Female Professionals The Greatest Female Novelists Ever  

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List Rules Only women authors. Please rank only based on their fiction novels, not on short stories or non-fiction work.

The best female novelists are arguably the top and most talented women who penned some of the most popular and most influential novels of all time. These women, from around the globe over the last few centuries, changed the landscape of fiction writing with their work. These ladies are not just the best female novelists ever, but easily among the best writers of all time.

These female novelists represent many genres of literature such as romance, science fiction, fantasy, adventure and mystery, to name a few. Their works have inspired countless others and spurred numerous movie adaptations. Quite simply, these women are some of the best female authors to have ever lifted the pen.

From the classics from Agatha Christie and Jane Austen to the modern favorites from Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, it’s hard to find a book from a female novelist on this list that isn’t a favorite of millions of readers around the world.

Which of these female novelists is the best? Share your picks by voting for your favorites, adding any not listed or re-ranking this list of the best female novelists below!
list ordered by

1
181 73
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

2
107 33
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Political Justice

3
141 48
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Shirley

4
112 47
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own

5
173 72
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The ABC Murders

6
196 107
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Casual Vacancy

7
158 72
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
To Kill a Mockingbird

8
100 41
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, The Blind Assassin

9
67 30
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
A Simple Twist of Fate, RoThe Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch - The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, Silas Marner, Adam Bede, Brother Jacob, The Lifted Veil

10
73 37
Madeleine L'Engle is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added A Wrinkle in Time, A Ring of Endless Light, A Wind in the Door - A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

11
103 46
Louisa May Alcott is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys

12
106 33
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Wuthering Heights, Gondal poems, Poems by Currer - Wuthering Heights

13
70 32
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth - Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence

14
70 29
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Rebecca, Mary Anne, The Birds II: Land's End

15
84 40
Beatrix Potter is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemimi Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

16
60 36
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed

17
56 26
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, Everything That Rises Must Converge

18
70 38
Laura Ingalls Wilder is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Little House in the Big Woods, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie

19
61 48
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon

20
42 24
Anne Brontë is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Agnes Grey, Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

21
26 15
Dorothy Parker is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
GregerNordstrom added Saboteur, A Star Is Born, A Star Is Born

22
30 20
Judy Blume is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

23
46 31
Lucy Maud Montgomery is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Anne of Green Gables, The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set, Emily Climbs

24
26 11
Patricia Highsmith is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added The Talented Mr. Ripley, The American Friend, Strangers on a Train

25
42 28
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My Ántonia - My Antonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop

26
30 16
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
but chickens double d added The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, The Temple of My Familiar

27
36 25
Alice Munro is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Dear Life, The Love of a Good Woman, Runaway

28
48 29
Harriet Beecher Stowe is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Minister's Wooing, Men of our times

29
22 11
Sigrid Undset is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added The snake pit, Kristin Lavransdatter, The Cross

30
29 25
Kate Chopin is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added The Awakening, The awakening, and other stories - The Awakening

31
35 19
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added The Children of Men, Cover Her Face, The Private Patient

32
31 23
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

33
28 20
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

34
15 6
Baroness Emma Orczy is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel

35
20 12
Marguerite Yourcenar is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Memoirs of Hadrian, Oriental Tales, Fires

36
22 15
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

37
32 26
Enid Blyton is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Five on a Treasure Island, Five on Kirrin Island Again, Five Get Into Trouble

38
37 32
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

39
11 3
Angela Carter is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Haricot added The Passion of New Eve, Wise Children, Nights at the Circus

40
33 20
Zora Neale Hurston is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Their Eyes Were Watching God, Every Tongue Got to Confess, Sweat

41
13 6
Thea von Harbou is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

42
22 17
Muriel Spark is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Mandelbaum Gate

43
13 7
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
ChrisLeonard added Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

44
38 36
E. Annie Proulx is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain, Close Range: Wyoming Stories

45
11 5
Countess of Ségur is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added La fortune de Gaspard, Les Deux Nigauds, Mémoires d'un âne

46
24 21
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

47
9 4
George Sand is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Shushan added Little Fadette, Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence, Lelia

48
10 6
Geneviève Dormann is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Coup de Grâce, Colette--a passion for life, Mauritius from the air

49
9 5
Sibylle Lewitscharoff is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added

50
20 18
Anita Diamant is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added The Red Tent, Pitching my tent, The new Jewish baby book - The Red Tent