French Female Writers

Throughout history, there have been many French women writers who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great French female writers such as Simone de Beauvoir, George Sand, Marjane Satrapi, Christine de Pizan, Sophie Marceau.

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 French Female Writers

 1 
Colette
(Best Known for Her Novel 'Gigi')

Colette
10
Birthdate: January 28, 1873
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, France
Died: August 3, 1954

Colette was a French author who received a nomination for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. She is remembered for her novella Gigi, which inspired the 1958 movie and the 1973 musical of the same name. Her life and work have inspired several films, including the 2018 biographical drama film Colette, where Keira Knightley played the title role.

George Sand
8
Birthdate: July 1, 1804
Sun Sign: Cancer
Died: June 8, 1876
Nineteenth-century French author Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, better known as George Sand, became a leading figure of the Romantic era of Europe. She is best remembered for works such as La Petite Fadette and had numerous affairs, the most notable of them being the one with composer Frédéric Chopin.

 3 
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.

 4 
Simone de Beauvoir
(French Existentialist Philosopher, Writer, Social Theorist, and Feminist Activist)

Simone de Beauvoir
14
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 14, 1986
French author and existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir is best remembered for her feminist treatise The Second Sex and her novels The Mandarins and She Came to Stay. Her literary contributions also include essays, biographies, and her autobiographical works. She won the Prix Goncourt and the Jerusalem Prize.

 5 
Ève Curie
(Journalist and Pianist Best Known for Writing a Biography of Her Mother “Madame Curie”)

Ève Curie
5
Birthdate: December 6, 1904
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 22, 2007

French and American writer, journalist, and pianist Ève Curie was one of the daughters of scientists Marie Curie and Pierre Curie. She was the only one in the Curie family who did not choose a career in science. She authored her mother’s biography and was actively involved with UNICEF, helping women and children in developing countries.

 6 
Olympe de Gouges
(Playwright)

Olympe de Gouges
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1748
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Montauban, France
Died: November 3, 1793

Olympe de Gouges was an 18th-century French playwright and political activist. Her writings on women's rights and abolitionism were popular in various countries. She was an outspoken advocate against the slave trade in the French colonies. She demanded that French women be given the same rights as French men. She was executed during the Reign of Terror.

 7 
Anna Karina
(Actress)

Anna Karina
6
Birthdate: September 22, 1940
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Solbjerg, Denmark
Died: December 14, 2019

Anna Karina was a Danish-French film actress, singer, and director. She often collaborated with French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard and appeared in many of his films, including My Life to Live and Bande à part. She set up her own production company in 1972 and made her directorial debut with Vivre ensemble. She was also a published author. 

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 8 
Marjane Satrapi
(Graphic Novelist Known for Her Works 'Persepolis' and 'Chicken with Plums')

Marjane Satrapi
8
Birthdate: November 22, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rasht, Iran

Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novelist, illustrator, cartoonist, children's book author, and film director. Satrapi achieved international recognition in the early-2000s after releasing her critically acclaimed graphic novels. She is best known for writing and directing an animated biographical drama film titled Persepolis, which received nominations at prestigious award ceremonies, such as the Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, and Golden Globes.

 9 
Claude Cahun
(Former surrealist photographer, sculptor best known as a writer and self-portraitist, who assumed a variety of performative personae)

Claude Cahun
4
Birthdate: October 25, 1894
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nantes, France
Died: December 8, 1954

Claude Cahun was a French sculptor, surrealist photographer, and writer. He is best remembered for his work as a self-portraitist and writer. Apart from his primary career, Claude Cahun also played a major role in the Second World War, serving as a propagandist and resistance worker.

 10 
Françoise Sagan
(Playwright)

Françoise Sagan
3
Birthdate: June 21, 1935
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cajarc, France
Died: September 24, 2004

 11 

Mireille Mathieu
5
Birthdate: July 22, 1946
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Avignon, France
French singer Mireille Mathieu began her career by participating in an annual singing contest in Avignon. She has recorded over 1200 songs in eleven languages in her career spanning over four decades. With more than 150 million albums sold worldwide, the chanteuse is classically known for her illustrious crooning. In 1974, she won the German "Bambi" Music Award.

