The Miser
France, play
1670
Bérénice
Jean Racine
France, play
 
missing graphic
The Bourgeois Gentleman
France, play
1673
The Imaginary Invalid
France, play
1675
missing graphic
The Country Wife
William Wycherley
England, play
1677
The Rover
Aphra Behn
England, play
 
missing graphic
All for Love
John Dryden
England, play
 
Phèdre
Jean Racine
France, play
1691
Athalie
Jean Racine
France, play
1700
The Way of the World
William Congreve
England, play

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1721
The Love Suicides at Amijima
Chikamatsu Monzaemon
Japan, play
1728
The Beggar's Opera
John Gay
England, play
1730
The Game of Love and Chance
Marivaux
France, play
1753
The Mistress of the Inn
Carlo Goldoni
Italy, play
1767
Minna von Barnhelm or the Soldiers' Happiness
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Germany, play
1775
The Rivals
Richard Sheridan
England, play
1777
The School for Scandal
Richard Sheridan
England, play
1779
Nathan the Wise
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
Germany, play
1784
The Marriage of Figaro
Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais
France, play
1785
The Task
William Cowper
England, play
1787
Don Carlos
Friedrich Schiller
Germany, play
1798
Speed the Plough
Thomas Morton
England, play
1800
Mary Stuart
Friedrich Schiller
Germany, play
1808–1832
Faust
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Germany, play

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1821
The Prince of Homburg
Heinrich von Kleist
Germany, play
1825
Woe From Wit
Alexander Griboyedov
Russia, play
1831
Queen Margot
Alexandre Dumas
France, play
1835
Chatterton
Alfred de Vigny
France, play
1836
The Government Inspector
Nicolai Gogol
Ukraine, play
1852
The Lady of the Camellias
Alexandre Dumas, fils
France, play
1860
The Storm
Alexander Ostrovsky
Russia, play
1867
Peer Gynt
Henrik Ibsen
Norway, play
1879
Woyzeck
Georg Büchner
Germany, play
 
A Doll's House
Henrik Ibsen
Norway, play
1882
An Enemy of the People
Henrik Ibsen
Norway, play
1884
The Wild Duck
Henrik Ibsen
Norway, play
1887
The Father
August Strindberg
Sweden, play
1889
Miss Julie
August Strindberg
Sweden, play
1891
Hedda Gabler
Henrik Ibsen
Norway, play
1892
Pelleas and Melisande
Maurice Maeterlinck
Belgium, play
 
Lady Windermere's Fan
Oscar Wilde
Ireland, play
1893
The Master Builder
Henrik Ibsen
Norway, play
1894
Arms and the Man
George Bernard Shaw
Ireland, play
1895
An Ideal Husband
Oscar Wilde
Ireland, play
 
The Importance of Being Earnest
Oscar Wilde
Ireland, play
1896
The Seagull
Anton Chekhov
Russia, play
1898
Cyrano de Bergerac
Edmond Rostand
France, play
 
Candida
George Bernard Shaw
Ireland, play
1900
Uncle Vanya
Anton Chekhov
Russia, play

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1901
Three Sisters
Anton Chekhov
Russia, play
1902
The Lower Depths
Maxim Gorky
Russia, play
 
The Power of Darkness
Leo Tolstoy
Russia, play
1903
The Cherry Orchard
Anton Chekhov
Russia, play
 
Man and Superman
George Bernard Shaw
Ireland, play
1904
Riders to the Sea
John Millington Synge
Ireland, play
 
Peter Pan
J.M. Barrie
Scotland, play
1905
Major Barbara
George Bernard Shaw
Ireland, play
 
Summerfolk
Maxim Gorky
Russia, play
1906
Spring Awakening
Frank Wedekind
Germany, play
1907
The Playboy of the Western World
John Millington Synge
Ireland, play
1916
Pygmalion
George Bernard Shaw
Ireland, play
1920
R.U.R.
Karel Čapek
Czechia, play
 
Bohemian Nights
Ramón del Valle-Inclán
Spain, play
1921
Six Characters in Search of an Author
Luigi Pirandello
Italy, play
1922
Henry IV
Luigi Pirandello
Italy, play
1923
Saint Joan
George Bernard Shaw
Ireland, play
1924
The Vortex
Noel Coward
England, play
 
