51 Famous Female Authors who made the world beautiful with their writings

female iconic writers

Words when used in a certain way can calm a turbulent soul. The right usage of words has prevented wars, brought smiles, uplifted lives, and empowered millions.

The problem is that not many people in the world are skilled to put the words on paper such that they touch all the good emotions hidden within the heart.

However, this also means that there are a few chosen ones who have the right skills and who in the past have done wonders through their writings.

We call these skilled people who affect us for good through their pen and words - authors.

In the community of great authors, I find female authors and their male counterparts sitting on the opposite ends of a seesaw swinging up and down in terms of excellence, prose, and quality of a narrative that evokes emotions.

When I read the work of a few famous female authors I was completely enthralled and my respect for them quadrupled.

A lot of people stereotype women authors as those who write good poetry and romance, but, could they be more wrong?

How can they say so when we have the best-selling female authors like JK Rowling who gave this world a magical fantasy masterpiece Harry Potter and the famous female novelists like Agatha Christie who created Hercule Poirot - one of the best fictional detective about par with Sherlock Holmes

Female writers have produced above par masterpieces from time to time. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge it lives in the world of ignorance.

I certainly feel inspired by the work of the famous female writers and I am sure that you will also feel so when you will know them closely through this list of popular authors who are women.

1. Doris Lessing

Dorris Lessing was a British novelist who at the age of 88 years and 50 days became the oldest recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature in 2007.

She is not with us today but her legacy remains unperturbed through her classic novels ‘The Grass is Singing’, ‘The Golden Notebook’, ‘Children of Violence’, and her phenomenal science fiction 5 novels ‘Canopus in Argos’.

Doris Lessing’s work revolved around social issues when she found herself as a communist. She highlighted the political turbulence prevailing in her time through her characters.

Later she diverted her novels towards exploring psychological issues. Her novel ‘The Golden Notebook’ widely regarded as one of the 100 best English language novels since 1923 is the one in which she explored mental and psychological breakdown.

Then she also tried her talent in the science fiction genre through the release of ‘Canopus in Argos’. If you have already read her work you would agree that Dorris Lessing is one of the classic female authors the world has ever produced.

2. Toni Morrison

If Female American authors were stars in the sky then Toni Morrison would have been the most shining one.

Toni Morrison was a brilliant American novelist who is the receiver of the Pulitzer Prize and gained global recognition for winning the Nobel Prize in literature in the year 1993.

Her stunning writing style mostly reflects on the experience of the African American in the United States and how an unfair, inequitable society entangled in racism leads to the harsh treatment of the same.

The notable works of Toni Morrison which you can’t afford to miss include ‘Beloved’, ‘The Blue Eyes’ and ‘The Song of Soloman’.

I am sure that while reading ‘Beloved’ tears will roll down your eyes as Morrison has narrated the effects of slavery through the story of a woman who goes to the extent of killing her two-year-old daughter to save her from being dragged to slavery. ‘Beloved’ won her the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

‘Beloved’ is a masterpiece that not only inspires the emerging female American writers but also the community of male authors.

‘The Song of Soloman’ which is about the life of an African American male in search of his identity was instrumental in winning Morrison the Nobel Prize for literature.

Apart from writing novels, Toni Morrison wrote essays, was a book editor as well as a University professor. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall Of Fame in the year 2020.

With such achievements and noticeable works, Toni Morrison’s name is imprinted for eternity in the list of famous female American authors.

3. Virginia Woolf

No list of the best female writers will ever exclude Virginia Woolf.

Born as Virginia Stephen in London, Virginia Woolf rose to her best by fighting several mental breakdowns.

Her best works include the novels Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and Orlando. She is regarded as the modernist 20th-century author whose narrative style was non-linear as evident from her famous novels.

Virginia Woolf was much more than her novels as she wrote influential essays on literary history, artistic theory, women’s writing. One such famous essay was ‘A room of one’s own’ in which you find the famous quote - “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Virginia Woolf wrote several short fictions which are guaranteed to influence anyone who follows English literature. At an age of 5, she wrote letters to her father narrating a new story every night.

