A Timeline of Women Writers

By Tim Lambert

Women Writers in the Ancient World

Enheduanna 2295-2250 BC was a priestess and writer in what is now Iraq

Sappho c 600 BC was a Greek woman poet

Telesilla of Argos c 500 BC was a renowned poet

Anyte of Tegea c 250 BC was a famous poet

Julia Balbilla c 130 AD was a Roman poet

Women Writers in the Middle Ages

Shangguan Wan’er (664-710) was a famous Chinese woman poet

Xue Tao (768-831) was another great Chinese poet

Yu Xuanji (c 844-1868) was also a famous Chinese poet

Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim (930-1002) was a dramatist and poet

Sei Shonagon (966-c 1025) was a famous Japanese poet. She is famous for Pillow Book.

Murasaki Shikibu (c 973-1014 AD) was a famous Japanese writer. She is famous for her work The Tale of Genji.

Frau Ava (1060-1127) was a German writer

Hildegard (1088-1179) was a theologian and writer. She also wrote about medicine. And she wrote music and a play.

Li Qingzhao (1084-1155) was a great Chinese woman poet

Heloise (1101-1164) was a French Abbess and she was widely respected for her learning

Marie de France (1160-1215) was a famous French poet. Little is known about her life but she was highly regarded.

Mechtild von Magdeburg (c 1207-1282) was a famous mystic

Julian of Norwich (1342-1416) Despite her masculine name Julian was a woman. She was a famous mystic and writer. Julian wrote about the ‘motherhood’ of God.

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) was an Italian author

Leonor Lopez de Cordoba (c 1362-1430) was a Spanish author

Christine de Pisan (1364-1432) was another famous writer of the Middle Ages

Margery Kempe (1373-c. 1439) was an English mystic. The story of her life became a famous book The Book of Margery Kempe.

Women Writers in the 16th century

Beatriz Galindo (c 1465-1523) was a great scholar and writer

Vittoria Colonna (1490-1549) was a poet

Katharine Zell (1497-1562) was a German Protestant writer

Tullia d’Aragona (1510-1556) was a poet

Catherine Parr (1512-1548) As well as being the wife of Henry VIII she was a noted writer

Lousie Labe (1524-1566) was a poet

Olympia Morata (1526-1555) was an important humanist scholar

Veronica Franco (1546-1591) was a famous poet

Isabella Andreini (1562-1604) was an actress and writer

Marie Le Jars de Gournay (1565-1645) was a famous French writer

Women Writers in the 17th Century

Elizabeth Jane Weston (1582-1612) was a famous English poet

Arangela Tarbotti 1604-1652 was a famous writer who vigorously attacked the condition of women in the 17th century.

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was another famous poet

Marie de Sevigne (1626-1696) was a famous French write

Katherine Philips (1632-1664) was another famous poet

Aphra Behn (1640-1689) was a famous writer of the 17th century

Women in the 18th Century

Mary Collier (c.1690-1762) was a washerwoman. Despite her humble background, she became a well-known writer and poet.

Hannah More (1745-1833) was a famous writer

Olympe de Gouges (1748-1793) was a famous playwright

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was a poet

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) is famous for her book A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Madame Anne de Stael (1766-1817) was a famous writer

Women Writers in the 19th Century

Jane Austen (1775-1817) was a famous English writer

Frances Trollope (1779-1863) is most famous for her book Domestic Manners of the Americans

Mary Shelley (1797-1851) is famous for her novel Frankenstein

Comtesse de Segur (1799-1874) was born in Russia but became a famous novelist while living in France

George Sand (Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dudevant) (1804-1876) was a French novelist

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) is another famous writer

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) is famous for Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855) was a famous English writer

Emily Bronte (1818-1848) is famous for her book Wuthering Heights

Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) (1819-1880) was also a famous writer

Charlotte Mary Yonge (1823-1901) was a novelist

Christina Rosetti (1830-1894) was an English poet

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) was a poet

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is famous for her book Little Women

Sarah Jeanette Duncan (1861-1922) was a Canadian author and journalist

Women Writers in the 20th Century

E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913) was a famous Canadian poet in the early years of the 20th century

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) Edith was an American writer in the early 20th century

Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) is famous for her children’s stories

Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957) is famous for the Little House on the Prairie books

Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) was also a famous poet

Willa Cather (1873-1947) was a novelist of the early 20th century

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was a novelist

Karen Blixen (1885-1962)

She was a Danish author

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

Anna was a famous poet

Agatha Christie (1890-1976)

She was a crime novelist

Agatha Christie

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)

She was a famous author of the mid-20th century

Pearl Buck (1892-1973)

Pearl was a novelist. Her novel The Good Earth won the Pulitzer prize in 1932.

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941)

Marina was a poet

Enid Blyton (1897-1968)

She wrote children’s books

Laura Riding (1901-1991)

She was a famous poet

Louise de Vilmorin (1902-1969)

Louise was a novelist and poet

Anais Nin (1903-1977)

Anais was a French writer

Marguerite Yourcenar (1903-1987)

Marguerite was a novelist

Phyllis McGinley 1905-1978

Phyllis was a poet

Ayn Rand (1905-1982)

She was a famous novelist

Daphne du Maurier (1907-1989)

Daphne was a famous novelist

Eudora Welty (1909-2001)

Eudora was a writer from Mississippi

Andre Norton (1912-2005)

She was a science fiction writer

Marguerite Duras (1914-1996)

She was a writer and filmmaker

Zoe Oldenbourg (1916-2002)

Zoe was a novelist

Zenna Henderson (1917-1983)

She was a science fiction writer

Doris Lessing (1919-2013)

She was a famous novelist

Judith Merril (1923-1997)

She was a science fiction writer

Joan Aiken (1924-2004)

She was an author

Harper Lee (1926-2016)

She is famous for her book To Kill a Mockingbird

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

She was a poet

Ursula K. LeGuin (1929-2018)

She is famous for fantasy fiction

Alice Munro (1931-)

Alice is a Canadian writer of short stories

Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

She was a novelist

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

Sylvia was a novelist and poet

Francoise Sagan (1935-2009)

She was a playwright

Annie Ernaux (1940-)

Annie is a French writer

Octavia Butler (1947-2006)

She was a science fiction writer

Vonda McIntyre (1948-2019)

She was a science fiction writer

Amy Tan (1952-)

Amy is a novelist

Sandra Cisneros (1954-) is a poet and short story writer

J K Rowling (1965-) is a very successful writer

Women Writers in the 21st Century

Zadie Smith (1975-) is a modern novelist

Last revised 2024