Female Playwrights

Throughout history, there have been many women playwrights who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great female playwrights such as Joyce Carol Oates, Doris Lessing, Nora Ephron, Lillian Hellman, Elfriede Jelinek.The women playwrights 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 Female Playwrights

 1 
Lorraine Hansberry
(Writer, Theatre director, Screenwriter, Playwright, Human rights activist)

Lorraine Hansberry
6
Birthdate: May 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: January 12, 1965

Lorraine Hansberry was a writer and playwright best remembered for her play A Raisin in the Sun which emphasizes the plight of African-Americans living under racial segregation. At the age of 29, Lorraine Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, becoming the youngest playwright and the first African-American dramatist to win the prestigious award.

 2 
Danai Gurira
(Actress)

Danai Gurira
20
Birthdate: February 14, 1978
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Grinnell, Iowa, United States
Danai Gurira is best known as Michonne from The Walking Dead and as Okoye from the Marvel films Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame. She earned a Tony nomination for writing the Broadway play Eclipsed. She has been a UN Goodwill Ambassador and promotes arts and women empowerment.

 3 
Zoe Kazan
(Actress)

Zoe Kazan
5
Birthdate: September 9, 1983
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA

 4 
Lillian Hellman
(Dramatist and Screenwriter)

Lillian Hellman
4
Birthdate: June 20, 1905
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana
Died: June 30, 1984

 5 
Sophie Hunter
(Theatre Director)

Sophie Hunter
4
Birthdate: March 16, 1978
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hammersmith, London

Sophie Hunter is an English playwright, opera director, and former performer. She is credited with co-founding and popularizing a theatre company called Boileroom, which was honored with the Samuel Theatre Trust Award in 2007 for its play The Terrific Electric, which marked Sophie Hunter's directorial debut.

 6 
Mae West
(Actress)

Mae West
4
Birthdate: August 17, 1893
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: November 22, 1980
Mae West began her career as a child actor in vaudeville. She later appeared in films such as You Done Me Wrong and Go West, Young Man. She became famous for her signature double entendres and sexual liberty she projected on screen. She also wrote books and plays later.

 7 
Nora Ephron
(Screenwriter, Producer, Director)

Nora Ephron
4
Birthdate: May 19, 1941
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: June 26, 2012

Nora Ephron was an American writer, filmmaker, and journalist. She is known for writing films like Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally... The Nora Ephron Prize was created by the Tribeca Film Festival in her memory. Her life and work inspired the 2016 documentary film Everything Is Copy, which was directed by her son Jacob Bernstein.

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 8 
Michaela Coel
(Actress)

Michaela Coel
5
Birthdate: October 1, 1987
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England

 9 
Aphra Behn
(Playwright)

Aphra Behn
4
Birthdate: July 10, 1640
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Canterbury, England
Died: April 16, 1689

 10 

Daphne du Maurier
5
Birthdate: May 13, 1907
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: April 19, 1989

Daphne du Maurier was an English playwright and author. Many of her works, which have been praised for narrative craft, have been adapted into films, including three of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Such was her popularity that she was selected along with four other Women of Achievement to be featured on a set of British stamps, which were issued in 1996.

 11 
Amanda Palmer
(Singer, Street artist, Composer, Pianist, Musician, Playwright, Blogger, Songwriter)

Amanda Palmer
4
Birthdate: April 30, 1976
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City

 12 
Ruth Gordon
(Actress)

Ruth Gordon
4
Birthdate: October 30, 1896
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Quincy, Massachusetts, United States
Died: August 28, 1985

 13 
Gypsy Rose Lee
(Entertainer)

Gypsy Rose Lee
4
Birthdate: January 8, 1911
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, USA
Died: April 26, 1970

Gypsy Rose Lee was an American vedette and burlesque entertainer best remembered for her striptease act. She was also an actress, playwright, and author whose memoir inspired the 1959 stage musical, Gypsy. Lee's life inspired several works of art, including a song titled Gypsy Rose Lee by The Distillers. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

 14 
Ruby Dee
(Actress)

Ruby Dee
5
Birthdate: October 27, 1922
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Died: June 11, 2014

 15 
Elaine May
(Actor, Film director, Screenwriter, Writer, Playwright)

Elaine May
4
Birthdate: April 21, 1932
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

 16 

Joyce Carol Oates
4
Birthdate: June 16, 1938
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Lockport, New York, United States

 17 
Sarah Kane
(Playwright, Writer)

Sarah Kane
4
Birthdate: February 3, 1971
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brentwood
Died: February 20, 1999

 18 

Patrisse Cullors
4
Birthdate: June 20, 1983
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

 19 

Carrie Hamilton
5
Birthdate: December 5, 1963
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York, USA
Died: January 20, 2002

 20 
Caryl Churchill
(Dramatist, Women's Rights Activist)

Caryl Churchill
3
Birthdate: September 3, 1938
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

 21 

Carol Ann Duffy
4
Birthdate: December 23, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glasgow, Scotland

 22 

Sarah Solemani
4
Birthdate: September 4, 1986
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Camden, London, England

 23 
Tovah Feldshuh
(Television actor, Film actor, Writer, Playwright, Stage actor)

Tovah Feldshuh
4
Birthdate: December 27, 1952
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City

 24 
Olympe de Gouges
(Playwright)

Olympe de Gouges
4
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.

