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.

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 1 Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy
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Famous As: Novelist, Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist
Birthdate: November 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: Indian

 2 Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
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.

 3 Joan Didion

Joan Didion
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Famous As: Screenwriter, Novelist, Journalist, Writer, Essayist
Birthdate: December 5, 1934
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 4 Sylvia Browne

Sylvia Browne
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Famous As: Essayist, Psychic
Birthdate: October 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American
Died: November 20, 2013

 5 Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 17, 1968
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: American

 6 Anais Nin

Anais Nin
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Famous As: Essayist
Birthdate: February 21, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American
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.

 7 Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: March 25, 1925
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: August 3, 1964
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 8 Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith
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Famous As: Writer, Novelist, Essayist
Birthdate: October 25, 1975
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: British

 9 Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

 10 Amrita Pritam

Amrita Pritam
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 31, 1919
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Indian
Died: October 31, 2005

 11 Hilary Mantel

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

 12 Madeleine L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 29, 1918
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American
Died: September 6, 2007

 13 Taslima Nasrin

Taslima Nasrin
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Famous As: Poet, Physician, Novelist, Essayist, Writer, Feminist
Birthdate: August 25, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Bangladeshi

 14 Sandra Cisneros

Sandra Cisneros
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 20, 1954
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 15 Mary Karr

Mary Karr
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: January 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

 16 Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 26, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: American

 17 Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich
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Famous As: American poet
Birthdate: May 16, 1929
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: March 27, 2012

 18 Rebecca Solnit

Rebecca Solnit
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 24, 1961
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

 19 Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver
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Famous As: Novelist, Poet, Essayist
Birthdate: April 8, 1955
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 20 Muriel Spark

Muriel Spark
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 1, 1918
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Scottish
Died: April 13, 2006

 21 Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 24, 1890
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Dominican, British
Died: May 14, 1979

 22 Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 25, 1949
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: American

 23 Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American
Died: November 30, 1997

 24 Harriet Martineau

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

 25 Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 25, 1971
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French, Turkish

 26 Annie Dillard

Meta Ann Doak
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 30, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 27 Linda Moulton Howe

Linda Moulton Howe
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Famous As: Journalist, Essayist
Birthdate: January 20, 1942
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: American

 28 Janet Frame

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

 29 Hélène Cixous

Hélène Cixous
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Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: June 5, 1937
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Algerian

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.

 30 Wisława Szymborska

Wisława Szymborska
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Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Literature
Birthdate: July 2, 1923
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Polish
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. 

 31 Katherine Anne Porter

Katherine Anne Porter
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Famous As: Journalist, Essayist, Writer, Novelist
Birthdate: May 15, 1890
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: September 18, 1980

 32 Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 9, 1951
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American

 33 Herta Müller

Herta Müller
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 17, 1953
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: German

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.

 34 Marguerite Yourcenar

Marguerite Yourcenar
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Famous As: Novelist, Essayist
Birthdate: June 8, 1903
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: Belgian, American
Died: December 17, 1987

 35 Lydia Davis

Lydia Davis
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American

 36 Zhang Ailing

Zhang Ailing
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 30, 1920
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: Chinese, American
Died: September 8, 1995

 37 C. J. Cherryh

C. J. Cherryh
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Virgo

 38 Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
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Famous As: Academic Scholar
Birthdate: May 2, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: American
Died: April 12, 2009

 39 Bebe Moore Campbell

Bebe Moore Campbell
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: February 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: American
Died: November 27, 2006

 40 Hannah More

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

 41 Emily Gould

Emily Gould
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Famous As: Writer, Essayist, Children's writer
Birthdate: October 13, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: American

 42 Cynthia Ozick

Cynthia Ozick
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Famous As: Short Story Writer
Birthdate: April 17, 1928
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: American

 43 Leslie Marmon Silko

Leslie Marmon Silko
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Famous As: American author
Birthdate: March 5, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: American

 44 Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Nationality: Moroccan, American

 45 Anita Nair

Anita Nair
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Famous As: Writer, Screenwriter, Essayist, Children's writer
Birthdate: January 26, 1966
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: Indian

 46 Ingeborg Bachmann

Ingeborg Bachmann
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Famous As: Poet, Writer, Journalist, Screenwriter, Philosopher, Essayist, Playwright
Birthdate: June 25, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Austrian
Died: October 17, 1973

 47 Bharati Mukherjee

Bharati Mukherjee
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 27, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: Indian, American
Died: January 28, 2017

 48 Natalia Ginzburg

Natalia Ginzburg
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: July 14, 1916
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: Italian
Died: October 7, 1991

 49 June Jordan

June Jordan
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 9, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: American
Died: June 14, 2002

 50 Emilia Pardo Bazán

Emilia Pardo Bazán
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 16, 1851
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: Spanish
Died: May 12, 1921