Women Essayists

Throughout history, there have been many women essayists who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great female essayists such as Lisa Brennan-Jobs, Simone de Beauvoir, Anais Nin, Jhumpa Lahiri, Sandra Cisneros.The women essayists featured in this list are from United States, United Kingdom, Canada & Australia and many more countries.

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 Women Essayists

 1 Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf.
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 25, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: South Kensington, London, England
Died: March 28, 1941

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.

 2 Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood.
0
Famous As: Writer, Environmental Activist
Birthdate: November 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Margaret Atwood is a Canadian poet and novelist. Her works encompass themes, such as religion and myth, climate change, and gender and identity. An award-winning writer, many of Atwood's works have been made into films and television series; her work, The Handmaid's Tale, has had several adaptations. Perhaps, Margaret Atwood's most important contribution is her invention of the LongPen device.

 3 Joan Didion

Joan Didion.
0
Famous As: Screenwriter, Novelist, Journalist, Writer, Essayist
Birthdate: December 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sacramento, California, United States

 4 Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag.
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 28, 2004
Susan Sontag is best known for her essay anthologies such as Against Interpretation and her novels such as In America. She wrote about diverse issues such as human rights, photography, AIDS, and leftist beliefs, and also visited war-torn areas. The National Book Award-winning author was also openly bisexual. 

 5 Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith.
0
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Essayist
Birthdate: October 25, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London

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.

 6 Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates.
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 16, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lockport, New York, United States

 7 Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy
0
Famous As: Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist
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.

You May Like

 8 Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir.
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris
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.

 9 Sylvia Browne

Sylvia Browne
0
Famous As: Essayist, Psychic
Birthdate: October 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kansas City
Died: November 20, 2013

 10 Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 17, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Spangler, Pennsylvania, U.S.

 11 Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 25, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Savannah, Georgia, United States
Died: August 3, 1964

 12 Anais Nin

Anais Nin.
2
Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: February 21, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris
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.

 13 Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri.
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 11, 1967
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London
Jhumpa Lahiri is an Indian-American author who mainly writes mostly about the experiences faced by East Indian immigrants and also about their practices and traditions. Recipient of several awards, she received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and PEN/Hemingway Award for her first publication, Interpreter of Maladies.

 14 Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell
0
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA

 15 Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter.
0
Famous As: Journalist, Essayist, Writer, Novelist
Birthdate: May 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Indian Creek, Texas, U.S.
Died: September 18, 1980

 16 Amrita Pritam

Amrita Pritam.
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Gujranwala
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.

 17 Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel
0
Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Essayist, Film critic, Poet lawyer, Literary critic
Birthdate: July 6, 1952
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Glossop

British author Hilary Mantel initially studied law at LSU and then concentrated on her writing career after moving to Botswana with her geologist husband. Her Booker Prize-winning novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, later catapulted her to fame. She divorced and remarried her husband later.

 18 Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle
0
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 29, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York,United States
Died: September 6, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle soared to fame with her Newbery Medal-winning bestselling young adult novel A Wrinkle in Time, which was made into a Disney film later. Born to a writer father and a pianist mother, L’Engle had penned her first story at age 5 and had also tried her luck in theater.

 19 Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros.
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 20, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Chicago

 20 Lou Andreas-Salomé

Lou Andreas-Salomé
0
Famous As: Psychoanalyst
Birthdate: February 12, 1861
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: February 5, 1937

Russian-born German author Lou Andreas-Salomé apparently rejected renowned philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s marriage proposal and then married a professor instead. A skilled psychoanalyst, she was also close to Rainer Maria Rilke and Sigmund Freud. She was one of the first to offer a psychoanalytic perspective to female sexuality.

 21 Olga Tokarczuk

Olga Tokarczuk
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 29, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Sulechów, Poland

 22 Mary Karr

Mary Karr
0
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: January 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: East Texas

 23 Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 26, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Sandpoint, Idaho, US

 24 Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich.
0
Famous As: American poet
Birthdate: May 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Died: March 27, 2012

 25 Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Bridgeport, Connecticut Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.

