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
696 293
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
426 163
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Frankenstein, Falkner

3
389 173
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jane Eyre, Emma

4
419 205
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
412 166
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
668 295
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
445 201
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
To Kill a Mockingbird

8
258 141
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
247 89
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
307 72
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
183 77
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn

12
254 84
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Year of the Flood, The Circle Game, Cat's Eye

13
286 101
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Wuthering Heights

14
213 119
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Bell Jar

15
130 61
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My Ántonia

16
239 141
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jazz, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon

17
147 64
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence

18
121 67
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
132 74
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
232 169
Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Diary of a Young Girl

21
77 57
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

22
138 71
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Always Coming Home, The Day Before the Revolution

23
161 68
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

24
286 122
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
88 38
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
98 70
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
79 35
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
92 89
Gertrude Stein is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Q.E.D., Fernhurst, Three Lives

29
65 46
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
79 44
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
AdmiralCrunch added The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

31
61 28
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

32
70 21
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 32 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.

33
67 52
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

34
84 51
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

35
91 59
Carson McCullers is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding

36
73 42
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
107 73
Simone de Beauvoir is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, The Second Sex

38
118 46
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
85 55
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
127 73
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
59 31
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
ChrisLeonard added Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

42
57 26
Arundhati Roy is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
82 56
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
57 69
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
87 50
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
120 101
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
51 29
Joan Didion is listed (or ranked) 47 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

48
72 40
Eudora Welty is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added The Optimist's Daughter, A Curtain of Green, The Robber Bridegroom

49
82 37
Patricia Highsmith is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added The Talented Mr. Ripley, The American Friend, Strangers on a Train

50
70 57
Joyce Carol Oates is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Black Water, What I Lived For, Blonde