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Female Professionals

The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature 

Ranker Books
Updated May 20, 2020 875 votes 264 voters 16.1k 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
Maya Angelou is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 86 (1928-2014) from St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America
2
Toni Morrison is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 88 from Lorain, Ohio, United States of America
3
Alice Walker is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 75 from Eatonton, Georgia, United States of America
4
Octavia E. Butler is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 59 (1947-2006) from Pasadena, California, United States of America
5
Zora Neale Hurston is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 69 (1891-1960) from Notasulga, Alabama, United States of America
6
Sojourner Truth is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
7
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 41 from Enugu, Nigeria
8
Nikki Giovanni is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 75 from Knoxville, Tennessee
9
Audre Lorde is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 58 (1934-1992) from Harlem, New York City, New York
10
Lorraine Hansberry is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 35 (1930-1965) from Chicago, Illinois, United States of America
11
Terry McMillan is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 67 from Port Huron, Michigan
12
Angela Davis is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 75 from Jefferson County, Birmingham, Area code 205, Contiguous United States, United States of America, United States, with Territories, Alabama, Continental United States
13
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) from Tryon, North Carolina, United States of America
14
Patricia Hill Collins is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 70 from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
15
Gwendolyn Brooks is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 83 (1917-2000) from Topeka, Kansas
16
Chika Unigwe is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 45 from Nigeria, Enugu, Africa, Enugu State, Enugu North
17
Paule Marshall is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 89 from New York City, New York
18
Asha Bandele is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
19
Toni Cade Bambara is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 56 (1939-1995) from Harlem, New York City, New York
20
Staceyann Chin is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 46 from Jamaica
21
Ntozake Shange is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 70 from Trenton, New Jersey, United States of America
22
Rebecca Walker is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Age 49 from Jackson, Mississippi, United States of America
23
Dorothy West is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
Dec. at 91 (1907-1998) from Boston, Massachusetts
24
Virginia Hamilton is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature
cjxdigital added Dec. at 68 (1934-2002) from Yellow Springs, Ohio
25
Toi Derricote is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Black Female Authors in the History of Literature