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Female Professionals The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature  

Celebrity Lists
453 votes 126 voters 6.1k views

List Rules Vote up the top black women authors throughout history and around the world, including novelists, essayists, journalists, and other writers.

Looking for your next engrossing read? Look no further. This list features the most famous black female authors of all time, known for books spanning multiple genres. The best black female writers come in many forms. Some of these talented women are novelists, while other notable black female writers also pen poetry. A number of these works have even been adapted into feature films.

What literary luminaries will you find on this list of black women authors? You might vote Maya Angelou to the top spot. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings put her on the literary map in 1969 and she continued her success with such books as Gather Together in My Name and All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes. Toni Morrison is another great African American female author. Alice Walker's The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 and its film adaptation was nominated for several Academy Awards. Angela Davis, TerryMcMillan, and Audre Lorde are also featured on this roundup.

Which woman should be ranked at number one on the list? That's up to you to decide. Give your favorites a thumbs up to move them towards the top, and please add any talented writers that are missing.

list ordered by

1
30 5
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 87

2
34 10
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 86 (1928-2014)

3
19 6
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 74

4
15 5
Sojourner Truth is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

5
15 5
Octavia E. Butler is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 59 (1947-2006)

6
12 3
Audre Lorde is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 58 (1934-1992)

7
12 3
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

8
11 4
Nikki Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

9
16 9
Zora Neale Hurston is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 69 (1891-1960)

10
7 1
Patricia Hill Collins is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

11
7 1
Lorraine Hansberry is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 35 (1930-1965)

12
8 3
Rebecca Walker is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

13
8 3
Nina Simone is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 70 (1933-2003)

14
7 2
Chika Unigwe is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 44

15
6 2
Asha Bandele is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Asha Bandele

16
5 1
Toni Cade Bambara is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 56 (1939-1995)

17
5 1
Dorothy West is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 91 (1907-1998)

18
5 1
Toi Derricote is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Toi Derricote

19
5 1
Staceyann Chin is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

20
4 0
Paule Marshall is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

21
10 7
Angela Davis is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 74

22
7 4
Terry McMillan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

23
5 2
Harriet E. Wilson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Harriet E. Wilson Dec. at 75 (1825-1900)

24
4 1
Elizabeth Nunez is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

25
6 4
Phillis Wheatley is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 31 (1753-1784)

26
5 3
Ann Petry is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 89 (1908-1997)

27
4 2
Jessie Fauset is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Jessie Fauset

28
4 2
Elizabeth Alexander is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

29
4 2
Maggie Anderson is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Maggie Anderson age 69

30
3 1
Rita Dove is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 65

31
3 1
Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 83 (1917-2000)

32
2 0
Nella Larsen is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
grace-feinman-riordan added Dec. at 73 (1891-1964)

33
5 4
Ntozake Shange is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

34
5 4
Sapphire is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 67

35
4 3
Tina McElroy Ansa is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

36
4 3
Jesmyn Ward is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 41

37
4 3
Helena Andrews is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Helena Andrews age 37

38
2 1
Lucille Clifton is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 74 (1936-2010)

39
2 1
Pearl Cleage is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 69

40
2 1
Tracy K. Smith is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

41
2 1
Edwidge Danticat is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

42
3 3
Buchi Emecheta is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature

43
2 2
Tomi Adeyemi is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Sana Wilson added Tomi Adeyemi

44
2 2
Ernessa T. Carter is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Ernessa T. Carter

45
1 1
Julie Dash is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
age 65

46
1 1
Michelle Alexander is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Michelle Alexander age 50

47
0 1
Heidi W. Durrow is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature