American Female Essayists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite American Female Essayists

 1 
Susan Sontag
(Writer and Filmmaker, Best Known for her Essay 'Notes on 'Camp')

Susan Sontag
4
Birthdate: January 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 28, 2004
Susan Sontag is best known for her essay anthologies such as Against Interpretation and her novels such as In America. She wrote about diverse issues such as human rights, photography, AIDS, and leftist beliefs, and also visited war-torn areas. The National Book Award-winning author was also openly bisexual. 

 2 
Anais Nin
(Diarist)

Anais Nin
6
Birthdate: February 21, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris, France
Died: January 14, 1977

French-Cuban-American diarist, essayist, and novelist Anais Nin wrote several volumes of journals, erotica, novels, critical studies, essays, and short stories. Her journals and diaries are among her most studied works. She had a deep interest in psychoanalysis and studied it extensively with René Allendy and Otto Rank. Critics consider her one of the finest writers of female erotica.

 3 

Joyce Carol Oates
4
Birthdate: June 16, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lockport, New York, United States

 4 
Sarah Vowell
(Author of Seven Nonfiction Books on American History and Culture)

Sarah Vowell
4
Birthdate: December 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Muskogee, Oklahoma, United States

Bestselling author and essayist Sarah Vowell is known for her expertise in American history and her books such as Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes. She is also a regular on the radio program This American Life and has voiced Violet in the animated film The Incredibles.

 5 

Sandra Cisneros
3
Birthdate: December 20, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago

 6 
Joan Didion
(Screenwriter, Novelist, Journalist, Writer, Essayist)

Joan Didion
4
Birthdate: December 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States

 7 

Louise Glück
4
Birthdate: April 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, United States
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 8 
Adrienne Rich
(American poet)

Adrienne Rich
3
Birthdate: May 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: March 27, 2012

 9 
Katherine Anne Porter
(Journalist, Essayist, Writer, Novelist)

Katherine Anne Porter
3
Birthdate: May 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Indian Creek, Texas, U.S.
Died: September 18, 1980

 10 

Madeleine L'Engle
4
Birthdate: November 29, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York,United States
Died: September 6, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle soared to fame with her Newbery Medal-winning bestselling young adult novel A Wrinkle in Time, which was made into a Disney film later. Born to a writer father and a pianist mother, L’Engle had penned her first story at age 5 and had also tried her luck in theater.

 11 
Mary Karr
(Poet)

Mary Karr
3
Birthdate: January 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: East Texas

 12 

Flannery O'Connor
4
Birthdate: March 25, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Savannah, Georgia, United States
Died: August 3, 1964

 13 

Cheryl Strayed
4
Birthdate: September 17, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Spangler, Pennsylvania, U.S.

 14 
Sylvia Browne
(Essayist, Psychic)

Sylvia Browne
4
Birthdate: October 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kansas City
Died: November 20, 2013

 15 
Barbara Kingsolver
(Novelist, Poet, Essayist)

Barbara Kingsolver
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

 16 
Jamaica Kincaid
(Novelist)

Jamaica Kincaid
3
Birthdate: May 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. John's

 17 

Rebecca Solnit
3
Birthdate: June 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.

 18 
Kathy Acker
(Author)

Kathy Acker
3
Birthdate: April 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: November 30, 1997

 19 
Zhang Ailing
(Writer)

Zhang Ailing
3
Birthdate: September 30, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shanghai, China
Died: September 8, 1995

 20 
Joy Harjo
(Poet)

Joy Harjo
3
Birthdate: May 9, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States

 21 

Marilynne Robinson
3
Birthdate: November 26, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sandpoint, Idaho, US

 22 

Bebe Moore Campbell
3
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 27, 2006

 23 
Lydia Davis
(Writer)

Lydia Davis
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Northampton, Massachusetts, United States

 24 
Linda Moulton Howe
(Journalist, documentary film maker best known for her work as a ufologist)

Linda Moulton Howe
3
Birthdate: January 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boise, Idaho, United States

 25 
Laila Lalami
(Novelist)

Laila Lalami
3
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Rabat, Morocco

 26 
Emily Gould
(Writer, Essayist, Children's writer)

Emily Gould
3
Birthdate: October 13, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Silver Spring

 27 

Annie Dillard
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

 28 
Diane Ackerman
(Poet, essayist, and naturalist known for a 1990 nonfiction work entitled A Natural History of the Senses)

Diane Ackerman
3
Birthdate: October 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Waukegan, Illinois, United States

 29 
Leslie Marmon Silko
(American author)

Leslie Marmon Silko
3
Birthdate: March 5, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Leslie Marmon Silko is an American writer who played an important role in the First Wave of the Native American Renaissance. Best known for her essays, short story collections, and poems, Silko was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas (NWCA) in 1994. In 2020, she won the prestigious Robert Kirsch Award.

 30 
Ellen Willis
(Essayist)

Ellen Willis
3
Birthdate: December 14, 1941
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: November 9, 2006

 31 
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
(Academic Scholar)

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
3
Birthdate: May 2, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
Died: April 12, 2009

 32 
Cynthia Ozick
(Short Story Writer)

Cynthia Ozick
3
Birthdate: April 17, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 33 
Diane Johnson
(Novelist)

Diane Johnson
3
Birthdate: April 28, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moline, Illinois, United States

 34 
Shirley Hazzard
(Novelist)

Shirley Hazzard
3
Birthdate: January 30, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia
Died: December 12, 2016

Australian-born American author Shirley Hazzard is best known for her Lost Man Booker Prize-shortlisted book The Bay of Noon and the National Book Award-winning The Great Fire. She has also penned various non-fiction volumes on the United Nations, where she had worked as a typist for a decade.

 35 

Laura Riding
3
Birthdate: January 16, 1901
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: September 2, 1991

 36 

June Jordan
3
Birthdate: July 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: June 14, 2002

 37 
Sarah Ruhl
(Playwright whose most popular plays are Eurydice (2003), The Clean House (2004), and In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) (2009))

Sarah Ruhl
3
Birthdate: January 24, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Wilmette, Illinois, United States

 38 
Seyla Benhabib
(Philosopher, Writer)

Seyla Benhabib
3
Birthdate: September 9, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Istanbul, Turkey

 39 

Tess Gallagher
2
Birthdate: July 21, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Port Angeles, Washington, United States

 40 

Carolyn Forché
2
Birthdate: April 28, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Charlotte Forten Grimké
2
Birthdate: August 17, 1837
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: July 23, 1914

 42 
Imbolo Mbue
(Writer)

Imbolo Mbue
2
Birthdate: 1981 AD
Birthplace: Limbe, Cameroon

 43 

Cornelia Otis Skinner
2
Birthdate: May 30, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: July 9, 1979

Sarah Helen Power Whitman
2
Birthdate: January 19, 1803
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Died: June 27, 1878

 45 
Ana Castillo
(Novelist)

Ana Castillo
2
Birthdate: June 15, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

 46 
Florence King
(American Novelist, Essayist & Columnist)

Florence King
2
Birthdate: January 5, 1936
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: January 6, 2016

Judith Sargent Stevens Murray
2
Birthdate: May 1, 1751
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 9, 1820

 48 
Frederica Sagor Maas
(Screenwriter, Playwright, Journalist, Autobiographer, Essayist, Writer)

Frederica Sagor Maas
2
Birthdate: July 6, 1900
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City
Died: January 5, 2012

 49 

Bobbie Ann Mason
2
Birthdate: May 1, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mayfield, Kentucky, United States

 50 

Jessie Redmon Fauset
2
Birthdate: April 27, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camden County, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 30, 1961