If you want to explore more of her work after you finish reading her novels, different forms of autobiographies, fiction stories, then go through her letters that she wrote to her family.

Virginia Woolf will be in the top 5 in the list of English female writers for generations to come.

4. Ursula K Le Guin

American women writers have brought a revolution in the field of English literature. Great female novelists like Ursula K Le Guin have given a significant contribution to English literature by writing a few fabulous novels in the field of science fiction.

When you read the novels ‘A Wizard of the Earth Sea’, ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ you feel as if Le Guin owned the fantasy and science fiction genre. You start believing that human civilization exists on a number of planets other than Earth.

Ursula K Le Guin was an American author and short story writer whose most notable works were in the science fiction genre.

Her career as a writer spanned six decades. She published 20 novels and more than a hundred short stories throughout her lifetime and was a recipient of numerous awards and accolades.

5. Clarice Lispector

Any bibliophile or book reader will feel elated at the fact that the famous female author names are not few in number.

However, it becomes difficult for a blogger who is making a list of female writers. The pressure is to not exclude any lady writers who have left an impact on their readers.

Clarice Lispector is one of those female novelists whose name already pops in my head without any difficulty while creating such a list.

Clarice Lispector was a brazilian novelist and globally praised short story writer. She is widely regarded as one of the innovative authors of her generation.

She shot to fame at the young age of 23 with her novel ‘Near to the heart’ becoming an instant hit because of its innovative writing style.

Her other famous works include Family Ties which is a collection of 13 short stories and Agua Viva - a classic Brazilian fiction which is narrated by an unnamed first person to an unnamed ‘You’ having a spicy touch of music.

6. Margaret Atwood

Words fall short while describing the achievements of Margaret Atwood as this Canadian female author has numerous achievements in every genre of writing.

Atwood is a poet, a booker prize winner novelist, essayist as well as a teacher of English literature at many Canadian and American Universities.

She gained wide recognition and a reputation as one of the best female novelists with the novels ‘The Handmade’s Tale’, ‘The Robber Bride’, ‘Alias Grace’, ‘Cat’s eye’, it was the epic novel ‘The Blind Assassin’ which won her the Booker prize.

Through her writing, she displayed her feminist perspective and hit accurately the social issues of gender inequality, the difference between religion and myth, and the relation between nature and culture.

The receiver of numerous accolades and awards, Margaret Atwood is truly one of the best female authors of all time.

7. Zadie Smith

Immediate success is in the fate of a very few and Zadie Smith is one of them. This doesn’t question the talent of Zadie Smith who started writing poetry and short stories at a young age.

At the age of 21, she wrote 80 pages of a novel and submitted it to an agent. In no time, the publication houses started bidding for it. She completed the novel and published it in the year 2000.

This novel hit the bestseller chart immediately receiving critical acclaim and commercial success. Do you know which was that novel? ‘White Teeth’.

If you ask me to name a book by a female author that evokes emotions and feelings of friendship then I recommend ‘White Teeth’. Those who give importance to having friends in their life must read this epic novel.

Smith has also published a collection of essays from time to time. ‘Feel Free’ published in 2018 - a collection of 33 essays - is the one which you would love if you look forward to reading essay collections.

8. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda is one of the most influential female authors of recent times whose work is impacting the minds for the good.

Adichie is a Nigerian writer who is a significant contributor towards bringing African literature into the limelight.

She is best known for writing stories on themes of racism faced in America and the suffering of Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War.

Her novel Americanah received critical praise through which she targeted what it is to be ‘black’ in America.

Centered around the life of a Nigerian girl Ifemelu who comes to the United States to attend University, Chimamanda tells you about racism at the ground level through Americanah.

Another of her notable works is the novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ which is a result of 4 years of thorough research.

