The novels, poetry, and plays written in the French language from the earliest stages until the present day. Depending on usage, the term "French literature" may or may not include literature composed in Provençal or langue d'oc.
Notable French writers include:
- Michel de Montaigne: French essayist, philosopher and politician who lived during the Renaissance period.
- Molière: (January 15, 1622 – February 17, 1673) French 17th-century playwright and actor, author of many comedies.
- Voltaire: The pen-name of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), a French writer and philosopher, who was one of the leading figures of The Enlightenment.
- Stendhal: Pen name of Marie-Henri Beyle (1783–1842), French author of Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black) and La Chartreuse de Parme (The Charterhouse of Parma)
- Honoré de Balzac: (20 May 1799 – 18 August 1850) French novelist and playwright, famous for writing over 100 novels and plays on life collectively entitled La Comédie humaine.
- Victor Hugo: Victor-Marie Hugo (1802-1885), poet, novelist and playwright, was the dominant French writer of the 19th century, and also a considerable political figure.
- George Sand: (1804-76). The male pen-name of the female romantic writer, Aurore Dupin, baronne Dudevant.
- Alexandre Dumas: (1806-1876) Writer of iconic French literature, including The Three Musketeers; usually suffixed "père" to distinguish him from his namesake son, always suffixed "fils", who was also a major French writer.
- Marcel Proust: (1871-1922) French writer, famous for the largely autobiographical novel À la recherche du temps perdu.