Female Professionals The Best Female Authors of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
19.7k votes 2.5k voters 78.4k views 229 items

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.

1
395 150
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Falkner

2
635 272
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jane Austen Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park

3
396 184
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
357 165
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre, Emma

5
624 272
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
385 160
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Agatha Christie A Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None

7
423 189
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

8
243 134
Louisa May Alcott is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Louisa May Alcott Jo's Boys, Little Women, Little Men

9
233 85
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added George Eliot Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda

10
280 67
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
174 71
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
239 76
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Margaret Atwood The Year of the Flood, The Circle Game, Cat's Eye

13
262 94
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights

14
120 54
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My Ántonia

15
197 111
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

16
226 132
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Toni Morrison Jazz, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon

17
116 58
Zora Neale Hurston is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Zora Neale Hurston Sweat, Their Eyes Were Watching God

18
139 59
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence

19
121 67
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
69 50
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Elizabeth Gaskell North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

21
153 64
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Flannery O'Connor Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

22
129 67
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Ursula K. Le Guin Always Coming Home, The Day Before the Revolution

23
213 160
Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl

24
269 116
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
80 34
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
95 66
Dorothy Parker is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Dorothy Parker A Star Is Born, Dusk Before Fireworks

27
74 32
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
87 87
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

29
61 42
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 29 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

30
66 49
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

31
73 39
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
AdmiralCrunch added Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

32
83 51
Kate Chopin is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Kate Chopin The Awakening, Bayou Folk, A Night in Acadie

33
81 49
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added Iris Murdoch The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

34
57 26
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

35
86 55
Carson McCullers is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Carson McCullers The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding

36
71 41
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
123 68
Judy Blume is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Judy Blume Tiger Eyes, Freckle Juice, Are You There God? It's Me

38
64 20
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 38 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.

39
109 44
Shirley Jackson is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery

40
56 30
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
ChrisLeonard added Anne McCaffrey Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

41
52 24
Arundhati Roy is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
56 67
Betty Friedan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Betty Friedan The Fountain of Age, The Feminine Mystique

43
97 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
78 55
Anaïs Nin is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anaïs Nin Henry and June, Little Birds, Delta of Venus

45
118 97
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire, The Queen of the Damned

46
72 38
Eudora Welty is listed (or ranked) 46 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

47
81 48
Enid Blyton is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Enid Blyton Adventures of the Wishing Chair, The Enchanted Wood

48
48 27
Joan Didion is listed (or ranked) 48 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

49
78 35
Patricia Highsmith is listed (or ranked) 49 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

50
57 29
S. E. Hinton is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added S. E. Hinton Rumble Fish, The Outsiders, That Was Then