16 Famous Female Authors (And Their Famous Works)

These famous female authors made a name for themselves in literature with their impeccable novels, poetry collections, and essays. You might even read one of their works under male pseudonyms. 

Margaret Atwood

Photo of Margaret Atwood, a famous female author
Source: Wikimedia

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian writer celebrated for her contributions to science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian literature.

In the 1970s, Atwood’s work was published under the pen name M.A. Dupont. She used this name when she submitted her first novel to publishers because she was uncomfortable with being identified as a woman writing about women’s issues. 

Atwood’s most famous novel is The Handmaid’s Tale

Virginia Woolf

Black and white photo of Virginia Woolf
Source: Wikimedia

Virginia Woolf received private tutoring and began attending university at age 13. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English literature at University College London and then traveled to Paris to study art history.

Woolf followed this success with several novels and short stories throughout her lifetime. She began publishing her works in 1915 when she became the first female member of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Her most famous works include Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse

Toni Morrison

Photo of Toni Morrison
Source: Wikimedia

Toni Morrison received her bachelor’s degree from Howard University and a Master’s degree from Princeton University. 

Morrison’s debut novel, The Bluest Eyewas published in 1970. Her work has been widely acclaimed since then, and she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1993 for Beloved

Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born in 1775. She was known for her novels about the social life of the English gentry during the early 19th century. Austen’s novels are known for their wit and social commentary, but they also focus on romance. Austen’s most famous works include Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

Related: How Long Is Pride and Prejudice? Book and Movie Lengths

Zadie Smith

Photo of Zadie Smith making a speech
Source: Wikimedia

Zadie Smith is one of Britain’s most accomplished writers and has received numerous awards for her work. She was born in 1975 and lived in London with her husband and two children.

In 2000, she won the Whitbread Prize for White Teeth. The book was also adapted into a film by Mike Leigh in 2001.

Mary Shelley

Painting of Mary Shelley
Source: Wikimedia

Mary Shelley was born on February 15, 1797, in London. She grew up to be an author in her own right, though her first published work was not until after she married Percy Shelley in 1814.

Her most famous work include Frankenstein and The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck.

George Eliot

Mary Ann Evans, known by her pen name George Eliot, was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature for her contributions to 19th-century British literature. 

Elliot was a very prolific writer. She wrote over two hundred novels, more than two hundred articles for magazines and newspapers, and hundreds of poems. She penned the Silas Marner and Middlemarch

Ursula K. Le Guin

Black and white photo of female author Ursula K. Le Guin
Source: Wikimedia

Ursula K. Le Guin attended the University of Oregon and earned a master’s degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Her most famous work, The Left Hand of Darkness, won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1969.

She received many awards for her fiction, including the National Book Award for The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia. She also received an award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 2008.

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