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100 Most Influential Novels By Women Writers

Thank you to Margaret from Surface Mined who did the leg work to track down the original source of this list. Here is her conclusion: “Erica Jong did a survey in 1996. asking thirty prominent male authors to put together a list of 100 influential female writers, in contrast to the male-majority Modern Library list. This is just a duplication of it.” The title was originally: “100 Influential Modern Novels Written by Women.”

Books I’ve read are highlighted in blue
; follow links to my reviews.

  1. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
  2. Anne Rice, Interview With the Vampire
  3. Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  4. Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway
  5. Virginia Woolf, The Waves
  6. Virginia Woolf, Orlando
  7. Djuna Barnes, Nightwood
  8. Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth
  9. Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence
  10. Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (read my review)
  11. Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness
  12. Nadine Gordimer, Burger’s Daughter
  13. Harriette Simpson Arnow, The Dollmaker
  14. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (Read my review)
  15. Willa Cather, My Ántonia
  16. Erica Jong, Fear of Flying
  17. Erica Jong, Fanny
  18. Joy Kogawa, Obasan
  19. Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
  20. Doris Lessing, The Fifth Child
  21. Doris Lessing, The Grass Is Singing
  22. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (read my review)
  23. Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
  24. Jane Smiley, A Thousand Acres
  25. Lore Segal, Her First American
  26. Alice Walker, The Color Purple (read my review)
  27. Alice Walker, The Third Life of Grange Copeland
  28. Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Mists of Avalon
  29. Muriel Spark, Memento Mori
  30. Muriel Spark, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  31. Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina (read my review)
  32. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea
  33. Susan Fromberg Shaeffer, Anya
  34. Cynthia Ozick, Trust
  35. Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
  36. Amy Tan, The Kitchen God’s Wife
  37. Ann Beattie, Chilly Scenes of Winter
  38. Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
  39. Joan Didion, A Book of Common Prayer
  40. Joan Didion, Play It as It Lays
  41. Mary McCarthy, The Group
  42. Mary McCarthy, The Company She Keeps
  43. Grace Paley, The Little Disturbances of Man
  44. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
  45. Carson McCullers, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
  46. Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart
  47. Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
  48. Mona Simpson, Anywhere But Here
  49. Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (read my review)
  50. Toni Morrison, Beloved
  51. Stella Gibbons, Cold Comfort Farm
  52. Sylvia Townsend Warner, Mr. Fortune’s Maggot
  53. Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools
  54. Laura Riding, Progress of Stories
  55. Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Heat and Dust
  56. Penelope Fitzgerald, The Blue Flower
  57. Isabel Allende, The House of the Spirits
  58. A.S. Byatt, Possession
  59. Pat Barker, The Ghost Road (read my review)
  60. Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle
  61. Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac (read my review)
  62. Angela Carter, Nights at the Circus
  63. Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca (read my review)
  64. Katherine Dunn, Geek Love
  65. Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
  66. Barbara Pym, Excellent Women
  67. Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony
  68. Anne Tyler, Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (read my review)
  69. Anne Tyler, The Accidental Tourist
  70. Nancy Willard, Things Invisible to See
  71. Jeanette Winterson, Sexing the Cherry
  72. Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Disturbances in the Field
  73. Rosellen Brown, Civil Wars
  74. Harriet Doerr, Stones for Ibarra
  75. Harriet Doerr, The Mountain Lion
  76. Stevie Smith. Novel on Yellow Paper
  77. E. Annie Proulx, The Shipping News
  78. Rebecca Goldstein, The Mind-Body Problem
  79. P.D. James, The Children of Men
  80. Ursula Hegi, Stones From the River
  81. Fay Weldon, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil
  82. Katherine Mansfield, Collected Stories
  83. Rebecca Harding Davis, Life in the Iron Mills
  84. Louise Erdrich, The Beet Queen
  85. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
  86. Edna O’Brien, The Country Girls Trilogy
  87. Margaret Drabble, Realms of Gold
  88. Margaret Drabble, The Waterfall
  89. Dawn Powell, The Locusts Have No King
  90. Marilyn French, The Women’s Room
  91. Eudora Welty, The Optimist’s Daughter
  92. Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries
  93. Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John
  94. Tillie Olsen, Tell Me a Riddle
  95. Gertrude Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
  96. Iris Murdoch, A Severed Head
  97. Anita Desai, Clear Light of Day
  98. Alice Hoffman, The Drowning Season
  99. Sue Townsend, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole
  100. Penelope Mortimer, The Pumpkin Eater


  1. It has been on my To Do list since last summer to go through your List of Lists and adopt some of them myself. Several, including this one, are already on Rose City Reader. But you have many that I don’t have yet. And, like you, I am compulsive about my book lists.

    • Wendy on December 6, 2009 at 18:15

    Rose City: I am a bit behind in updating my lists here…hope to start making progress on that again soon. I am compulsively addicted to these!!!

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