Most Influential Female Authors of All Time

alex atkins bookshelf literatureWhat would the world be like without Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jane Eyre, Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, the March sisters, Hermione Granger, Scout — and Frankenstein? These are just some of the iconic characters that sprang from the imagination of the world’s most influential female authors. Through their characters they explore women’s history, experiences, and issues with clarity, courage, and compassion — inspiring a new generation of women to not only embrace the rich tradition of literature by women, but to build on it, and expand it. Despite major differences, many lists recognize Jane Austen as the most influential female writer of all time. Of course, everyone can agree that it is impossible to create a definitive list of the most influential female writers of all times without excluding some notable author with an ardent fan base. Nevertheless, Ranker asked its reader to rank the most influential female writers in history. More than 1,500 readers voted to create this list of the “Best Female Authors of All Time.” In honor of International Women’s Day, Bookshelf presents the first twenty writers from that list:

1. Jane Austen
2. Virginia Woolf
3. Charlotte Brontë
4. Agatha Christie
5. Mary Shelley
6. Louisa May Alcott
7. J. K. Rowling
8. Harper Lee
9. George Eliot
10. Emily Dickinson
11. Sylvia Plath
12. Daphne du Maurier
13. Toni Morrison
14. Emily Brontë
15. Margaret Atwood
16. Elizabeth Gaskell
17. Edith Wharton
18. Willa Cather
19. Dorothy Parker
20. Flannery O’Connor

Read related posts: The Most Influential Novels of the 20th Century
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For further reading: Masterpieces of Women’s Literature by Frank Magill

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