Juno and the Paycock
Sean O'Casey
Ireland, play
1926
The Plough and the Stars
Sean O'Casey
Ireland, play
1927
Sunset
Isaac Babel
Russia, novel
1928
The Three-Penny Opera
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
 
Machinal
Sophie Treadwell
United States, play
1930
Private Lives
Noel Coward
England, play
1931
Mourning Becomes Electra
Eugene O'Neill
United States, play
1933
Blood Wedding
Federico Garcia Lorca
Spain, play
1934
The Children's Hour
Lillian Hellman
United States, play
1935
Awake and Sing!
Clifford Odets
United States, play
1938
Thornton Wilder
United States, play
1939
missing graphic
The Little Foxes
Lillian Hellman
United States, play
 
Arsenic and Old Lace
Joseph Kesselring
United States, play
1941
Blithe Spirit
Noel Coward
England, play
 
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
1943
The Life of Galileo
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
1944
No Exit
Jean-Paul Sartre
France, play
1945
The Caucasian Chalk Circle
Bertolt Brecht
Germany, play
 
The Glass Menagerie
Tennessee Williams
United States, play
1946
The Iceman Cometh
Eugene O'Neill
United States, play
1947
A Streetcar Named Desire
Tennessee Williams
United States, play
1949
Death of a Salesman
Arthur Miller
United States, play
1950
The Bald Soprano
Eugene Ionesco
France, play
1952
The Deep Blue Sea
Terence Rattigan
Engl;and, play
 
The Chairs
Eugene Ionesco
France, play
 
Waiting for Godot
Samuel Beckett
Ireland, play
1954
Twelve Angry Men
Reginald Rose
United States, play
1956
Look Back in Anger
John Osborne
England, play
 
The Visit
Friedrich Dürrenmatt
Switzer., play
 
Long Day's Journey into Night
Eugene O'Neill
United States, play
 
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Tennessee Williams
United States, play
1957
The Entertainer
John Osborne
England, play
 
Endgame
Samuel Beckett
Ireland, play
1958
The Caretaker
Harold Pinter
England, play
 
The Zoo Story
Edward Albee
United States, play
1959
Serjeant Musgrave's Dance
John Arden
England, play
 
A Raisin in the Sun
Lorraine Hansberry
United States, play
1960
A Man for All Seasons
Robert Bolt
England, play
1962
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Edward Albee
United States, play
1963
The Garden Party
Vaclav Havel
Czech., play
 
The Crucible
Arthur Miller
United States, play
1964
The Piano Lesson
August Wilson
United States, play
1965
The Homecoming
Harold Pinter
England, play
1966
The Fate of a Cockroach
Tawfiq Al-Hakim
Egypt, play
1967
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
Tom Stoppard
England, play
1968
The Lion in Winter
James Goldman
United States, play
1969
What the Butler Saw
Joe Orton
England, play
1973
Equus
Peter Shaffer
England, play
1975
Death and the King's Horseman
Woled Soyinka
Nigeria, play
1977
The Elephant Man
Bernard Pomerance
United States, play
 
Fefu and Her Friends
María Irene Fornés
United States, play
1978
Fifth of July
Lanford Wilson
United States, play
1979
Cloud 9
Caryl Churchill
England, play
 
Amadeus
Peter Shaffer
England, play
1982
Top Girls
Caryl Churchill
England, play
 
Noises Off
Michael Frayn
England, play
 
The Real Thing
Tom Stoppard
England, play
 
"Master Harold"...and the Boys
Athol Fugard
S. Africa, play
1984
Glengarry Glen Ross
David Mamet
United States, play
1985
Fences
August Wilson
United States, play
1988
M. Butterfly
David Henry Hwang
United States, play
1990
Dancing at Lughnasa
Brian Friel
England, play
1992
Angels in America
Tony Kushner
United States, play
1993
Arcadia
Tom Stoppard
England, play
1998
Copenhagen
Michael Frayn
England, play
2000
Proof
David Auburn
United States, play
2001
Topdog/Underdog
Suzan-Lori Parks
United States, play
2004
The History Boys
Alan Bennett
England, play
 
Stuff Happens
David Hare
England, play
2007
Dara Shikoh
Danish Iqbal
India, play
2009
Jerusalem
Jez Butterworth
England, play
2011
Water by the Spoonful
Quiara Alegría Hudes
United States, play
2015
John
Annie Bsker
United States, play
 
The Humans
Stephen Karam
United States, play

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