The Best Female Authors of All Time

Illustration by Jane Mount

The Best Female Authors of All Time

Since its inaugural year in 1948, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded to a woman 18 times. America's National Book Award, launched in 1950, has been awarded to a woman 19 times, while the Man Booker, beginning in 1969, boasts 20. ...

Something I noticed while tallying the winners is that, for the most part, the share of female winners is densely packed into the last 20 years. While that could be seen as a sign of promise, the imbalance is still glaringly obvious which strikes me as odd considering the wealth of literary talent among women. I set out to create a list of 50 essential female authors, and upon hitting 50 in under five minutes I decided to shoot for 100. It wasn't a hard list to fill - what was hard was choosing just 100. I cringe to think of the names that were omitted (please, tell us in the comment section).

How do we change this? We start with the obvious - we read women. In 2014 writer Joanna Walsh launched The Year of Reading Women (#readwomen2014). What started as a nudge encouraging friends to read female authors became a powerful movement to raise awareness in the book industry and encourage publishers, distributors, and promoters to pull women writers into the spotlight so readers like you and I could better discover them. If step one is to read women, then step two is to talk about them - to review them, to critique them, to press their books into the hands of our book-loving friends.

Whatever stage you're at in the endeavor to read more women, here are 100 talented female authors to get you started or keep you going. We suspect the list will grow longer in the comments section, so please do give those a read and leave your own suggestions!

100 Essential Female Writers

Which outstanding female authors did we miss?

More amazing women: