Indian Women Writers

Throughout history, there have been many Indian women writers who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great Indian female writers such as Sarojini Naidu, Jhumpa Lahiri, Amrita Pritam, Shreya Ghoshal, Madhur Jaffrey.

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 Indian Women Writers

 1 
Sarojini Naidu
(Poet and Freedom Fighter)

Sarojini Naidu
14
Birthdate: February 13, 1879
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Hyderabad, India
Died: March 2, 1949

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poet and political activist. An important figure in the Indian Independence Movement, she was a proponent of anti-imperialistic ideas, women's rights, and civil rights. Her illustrious career as a poet earned her the nickname Nightingale of India. After India became independent, she became the first woman to hold the office of Governor in the Dominion of India.

 2 
Savitribai Phule
(Social Reformer, Poet)

Savitribai Phule
5
Birthdate: January 3, 1831
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Naigaon, British India (now in Satara district, Maharashtra)
Died: March 10, 1887

Savitribai Phule was a revolutionary social reformer who dedicated her life to educate girls and bring about gender equality in the face of resistance from the conservative Indian society. Phule, who was illiterate till her marriage, went on to become a teacher, a feat considered first by an Indian woman. With her husband, she established schools for girls in Maharashtra.

 3 
Arundhati Roy
(Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist)

Arundhati Roy
14
Birthdate: November 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Assam

Apart from her bestselling books such as The God of Small Things, Man Booker Prize-winning Indian author Arundhati Roy is also known for her left-wing political activism. Born to a Syrian Christian mother and an Indian Hindu father, Roy had initially studied architecture and worked as a script writer.

 4 
Shreya Ghoshal
(Singer, Writer, Actor, Composer)

Shreya Ghoshal
5
Birthdate: March 12, 1984
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Durgapur

National Award-winning singer Shreya Ghoshal grew up in Rajasthan and later moved to Mumbai, where her electrical engineer father was posted. After gaining attention with the talent show Sa Re Ga Ma, the classically trained artist was catapulted to fame with her playback singing in Devdas, and never looked back.

 5 
Padma Lakshmi
(Model. Writer)

Padma Lakshmi
5
Birthdate: September 1, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Madras, Tamil Nadu, India

Padma Lakshmi is a model, television host and author. She has hosted cooking competition program Top Chef and has published cookbooks. She has acted in films and television too and is also an activist working for immigration and women’s rights and is a critic of skin-lightening creams. She was married to novelist Salman Rushdie for a little over three years.

 6 

Kalki Koechlin
5
Birthdate: January 10, 1983
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Pondicherry, India

National Film Award-winning Indian actor Kalki Koechlin was born to French parents, who were followers of Sri Aurobindo, in Pondicherry. Though she initially aspired to be a criminal psychologist, she later studied drama in London. She soared to fame with films such as Dev.D and That Girl in Yellow Boots.

 7 
Mirabai
(Bhakti Saint)

Mirabai
12
Birthdate: 1498 AD
Birthplace: Kudki
Died: 1557 AD

The 16th-century Hindu mystic poet, Mirabai, was a devotee of Lord Krishna. In the North Indian Hindu tradition, she is a celebrated Bhakti saint. While millions of devotional hymns in praise of Lord Krishna are attributed to Mirabai, only a few hundreds are believed to be actually composed by her. Several temples are dedicated to her memory.

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 8 
Kiran Bedi
(Police officer)

Kiran Bedi
4
Birthdate: June 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Amritsar, India

Kiran Bedi is an Indian police officer and social activist. In 1972, she became the first Indian woman to serve as an officer in the Indian Police Service. From 2016 to 2021, she served as the Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry, playing an important role in the development of the Indian Union Territory. Her life has inspired many films, including Karthavyam.

 9 

Amrita Pritam
6
Birthdate: August 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gujranwala, Pakistan
Died: October 31, 2005

Amrita Pritam was an Indian poet, essayist, and novelist who wrote in Hindi and Punjabi languages. She is widely regarded as the first major female Punjabi poet and the leading Punjabi-language poet of the 20th century. In 1956, she was honored with the Sahitya Akademi Award, becoming the first woman to receive the prestigious award.