She has highlighted the destruction of Nigerian middle-class lives during the Biafran war better known as Nigeria Civil War.

This epic novel tells the story of life in Nigeria during the Biafran war from the perspective of three characters Ugwu, Olanna, and Richard Churchill. ‘

‘Half of a yellow sun’ is truly a masterpiece by this fabulous female writer who drew inspiration from the experiences of her parents during the Biafran war.

9. Elena Ferrante

I am excited to tell you about Elena Ferrante.

Although the Neapolitan novels written by her excite me a lot and she has done a brilliant job with these novels, good enough to intrigue her readers but what excites me more is the mystery of her true identity.

For those of you who do not know about the mystery then let me tell you that a lot is unknown about the female writer who writes novels under the name of Elena Ferrante.

Right from her first novel which was published in 1992, she has been publishing her work based on the condition of anonymity.

Elena Ferrante is an Italian novelist whose neapolitan novels - a series of 4 novels, ‘My Brilliant Friend’, ‘Story of a new Name’, ‘Those who leave and those who stay’, and ‘The story of the lost child’ - have received international acclaim.

Ferrante has revealed that the 4 novel series is to be seen as single novel and she has only divided it into 4 due to its length.

Women writers do a fine job in portraying the lives of their characters and Ferrante is no different.

The novels are about two intelligent girls and the phases of their life from childhood to adulthood to old age during which they try to construct a better life for themselves despite all odds.

10. Angela Carter

Magic realism is a term in the world of English Literature that came into existence in the 20th century.

First brought in by the Latin American authors, Magic Realism features the use of mythical or magical elements from the past in realistic fiction such that the reader finds the line between reality and fantasy blurred.

Angela Carter is one of those English female authors who is known for the use of Magical Realism in her work, the clear example of which is her short story collection ‘The Bloody Chamber’.

Any aspiring writer who wants to express his/her feminist side should look up to reading ‘The Bloody Chamber’ as it deals with feminist issues.

Coming back to Angela Carter, she was one of the famous female authors of the 20th century whose work ranged from novels to poems, from short stories to journalism.

Her novel ‘Nights at the circus’ centered around a woman Sophie Fevvers will make you explore feminism through fiction.

11. George Eliot

Alright, time to look at the female authors of the 19th century.

I consider George Eliot as that female writer who broke the typical convention that the lady authors were limited to writing only romance.

She was an English novelist, poet, journalist, and translator who through her novels highlighted the political issues, crisis, and turbulence during the victorian era. George Eliot’s real name was Mary Ann Evans and most of her novels are centered around the English countryside from which she herself hailed.

Her most popular novel is Middlemarch which as she portrayed is a fictional town in the English countryside. Middlemarch was literary a masterpiece that highlighted many issues such as the status of women, education, political reform, and the nature of marriage.

Although fictional, Eliot used realism brilliantly in Middlemarch and till today it is regarded as one of the best books by female authors.

12. Patricia Highsmith

My personal favorite genre is Psychological thrillers because this genre gives me timely adrenaline rushes which I love the most in my life.

Patricia Highsmith is one influential American woman writer who gave the readers of psychological thriller genres masterpieces after masterpieces. Her most notable novels include Strangers on a Train, The talented Mr. Ripley, and The Price of Salt.

The anti-hero character Mr. Ripley was created by her who murders his victims and takes on their identities. Strangers on a Train was adapted into a film of the same name by Alfred Hitchcock in the year 1951 that also propelled the reputation of the book.

Patricia Highsmith penned down her work revolving around the nature of guilt, goodwill, immorality.

13. Jane Austen

When I write about the best female novelists I can’t resist but notice how wonderful a job each of these women authors have done in their respective genres.

The other day in a bookstore my eyes fell on ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Even though I have read it already, I picked it up to flip the pages and go through it again.

This made me think about the work of Jane Austen, the 19th-century English author of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ who has done an awesome job of depicting the customs and values of high-class society.

Even two centuries after it was published, women can relate themselves to the character of Elizabeth Bennet.

