female professionals The Best Female Authors of All Time  

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List Rules Vote up the greatest women writers based on their works in all genres, including short fiction, novels, poetry, non-fiction, and essays.

Some of the most powerful, influential women in history were authors, writers, and poets. What better way to make your point, affect the world around you, inspire other women to fight for their dreams. or even just simply put your stamp on the world than to have your writing published. Who are the best female authors in history?
 
The female authors featured on this list have gone down in history as the absolute greatest women writers. Many movies have been made either from some of their works, or even based on their lives and what shaped them as a writer. This list of the best female authors has been ranked by the community. Vote up the female authors you think are the best and see how your favorites rank.
 
This list features the best female authors of all time, many of whom wrote best-selling books that are still considered classics today including, Gertrude Stein, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte,  Agatha Christie, Maya Angelou, Flannery O’Connor, and Kate Chopin. If the female writer you think is the best isn't already on the list, add her below.
list ordered by

1
514 231
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park

2
338 157
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own

3
299 118
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Falkner

4
319 143
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Agatha Christie A Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None

5
303 146
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre, Emma

6
508 228
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
J. K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Casual Vacancy

7
193 65
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added George Eliot Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda

8
352 165
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

9
241 60
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Emily Dickinson The complete poems, The letters, Acts of Light: The World of Emily Dickinson

10
199 122
Louisa May Alcott is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Louisa May Alcott Jo's Boys, Little Women, Little Men

11
144 60
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Daphne du Maurier Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn

12
165 96
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

13
201 69
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Margaret Atwood The Year of the Flood, The Circle Game, Cat's Eye

14
199 124
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Toni Morrison Jazz, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon

14 Celebrities Who Are Heirs

15
225 89
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights

16
118 53
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence

17
59 43
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Elizabeth Gaskell North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

18
102 46
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My Ántonia

19
136 55
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Flannery O'Connor Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

20
83 58
Dorothy Parker is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Dorothy Parker A Star Is Born, Dusk Before Fireworks

21
107 59
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Ursula K. Le Guin Always Coming Home, The Day Before the Revolution

The Best Female Poets of All Time

22
96 51
Zora Neale Hurston is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Zora Neale Hurston Sweat, Their Eyes Were Watching God

23
67 28
Isabel Allende is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anna Åhlin added Isabel Allende La casa de los espíritus, Daughter of Fortune, Eva Luna

24
167 144
Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl

25
73 75
Gertrude Stein is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Gertrude Stein Q.E.D., Fernhurst, Three Lives

26
233 105
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Maya Angelou I Shall Not Be Moved, The Heart of a Woman, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

27
60 25
Mary Wollstonecraft is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Mary Wollstonecraft A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects, Mary: A Fiction, A Vindication of the Rights of Men

28
55 42
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

The Greatest Female Film Directors

29
99 58
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Alice Walker The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, The Temple of My Familiar

30
51 38
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Edna St. Vincent Millay Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs From Thistles: Poems and Four Sonnets

31
52 58
Betty Friedan is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Betty Friedan The Fountain of Age, The Feminine Mystique

32
76 50
Carson McCullers is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Carson McCullers The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding

33
72 46
Kate Chopin is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Kate Chopin The Awakening, Bayou Folk, A Night in Acadie

34
70 44
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added Iris Murdoch The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

35
47 22
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

The Best Film Adaptations of Young Adult Novels

36
59 38
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added P. D. James The Children of Men, Cover Her Face, The Private Patient

37
51 16
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Elizabeth Barrett Browning Sonnets from the Portuguese, Poems and Letters, New Poems by Robert Browning and elizabeth Barrett Browning - Many don't know about her excellent book-length poem Aurora Leigh.

38
103 62
Judy Blume is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Judy Blume Tiger Eyes, Freckle Juice, Are You There God? It's Me

39
84 68
Simone de Beauvoir is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Simone de Beauvoir She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, The Second Sex

40
67 51
Anaïs Nin is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anaïs Nin Henry and June, Little Birds, Delta of Venus

41
92 41
Shirley Jackson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery

42
63 36
Eudora Welty is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Eudora Welty The Optimist's Daughter, A Curtain of Green, The Robber Bridegroom

All the How to Train Your Dragon Books, Ranked Best to Worst

43
71 30
Patricia Highsmith is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Patricia Highsmith The Talented Mr. Ripley, The American Friend, Strangers on a Train

44
35 22
Arundhati Roy is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Arundhati Roy The God of Small Things, Electric Moon, In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones

45
37 24
Joan Didion is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Joan Didion The Panic in Needle Park, A Star Is Born, Play It as It Lays

46
66 43
Enid Blyton is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Enid Blyton Adventures of the Wishing Chair, The Enchanted Wood

47
94 92
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire, The Queen of the Damned

48
59 35
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
AdmiralCrunch added Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

49
53 32
Anne Morrow Lindbergh is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Mollevangsvagen added Anne Morrow Lindbergh Gift from the Sea, Listen! the Wind, North to the Orient

50
55 49
E. Annie Proulx is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
clash1977 added E. Annie Proulx The Shipping News, Fine Just the Way It Is, Brokeback Mountain