 12 
Marguerite Duras
(Former novelist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, and experimental filmmaker)

Marguerite Duras
3
Birthdate: April 4, 1914
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Vietnam
Died: March 3, 1996

 13 
Marguerite Yourcenar
(French Novelist, Essayist and First Woman Elected to the 'Académie Française')

Marguerite Yourcenar
3
Birthdate: June 8, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 17, 1987

Belgian-born French novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, who later settled in the US, is best remembered for her award-winning works such as Mémoires d'Hadrien. She was also the first female member to be elected to the Académie Française. She used an anagram of her original last name, Crayencour, as her surname.

 14 

Judith Godrèche
5
Birthdate: March 23, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France

 15 
Héloïse
(French nun)

Héloïse
3
Birthdate: 1101 AD
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 16, 1164
French nun Héloïse was also a philosopher, writer, and abbess and was a renowned "woman of letters". She was noted as a  philosopher of love and friendship. In 1147, she was granted the rank of prelate nullius, approximately the level of a bishop. Her surviving letters are considered a foundation of French and European literature and inspiration for courtly love.

 16 
Elif Shafak
(Writer)

Elif Shafak
5
Birthdate: October 25, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France

Known widely as Turkey’s most popular female author, Elif Shafak is best known for her Booker-shortlisted bestseller 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World. A fierce advocate for gender equality and LGBTQ rights, she is also a 3-time TEDGlobal speaker. She now lives in London, on a self-imposed exile.

 17 
Hélène Cixous
(French Feminist Writer and Philosopher Best Known for Her Article ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’)

Hélène Cixous
3
Birthdate: June 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oran, Algeria

Hélène Cixous is a professor, poet, playwright, rhetorician, literary critic, philosopher, and French feminist writer. She is best known for writing an article titled The Laugh of the Medusa, which earned her popularity and established her as a thinker in post-structural feminism.

 18 
Germaine de Staël
(Philosopher)

Germaine de Staël
4
Birthdate: April 22, 1766
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 14, 1817

Germaine de Staël was a French political theorist and woman of letters. She is best remembered for her collaboration with the popular  Swiss-French political thinker Benjamin Constant. Germaine, who was way ahead of her time, is widely regarded as a precursor of feminism.

 19 
Emmanuelle Riva
(Former Actress best known for her roles in the films Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and Amour (2012))

Emmanuelle Riva
6
Birthdate: February 24, 1927
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cheniménil, France
Died: January 27, 2017

Emmanuelle Riva was a French actress best remembered for her portrayal of Anne Laurent in the 2012 romantic drama film Amour for which she won the prestigious César Award as well as a BAFTA Award. Riva achieved national recognition when she played the lead role in the 1959 film Hiroshima mon amour for which she earned a BAFTA Award nomination.

 20 
Suha Arafat
(Author)

Suha Arafat
5
Birthdate: July 17, 1963
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Jerusalem, Israel

 21 
Julia Kristeva
(Philosopher)

Julia Kristeva
4
Birthdate: June 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sliven, Bulgaria

 22 

Irene Nemirovsky
3
Birthdate: February 24, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kiev, Ukraine, Russian Empire
Died: August 17, 1942

 23 

Catherine Breillat
5
Birthdate: July 13, 1948
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bressuire,France

 24 
Yasmina Reza
(Playwright)

Yasmina Reza
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1959
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France

Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
3
Birthdate: April 26, 1711
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: September 8, 1780

 26 

Adah Isaacs Menken
3
Birthdate: June 15, 1835
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Bordeaux, France
Died: August 10, 1868

 27 

Mijanou Bardot
5
Birthdate: May 5, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Paris, France