 10 
Sudha Murty
(Author)

Sudha Murty
3
Birthdate: August 19, 1950
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Shiggaon, Haveri, Karnataka, India

Known for her humility and simplicity, Indian philanthropist and author Sudha Murty had humble beginnings as a TELCO engineer. She is married to Infosys co-founder Narayan Murty and heads the Infosys Foundation. The Padma Shri winner has penned over 200 titles, such as Dollar Bahu, in both Kannada and English.

 11 

Palak Muchhal
5
Birthdate: March 30, 1992
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Indore

 12 
Mahasweta Devi
(Human rights activist, Writer, Poet, Novelist, Educator, Short story writer)

Mahasweta Devi
7
Birthdate: January 14, 1926
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dhaka
Died: July 28, 2016

Ramon Magsaysay Award-winning Indian author Mahasweta Devi is regarded as a gem of the Bengali literary world. She had also been a left-wing social activist, and her works such as Hajar Churashir Maa and Rudali have either tribals or people from the marginalized communities as their protagonists.

 13 
Mahadevi Varma
(Poet, Novelist)

Mahadevi Varma
4
Birthdate: March 26, 1907
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Farrukhabad, India
Died: September 11, 1987

A leading figure of the Chhayavad movement of Hindi literature, Indian author Mahadevi Varma was also a Jnanpith Award and Padma Bhushan winner. A champion of women’s rights, she contributed to the establishment of the Prayag Mahila Vidyapeeth for educating girls. She also developed the soft Khadi boli.

 14 
Romila Thapar
(Historian known for Authoring books about Indian history)

Romila Thapar
3
Birthdate: November 30, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Renowned history scholar and JNU professor Romila Thapar has also taught at Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. She has previously been in the news for rejecting the Padma Bhushan twice, stating she didn’t accept state awards. She has also often opposed Hindutva and the “saffronization” of education.

 15 
Madhur Jaffrey
(Known for her award-winning role as Manjula in the 1965 movie Shakespeare Wallah)

Madhur Jaffrey
3
Birthdate: August 13, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Delhi, India

 16 
Nandana Sen
(Actress)

Nandana Sen
4
Birthdate: August 19, 1967
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Calcutta, West Bengal, India

Nandana Sen is an Indian actress, children's rights activist, children's author, and screenwriter. Apart from appearing in Indian films, Nandana Sen has also appeared in Italian, Canadian, and American films. She has also been playing an important role in fighting against the crisis of child trafficking. She has also written six children's books, including The Monkey Who Wanted to Fly.

 17 
Kalpana
(Actress)

Kalpana
3
Birthdate: October 5, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Thiruvananthapuram district Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Died: January 25, 2016

 18 
Sheela
(Actress)

Sheela
3
Birthdate: March 22, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thrissur, India

 19 
Anita Desai
(Novelist)

Anita Desai
4
Birthdate: June 24, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mussoorie, India

 20 
Sagarika Ghose
(Author, Journalist)

Sagarika Ghose
3
Birthdate: November 8, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New Delhi

Renowned journalist Sagarika Ghose was an Oxford Rhodes scholar before she joined media giants such as The Times of India and CNN-IBN. Apart from being the daughter of Indian civil servant and theater personality Bhaskar Ghose, she is also the wife of popular journalist Rajdeep Sardesai.

 21 

Kamala Suraiyya
5
Birthdate: March 31, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thrssur, Kerala, India
Died: May 31, 2009

Kamala Suraiyya, also known by her pen-name Madhavikutty and by her married name Kamala Das, was a Malayali poet who is remembered for her liberal treatment of female sexuality in her works. Her writings, such as Summer in Calcutta, form an integral part of Indian literature written in English.

 22 
Kiran Desai
(Her novel The Inheritance of Loss won the 2006 Man Booker Prize)

Kiran Desai
5
Birthdate: September 3, 1971
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Delhi, India

 23 
Irom Chanu Sharmila
(Poet, Journalist)

Irom Chanu Sharmila
3
Birthdate: March 14, 1972
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Imphal

Gwangju Prize-winning human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, also known as the Iron Lady of Manipur, made international headlines with her 16-year hunger strike to urge the Indian government to repeal the AFSPA Act. She later married British citizen Desmond Coutinho and is now a mother to twin daughters.

