Indian Women Writers

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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.
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 1 
Sarojini Naidu
(Indian Political Activist, Poet and 1st Governor of United Provinces)
Sarojini Naidu
20
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
7
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
15
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
8
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
(Indian-American Author, Model and Host of the Cooking Competition Show ‘Top Chef’)
Padma Lakshmi
7
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 
Mirabai
(Bhakti Saint)
Mirabai
13
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.

 7 
Sudha Murty
(Author)
Sudha Murty
4
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.

 8 
Amrita Pritam
(Indian Author Who Wrote in Punjabi and Hindi and is Considered One of History's Foremost Female Punjabi Writers)
Amrita Pritam
7
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.

 9 
Palak Muchhal
5
Birthdate: March 30, 1992
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Indore
 10 
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.

 11 
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
 12 
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.

 13 
Kalpana
(Actress)
Kalpana
3
Birthdate: October 5, 1965
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Thiruvananthapuram district Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India
Died: January 25, 2016
 14 
Sheela
(Actress)
Sheela
3
Birthdate: March 22, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thrissur, India
 15 
Mahadevi Varma
(Indian Writer, Activist, and Leading Poet of the 'Chhayavad' Movement in Hindi)
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.

 16 
Kamala Suraiyya
(Indian Poet Who Wrote Openly About Female Sexual Desire and the Experience of Being an Indian Woman)
Kamala Suraiyya
5
Birthdate: March 31, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Punnayurkulam, Thrissur district, 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.

 17 
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.

 18 
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
 19 
Anita Desai
(Novelist)
Anita Desai
4
Birthdate: June 24, 1937
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Mussoorie, India
 20 
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.

 21 
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.

 22 
Balamani Amma
(Indian Poet)
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. 

 23 
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. 
 24 
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.

 25 
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.

 26 
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.

 27 
Aśvaghoṣa
(First Sanskrit Dramatist, and the Greatest Indian Poet Prior to Kālidāsa)
Aśvaghoṣa
3
Birthdate: 0080 AD
Birthplace: Ayodhya, India
Died: 0150 AD

Aśvaghoṣa was an Indian Buddhist philosopher, poet, dramatist, and orator. Widely regarded as one of the greatest Indian poets of all time, Aśvaghoṣa was the most popular and important poet among a group of Buddhist court writers. He is credited with writing two of the most important Sanskrit-language poems held dear by the Buddhist community—Buddhacharita and Saundarananda.

 28 
Madhu Trehan
(Indian Journalist & Founder of Digital Media Portal 'Newslaundry')
Madhu Trehan
0
Birthplace: India

Madhu Trehan is an Indian journalist best known for co-founding a digital media portal named Newslaundry where she also works as the editor-in-chief. She is also credited with founding the popular news magazine, India Today. In 1986, Madhu Trehan earned a reputation as a pioneer of investigative journalism when she produced and anchored India's first video news magazine, Newstrack.

 29 
Shashi Deshpande
(writer, novelist, journalist, short story writer, children's writer)
Shashi Deshpande
3
Birthdate: 1938 AD
Birthplace: Dharwad
 30 
Preeti Shenoy
2
Birthdate: December 21, 1971
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: India
 31 
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.

 32 
Juhi Chaturvedi
(Screenwriter)
Juhi Chaturvedi
0
Birthdate: 1975 AD
Birthplace: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
 33 
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
 34 
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
 35 
Bharati Mukherjee
(Indian American-Canadian Writer and Professor )
Bharati Mukherjee
3
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.

 36 
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.

 37 
Kamala Markandaya
(One of the Most Important Indian Novelists Who Wrote in English)
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.

 38 
Qurratulain Hyder
(Indian Urdu Novelist and Short Story Writer Best Known for Her Magnum Opus, 'Aag Ka Darya')
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.

 39 
Anita Nair
(Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist, Children's writer)
Anita Nair
4
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.

 40 
Sonia Orwell
(Writer)
Sonia Orwell
0
Birthdate: August 25, 1918
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Calcutta, British India
Died: December 11, 1980
 41 
Parijat
(Writer)
Parijat
2
Birthdate: 1937 AD
Birthplace: Darjeeling, India
Died: 1993 AD
 42 
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. 

 43 
Meena Alexander
(Indian Novelist, Poet and Educator)
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.

 44 
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
 45 
Malini Parthasarthy
(Indian Journalist Best Known For Her Work With 'The Hindu Group')
Malini Parthasarthy
0
Birthdate: August 15, 1959
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: India

Malini Parthasarathy is an Indian journalist and the current chairperson of THG Publishing Private Limited, the official publishing company of The Hindu Group. Between 2015 and 2016, Parthasarathy also worked as an editor for the popular Indian daily newspaper The Hindu. Over the years, Malini Parthasarathy has played an important role in the overall development of The Hindu Group.

 46 
Sujata Bhatt
(Indian poet who became known for an award-winning collection entitled Brunizem)
Sujata Bhatt
0
Birthdate: 1956 AD
Birthplace: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
 47 
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
 48 
Santha Rama Rau
1
Birthdate: January 24, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chennai, India
Died: April 21, 2009
 49 
Mah Laqa Bai
1
Birthdate: April 7, 1768
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hyderabad, India
Died: July 31, 1824

Born to a courtesan mother in Aurangabad, as Chanda Bibi, Mah Laqa Bai mastered Deccani Kathak. She grew up to be a refined woman, skilled in everything from martial arts to poetry. Remembered for her fine ghazals and Urdu poetry, she was also the courtesan of the Nizam of Hyderabad.

 50 
Lalleshwari
(Hindu Saint)
Lalleshwari
2
Birthdate: 1320 AD
Birthplace: Kashmir, India
Died: 1392 AD

Lalleshwari was a 14th-century Kashmiri mystic. She belonged to the Kashmir Shaivism school of philosophy and originated the style of mystic poetry called vatsun or vakhs. Her works have a significant place in the history of Kashmiri literature. She was known by several aliases, including Lal Ded, Lal Dyad, Lal Diddi, and Lalla Yogishwari/Yogeshwari.