The three greatest prose stylists in English are: Henry James, George Eliot and Virginia Wolfe. The runners up are Jane Austen, James Joyce and Charles Dickens.
(Jane Austen’ s prose is clear concise and crisp. Not cold, but clear concise and crisp. Henry James can wring your heart. George Eliot can stop you dead in your tracks. Virginia Woolf turns the language in on itself. Modernism’s project of linguistic self reflection. James Joyce is fireworks: he can do everything, even if only sometimes he avoids pastiche. Dickens is always on the edge: he lives in extremes: everything is superlative.)