 24 
Shobhaa De
(Journalist, Writer, Socialite, Model)

Shobhaa De
3
Birthdate: January 7, 1948
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mumbai

Apart from being a bestselling novelist and a popular columnist, Shobhaa De is also former model and a prominent socialite. The founder of the magazine Stardust, she writes regularly for publications such as The Times of India and Asian Age and was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in India.

 25 

Subhadra Kumari Chauhan
3
Birthdate: August 16, 1904
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Allahabad district
Died: February 15, 1948

Best remembered for her poem Jhansi ki Rani, Indian poet Subhadra Kumari Chauhan had also been part of the Non-Cooperation Movement led by Mahatma Gandhi and was jailed twice. Her works were written in the simple Khariboli dialect of Hindi. An Indian Coast Guard ship has been named after her.

 26 
Nayantara Sahgal
(Journalist, Writer)

Nayantara Sahgal
3
Birthdate: May 10, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Allahabad
Sahitya Akademi Award-winning author Nayantara Sahgal is the granddaughter of Motilal Nehru and the niece of Jawaharlal Nehru. Her works include 9 novels, including the award-winning Rich Like Us, and 10 non-fiction books. She has also received the Doon Ratna from Dehradun, where she has lived for decades. 

 27 

Nabaneeta Dev Sen
3
Birthdate: January 13, 1938
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Kolkata, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died: November 7, 2019

Padma Shri and Sahitya Akademi Award-winning Indian author Nabaneeta Dev Sen is revered as one of the greatest figures of Bengali literature. Born to a poet couple, Nabaneeta was christened by Rabindrananth Tagore. She was also an academic and was married to economist Amartya Sen for almost 2 decades.

 28 

Balamani Amma
3
Birthdate: July 19, 1909
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Punnayurkulam, India
Died: September 29, 2004

Balamani Amma was a 20th-century Indian poet who wrote in Malayalam. Even though she received no formal education as a child, she learned to read and write from her uncle Nalapat Narayana Menon, an acclaimed writer. She numerous poems and prose works and was a recipient of many awards, including the Padma Bhushan, Saraswati Samman, and Sahitya Akademi Award. 

 29 
Homai Vyarawalla
(Photojournalist)

Homai Vyarawalla
3
Birthdate: December 9, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Navsari, Bombay, India
Died: January 15, 2012
Homai Vyarawalla, better known as Dalda 13, created history as India’s first female photojournalist. The Padma Vibhushan-winning photographer had initially released her photos under the initials of her husband, M.J.V., the renowned photographer Manekshaw Vyarawala. Mostly found in crisp khadi sarees, she documented Indian politics accurately.

 30 
Sugathakumari
(Writer, Activist)

Sugathakumari
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aranmula, Pathanamthitta, Kerala, India
Died: December 23, 2020

Sugathakumari was an Indian activist and poet who played a major role in Kerala's feminist and environmental movements in the late-1970s. She is credited with founding organizations like Prakrithi Samrakshana Samithi and Abhaya, which work towards protecting nature and safeguarding women and the mentally ill respectively. During her lifetime, she was honored with several prestigious awards like the Padma Shri.

 31 
Madhu Trehan
(Journalist, Writer)

Madhu Trehan
0
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: India

 32 
Shashi Deshpande
(writer, novelist, journalist, short story writer, children's writer)

Shashi Deshpande
3
Birthdate: 1938 AD
Birthplace: Dharwad

 33 

Preeti Shenoy
2
Birthdate: December 21, 1971
Sun Sign: Sagittarius

 34 
Krishna Sobti
(Writer, Essayist)

Krishna Sobti
0
Birthdate: February 18, 1925
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gujrat, Punjab Province, British India
Died: January 25, 2019

Krishna Sobti was an Indian novelist and essayist. She is best remembered for her novel Zindaginama which earned her the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1980. In 1996, she received the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship for her contribution. Her contribution was also honored with the Jnanpith Award in 2017. Sobti's novels have been translated into several languages including English, Russian, and Swedish.

