100 Women Writers

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I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of lists, especially from mainstream outlets, suggesting ‘100 Books You Should Have Read in Your Lifetime’ are dominated by male authors. Fantastic authors with great books, sure, but nevertheless unrepresentative of the population makeup. My mum and I have a penchant for scrolling through these lists together and seeing how many of the books on it we have read – my mum in particular likes to set herself the goal of reading as many of these books as possible. More often than not, however, we despair at the overwhelming gender bias they present. Even when I sought out specifically female focused lists of ‘100 Authors You Must Read’ they did not offer 100 female authors but 100 books by female authors many of which were written by the same authors.

This is in no way due to a lack of phenomenal women writers to chose from. As fantastic as Jane Austen is (you will see her featured here) there are many more women writers out there. So I have decided to curate my own list of ‘100 Women Writers I Need To Read In My Lifetime’. The women on this list go as far back as antiquity and as far forward as the 21st century. They have been pulled from the suggestions on the standard ‘100 Books To Read’ lists, my own experience with women writers who have made important contributions to literature and recommendations from my mum (with a few adages from friends). Each and every one deserves to be on this list but it didn’t take long for me to realise 100 was a very small number; this list is, therefore, by no means exhaustive.

I have already read a few of the authors on this list, which includes non-fiction, fiction and poetry writers. Some others I have dipped my toes into their work but have never read a full volume by or it has been so long since I read them that I am not yet ready to tick off their name. I will, however, be keeping a track of this list and ticking off names as I go along on a separate blog page found here. If you would like to use this list as well please do!

Have you already read all of these women writers? Are any of them favourites of yours? Do tell me about any women writers in general whose work means a lot to you in the comments down below.

1. A. L. Kennedy
2. Agatha Christie
3. Ali Smith ✔
4. Alice Walker ✔
5. Angela Carter ✔
6. Angela Davis ✔
7. Anne Bronte
8. A. S. Byatt
9. Anne McCaffrey
10. Anne Radcliffe
11. Anne Tyler
12. Arundhati Roy
13. Audre Lorde
14. Audrey Niffeneger
15. Azar Nafisi
16. bell hooks
17. Betty Smith
18. Carol Ann Duffy ✔
19. Charlotte Bronte ✔
20. Charlotte Perkins Gilman
21. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
22. Christina Rossetti
23. Daphne Du Maurier
24. Donna Tartt ✔
25. Dorothy Sayers
26. E. Nesbit
27. Edith Wharton
28. Edna O’Briean
29. Ellen Feldman
30. Emily Bronte
31. Emily Dickinson
32. Emma Donaghue ✔
33. Elena Ferrante
34. Elizabeth Gaskell
35. Elizabeth Goudge ✔
36. Erica Jong
37. Fanny Burney
38. George Elliot
39. Han Kang ✔
40. Harper Lee
41. Hilary Wainwright
42. Helen Oyeyemi
43. Hilary Mantel
44. Ida B. Wells
45. Isabel Allende ✔
46. Lynne Segal
47. J. K. Rowling ✔
48. Jackie Kay
49. Jane Austen ✔
50. Jaqueline Wilson ✔
51. Jean Rhys
52. Jeanette Winterson ✔
53. Jhumpa Lahiri
54. Jacqueline Susann
55. Joanna Russ
56. Judith Butler
57. Kate Atkinson
58. Kate Chopin
59. Lionel Shriver
60. Liz Lochhead
61. Louisa May Alcott
62. Louise O’Neill ✔
63. Madeleine L’engle
64. Murasaki Shikibu
65. Margaret Atwood ✔
66. Margaret Cavendish
67. Malorie Blackman
68. Marjane Satrapi ✔
69. Mary Beard ✔
70. Mary Shelley
71. Mary Wollstonecraft
72. Maya Angelou
73. Maxine Hong Kingston ✔
74. Monica Ali
75. Muriel Spark ✔
76. Naomi Mitchison
77. Naomi Wolf
78. Nnedi Okorafor
79. Octavia E. Butler
80. Pat Barker
81. Robin Hobb ✔
82. Rokheya Shekhawat Hossein
83. Roxanne Gay
84. Ruth Ozeki
85. Sappho ✔
86. Sarah B. Pomeroy ✔
87. Sarah Waters
88. Sheila Rowbotham
89. Shirley Jackson ✔
90. Simone De Beauvoir
91. Stella Gibbons
92. Sylvia Pankhurst
93. Sylvia Plath
94. Toni Morrison
95. Ursula K. Le Guin
96. Virginia Woolf ✔
97. Vita Sackville-West
98. Willa Cather
99. Zadie Smith
100. Zoe Fairbairns

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22 thoughts on “100 Women Writers

    • I’ve never read Anne Sexton but that is definitely another great suggestion! See, how do these lists find it difficult to show any balance between men and women writers – there are so many to choose from aha, I had to leave so many of my own list that I wanted on there

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  1. A fantastic list of amazing female authors, but some I’ve never heard of, I need to check them out. Also, I really need to read more of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Shirley Jackson, and really jump onto the Elena Ferrante and Han Kang train.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read a lot of Mary Wollstonecraft as part of a module of British writing in the 1790s- her Letters from Sweden Norway and Denmark grabbed me more than A Vindication did. Mary Hays is a fab contemporary of hers too, I love her Memoirs of Emma Courtney and she would definitely make my own 100 women writers list!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great idea! I was pleasantly surprised how many of the authors on here I’d read, but still plenty to go.

    I recommend The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin when you get to her. The classic to recommend is Left Hand of Darkness which has a lot to say about gender, but I think the social/political elements of The Dispossessed would be right up your street. I mean, they’re both great though!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Just seen this on your Youtube channel and thought that it was a great idea! I have read only 10 out of the 100 authors, but I have a few on my bookshelves that I need to read soon!

    Like

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