JK Rowling’s story is that of rags-to-riches. She is the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series, which have sold more than 500 million copies and is the best-selling book series in history. She also writes crime fiction albeit under a pen name. Rowling supports many charities and has founded Lumos, an international NGO, working for children.
Even after four decades after her death, Agatha Christie remains an influential figure in the world of literature and entertainment as most of her books continue to serve as inspiration to films, TV series, and video games. With over two billion copies of her novels sold, she holds the Guinness World Records for best-selling fiction writer of all time.
Considered one of the greatest writers in English history, Jane Austen is best known for her six major novels - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Her writing was set among the British landed gentry and dealt with ordinary people in everyday ordinary situation. The author achieved great fame after her death.
Virginia Woolf was an English writer who pioneered a narrative mode called stream of consciousness to describe the thoughts and feelings of the narrator. Regarded as one of the most prominent modernist 20th-century writers, Woolf's works have gained much attention for inspiring feminism. Her life and work have inspired several films, novels, and plays.
Mary Ann Evans, known by her pseudonym George Eliot, was an English poet, novelist, translator, and journalist. One of the most prominent writers of the Victorian era, Eliot's works are known for their psychological insight, realism, and detailed description of the countryside. Her novel Middlemarch was voted one of the greatest literary works in a 2007 poll conducted by Time.
Author of over 75 cookbooks, Mary Berry has also hosted several culinary shows, such as Mary Berry Cooks. The Guardian ranked her the second-best-dressed person over 50. A CBE and DBE recipient, she has also received the Guild of Food Writers Lifetime Achievement Award and an honorary degree.
Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.
11 Zoe Kazan
12 Lucy Hawking
13 Jane Hawking
Jane Hawking is an English teacher and author. She is best known as the ex-wife of popular physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. She was married to Hawking for 30 years, during which she doubled up as his caretaker. Jane Hawking took good care of Stephen Hawking despite struggling from depression, for which she is much-respected in the scientific community.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge is credited with creating and writing one of the greatest TV series of the 21st century, Fleabag. She is also famous for contributing as the executive producer and head writer of another highly-acclaimed TV series, Killing Eve. In 2020, she was named in Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world.
Sophie Hunter is an English playwright, opera director, and former performer. She is credited with co-founding and popularizing a theatre company called Boileroom, which was honored with the Samuel Theatre Trust Award in 2007 for its play The Terrific Electric, which marked Sophie Hunter's directorial debut.
Daphne du Maurier was an English playwright and author. Many of her works, which have been praised for narrative craft, have been adapted into films, including three of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Such was her popularity that she was selected along with four other Women of Achievement to be featured on a set of British stamps, which were issued in 1996.
18 Katie Piper
Model Katie Piper made headlines after being attacked with acid by her former boyfriend. She underwent a face restoration surgery to rebuild her damaged face. She then became an activist, released an autobiography, and created a documentary. She also owns a foundation to help burn victims and has hosted Bodyshockers.
19 Joan Collins
Geri Halliwell is a British singer-songwriter who achieved international fame as part of the popular girl group, The Spice Girls, which has sold more than 85 million records worldwide. Also a well-known philanthropist, Geri Halliwell has worked closely with the United Nations Population Fund, becoming its goodwill ambassador in 1998. She is widely regarded as a girl power icon.
Australian-British author and Shakespearean actor Pamela Lyndon Travers, known by her pseudonym, P. L. Travers, soared to fame with her Mary Poppins series of children's books. Disney later bought the rights to her Mary Poppins series and released a film version. It was later made into a Broadway play, too.
23 Enid Blyton
Jamaican-born British writer, socialite, and TV personality, Lady Colin Campbell, is known for publishing four books about the British royal family, including a biography of Diana, Princess of Wales. While her books about the royal family made her popular, she also faced criticism for some of her claims. She once kindled controversy for supporting sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, on TV.
27 Sue Perkins
Sarah Ferguson is one of the members of the British royal family. She started working with several charity organizations after marrying Prince Andrew, Duke of York. Even after her divorce, she has continued working with organizations like the American Cancer Society. In 2020, she set up her own foundation called Sarah's Trust.
30 Mary Seacole
Mary Seacole was a British-Jamaican nurse, businesswoman, and healer. She played a major role during the Crimean War, providing aid for wounded servicemen and nursing them back to health. In 1991, Seacole was posthumously honored with the Jamaican Order of Merit. In 2004, she was named the greatest black Briton for her contribution during the war.
35 Rachel Khoo
Renowned British cook Rachel Khoo was born to a Malaysian Chinese father and an Austrian mother. Trained at the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she started her own restaurant at her small Belleville apartment. She later gained fame for her cookbook and her BBC series named The Little Paris Kitchen.
36 Sara Pascoe
Born to musician Derek Pascoe, comedian Sara Pascoe was raised by her mother amid poverty after her parents’ divorce. Initially a tour guide, she later stepped into comedy and never looked back. She is known for shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown and Twenty Twelve.
Born into a wealthy English family, Gertrude Bell was an explorer at heart and went down in history for her journeys across the Middle East and for helping establish the Hāshimite dynasty in Iraq. Though she graduated in history from Oxford, being a woman, she wasn’t awarded a degree.
41 Iris Murdoch
One of the most popular Irish-born British novelists, Iris Murdoch is remembered for her psychological novels, which had a good dose of sexuality, philosophy, morality, and comic elements. While she won the Booker Prize for The Sea, the Sea, the Oxford alumnus had also worked for the HM Treasury and the UN.
43 Zadie Smith
Author Zadie Smith was born in London to a British father and a Jamaican mother. Her bestselling debut novel, White Teeth, won numerous awards and catapulted her to fame, while her third novel, On Beauty, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She has also taught fiction at New York University.
Being the daughter of actor-singer Julie Andrews and set designer Tony Walton, Emma Walton Hamilton was no stranger to the entertainment world as a child. While she began her career as an actor and then moved on to stage direction, she also excelled as a children’s author, with the Dumpy series.
45 Kerry Katona
Nadiya Hussain is a British TV chef, television presenter, and author. She is best known for winning the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off. Over the years Nadiya Hussain has become a household name in the UK by hosting shows like Nadiya's Family Favourites. In 2017, she was mentioned in Debrett's' 500 most influential people in the UK list.