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The Best Female Writers of All Time

Updated on March 11, 2020

Due to the International Women's Day, the whole month of March is usually dedicated to women all around the world. Marking the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women is always a nice reason for celebration, especially in an era during which we still have a lot to accomplish in the field of equality.

In such spirit, little female me has proudly prepared for everyone a list of some of the most accomplished female authors of all time.

"Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.” - Carolyn See
"Every word a woman writes changes the story of the world, revises the official version.” - Carolyn See

1. JANE AUSTEN

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense.”

— Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen (1775-1817) is famous for her artistry in harsh and satirical social critique stashed inside romance novels.

Born in Hampshire, fairly educated, Jane proved herself to be very talented with words; her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was published in 1811. Soon, other valuable novels followed, such as Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and many others.

Her legacy is certainly a priceless asset to every personal library. Full of important messages, her work was adapted to screen multiple times.

2. THE BRONTË SISTERS

“He's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

— Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

А literary family from Yorkshire gave birth to three amazing artists: Charlotte (1816–1855), Emily (1818-1848), and Anne (1820-1849). One novel per each was more than enough to secure them three places in history. Nevertheless, all three of them offered more than that, but they're mostly famous for their novels.

Charlotte's Jane Eyre, Emily's Wuthering Heights, and Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are some of the best pieces of written art. The sisters were very close, and all three mastered the skill of storytelling relatively early in life. The one thing they had in common is the following: all their novels portrayed the lives of many people, but the center of the attention was always a strong-willed, female character.

3. MARY SHELLEY

“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.”

— Frankenstein

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797–1851) was known in society as the wife of a famous and talented philosopher and poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Little did the world know that Mary was good with words as much as her husband was.

The idea for Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, was conceived in the summer of 1816. Mary and Percy engaged themselves in nurturing a friendship with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont, and they spent the whole summer in Byron's lakehouse in Switzerland. The company was challenged by Lord Byron to write a ghost story. That's exactly how Mary came to an idea for her novel, infused with elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement.

Her work is still considered to be a shocking, revolutionary, and priceless piece of art.

4. VIRGINIA WOOLF

“I will not be "famous," "great." I will go on adventuring, changing, opening my mind and my eyes, refusing to be stamped and stereotyped. The thing is to free one's self: to let it find its dimensions, not be impeded.”

— A Writer's Diary

Virginia (1882–1941) was one of the most significant modernists and an author skilled at the stream of consciousness (depicting multiple thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind of the artist) as a narrative device. During her life, he was very troubled by her mental illness, but she managed to create wonderful prose despite the illness, or maybe even because of it.

The Voyage Out, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and A Room of One's Own are all considered to be masterpieces. Her last novel, Between the Acts, was published after she committed suicide at the age of 59.

Her novels have been translated into more than 50 languages so far.

5. TONI MORRISON

“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”

— Song of Solomon

Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison (1931-2019), born and raised in Ohio, was a skillful novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor. Winner of both Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Nobel Prize in Literature, Toni deserved a worldwide recognition for her work.

Her most accomplished novels were The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, The Beloved Trilogy, and God Help the Child.

In 2012, she was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

6. ISABEL ALLENDE

“There is no death, daughter. People die only when we forget them,' my mother explained shortly before she left me. 'If you can remember me, I will be with you always.”

— Eva Luna

Isabel Allende (born in 1942) is probably the most read Spanish-language author in the world. She is a part of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the winner of Chile's National Literature Prize. In 2014, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Her works are frequently spiced with aspects of magical realism, which give her novels a special note. Her work is often inspired by her own experience in combination with historical events of great importance. She is quite skilled in intertwining myth and reality.

Isabel Allende earned respect and literary fame with The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Island Beneath the Sea, Zorro, and the series Memories of the Eagle and the Jaguar.

7. AGATHA CHRISTIE

“Meanwhile we have learnt something, and to know is to be prepared.”

— The Big Four

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan (1890-1976) was a very talented writer of crime and mystery novels. Her pen gave birth to 66 detective novels, 14 short story collections, the world's longest-running play The Mousetrap, and six romances under the pen name Mary Westmacott.

