We live in an age when anyone can write and get published, particularly with the advent of self-publishing and the e-book. Remember when self-publishing didn’t exist, when there was no such thing as a kindle or nook? In the past, it was difficult to get one’s manuscript accepted by a publisher and printed, so it would, hopefully, be well liked by the public. Of course, there was still the increasing number of specialized publishers even before the e-book, giving writers a somewhat better chance at publication.

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But before the specialized publishers started popping up, one had to hope that a bigger publishing house would accept their work. However, even then we’re talking about a time when both men and women were accepted as authors. I want to go back even farther to a period when men were the primary authors one expected to find in a bookstore, and if a woman was a writer, they more than likely had a nom de plume.

I’m sure there are many more who qualify to be on this list, and I welcome readers to put in suggestions (I always love finding a new author’s work to explore). I also must say that my ordering is not very fixed, and would likely change depending on my mood, what day it is, etc. And really, how can one realistically stuff such amazing women in history into something as finite as an ordered list? They have made too big an impact and each has their own strong points. So, the list I’m making is simply a suggestion and more of a random ordering, but I felt it was important to give some kind of nod to the first women writers.

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I have gathered here for you a list of poets and authors of such genres as Romantic, Gothic, and mythological, as well as numerous others. One of the authors has published work in the 20th century, but since my favorite book of hers was published in the 19th century, I have included her in this list. If you haven’t read any of their work, I highly suggest doing so. So, enough chatter from me; let’s get started.

At a time when women were considered rebels and were forced to hide their identity in order to be authors, these women stand out and deserve our recognition.

Top 20 18th and 19th Century Women Writers


1. Jane Austen (1775-1817)
Pride & Prejudice

Jane Austen | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

2. Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)
Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

3. Emily Bronte (1818-1848)
Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

4. Charlotte Lennox (1730-1804)
The Female Quixote

Charlotte Lennox | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

5. Aphra Behn (1640-1689)
Oroonoko

Peter Lely - Aphra Behn | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

6. George Eliot (1819-1880)
Middlemarch

George Eliot | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

7. Mary Shelley (1797-1851)
Frankenstein

Mary Shelley | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

8. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797)
A Vindication of the Rights of Women

Mary W | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

9. Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)
Little Women

Louisa May Alcott | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

10. Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823)
The Mysteries of Udolpho

Ann Radcliffe | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

11. Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Poet

Emily Dickinson | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

12. Augusta, Lady Gregory (1852-1932)
Folklorist

Lady Gregory | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

13. Anne Bronte (1820-1849)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Ann Bronte | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

14. Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
North & South

Elizabeth Gaskell | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

15. Frances Burney (1752-1840)
Evelina

Frances Burney | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

16. Clara Reeve (1729-1807)
The Old English Baron

Clara Reeve | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

17. Mary Davys (1674-1732)
The Reform’d Coquet

mary davys | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

18. Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941)
Elizabeth and Her German Garden

Elizabeth V | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

19. Kate Chopin (1850-1904)
The Awakening

Kate Chopin | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

20. Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)
Poet

Elizabeth Barrett Browning | 20 of the Best 18th and 19th Century Women Writers

Did you see your favorite female author of this time period on the list? Who are your personal favorite female authors? Sound Off Below…

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