 25 
Patricia Wettig
(Actor, Playwright, Stage actor, Television actor)

Patricia Wettig
4
Birthdate: December 4, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cincinnati

 26 

Amelia Bullmore
4
Birthdate: January 31, 1964
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chelsea, London, England, United Kingdom

 27 
Dorothy L. Sayers
(English crime writer and poet.)

Dorothy L. Sayers
4
Birthdate: June 13, 1893
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: December 17, 1957

 28 

Frances Hodgson Burnett
4
Birthdate: November 24, 1849
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Cheetham, Manchester, England
Died: October 29, 1924

 29 
Charlayne Woodard
(Actress, Playwright)

Charlayne Woodard
4
Birthdate: December 29, 1953
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Albany, New York, United States

Edna St. Vincent Millay
4
Birthdate: February 22, 1892
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Rockland, Maine, United States
Died: October 19, 1950

 31 
Lucy Prebble
(Playwright)

Lucy Prebble
3
Birthdate: 1981 AD
Birthplace: Haslemere, England

 32 
Anna Deavere Smith
(Actress, Playwright & Professor)

Anna Deavere Smith
4
Birthdate: September 18, 1950
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

 33 
Julia Donaldson
(Writer, Playwright, Author, Children's writer)

Julia Donaldson
4
Birthdate: September 16, 1948
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England

 34 
Yang Jiang
(Playwright)

Yang Jiang
3
Birthdate: July 17, 1911
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Beijing, China
Died: May 25, 2016

Yang Jiang was a Chinese author, translator, and playwright. Yang Jiang is credited with writing several successful comedies. A prolific translator, Yang was the first Chinese to come up with a proper Chinese version of Don Quixote. Her translation is considered the definitive translation of the popular novel in China.

 35 
Kate Atkinson
(Novelist)

Kate Atkinson
3
Birthdate: December 20, 1951
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: York, England

 36 
Annie Baker
(screenwriter, author, writer)

Annie Baker
3
Birthdate: December 20, 1951, 1981
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston

 37 
Emma Donoghue
(Novelist)

Emma Donoghue
3
Birthdate: October 24, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

Alex Awards winning Irish-Canadian playwright, literary historian, short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter Emma Donoghue is best known for authoring award winning novels like Room and Hood. Room, an international best-seller, was adapted into a film bearing same title that not only emerged as a critical and commercial success but also garnered four Oscar nominations at the 88th Academy Awards.

 38 
Clare Boothe Luce
(Author, Politician)

Clare Boothe Luce
3
Birthdate: March 10, 1903
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: October 9, 1987

 39 
Lynn Nottage
(Playwright)

Lynn Nottage
3
Birthdate: November 2, 1964
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

 40 
Edna O'Brien
(Novelist)

Edna O'Brien
3
Birthdate: December 15, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland

Irish novelist Edna O'Brien is known for dealing with themes related to women’s issues, such as sexual repression of women in a male-dominated society. While she initially studied pharmacy, she later soared to fame with novels such as The Country Girls trilogy, some of which were banned in Ireland for their sexual openness.

 41 
Sharman Macdonald
(Playwright, Writer, Screenwriter)

Sharman Macdonald
3
Birthdate: February 8, 1951
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Glasgow

 42 
Kathy Acker
(Author)

Kathy Acker
3
Birthdate: April 18, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: November 30, 1997

 43 
Eve Ensler
(Artist, Actor, Playwright, Autobiographer, Writer, Feminist)

Eve Ensler
3
Birthdate: May 25, 1953
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City

 44 
Katharine Viner
(Journalist)

Katharine Viner
3
Birthdate: January 4, 1971
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Yorkshire, England

 45 
Maeve Binchy
(Novelist)

Maeve Binchy
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dalkey, Dublin, Republic of Ireland Ireland
Died: July 30, 2012

 46 

Mary Hayley Bell
3
Birthdate: January 22, 1911
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Shanghai, China
Died: December 1, 2005

 47 
Laura Wade
(Writer)

Laura Wade
3
Birthdate: October 16, 1977
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Bedford

 48 
Nelly Sachs
(Former Poet, Playwright particularly known for Eli: Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels, a 1950 play based on her World War II experiences)

Nelly Sachs
3
Birthdate: December 10, 1891
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Schöneberg, Berlin, Germany
Died: May 12, 1970

Nelly Leonie Sachs, internationally noted German-Swedish poet and dramatist, wrote conventional romantic poems until the rise of Nazism brought about a drastic change in her life. Forced to flee to Sweden, she began writing about the grief and yearnings of her fellow Jews, concurrently translating German works into Swedish and vice-versa. She won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1966.

 49 
Ali Smith
(Writer)

Ali Smith
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1962
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Inverness, Scotland

Born to working-class parents in Scotland, Ali Smith grew up to earn a PhD from the University of Cambridge. While teaching at the University of Strathclyde, she developed chronic fatigue and took a break to write. Known for books such as Autumn, she often collaborates with her partner Sarah Wood.

 50 
Sue Townsend
(Writer)

Sue Townsend
3
Birthdate: April 2, 1946
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Leicester, England
Died: April 10, 2014

Best known for creating the protagonist Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend was a legendary comic writer from Britain. Apart from the Adrian Mole series, she had also penned other novels and plays. A chain-smoker as a teenager, she had her first marriage at 18 and was a mother of three by 22.