Agatha Christie served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, and during the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital in London. Logically, she gathered knowledge for her novels in her everyday life. Like most women, she struggled to get her work published, and was rejected six times before she won her place in the literary world with the novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She's famous in the world due to her characters Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple.

Lots of her novels have been adapted for television, radio, video games, and comics. Agatha Christie is an eternal inspiration for many authors all over the world.

8. LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”

— Little Women

With the pen name A. M. Barnard (1832-1888), Louisa May Alcott was a novelist, writer of short stories, and a poet. The world is mostly acquainted with her novel Little Women, and its sequels Little Men and Jo's Boys.

Louisa worked from an early age to help support her family, but also managed to write. She grew up among many well-known intellectuals of the day, which certainly helped her to properly channel the talent she possessed. Little Women is a novel somewhat based on her personal experience and was adapted many times to film, stage, and television.

Louisa May Alcott was an active abolitionist and a feminist.

9. HARPER LEE

“Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

— To Kill a Mockingbird

Nelle Harper Lee (1926–2016) published only two books, and with them, she contributed to the literature so much that she was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Like Mary Shelley, she is proof that quality is the most important thing you can possess.

She received formal education at the University of Alabama, where she studied the law. Harper Lee wrote for the university newspaper and the humor magazine.

The plot and characters of her novel To Kill a Mockingbird are loosely based on her previous life, and the novel itself deals with some serious questions and issues as old as the world itself. Later, she wrote and published Go Set a Watchman, which is considered to be a sequel to her first novel.

10. GEORGE ELIOT

“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.”

— Middlemarch

Mary Ann Evans (1819–1880) was known by her pen name George Eliot. She was a novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. George Eliot wrote seven novels and was known by her strong realism and presentation of the spiritual, emotional, and mental lives of the characters.

Mary Ann was a passionate reader, especially at an early age. Besides being a novelist, she was also a skillful poet. Some of her famous poems are How Lisa loved the King, and Count that Day Lost. Despite being a great poet, she thrived with her novels, such as Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, and Romola. Eliot fearlessly presented her social critique using her work.

One of her novels, Middlemarch, was often described as the greatest novel written in the English language.

During history, every female writer contributed to the quality of the world. Each woman brought something refreshing and new to the universe of literature. More than anything, these daring women did their part in a centuries-long fight for the equality of the sexes. There are many talented authoresses who weren't mentioned in this article, but that doesn't make them any less worthy.

Which female authors would you add to the list?

Comments

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    • Majestic Tells profile image

      Laurinzoscott 

      6 days ago from Kanab, Utah

      This is a very fitting tribute to women writers .... its too bad that many womenn writers had to right under male pen names in the early oart of last century...anyway...fine article!

    • Ivana Divac profile imageAUTHOR

      Ivana Divac 

      10 days ago from Serbia

      Thank you, everyone, for your kind comments! I really love all authors you suggested. They're really important, and I'm sorry I couldn't include all of them into article.

    • profile image

      Amy 

      2 weeks ago

      Such a lovely hub!

    • profile image

      Anya A. 

      2 weeks ago

      I really like this!

    • Shawn Tangcalagan profile image

      Shawn Tangcalagan 

      2 weeks ago from Philippines

      Excellent Hub! I would love to see more of this!

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      2 weeks ago

      An excellent article with many of my favourites on the list. If I could add one author it would have to be Barbara Kingsolver whose work champions the causes of feminism and environmentalism. I enjoyed reading this article as these women are so important and inspirational.

    • profile image

      Lily Mason 

      2 weeks ago

      Maggie Stiefvater!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      2 weeks ago from Fresno CA

      Definitely Maya Angelou is one more. This was a good list and I love them all.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • profile image

      Jared Blake 

      2 weeks ago

      I'd add writers like J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Veronica Roth.

    • profile image

      Book Lover 

      2 weeks ago

      I really love this article. Very creative!

    • surovi99 profile image

      Rosina S Khan 

      2 weeks ago

      You bring together a majority of the renowned female writers, whose many works I have read. You do it beautifully so that I really enjoyed it. A nice tribute to them on the occasion of Women's International Day in the month of March, Ivana.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      2 weeks ago from UK

      This is an interesting list, bringing together classics that I studied in the past and also more recent writers.

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