A playwright, also known as a dramatist, is a person who writes dramatic literature or drama. These works may be written specifically to be performed by actors or they may be closet dramas or literary works written using dramatic forms but not meant for performance. The term is not a variant spelling of playwrite, but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder (as in a wheelwright or cartwright). Hence the prefix and the suffix combine to indicate someone who crafts plays. The homophone with write is in this case coincidental.
While the most famous playwright in the English language is William Shakespeare, whose classic tragedies, comedies, and histories are still being performed hundreds of years after they were written, the term 'playwright' appears to have been coined by Ben Jonson in his Epigram 49, To Playwright, as an insult, to imply an inferior hack-writer for the theatre. He always described himself as a poet, since plays during that time period were always written in meter and so regarded as the provenance of poets. This view was held even as late as the early 19th Century. However, it later lost this negative connotation.
However, the most successful playwrights are often high-status figures in their industry, in stark contrast to the status of the screenwriter in Hollywood. While this may be considered to be a result of the more literary approach that has characterised the theatre since its roots in poetry, it is also because of the hard fact that according to Dramatists Guild , the playwright has the final say on a production — a situation which leaves less room for the director to be as much of an auteur as the film director, since the playwright’s vision takes precedence.