She is famous for six novels, two of which published posthumously - ‘Sense and Sensibility, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Mansfield Park’,’ Emma’, ‘Northanger Abbey’, and ‘Persuasion’.

Jane Austen modeled her work around women’s thoughts on marriage, dependency on it as well as the social life after marriage.

14. Mary Shelley

One common characteristic that you will find among popular female authors is that they didn’t hesitate in giving the world something new like a coming-of-age story.

When we talk about the English author Mary Shelley then her achievement is no different. She is famous for the classic gothic novel ‘Frankenstein’ in which a young scientist Victor Frankenstein creates a monster through a scientific experiment who seeks revenge against his own creator.

Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus was published in 1818 but you must have known that the Frankenstein monster and its story have been adapted in numerous films, plays, and cartoons since its creation.

This shows the genius of the author about weaving a story and a character that would still haunt you even after two centuries of its creation.

Mary Shelley also was active in editing, publicizing, and publishing the poems of her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley.

15. Anne Tyler

Only the best authors of all time know the feeling of seeing their work making it to the final stage of the Pulitzer Prize. Anne Tyler has seen it 3 times with her three novels ‘Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant’, ‘The Accidental Tourist’ and ‘Breathing Lessons’ being the finalists of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Often classified as the ‘modern American author’, Anne Tyler is known for her artful style of writing through which she provides carefully orchestrated detailed descriptions of her characters.

Rather than throwing the story at her readers, she pulls the readers inside the story through her frank use of language in her writing. Her attention to details when it comes to the characters and the plot is so accurate that to the readers the narrative doesn’t appear as fiction and they start living it.

Anne Tyler has published twenty-three novels in her career as an American author.

16. Jhumpa Lahiri

The books by female authors have explored literary areas of the world that we had no clue existed.

A Few famous women writers brought through their works those areas of life, which you and I know about, but are not familiar with their depth.

Jhumpa Lahiri has modeled most of her work around the experience and complexities involved in Indian immigration to the United States. One such area that I just talked about above.

Jhumpa Lahiri is one of those female novelists who won the Pulitzer Prize for her short story collection ‘Interpretation of Maladies’.

I myself first bought her novel ‘The Lowland’ which I found so fantastic that I read it in one day. If you go through her novels like ‘The Namesake’ and ‘The Lowland’ you will find the life of central characters connecting between Calcutta, Boston, and New York City.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel ‘The Namesake’ was also made into a movie of the same name. Apart from being a novelist and a short story writer she is also a recognized essayist.

17. Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt is a name from the community of American female authors who have won the Pulitzer Prize. She is known for her 3 novels which are ‘The Secret History’, ‘The Little Friend’ and ‘GoldFinch’.

Out of these 3, ‘Goldfinch’ won the 2014 Pulitzer prize for fiction. Although, her first novel ‘The Secret History’ made critics believe that she was a genius writer but with ‘GoldFinch’ she proved that she is one of the leading American authors who is indeed genius.

‘Goldfinch’ is a tale of survival, feelings, the innocence of a young boy who lost his mother and finds a famous painting he sticks to throughout the novel. The storytelling ability of Donna Tartt is marvelous and ‘GoldFinch’ is a 784 pages masterpiece that proves it.

I am sure while you read ‘Goldfinch’ you will feel pulled in the story.

18. Elizabeth Strout

The literature would have become so mundane by now if we had no lady authors. Famous American female authors like Elizabeth Strout have kept the engine of the literature running at full fuel capacity.

Appreciating the work of popular female writers is not only necessary to encourage them to write better but also for the upcoming generation of writers to whom they serve as inspiration.

You won’t have to put a conscious effort to appreciate the work of Elizabeth Strout because your subconscious mind will do that automatically when you read her novels - ‘Amy and Isabelle’ and ‘Olive Kitteridge’.

The former was met with critical acclaim and became a national bestseller while the latter won the Pulitzer prize in 2009 and recorded a sale of one million copies as of 2017.