 28 
Marie De France
(French poet)

Marie De France
3
Birthdate: 1160 AD
Birthplace: France
Died: 1215 AD

 29 
Céline Tran
(Actress)

Céline Tran
5
Birthdate: April 9, 1979
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lyon, France

Princess Marie Bonaparte
5
Birthdate: July 2, 1882
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Saint-Cloud, French Third Republic
Died: September 21, 1962

 31 

Kathleen O'Meara
3
Birthdate: 1839 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 10, 1888

Isabelle Collin Dufresne
3
Birthdate: September 6, 1935
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: La Tronche, France
Died: June 14, 2014

 33 
Sophie Calle
(Writer)

Sophie Calle
3
Birthdate: October 9, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Sophie Calle is a French photographer, writer, conceptual artist, and installation artist. Her work is associated with and evokes a popular French literary movement called Oulipo which came into existence in the 1960s. Renowned for her ability to investigate strangers, Calle’s work often depicts human vulnerability. Also an educator, Calle has taught at popular educational institutions like European Graduate School.

 34 
Simone Beck
(Author)

Simone Beck
3
Birthdate: July 7, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Normandy, France
Died: December 20, 1991

 35 
Anne Wiazemsky
(Former Actress, novelist who made her cinema debut at the age of 18, playing Marie, the lead character in Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar (1966))

Anne Wiazemsky
3
Birthdate: May 14, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
Died: October 5, 2017

 36 

Lucile Hadžihalilović
3
Birthdate: May 7, 1961
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Lyon, France

 37 
Carine Roitfeld
(Fashion editor)

Carine Roitfeld
3
Birthdate: September 19, 1954
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France

 38 
Marie Drucker
(Journalist)

Marie Drucker
3
Birthdate: December 3, 1974
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Paris, France

 39 

Ninon de l'Enclos
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1620
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 17, 1705

 40 

Emmanuelle Arsan
5
Birthdate: January 19, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bangkok, Thailand
Died: June 12, 2005

 41 

Virginie Despentes
3
Birthdate: June 13, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Nancy, France

 42 
Bahia Bakari
(Sole survivor of Yemenia Flight 626)

Bahia Bakari
0
Birthdate: August 15, 1996
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Evry, France

 43 

Élisabeth Depardieu
3
Birthdate: August 5, 1941
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Paris, France

 44 
Fred Vargas
(Historian, Archaeologist and novelist)

Fred Vargas
3
Birthdate: June 7, 1957
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Paris, France

Fred Vargas is a French archaeologist, historian, and novelist. She is best known for her work on the bubonic plague, the Black Death. In 2009, she became the first author to win three International Dagger Awards for three consecutive novels, having won the award in 2006 and 2008. In 2018, she was honored with the prestigious Princess of Asturias Prize.

 45 
Freya Stark
(Explorer)

Freya Stark
5
Birthdate: January 31, 1893
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 9, 1993

Freya Stark was an Anglo-Italian travel writer and explorer. One of the first non-Arabs to explore the southern Arabian Desert, Stark penned down over 24 books on her travels in Afghanistan and the Middle East. She also wrote many essays and autobiographical works. In 1968, Freya Stark embarked on her last expedition to Afghanistan at the age of 75.

 46 
Moira Lister
(Actress)

Moira Lister
3
Birthdate: August 6, 1923
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cape Town, South Africa
Died: October 27, 2007

 47 
Maryse Condé
(Novelist)

Maryse Condé
2
Birthdate: February 11, 1937
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme
3
Birthdate: April 11, 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Angoulême, France
Died: December 21, 1549

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme, the wife of Henry II of Navarre, was a significant figure of the French Renaissance, and is also regarded as The First Modern Woman. She patronized artists and was herself an author, with several short stories and a religious poem to her credit.

 49 
Monique Wittig
(Novelist)

Monique Wittig
2
Birthdate: July 13, 1935
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dannemarie, France
Died: January 3, 2003

 50 
Anne Of France
(Regent of France)

Anne Of France
5
Birthdate: April 3, 1461
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Duchy of Brabant
Died: November 14, 1522