~from Caitlyn BucknerBackstrom

1. Agatha Christie

Portrait of Agatha Christie
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all, I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”

Agatha Christie lived from 1890 to 1976 in a small town on the southern coast of the UK. With dreams of becoming a writer, she was rejected six consecutive times before publishing her first novel. She then went on to become the best selling novelist of all time – it is said that she is only outsold by Shakespeare and the Bible.

2. Mary Shelly

Portrait of Mary Shelley
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“Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.”

From 1797 to 1851 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley lived as an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer. She is well known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein which she famously thought up while spending the summer with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Polidori, and Claire Clairmont. Frankenstein is still widely studied in literature courses around the world.

3. Jane Austen

Portrait of Jane Austin
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“Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.”

The author of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Northanger Abby graced the world with her influence from 1775 to 1817. Her determination paved the way for future women writers, as she wrote at a time women were discouraged from making their voices heard.

4. Emily Dickinson

Portrait of Emily Dickinson
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.”

Emily Dickinson is hailed as one of America’s greatest poets. She lived from 1830 to 1886 and in that time wrote hundreds of poems that no one would read until after her death. Her voice and way of writing continues to influence poets to this day.

5. J.K. Rowling

Portrait of J.K. Rowling
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

Born in 1965, J.K. Rowling is a worldwide celebrated British author of the best selling Harry Potter series. She wasn’t always an influential author though. She started as a single mother who could barely make rent but worked on her dream and ended up reviving children’s literature.

6. Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter and her dog Kep, 1913
Beatrix Potter and her dog Kep, 1913. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.”

Beatrix Potter was a conservationist, author, and artist from 1866 to 1943. Best known for her children’s books like The Tale of Peter Rabbit or The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. An avid believer in the beauty of the natural world, her stories still inspire children with a love of nature.

7. Sarojini Naidu

Portrait of
Image credit: Wikipedia

“We want deeper sincerity of motive, a greater courage in speech and earnestness in action.”

Dubbed as the ‘Nightingale of India’ Sarojini Naidu lived from 1879 to 1949 inspiring the world with her poetry. As an author, poet and Indian independence activist she was an avid follower of Mahatma Gandhi. She would later become President of Indian National Congress and be appointed as the Governor of the United Provinces.

8. Alice Walker

Alice Walker holding a rose
Image credit: American Library Association

“And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see – or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.”

Born in 1944, Alice Walker is an acclaimed American author. Best known for her novel The Color Purple, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1983, her books focus on the lives of black women in the deep south during the 1930s. Her work has touched generations of readers of all ages and ethnicities.

9. Wislawa Szymborska

Portrait of Wislawa Szymborska
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

“In the language of poetry, where every word is weighed, nothing is usual or normal. Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it. Not a single day and not a single night after it. And above all, not a single existence, not anyone’s existence in this world.”

Wislawa Szymborska was a Polish essayist and poet from 1923 to 2012. Titled the ‘Mozart of Poland,’ her poetry’s ambiguity, precision, and irony earned her the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. Her work has been credited with a revival of poetry all around the world.

11. Sylvia Plath

Plath photographed in July 1961 at her Chalcot Square flat in London, image by Giovanni Giovannetti/Grazia Neri
Plath photographed in July 1961 at her Chalcot Square flat in London. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

Sylvia Plath lived from 1932 to 1963 as an American poet and novelist. Her best-known work is her poetry collection which she won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for in 1982. Her poetry inspired a whole new generation in the genre of confessional poetry and continues to reach many people to this day.