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
156 58
Jane Austen is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Jane Austen Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

The Best Ever Female Sci-Fi Authors The Best Novels About World War 2

2
91 26
Mary Shelley is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Mary Shelley Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Political Justice

3
151 59
Agatha Christie is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Agatha Christie Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, The ABC Murders

4
121 41
Charlotte Brontë is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Shirley

5
96 39
Virginia Woolf is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Room of One’s Own

6
142 62
Harper Lee is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird

7
84 34
Margaret Atwood is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Margaret Atwood The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake, The Blind Assassin

8
165 96
J. K. Rowling is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
J. K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Casual Vacancy

9
94 37
Louisa May Alcott is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Louisa May Alcott Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys

10
65 33
Madeleine L'Engle is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added Madeleine L'Engle A Wrinkle in Time, A Ring of Endless Light, A Wind in the Door - A Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet

11
58 27
George Eliot is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
George Eliot 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

12
87 31
Emily Brontë is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Emily Brontë Wuthering Heights, Gondal poems, Poems by Currer - Wuthering Heights

13
60 30
Edith Wharton is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added Edith Wharton Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth - Ethan Frome, The Age of Innocence

14
49 34
Ursula K. Le Guin is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Ursula K. Le Guin A Wizard of Earthsea, The Left Hand of Darkness, The Dispossessed

15
76 35
Beatrix Potter is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Beatrix Potter The Tale of Peter Rabbit, The Tale of Jemimi Puddle-Duck, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny

Famous Lesbian Authors The Most Overrated Books of All Time

16
62 25
Daphne du Maurier is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Daphne du Maurier Rebecca, Mary Anne, The Birds II: Land's End

17
46 23
Flannery O'Connor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Flannery O'Connor Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away, Everything That Rises Must Converge

18
66 33
Laura Ingalls Wilder is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House in the Big Woods, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie

19
54 45
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon

20
23 8
Patricia Highsmith is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Patricia Highsmith The Talented Mr. Ripley, The American Friend, Strangers on a Train

21
43 29
Lucy Maud Montgomery is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Lucy Maud Montgomery Anne of Green Gables, The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set, Emily Climbs

22
36 23
Anne Brontë is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Anne Brontë The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Agnes Grey, Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

23
23 15
Dorothy Parker is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
GregerNordstrom added Dorothy Parker Saboteur, A Star Is Born, A Star Is Born

24
39 27
Willa Cather is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added Willa Cather Death Comes for the Archbishop, A Lost Lady, My Ántonia - My Antonia, Death Comes for the Archbishop

25
27 16
Judy Blume is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Judy Blume Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

26
44 27
Harriet Beecher Stowe is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom's Cabin, The Minister's Wooing, Men of our times

27
33 25
Alice Munro is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Alice Munro Dear Life, The Love of a Good Woman, Runaway

28
19 10
Sigrid Undset is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Sigrid Undset The snake pit, Kristin Lavransdatter, The Cross

29
34 19
P. D. James is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added P. D. James The Children of Men, Cover Her Face, The Private Patient

The Greatest Female Film Directors Things You Should Stop Apologizing For

30
27 20
Elizabeth Gaskell is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Elizabeth Gaskell North and South, Cranford, Mary Barton

31
26 25
Kate Chopin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added Kate Chopin The Awakening, The awakening, and other stories - The Awakening

32
14 6
Baroness Emma Orczy is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Baroness Emma Orczy The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel

33
36 32
Barbara Kingsolver is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible, The Bean Trees, Animal

34
27 22
Dorothy L. Sayers is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Dorothy L. Sayers The Nine Tailors, Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Night

35
18 12
Marguerite Yourcenar is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Marguerite Yourcenar Memoirs of Hadrian, Oriental Tales, Fires

36
23 18
Iris Murdoch is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Iris Murdoch The Bell, Under the Net, The Sea

37
21 16
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
but chickens double d added Alice Walker The Color Purple, Possessing the Secret of Joy, The Temple of My Familiar

38
21 17
Muriel Spark is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
looksharp added Muriel Spark The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, The Girls of Slender Means, The Mandelbaum Gate

39
19 15
Doris Lessing is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Doris Lessing The Golden Notebook, The Grass Is Singing, Shikasta

40
9 3
Angela Carter is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Haricot added Angela Carter The Passion of New Eve, Wise Children, Nights at the Circus

41
11 6
Thea von Harbou is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Thea von Harbou Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse

42
10 5
Countess of Ségur is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Countess of Ségur La fortune de Gaspard, Les Deux Nigauds, Mémoires d'un âne

43
35 35
E. Annie Proulx is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
E. Annie Proulx The Shipping News, Brokeback Mountain, Close Range: Wyoming Stories

The Funniest Female Comedians of All Time The Best Movie Characters of All Time

44
10 6
Geneviève Dormann is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Geneviève Dormann Coup de Grâce, Colette--a passion for life, Mauritius from the air

45
9 5
Sibylle Lewitscharoff is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Mollevangsvagen added Sibylle Lewitscharoff

46
57 72
Ayn Rand is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
tcjx14me added Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, The Fountainhead

47
20 18
Anita Diamant is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
AdmiralCrunch added Anita Diamant The Red Tent, Pitching my tent, The new Jewish baby book - The Red Tent

48
8 4
George Sand is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Shushan added George Sand Little Fadette, Flaubert-Sand: The Correspondence, Lelia

49
10 7
Anne McCaffrey is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
ChrisLeonard added Anne McCaffrey Dragonflight, Dragonsong, Sassinak

50
47 53
Anne Rice is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Female Novelists Ever
Anne Rice Interview with the Vampire, The Queen of the Damned, Merrick