‘The Burgess Boys’ another of Strout’s novels was also met with commercial success entering the list of national bestsellers. Her storytelling talent has pushed her name on the list of female best-selling authors.

Readers love the detailed description of her characters in her work and her style of literary fiction. A lot of her writing work is drawn from her youth experiences.

19. Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis is popular for writing very short stories with a few of them being only one or two lines. Davis has compared these one-two line stories to Skyscrapers as the surroundings of a skyscraper have nothing but a wide area of blank space.

If you are interested in reading the works of female short story writers then Lydia Davis is the author you should look forward to.

Lydia Davis has also published intriguing novels such as ‘The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories’, ‘Break it Down’, ‘End of the Story’. She also won the Man Booker International Prize in the year 2013.

Apart from being a novelist, a short story writer, and an essayist, she is also a translator who produced translated versions of various French classics.

20. Agatha Christie

I personally am a big Agatha Christie fan.

To me, she tops the list of the famous female authors of the 20th century.

Agatha Christie is the ‘Queen of Crime’. She has written 66 novels and 14 short stories.

33 novels involved the detective character, Hercule Poirot, my personal favorite, and a few of them had Miss Marple, a sharp-minded spinster as the detective protagonist.

Agatha Christie knew what the readers of the mystery and detective genre wanted to read and she gave them exactly that.

Sometimes, I feel that she knows me more than I know myself when it comes to reading detective fiction and this same feeling is in the minds of most of her regular readers as well.

One of the best selling female authors of all time, more than 200 billion copies of her books have been sold.

In fact, the Guinness world records have identified Christie as the best selling fiction authors of all time based on the above stats.

Agatha Christie has also written the play ‘The MouseTrap’. ‘The Mousetrap’ is the longest-running play in the world. The first performance of the play happened in 1952 and only because of the closing of theatres due to covid the play was halted in March 2020

Christie’s work was not successful initially but she never gave up. When she published ‘The Mysterious affairs at Styles’ in the year 1920 in which she introduced Hercule Poirot, she started tasting success.

The intriguing characteristic in Christie’s novels is the plot. In the early pages, you will find a murder happening. Throughout the novel, you will keep guessing the murderer from the group of characters involved without coming to any logical conclusion.

In the end, you will find how beautifully Christie unravels the whole mystery through Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.

After the explanation, the situation would seem quite logical to you and you would tell yourself that had you noticed a few simple details then you would have found the murderer too.

Agatha Christie is one of those iconic writers who have the capability of converting non-readers into voracious readers.

If you are starting out with the books of Christie and looking for recommendations then I would recommend you pick ‘And there were none’.

19. Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis is popular for writing very short stories with a few of them being only one or two lines. Davis has compared these one-two line stories to Skyscrapers as the surroundings of a skyscraper have nothing but a wide area of blank space.

If you are interested in reading the works of female short story writers then Lydia Davis is the author you should look forward to.

Lydia Davis has also published intriguing novels such as ‘The Thirteenth Woman and Other Stories’, ‘Break it Down’, ‘End of the Story’. She also won the Man Booker International Prize in the year 2013.

Apart from being a novelist, a short story writer, and an essayist, she is also a translator who produced translated versions of various French classics.

22. Kiran Desai

This article is turning into an amazing novelists’ list featuring the achievements of women. When we speak of the best female writers then India is not behind in producing talented ones.

Kiran Desai is an Indian author who is best known for her novels ‘Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard’ and ‘The Inheritance of Loss’.

The latter won her the Man Booker Prize in the year 2007 while ‘Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard’ received critical praise from writers like Salman Rushdie.

The plot of ‘Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard’ is an intriguing one.

A man abandons his boring post-office job and starts living in a guava tree shirking from his responsibilities.

Having read their mails he comes to know about the personal lives of the people of his village and starts making prophecies about them. Soon he starts getting famous in the village as a foreteller.

23. Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton was an American novelist and a short story writer. She became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in literature in the year 1921 for her novel ‘The Age of Innocence’ published in 1920.

The novel highlighted that how high-class societies compel you to compromise on happiness by renouncing your true love.

Edith Wharton was a prominent name in the group of female authors of the 1920s because of her writing style that highlighted individual accomplishment, social reform, the relationship between a person and his house as a shelter providing space.

She was born in a wealthy, aristocratic family of New York City and used her experiences of living and interacting in the upper-class society in her writings.

Wharton was a voracious reader and spent most of her teens and adulthood writing poems and short stories. She had a troubled relationship with her mother who disapproved of most of her fiction.

Edith Wharton published her first novel after she turned forty. Her novel ‘The House of Mirth’ published in 2005 was a critical and commercial success. Some other notable novels include The Reef, ’The Custom of the Country’, and ‘Summer’.

24. Harper Lee

Imagine a situation in which you are in a room with a group of bookworms and voracious book readers discussing the United States female authors, can you exclude Harper Lee from your discussion?

An author feels nothing but pride when his/her work becomes greater than the author himself. Such is the case with Harper Lee whose novel ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ not only won a Pulitzer prize in 1961 but is also regarded as the most significant contribution ever done to modern American literature.

Harper Lee wrote only 2 novels during her career as an American novelist. The second one ‘Go set a Watchman’ being the first draft of her first novel ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’.

‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ targeted the prevailing issues of racial discrimination, rape, the killing of innocence in such a way that this book was adapted by the American education system for the students in high and middle schools.

I highly recommend this book to you if you haven’t read it already.

25. Louisa May Alcott

Have you read Little Women?

‘Little Women’ is one of the classic novels by female authors ever written. I highly recommend you to read it.

This novel is about four sisters belonging to a family with humble financial status and their journey from childhood to adulthood. ‘Little Women’ met with immediate commercial and critical success.

You will find ‘Little Women’ pleasing to read as it beautifully narrates the personalities of all four sisters and the changes they face while they grow up. Perhaps, because of its fabulous story and way of storytelling this semi-autobiographical novel has been adapted into several films.

But do you know that the author of ‘Little Women’ wrote it to support her financially struggling family?

Louisa May Alcott, a female novelist, and poet from America is the author of this classic novel which is loosely based on her own life experiences.

Alcott also wrote two of its sequels which were ‘Little Men’ and ‘Jo’s Boys’. Louisa May Alcott was one of those female authors of the 19th century who were known for their feminist writing style.

She rooted for slavery abolition and was a true feminist.

It is not the end

Cicero said, “A room without books is like a body without a soul”. He is absolutely correct.

But, have you ever thought about a room without the books written by famous women in literature?

Having such a room would be like walking keeping one eye shut on purpose. The perspective of the reader will suffer which is not good.

I feel undying gratitude for these classic female writers who made this world beautiful using their talent, beating all odds.

The list of women authors continues further from here but I would like to know which women authors you would like to see added to this list?

Also, which famous books by female authors have you read and recommend others for reading?

26. Geraldine Brooks

27. Alice Munro

28. Annie Proulx

29. Dorothy L. Sayers

30. Hilary Mantel

31. Elizabeth Gilbert

32. Sarah Waters

33. Susan Sontag

34. Amy Hempel

35. Carol Shields

36. Freya Stark

37. Kate Mosse

38. Cecelia Holland

39. Anne McCaffrey

40. Beatrix Potter

41. Elsa Morante

42. Zora Neal Hurston

43. Susanna Clark

44. Marilynne Robinson

45. Hilary Mantel

46. Nadine Gordimer

47. Jennifer Egan

48. Murasaki Shikibu

49. Alice Hoffman

50. Pearl S. Buck

51. Ruth Rendell

Also Read

12 Best Bookstores in New York City

4 Awesome features of the Japan Education system

6 best features of the Finland education system

Why education is important?

A book reader can't afford to not know about the World Book Day

Leave Comments here