Most Influential Women Writers


As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it is important to honor the women whose writing we most admire. I took this question to our friends on our Facebook page, and the response was amazing.
Here are just a few of the responses:

Ramona DeFelice Long – I’d go straight to Margaret Atwood.

Jason Jones- Marilynne Robinson. For the high quality and poetry of her language, and the beauty with which she renders emotional fragility. And Virginia Woolf, of course, for much the same reason.

Carla Spataro- I think this depends on how you’re defining influential? If you’re talking about sales, which equals readership, which equals influence over non-writers then I would say someone like JK Rowling, or Stephanie Meyers (I just threw up a little) or really authors like Danielle Steele and Janet Evanovich. If you’re talking about more literary or activist writers that I’m not sure about. Names that come from students (and for me, personally) are writers like Flannery O’Connor, Annie Proulx, Carson McCullers, Joyce Carol Oates, Grace Paley–I don’t know. The list is long and illustrious. I would say the female writer who has probably influenced or inspired more writers, in general, not just other women writers, is probably Flannery O’Connor.

Elisa Chiusano Steingruebner- Ayn Rand for better and worst. “Anthem” is one of my favorite books.

J.a. Klemens -Among genre writers Ursula K. Le Guin, her commentary and critiques of science fiction and fantasy, and her diagnosis of the flaws that kept it out of the literary mainstream, are still widely read and cited. (She also wrote about a school for wizards, and if I’m not mistaken, that idea might have been picked up by somebody.) Shirley Jackson walked the line between genre and literary fiction in a way that has since become quite mainstream – Chabon, Lethem, Atwood, Julavits, Millhauser are the ones that come to mind immediately. And I have to second what was said above about Flannery O’Connor, who along with Raymond Carver is as influential as anyone on the form and content of the contemporary American short story.

Maria Ceferatti -I have to say Toni Morrison should be included in there. “Beloved” still floors me.

Teresa FitzPatrick -Anais Nin taught me to write the truth. Changed my life.

And for me, MM Wittle, I would say JC Todd for poetry. As soon as I heard her poem, “Pisssing” ( I knew she would be the only person to teach me how to write poetry. For plays, I would go with Theresa Rebeck because she gets slammed by the critics and she is still out there supporting and writing. For novels and fiction, I would say Jhumpa Lahiri.


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