Skip to main content Skip to footer

Famous women in literature

Throughout history, literature has always been a powerful tool for people from various backgrounds to share their talent for writing with the world. Among these, women, in particular, have played a big part in shaping the literature that we know today with their unique points of view and storytelling skills. They have used literature, sometimes under a pen name (a fake name used to hide their identity), to create characters and stories that have changed how we see the world. This International Women's Day, we want to recognise and celebrate the impact of these women on literature and society. In this blog, we'll look at the lives and stories of some famous women in literature, recognising their achievements and contributions to literature

1. Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)

"I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book!" - Pride and Prejudice (novel), Jane Austen.

Jane Austen, an English novelist, is celebrated for her clever and amusing descriptions of British society during the 19th century through her books. Some of her famous works, “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma,” are still popular around the globe because they explore themes of love, family and societal expectations in a way that we can all relate to.

Her stories are set in England and generally revolve around love, marriage and social class. Austen's characters are fascinating, and her stories are full of twists and turns that keep readers engaged.

Some famous books by Jane Austen: 

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Emma
  • Persuasion
  • Northanger Abbey
  • Mansfield Park

2. Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” – Hope is the Thing with Feathers (poem), Emily Dickinson. 

Emily Dickinson was an amazing American poet who lived a quiet and private life. Her poetry is known for its unique style, exploring themes like nature, death and the human mind. Despite leading a life away from society, Dickinson wrote deep and meaningful poems about the many societal issues during her lifetime. She is considered one of the most influential figures in American poetry today. Dickinson's poetry is still celebrated in the world of literature, inspiring generations of writers and poets. Her work remains timeless and continues to capture the hearts and minds of readers. 

Some famous poems by Emily Dickinson

  • Success is counted sweetest
  • I'm Nobody! Who are you?
  • I felt a Funeral, in my Brain
  • Hope' is the thing with feathers
  • We talked as Girls do-

3. The Brontë Sisters (19th century)

"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” – Jane Eyre (novel), Charlotte Bronte. 

During a time when women writers were not well-received by society, three talented English sisters – Charlotte (1816-1855), Emily (1818-1848) and Anne (1820-1849) wrote books. Despite the challenges faced by women, all three sisters successfully published their novels. They used male pen names to hide their identity and increase their chances of publishing their books.

Charlotte wrote “Jane Eyre,” a story about a young woman who challenges societal traditions and expectations. Emily wrote “Wuthering Heights,” a passionate story about love and revenge. Anne wrote “Agnes Grey,” which talks about what it was like for a young woman at the time working as a governess. Their books are still loved today because they discuss important themes and show how people can stand up for themselves. The Brontë sisters broke down barriers and paved the way for future female writers to be accepted by society.

Some famous books by the Brontë Sisters

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  • Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
  • Shirley by Charlotte Brontë

4. Agatha Christie (1890-1976)

"The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances." - Murder on the Orient Express (novel), Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie, an English writer, was born in 1890 and went on to become one of the most renowned crime writers of all time. She wrote over 80 detective novels, many of which have been adapted into movies, TV shows and plays. Christie's writing style is known for its complex plot lines, misdirection and unexpected twists.

She is known as the "Queen of Crime" and is also the best-selling fiction writer of all time. Over 2 billion copies of her books have been sold. Despite her success, Christie was a private person who avoided the spotlight. She died in 1976, leaving behind a legacy of beloved characters and unforgettable mysteries. 

Some books by Agatha Christie 

  • And Then There Were None
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • Death on the Nile
  • Five Little Pigs

5. Harper Lee (1926-2016)

 "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." - To Kill a Mockingbird (novel), Harper Lee.

Nelle Harper Lee was a famous American novelist. In 1960, she published her very first book, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” for which she won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize. Her debut work is now one of the classics of American literature. Her book explores the themes of racial injustice and unfair treatment that existed in the American South. The story and characters in her book were inspired by her own family and the people she knew from her childhood in Alabama.

Some books by Harper Lee

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Go Set a Watchman

6. Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison.

Toni Morrison was a highly influential American author and editor who played an important role in American literature. Her works, like “The Bluest Eye” and "Bodily Evidence," explored topics of race, identity and the African American experience in the United States. Her unique mindset and writing style captivated readers and encouraged important discussions about society's most pressing issues. In 1987, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her exceptional contributions to the literature community. Morrison's writing continues to inspire readers worldwide to think and engage in meaningful conversations about the challenges we face as a society and how we can overcome them.

Some books by Toni Morrison

  • Beloved
  • The Bluest Eye
  • Song of Solomon
  • Sula
  • Recitatif

These are just a few examples of the many famous women in literature. From pioneers like the Brontë sisters, who broke barriers, to modern-day literary figures like Toni Morrison, female authors continue to leave their mark on the world with their unique voices and powerful storytelling skills. By celebrating their work, we can better understand people and how they see the world. On this International Women’s Day, join English Path to honour and celebrate the talent and contribution of these and many more famous women in literature

Frequently asked questions about famous women in literature

A1. Famous women in literature are celebrated female authors who, despite facing various challenges and obstacles, went on to write some impressive works which are still read by people all around the world. These books are relevant even today because they explore themes that are still important to us. Some examples of such authors include Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Virginia Woolf, and many others. 

A2. On International Women's Day, we honour and celebrate the achievements of women across various fields, including literature. We celebrate famous women in literature for their talent, storytelling abilities and how their books and poems continue to influence and impact our society even long after they were first published. 

A3. Famous women in literature throughout history have written about a wide range of topics, such as love, marriage, the human mind, gender equality and societal expectations. By sharing their unique viewpoints and stories through their writing, these authors continue to inspire readers worldwide. 

A4. Reading books by famous women in literature will help you better understand different points of view and the ideas of people from around the world and various backgrounds. It's also a great way to celebrate the creativity and talent of female writers on International Women’s Day. 

A5. You can support female writers by reading their books, sharing their stories and encouraging more people to read their work.