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
710 299
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
437 165
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Frankenstein, Falkner

3
396 175
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Jane Eyre, Emma

4
429 207
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
421 168
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
683 304
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
453 206
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
To Kill a Mockingbird

8
260 142
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
249 90
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
311 73
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
186 79
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Rebecca, The Birds, Jamaica Inn

12
291 101
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Wuthering Heights

13
261 87
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
214 119
Sylvia Plath is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Bell Jar

15
131 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
241 142
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
149 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
133 75
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
77 57
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

21
233 173
Anne Frank is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
The Diary of a Young Girl

22
163 68
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Wise Blood, A Good Man Is Hard to Find

23
140 74
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
288 124
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
89 39
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
99 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
80 36
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
94 90
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 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
72 21
Elizabeth Barrett Browning is listed (or ranked) 30 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.

31
62 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
93 59
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
85 51
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
jobill added The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

34
81 46
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
111 73
Simone de Beauvoir is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, The Second Sex

36
75 43
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
67 53
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
119 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
86 56
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
59 26
Arundhati Roy is listed (or ranked) 40 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

41
128 74
Judy Blume is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Tiger Eyes, Freckle Juice, Are You There God? It's Me

42
59 33
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
ChrisLeonard added Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

43
83 57
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
58 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
121 102
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
52 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
73 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
56 25
Astrid Lindgren is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Female Authors of All Time
Anna Åhlin added Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, Pippi Longstocking

50
72 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