100 Female Authors Everyone Should Read

300 years ago,  novels were a 'fickle' hobby written by, and for women. Popular Gothic novels were made fun of by pretty much everyone; from politicians to Jane Austen, who explored the genre satirically in the timelessly witty 'Northanger Abbey', even incorporating this gender divide into one of the novel's antagonists, John Thorpe, who remarks on Catherine's love for reading "Udolpho? Lord! No, I never read novels". Somewhere along the way, however, men decided that there was some merit in the art of literature, and female authors have been sidelined, ignored, and forgotten oftentimes since.

Women still buy two-thirds of novels, but the picture of this gender divide became ever clearer when Vida, an American organisation that focuses on women in the arts, published a report that proved pretty much every major international publication heavily focused on male writers; from review coverage on books to the people they commission to write about them.

It shouldn't come as much as a surprise, then, that most 'top 100' literature lists are also completely male dominated. Lists such as '100 Books Everyone Should Read in Their Lifetime', even from the more prestigious publications, feature very few books by women, and even female-focused articles tend to feature several books by one woman, or mistakenly list male authors like Evelyn Waugh, who was placed 97th on a list of most-read female authors just this year by TIME magazine.

So, inspired by Jean at Jean's Thoughts, who wrote a post bringing this issue to attention last month (link here) - here is my own list of 100 female authors that everyone should read. It features women from around the globe; from the first novel ever written, to books that were self-published just last year. These are women who I see as having a substantial influence on, not just writing, but culture and the world around us. They have written novels, non-fiction, short stories, comic books and poetry collections. I'll be ticking them off as I go along too.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. How many of these authors have you read? Who is your favourite female author? What do their books mean to you? Have I missed anyone out?

  1. Amanda Lee Koe  
  2. Antonia White
  3. Agatha Christie
  4. Ali Smith
  5. Alison Bechdel
  6. Alice Walker 
  7. Amy Tan
  8. Angela Carter  
  9. Anita Diamant
  10. Anita Loos
  11. Anne Bronte
  12. Anne Radcliffe
  13. Anne Sexton
  14. Arundhati Roy
  15. A.S. Byatt
  16. Audre Lorde
  17. Azar Nafisi
  18. Banana Yoshimoto
  19. Barbara Kingsolver
  20. Bell Hooks
  21. Betty Smith
  22. Caitlin Moran
  23. Charlotte Bronte
  24. Charlotte Perkins Gilman  
  25. Cheryl Strayed
  26. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche  
  27. Claudia Rankine ✓
  28. Clarice Lispector
  29. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
  30. Colette  
  31. Daphne Du Maurier  
  32. Diana Wynne Jones
  33. Dodie Smith
  34. Donna Tartt
  35. Edith Wharton
  36. Eimear McBride
  37. Emily Bronte  
  38. Emily Dickinson  
  39. Elizabeth Bowen
  40. Elizabeth Gaskell
  41. Eowyn Ivey
  42. Erica Jong
  43. Flannery O’Connor
  44. Frances Hodgson Burnett 
  45. George Eliot
  46. Harper Lee  
  47. Helen Oyeyemi
  48. Hilary Mantel
  49. Isabel Allende
  50. Jane Austen  
  51. Jaqueline Susann
  52. Jean Rhys  
  53. Jeanette Walls
  54. Jeanette Winterson
  55. Joan Didion
  56. Joyce Carol Oates
  57. Julia Alvarez
  58. Kate Chopin  
  59. Laura Bates  
  60. Laura Esquivel
  61. Lisa See
  62. Louisa May Alcott
  63. Louise O’Neill
  64. Lucy Maud Montgomery  
  65. Madeleine L’Engle
  66. Malala Yousafzai
  67. Marilynne Robinson
  68. Marina Keegan  
  69. Margaret Atwood  
  70. Margaret Mitchell  
  71. Malorie Blackman
  72. Marjane Satrapi  
  73. Mary Shelley  
  74. Mary Wollstonecraft
  75. Maya Angelou ✓
  76. Murasaki Shikibu
  77. Muriel Spark
  78. Naomi Wolf
  79. Nora Ephron
  80. Octavia E. Butler
  81. Rebecca Solnit
  82. Rebecca West
  83. Robin Hobb
  84. Roxane Gay
  85. Rupi Kaur  
  86. Sandra Cisneros
  87. Seonmi Hwang
  88. Shirley Conran
  89. Shirley Jackson  
  90. Simone De Beauvoir
  91. Susan Hill
  92. Susan Sontag
  93. Stella Gibbons
  94. Sylvia Plath  
  95. Toni Morrison
  96. Ursula K. Le Guin
  97. Virginia Woolf
  98. Willa Cather
  99. Zadie Smith
  100. Zora Neale Hurston ✓


  1. What a great post! I've read quite a few on this list but nowhere near enough!

  2. What a spectacular list! Love it! I've read a few, but like Kelly, no where near enough!

  3. See Dale Spender's Women of Ideas (and What Men Have Done to Them) at https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Women_of_Ideas_and_what_Men_Have_Done_to.html?id=CLs9AAAAIAAJ . It was a worldview changer for me.

  4. Since when did Émile Zola have a sex change operation?

  5. J.K Rowling, Kristin Hannah, Jodi Picoult, and Sarah Addison Allen are some of my favourite who aren't listed!

    Love this post though! My dream one day is to publish a novel ��

    Xoxo Brie