Harper Lee was an American novelist who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic To Kill a Mockingbird. Despite publishing only two books, Lee was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature, such was her impact in the world of literature. A friend of Truman Capote, Lee has been portrayed by popular actresses in Capote's biographical films.
4 Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand was a Russian-American philosopher and writer. Apart from publishing two best-selling novels, Ayn Rand is credited with developing a philosophical system called Objectivism. Over the years, Ayn Rand has been a major influence among American conservatives and libertarians. Some of the famous personalities influenced by her include Amber Heard, Vince Vaughn, Jimmy Wales, Ayelet Shaked, and Mary Ruwart.
Zelda Fitzgerald was a painter, socialite, and novelist. Along with her husband Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda became a prominent personality of the Jazz Age. Renowned for her high spirits and beauty, she was named the first American flapper by Scott. For her work as a novelist and painter, Fitzgerald was posthumously made an inductee to the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame.
10 Joan Didion
Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.
Elizabeth Gilbert is an American author and journalist best known for publishing Eat Pray Love, a 2006 memoir that has sold more than 12 million copies. In 2010, it was adapted into a successful movie of the same name. Also known for her philanthropic efforts, Elizabeth Gilbert has participated in fundraising efforts for organizations like BlinkNow Foundation.
14 Mona Simpson
15 Susan Sontag
17 Anais Nin
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.
One of the finest African-American sci-fi authors, Octavia Butler was raised single-handedly by her widowed mother. Best known for the Patternist series and the short story Bloodchild, she often mingled mythology and spirituality in her work. She was the first sci-fi author to receive a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.
Gertrude Stein was an American playwright, novelist, poet, and art collector. She is remembered for publishing works about lesbian sexuality, which was considered a taboo at that time. Over the years, Gertrude Stein has been the subject of several works of art. In the 2011 movie Midnight in Paris, Stein was portrayed by Kathy Bates.
22 Olivia Olson
Olivia Olson is an American singer-songwriter and actress. She made her film debut at the age of 10, playing Joanna Anderson in the film, Love Actually, in which she was seen singing All I Want for Christmas Is You; her skills as a singer was praised and Olson landed several voice roles in TV series, such as Phineas and Ferb.
Karrine Steffans soared to international fame with her Vixen series of books, including Confessions of a Video Vixen and The Vixen Diaries. A former hip-hop music video star, she has also dabbled in acting, with films such as A Man Apart. The mother of one now lives in southern California.
27 Fannie Flagg
N. K. Jemisin became the first writer to win the Hugo Best Novel award thrice consecutively and is best known for her Inheritance trilogy and her Broken Earth series. The African-American author is also a trained psychologist and has worked as a counsellor in several universities.
Author Diana Gabaldon, daughter of Arizona senator Tony Gabaldon, is best known for her Outlander novel series, which has also been adapted into a TV series. Gabaldon has also authored the Lord John series. She is known for mingling several genres, including historical fiction, mystery, science fiction, and romance.
34 S. E. Hinton
35 Patti Davis
37 Sylvia Earle
39 Cheryl Crane
40 Roxane Gay
Roxane Gay is an American writer, editor, professor, and social commentator. She is credited with founding an Illinois-based small press called Tiny Hardcore Press as well as the now-defunct Gay Magazine, which was founded in association with Medium. Roxane Gay is the recipient of a couple of Lambda Literary Awards and an Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.
41 Esther Hicks
42 Donna Tartt
44 Nora Roberts
An author who has penned over 200 romance novels, Nora Roberts is also known by her pseudonyms such as J. D. Robb and Jill March. Apart from writing New York Times bestsellers such as Hideaway and Under Currents, she has also penned the suspense series In Death.