 35 
Juhi Chaturvedi
(Screenwriter)

Juhi Chaturvedi
0
Birthdate: 1975 AD
Birthplace: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

 36 
Anita Nair
(Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist, Children's writer)

Anita Nair
3
Birthdate: January 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Shoranur

Critically acclaimed novelist and children’s author Anita Nair initially worked for an ad agency in Bangalore. Her novel Lessons in Forgetting was later made into a National Award-winning film. A UNHCR supporter, she has won several awards, such as the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award and the JFW Award.

 37 
Nalini Singh
(Journalist most known for her program, 'Aankhon Dekhi', on investigative journalism)

Nalini Singh
2
Birthdate: September 1, 1945
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: India

Initially known for her current affairs programs on Doordarshan, Nalini Singh soared to fame with her show Aankhon Dekhi. The sister of journalist and politician Arun Shourie, she has also written for publications such as The Indian Express. She has had a troubled relationship with her daughter, author Ratna Vira.

 38 

Bharati Mukherjee
3
Birthdate: July 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Kolkata, 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.

 39 
Roshanara Begum
(Mughal princess and the third daughter of Emperor Shah Jahan)

Roshanara Begum
0
Birthdate: September 3, 1617
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Burhanpur, India
Died: September 11, 1671

 40 
Zeb-un-Nissa
(Mughal princess and the eldest child of Emperor Aurangzeb)

Zeb-un-Nissa
0
Birthdate: February 15, 1638
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Daulatabad, India
Died: May 26, 1702

 41 

Qurratulain Hyder
2
Birthdate: January 20, 1927
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Aligarh, India
Died: August 21, 2007

Known for her iconic works such as Aag Ka Darya, Qurratulain Hyder revolutionized Urdu literature. Born to writer parents in British India, she later moved to Pakistan and then to England, where she was employed with BBC. She later moved back to India and won numerous awards such as the Jnanpith Award.

 42 

Kamala Markandaya
2
Birthdate: January 1, 1924
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mysuru, India
Died: May 16, 2004

Kamala Markandaya, also known as Kamala Taylor after her marriage, was one of the most significant Indian writers of English. Known for novels such as Nectar in a Sieve and A Silence of Desire, she was known to portray Western ideals as materialistic. She moved to England after India’s independence.

 43 
Geeta Iyengar
(Former yoga teacher credited with advancing yoga for women)

Geeta Iyengar
2
Birthdate: December 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: India
Died: December 16, 2018

 44 
Parijat
(Writer)

Parijat
2
Birthdate: 1937 AD
Birthplace: Darjeeling, India
Died: 1993 AD

 45 
Sonia Orwell
(Writer)

Sonia Orwell
0
Birthdate: August 25, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Calcutta, British India
Died: December 11, 1980

 46 

Meena Alexander
2
Birthdate: February 17, 1951
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Prayagraj, Allahabad, India
Died: November 21, 2018

Indian-born poet Meena Alexander spent most of her childhood in Sudan, owing to her father’s job. She then acquired a PhD in English from the U.K. and moved to the U.S., where she wrote and taught. Known for works such as Illiterate Heart, Meena experimented with themes such as migration.

 47 

Temsüla Ao
1
Birthdate: 1945 AD
Birthplace: Jorhat, Bengal Presidency, India

Temsüla Ao is an Indian poet, ethnographer, and short story writer. In 2007, she was honored with India's fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri. In 2009, she received the Governor's Gold Medal. In 2013, her short story collection titled Laburnum for My Head earned her the prestigious Sahitya Akademi Award. 

 48 
Sujata Bhatt
(Indian poet who became known for an award-winning collection entitled Brunizem)

Sujata Bhatt
0
Birthdate: 1956 AD
Birthplace: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

 49 
Malini Parthasarthy
(Journalist, Writer)

Malini Parthasarthy
0
Birthdate: August 15, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: India

 50 
Gail Omvedt
(She was a prolific writer and published numerous books on the anti-caste movement)

Gail Omvedt
0
Birthdate: August 2, 1941
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: August 25, 2021