writers 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
271 104
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

The Greatest Female Novelists Ever The Greatest Graphic Novels and Collected Editions

2
179 67
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre, Emma

3
193 85
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
175 68
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Falkner

5
198 74
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Agatha Christie A Witness for the Prosecution, And Then There Were None

6
162 39
Emily Dickinson is listed (or ranked) 6 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

7
278 123
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
J. K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, The Casual Vacancy

8
224 101
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

9
147 64
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
121 40
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added George Eliot Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, Silas Marner, Daniel Deronda

11
155 53
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights

12
116 53
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar

13
129 48
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
99 39
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Daphne du Maurier Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn

15
140 79
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Toni Morrison Jazz, The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon

The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors Last Words Written By Famous People In Their Suicide Notes

16
90 39
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
102 42
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Flannery O'Connor Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

18
76 33
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
43 24
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Elizabeth Gaskell North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

20
165 94
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 20 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

21
61 40
Dorothy Parker is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Dorothy Parker A Star Is Born, Dusk Before Fireworks

22
84 47
Judy Blume is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Judy Blume Tiger Eyes, Freckle Juice, Are You There God? It's Me

23
45 20
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
62 40
Carson McCullers is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Carson McCullers The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding

25
55 22
Patricia Highsmith is listed (or ranked) 25 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

26
47 27
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 26 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

27
57 37
Kate Chopin is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Kate Chopin The Awakening, Bayou Folk, A Night in Acadie

28
34 10
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 28 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.

29
52 33
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added Iris Murdoch The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

Famous Lesbian Authors The Best Qualities in a Man

30
69 36
Shirley Jackson is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Shirley Jackson The Haunting of Hill House, The Lottery

31
63 44
Zora Neale Hurston is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Zora Neale Hurston Sweat, Their Eyes Were Watching God

32
33 15
Mary Wollstonecraft is listed (or ranked) 32 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

33
67 46
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 33 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

34
120 111
Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl

35
64 46
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Ursula K. Le Guin Always Coming Home, The Day Before the Revolution

36
47 25
Anne Morrow Lindbergh is listed (or ranked) 36 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

37
40 30
Edna St. Vincent Millay is listed (or ranked) 37 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

38
57 28
Alice Munro is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Alice Munro Runaway, The View From Jupiter

39
51 29
Eudora Welty is listed (or ranked) 39 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

40
43 28
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
looksharp added Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

41
45 24
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
AdmiralCrunch added Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

42
29 14
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
stubb added Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

43
35 18
Baroness Emma Orczy is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Mollevangsvagen added Baroness Emma Orczy The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel

The Top Female MMA Fighters The Best Steakhouses in Los Angeles

44
60 65
Gertrude Stein is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Gertrude Stein Q.E.D., Fernhurst, Three Lives

45
40 11
Margaret Mitchell is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
dhardy413 added Margaret Mitchell Gone with the Wind, Lost Laysen, Talking Business - French

46
34 18
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
ChrisLeonard added Anne McCaffrey Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

47
50 35
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
52 39
Phillipa Gregory is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Phillipa Gregory The Other Boleyn Girl, Wideacre, Earthly Joys

49
50 44
Anaïs Nin is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anaïs Nin Henry and June, Little Birds, Delta of Venus

50
63 59
Simone de Beauvoir is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Simone de Beauvoir She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, The Second Sex