 26 Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver.
0
Famous As: Novelist, Poet, Essayist
Birthdate: April 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Annapolis, Maryland, United States

 27 Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 1, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Edinburgh, Scotland
Died: April 13, 2006

 28 Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 24, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Roseau, Dominica, British West Indies
Died: May 14, 1979

Born in Dominica, to a Welsh father and a Creole mother, Jean Rhys grew up to be a celebrated author. She soared to fame with her novel Wide Sargasso Sea, which was inspired by the tale of Jane Eyre’s “madwoman in the attic.” She died before completing her memoir.

 29 Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid.
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: St. John's

 30 Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 25, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France

 31 Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker
0
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: November 30, 1997

 32 Harriet Martineau

Harriet Martineau
0
Famous As: Linguist, Journalist, Economist, Historian, Translator, Writer, Sociologist, Essayist, Feminist
Birthdate: June 12, 1802
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norwich
Died: June 27, 1876

Regarded by many as the first female sociologist, Harriet Martineau was a prominent 19th-century social theorist, classical economist, and intellectual who penned the iconic work The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. She was partially deaf and had lost her sense of taste and smell in childhood.

 33 Linda Moulton Howe

Linda Moulton Howe
0
Famous As: Journalist, Essayist
Birthdate: January 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Boise

 34 Annie Dillard

Meta Ann Doak
0
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

 35 Janet Frame

Janet Frame
0
Famous As: Novelist, Essayist, Poet, Writer, Short story writer
Birthdate: August 28, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dunedin
Died: January 29, 2004

 36 Hélène Cixous

Hélène Cixous.
0
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: June 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oran

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.

 37 Wisława Szymborska

Wisława Szymborska.
0
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Literature
Birthdate: July 2, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kórnik
Died: February 1, 2012

Wisława Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, and translator. In 1996, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her poetry. Her works have been translated into numerous languages, including English, Arabic, Japanese, Hebrew, and Chinese. She also translated French literature, especially Baroque poetry, into Polish. She actively wrote until her death at the age of 88. 

 38 Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo
0
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 9, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States

 39 Herta Müller

Herta Müller.
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 17, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nițchidorf

Nobel Prize-winning author Herta Müller grew up under the dictatorial regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu in Romania. She was fired from her first job for not co-operating with the Romanian secret police. Her works, such as Oppressive Tango and The Passport, mirror the oppression of Germans she has witnessed in Romania.

 40 Marguerite Yourcenar

Marguerite Yourcenar
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: June 8, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
Died: December 17, 1987

 41 Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Northampton, Massachusetts, United States

 42 Zhang Ailing

Zhang Ailing
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 30, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Shanghai, China
Died: September 8, 1995

 43 C. J. Cherryh

C. J. Cherryh
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

 44 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
0
Famous As: Academic Scholar
Birthdate: May 2, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, U.S.
Died: April 12, 2009

 45 Bebe Moore Campbell

Bebe Moore Campbell
0
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Died: November 27, 2006

 46 Hannah More

Hannah More
0
Famous As: Writer, Poet, Essayist
Birthdate: February 2, 1745
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fishponds
Died: September 7, 1833

English religious author Hannah More soared to literary fame with the release of Village Politics, penned under the pseudonym Will Chip. Its popularity made her write an entire series of tracts that educated the poor. She also established clubs and schools, apart from opposing slavery along with the Clapham Sect.

 47 Emily Gould

Emily Gould
0
Famous As: Writer, Essayist, Children's writer
Birthdate: October 13, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Silver Spring

 48 Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick
0
Famous As: Short Story Writer
Birthdate: April 17, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States

 49 Leslie Marmon Silko

Leslie Marmon Silko
0
Famous As: American author
Birthdate: March 5, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Albuquerque, New Mexico

 50 Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Rabat, Morocco