Female Professionals The Best Female Authors of All Time  

Ranker Books
Originally by
21.7k votes 2.9k voters 93.5k 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.
list ordered by

1
731 308
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park

2
445 175
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Frankenstein, Falkner

3
408 181
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jane Eyre, Emma

4
440 213
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One's Own

5
437 178
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
A Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None

6
702 321
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Casual Vacancy

7
467 211
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
To Kill a Mockingbird

8
267 147
Louisa May Alcott is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jo's Boys, Little Women, Little Men

9
254 92
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda

10
323 76
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added The complete poems, The letters, Acts of Light: The World of Emily Dickinson

11
192 82
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn

12
297 102
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Wuthering Heights

13
269 92
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Year of the Flood, The Circle Game, Cat's Eye

14
223 123
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Bell Jar

15
247 146
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jazz, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon

16
133 64
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My Ántonia

17
152 66
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence

18
122 69
Zora Neale Hurston is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Sweat, Their Eyes Were Watching God

19
138 78
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, The Temple of My Familiar

20
170 69
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

21
241 179
Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Diary of a Young Girl

22
79 59
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

23
148 77
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Always Coming Home, The Day Before the Revolution

24
296 129
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
I Shall Not Be Moved, The Heart of a Woman, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

25
91 43
Isabel Allende is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anna Åhlin added La casa de los espíritus, Daughter of Fortune, Eva Luna

26
100 72
Dorothy Parker is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
A Star Is Born, Dusk Before Fireworks

27
82 37
Mary Wollstonecraft is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added 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
95 92
Gertrude Stein is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Q.E.D., Fernhurst, Three Lives

29
68 47
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Renascence and Other Poems, A Few Figs From Thistles: Poems and Four Sonnets

30
117 74
Simone de Beauvoir is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, The Second Sex

31
74 21
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added 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.

32
96 60
Carson McCullers is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding

33
65 30
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

34
83 48
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
AdmiralCrunch added The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

35
86 53
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

36
76 44
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added The Children of Men, Cover Her Face, The Private Patient

37
68 54
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

38
123 47
Shirley Jackson is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery

39
88 57
Kate Chopin is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Awakening, Bayou Folk, A Night in Acadie

40
132 76
Judy Blume is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Tiger Eyes, Freckle Juice, Are You There God? It's Me

41
60 28
Arundhati Roy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added The God of Small Things, Electric Moon, In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones

42
61 35
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
ChrisLeonard added Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

43
84 59
Anaïs Nin is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Henry and June, Little Birds, Delta of Venus

44
59 72
Betty Friedan is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Fountain of Age, The Feminine Mystique

45
90 52
Enid Blyton is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Adventures of the Wishing Chair, The Enchanted Wood

46
124 105
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Interview with the Vampire, The Queen of the Damned

47
75 40
Eudora Welty is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added The Optimist's Daughter, A Curtain of Green, The Robber Bridegroom

48
52 31
Joan Didion is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added The Panic in Needle Park, A Star Is Born, Play It as It Lays

49
73 58
Joyce Carol Oates is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Black Water, What I Lived For, Blonde

50
56 26
Astrid Lindgren is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anna Åhlin added Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, Pippi Longstocking