Our list of influential women literary scholars is a who’s who of the publishing world. These women have risen to fame due to their exceptional talent as writers, critics, and academics. Their work has been devoured by adoring fans who long to escape from reality and enter the worlds they have created through prose and poetry.
There will probably be many names on this list that are familiar to you, as women now make up the majority of best-selling authors. According to The Guardian, of the 1,000 top-selling fiction titles in 2020, 627 were written by women. This progress is a far cry from when #4 on our list, J.K. Rowling, was encouraged by Bloomsbury Publishing to publish using only her initials so as to not seem too feminine.
Organizations like the Women’s Fiction Writers Association are committed to ensuring that women continue the progress that has been made. Their belief is that “women’s fiction heightens human connection, engenders empathy, and illuminates new perspectives.”
This belief is certainly true of the authors on our list, many of whom have drawn attention to perspectives not usually seen in mainstream publishing. The African-American experience was brought to the forefront of public attention by pioneering authors such as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou , and Alice Walker . Hopefully this list inspires you to add another book to your to-be-read list, or even better to write one yourself.