12 Revolutionary Female Authors Who Set Literary Fiction on Fire

Love reading literary fiction by women that’s changed storytelling and writing itself? Read more to celebrate some of the most iconic female authors!

Book Culture Female Authors Literary Fiction Recommendations
Four books (little woman, howl's moving castle, secret history, and babel) spread out, with abstract shapes of pink hues, and vines stretched at the corners.

We all love a woman who writes about relatable scenarios we could only dream our lives to be like. Back in the day, some women would have to write under a male pen name to get their book out there. Female authors have made a drastic change since way back when, and now women dominate the book publishing world. This is why I think it’s important to note some of those memorable women who wrote our favorite classics works that continue to be infamous.

The Classics:

Jane Austen – No list of the most influential female authors should ever leave out our all-time favorite, Jane Austen. It’s criminal to even try. Works such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility are some of the most heart-warming romance novels that were well ahead of their time. Austen writes women as sharp-witted, feminine, and charming as they try to navigate their role in society and fall in love.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, a yellow book with peacocks in vertical directions like strings.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP

Mary Shelley – Shelley is best known for her gothic novel Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. Her works on Frankenstein have inspired Halloween costumes until the end of time. She is the queen of gothic and romantic literature in her novels and short stories.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, a book with a naked man hugging his knee.
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Louisa May Alcott – Alcott loves her artistic young adult women. She wrote Little Women, which shares a lot of themes on family, sisterhood, finding your identity, and fighting the social norms of society. Alcott is one of those authors who makes you feel at home.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, a cartoon drawing of four different little girls amidst fines and leaves.
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Maya Angelou – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is one of the masterpieces to go down in history. She writes about her experiences as a young Black girl dealing with racism, trauma, and finding her identity in a society marked by prejudice and inequality. Angelou tells tales of resilience and true strength. Her lessons of life are that despite the challenges, it is determination and embracing differences that will bring humanity together.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, a book with a shadowed image of a bird, and a sunset with bold shades of yellow and orange, not blended.
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Donna Tartt – Tartt created the dark academic aesthetic with a single book: The Secret History. She published it in 1992, but I marked it as a classic because it began one of the biggest tidal waves of trends. It’s a trend that landed as a huge part of literature… and Booktok.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt, a book with a sculpture's face in the background.
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Diane Wynne Jones – We all know Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle. This is the woman who wrote the book it was based on. Jones’ Howl’s Moving Castle series is a fantastical adventure bouncing with magic, whimsy, and unforgettable characters. Jones welcomes readers to strange creatures, houses that walk, spells, sorcery, and the warmth of a human heart. Her other famous works include The Chronicles of Chrestomanci and Dark Lord of Derkholm. Both of which are just as magical and breathtaking.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones, a cartoon of a little boy holding a stick to a walking brick castle.
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The New Age

Suzanne Collins – There isn’t much to be said other than that Collins has changed fantasy/dystopian YA novels forever. She is one of the founders and conquerors of this genre with The Hunger Games series. Her work is completely wedged in the hearts of our generation.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a book with the mocking jay pin in gold, biting an arrow.
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Sarah J. Maas – The girl knows how to write her infamous badass female characters and supportive, sexy male love interests. Our girls go from weak to fighting the system, guaranteed a rocky ride or flight. From her killer series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, to her ages-long Throne of Glass series, Maas has Booktok in her right pocket until the dawn of time.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, a red book with a artistic wolf getting stabbed by an arrow.
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Ali Hazelwood – STEMinists in romance… Sure, STEM romance has been done before, but Hazelwood made the genre her own… and better. She has dedicated an entire series to STEM romance and is still writing more! Her works include The Love Hypothesis, Love on the Brain, and Love Theoretically. These books are for all the STEM ladies out there looking for romance. Hazelwood forces your heart to melt against its will. What can I say? It’s science.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood, a book with a science lab in the background and a couple in lab coats kissing.
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Leigh Bardugo – Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows, Ninth House, and King of Scars — Bardugo has a way of writing all her characters with complex minds and emotional depth. The girl is killing it. She is responsible for my heart being claimed by Kaz Brekker alone. Her work is fantastic, and her name is one to go down in history.

Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, a book with a crow spreading its wings in midflight and a kingdom behind it.
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R.F. Kuang – Kuang is responsible for the phenomenal works Babel, The Poppy War, and Yellowface. She speaks on many issues she and others have personally faced. She can write in every genre imaginable. Whether it’s political warfare fantasy, contemporary fiction, or imaginary places in academia, her books are the immortal souls of the world. She is an inspiration for not only being incredibly intelligent but also for gifting this generation with emotional reads. Yes, I’m talking about you, Babel.

Babel by R.F. Kuang, a book with birds flying around the tall tower (babel), and a city in the landscape.
IMAGE VIA BOOKSHOP

Overall, these books are amazing and deserve every credit given. So, go pick up a copy and start reading from the minds of these incredible women!


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FEATURE IMAGE VIA CANVA / ALENA BAEZ