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
551 246
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
328 131
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Falkner

3
362 163
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own

4
322 151
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre, Emma

5
538 243
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
J. K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Casual Vacancy

6
209 73
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added George Eliot Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda

7
337 151
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Agatha Christie A Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None

8
370 172
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

9
209 127
Louisa May Alcott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Louisa May Alcott Jo's Boys, Little Women, Little Men

10
254 63
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 10 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

11
153 66
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
108 49
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My Ántonia

13
211 73
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
209 126
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 Famous People Who Have PhDs

15
173 101
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

16
236 90
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights

17
123 56
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence

18
63 46
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Elizabeth Gaskell North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

19
104 62
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 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

20
138 59
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Flannery O'Connor Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

21
114 63
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 Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors

22
101 53
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
88 63
Dorothy Parker is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Dorothy Parker A Star Is Born, Dusk Before Fireworks

24
245 109
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 24 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

25
70 31
Isabel Allende is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
178 151
Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl

27
63 30
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
76 80
Gertrude Stein is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Gertrude Stein Q.E.D., Fernhurst, Three Lives

Famous Lesbian Authors

29
58 45
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

30
53 40
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
50 23
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

32
73 46
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added Iris Murdoch The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

33
74 49
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
77 53
Carson McCullers is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Carson McCullers The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding

35
63 39
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 35 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

The Best Batman Comics

36
62 37
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
AdmiralCrunch added Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

37
52 62
Betty Friedan is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Betty Friedan The Fountain of Age, The Feminine Mystique

38
107 64
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
54 18
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 39 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.

40
99 42
Shirley Jackson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery

41
49 29
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
ChrisLeonard added Anne McCaffrey Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

42
71 53
Anaïs Nin is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anaïs Nin Henry and June, Little Birds, Delta of Venus

All the 39 Clues Books, Ranked Best to Worst

43
87 72
Simone de Beauvoir is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Simone de Beauvoir She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, The Second Sex

44
41 24
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
41 25
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
72 46
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
64 38
Eudora Welty is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
74 33
Patricia Highsmith is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
100 94
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire, The Queen of the Damned

50
79 37
Alice Munro is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Alice Munro Runaway, The View From Jupiter