American Female Essayists

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 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 
Fran Lebowitz
(Writer Known for Her Sardonic Social Commentary on American Life and Her Defiant Grouchiness and Wit)
Fran Lebowitz
4
Birthdate: October 27, 1950
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Morristown, New Jersey, United States

Author and public speaker Fran Lebowitz is best known for her book The Fran Lebowitz Reader, which combined the two books Metropolitan Life and Social Studies. She also gained fame with her 2021 Netflix docuseries Pretend It's a City. Openly lesbian, she has often spoken about feminism, politics, and AIDS.

 3 
Anais Nin
(French-Born American Novelist, Diarist and Short Story Writer)
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.

 4 
Joyce Carol Oates
4
Birthdate: June 16, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lockport, New York, United States
 5 
Joan Didion
(Screenwriter, Novelist, Journalist, Writer, Essayist)
Joan Didion
4
Birthdate: December 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States
 6 
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.

 7 
Flannery O'Connor
4
Birthdate: March 25, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Savannah, Georgia, United States
Died: August 3, 1964
 8 
Sandra Cisneros
3
Birthdate: December 20, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago
 9 
Adrienne Rich
(American poet)
Adrienne Rich
3
Birthdate: May 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: March 27, 2012
 10 
Katherine Anne Porter
(Journalist, Essayist, Writer, Novelist)
Katherine Anne Porter
4
Birthdate: May 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Indian Creek, Texas, U.S.
Died: September 18, 1980
 11 
Mary Karr
(Poet)
Mary Karr
3
Birthdate: January 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: East Texas
 12 
Cheryl Strayed
4
Birthdate: September 17, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Spangler, Pennsylvania, U.S.
 13 
Sylvia Browne
(Essayist, Psychic)
Sylvia Browne
4
Birthdate: October 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kansas City
Died: November 20, 2013
 14 
Barbara Kingsolver
(Novelist, Poet, Essayist)
Barbara Kingsolver
3
Birthdate: April 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Annapolis, Maryland, United States
 15 
Rebecca Solnit
3
Birthdate: June 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.
 16 
Louise Glück
4
Birthdate: April 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, United States
 17 
Kathy Acker
(Author)
Kathy Acker
3
Birthdate: April 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: November 30, 1997
 18 
Eileen Chang
(Chinese-born American Novelist, Essayist, and Screenwriter)
Eileen Chang
3
Birthdate: September 30, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shanghai, China
Died: September 8, 1995

Zhang Ailing was a Chinese-born American novelist, essayist, and screenwriter. A realist and modernist writer, Chang is credited with writing the scripts of many successful films like Miserable at Middle Age, Qing Chang Ru Zhan Chang, and Jin Suo Ji. Zhang Ailing is also credited with influencing and inspiring many creative writers in Taiwan, including Chu T’ien-wen and Yuan Chiung-chiung.

 19 
Joy Harjo
(Poet)
Joy Harjo
3
Birthdate: May 9, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
 20 
Marilynne Robinson
3
Birthdate: November 26, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sandpoint, Idaho, US
 21 
Lydia Davis
(Writer)
Lydia Davis
3
Birthdate: July 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Northampton, Massachusetts, United States
 22 
Bebe Moore Campbell
3
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 27, 2006
 23 
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
 24 
Annie Dillard
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 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 
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
 28 
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
 29 
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
 30 
Cynthia Ozick
(Short Story Writer)
Cynthia Ozick
3
Birthdate: April 17, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
 31 
Diane Johnson
(Novelist)
Diane Johnson
3
Birthdate: April 28, 1934
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Moline, Illinois, United States
 32 
Laura Riding
3
Birthdate: January 16, 1901
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: September 2, 1991
 33 
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
 34 
Shirley Hazzard
(Australian-American Novelist, Short Story Writer, and Essayist Best Known for Her 2003 Novel, 'The Great Fire')
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 
June Jordan
3
Birthdate: July 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Died: June 14, 2002
 36 
Seyla Benhabib
(Philosopher, Writer)
Seyla Benhabib
3
Birthdate: September 9, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Istanbul, Turkey
 37 
Tess Gallagher
2
Birthdate: July 21, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Port Angeles, Washington, United States
 38 
Carolyn Forché
2
Birthdate: April 28, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
 39 
Imbolo Mbue
(Writer)
Imbolo Mbue
2
Birthdate: 1981 AD
Birthplace: Limbe, Cameroon
 40 
Cornelia Otis Skinner
2
Birthdate: May 30, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: July 9, 1979
Charlotte Forten Grimké
2
Birthdate: August 17, 1837
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: July 23, 1914
Sarah Helen Power Whitman
2
Birthdate: January 19, 1803
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Died: June 27, 1878
 43 
Ana Castillo
(Novelist)
Ana Castillo
2
Birthdate: June 15, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
 44 
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
 45 
Bobbie Ann Mason
2
Birthdate: May 1, 1940
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mayfield, Kentucky, United States
Judith Sargent Stevens Murray
2
Birthdate: May 1, 1751
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Gloucester, Massachusetts, United States
Died: July 9, 1820
 47 
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
 48 
Jessie Redmon Fauset
2
Birthdate: April 27, 1882
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Camden County, New Jersey, United States
Died: April 30, 1961
 49 
Barbara Goldsmith
2
Birthdate: May 18, 1931
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: June 26, 2016
 50 
Bharati Mukherjee
(Indian American-Canadian Writer and Professor )
Bharati Mukherjee
2
Birthdate: July 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Died: January 28, 2017

Bharati Mukherjee was a writer who also taught at the University of California, Berkeley as a professor emerita in the English department. The author of several short story collections and novels, Bharati Mukherjee was honored with many prestigious awards, such as the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1988.