100 Women Writers to Read in My Lifetime

Some weeks ago, Jean at Jean’s Thoughts wrote a blog post about the 100 women writers she needed to read in her lifetime (please check it out, if you haven’t yet). Her idea came from the realisation that the vast number of lists out there about the authors everyone should read before they die are predominantly comprised of male authors.

Keeping that in mind, I quickly glanced through my shelves and had to face the sad reality that I haven’t read that many books by female authors. In fact, if I had to quickly mention more than twenty female authors that I have read or want to read, I would struggle. The problem is even greater when thinking specifically about Portuguese female authors, whom I should be more familiar with. Not having studied many female authors while at school may be part of the problem. Even after doing some research, female authors seem to be almost non-existent in Portugal before the 20th century.

Having Jean’s list as a starting point, I decided to curate my own list of 100 women writers as a further incentive to read more books by female authors. The list features authors that I have already read and recommend, that I have been wanting to read for a long time, or that I have just discovered. Whenever I finish a book by one of the yet unread authors, I will tick off the name, as I did with the unfortunately few authors I have already read (although I have read more than one book by some of those writers).

  1. A.L. Kennedy
  2. Agatha Christie
  3. Agustina Bessa-Luís
  4. Ali Smith ✓
  5. Alice Vieira ✓
  6. Alice Walker
  7. Angela Carter
  8. Anne Brontë
  9. Anne Tyler
  10. Arundhati Roy ✓
  11. Azar Nafisi
  12. Becky Chambers
  13. Betty Smith
  14. Carmen Laforet
  15. Carol Ann Duffy
  16. Carys Bray
  17. Charlotte Brontë ✓
  18. Charlotte Perkins Gilmen
  19. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  20. Christina Rossetti
  21. Cynthia Bond
  22. Daphne du Maurier ✓
  23. Donna Tartt
  24. Edith Wharton
  25. Eleanor Catton
  26. Elena Ferrante
  27. Elizabeth Gaskell
  28. Ellen Feldman
  29. Emily Brontë
  30. Emily St. John Mandel ✓
  31. Emma Donoghue
  32. Essie Fox
  33. Florbela Espanca ✓
  34. Frances Burney
  35. George Eliot
  36. Han Kang
  37. Hannah Kent
  38. Hannah Rothschild
  39. Harper Lee
  40. Helen Oyeyemi
  41. Hélia Correia
  42. Hilary Mantel
  43. Isabell Allende ✓
  44. J.K. Rowling ✓
  45. Jackie Kay
  46. Jacqueline Susann
  47. Jane Austen ✓
  48. Janet Ellis ✓
  49. Jean Rhys
  50. Jeanette Winterson
  51. Jessie Burton ✓
  52. Jhumpa Lahiri
  53. Joanna Russ
  54. Karen Russel
  55. Kate Atkinson ✓
  56. Kate Chopin
  57. Lídia Jorge
  58. Lionel Shriver
  59. Liz Lochhead
  60. Louisa May Alcott
  61. Louise O’Neill
  62. Madeleine L’Engle
  63. Malorie Blackman
  64. Margaret Atwood ✓
  65. Margaret Cavendish
  66. Maria Isabel Barreno
  67. Maria Velho da Costa
  68. Marie Brennan ✓
  69. Marilynne Robinson
  70. Mary Shelley ✓
  71. Mary Wollstonecraft
  72. Maxine Hong Kingston
  73. Monica Ali
  74. Murasaki Shikibu
  75. Muriel Spark
  76. Naomi Mitchison
  77. Naomi Wolf
  78. Nnedi Okorafor
  79. Octavia E. Butler
  80. Pat Barker
  81. Penelope Fitzgerald
  82. Robin Hobb
  83. Ruth Ozeki
  84. Sappho
  85. Sara Taylor
  86. Sarah Moss
  87. Shirley Jackson
  88. Simone de Beauvoir
  89. Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen ✓
  90. Stella Gibbons
  91. Susan Sontag
  92. Susanna Clarke ✓
  93. Sylvia Plath
  94. Toni Morrison
  95. Tracy Chevalier
  96. Ursula K. Le Guin
  97. Virginia Woolf ✓
  98. Vita Sackville-West
  99. Willa Cather
  100. Zadie Smith

Update: I’m no longer ticking off the names on this post. If you’re interested in knowing how many of the above female authors I have read at least one book by so far, please check the new 100 Women Writers to Read in My Lifetime page in the Reading Projects section.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.