There are many female African-American authors, poets and scholars who fearlessly explored racism, abuse and violence as well as love and beauty. They have been the voices of their generations and helped inspire the generations that followed them. Here are 10 all time best black female authors and their books.
List Of All Time Best Black Female Authors And Their Books:
Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. She is considered the voice of African American women. In the 1960s Morrison became an editor at Random House and soon she began to write. She published her first novel The Bluest Eye in 1970. The Song of Solomon published in 1977 was the book that set her on the course of literary success.
The book became the first work by an African American author since Native Son by Richard Wright to be a featured selection in the Book-of-the-Month Club. Beloved was published in 1987, and is considered to be her greatest masterpiece. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Beloved in 1988. She garnered world recognition, when she received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Her works address the harsh consequences of racism in the United States. Her other works include Sula, Jazz, Home, Paradise, A Mercy and many others.
Maya Angelou was an acclaimed American poet, author and activist. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1928. Angelou’s most famous work is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. The book was published in 1969 and became the first in seven autobiographies of Angelou’s life. She was a prolific poet and her words often depict the strength of women and the human spirit, and the demand for social justice.
Her first collection of poems Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie was published in 1971. The collection of poem was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1972. In the same year she became the first Black woman to have a screenplay produced for film Georgia, Georgia. Her books included themes of racism, identity, family and travel. Maya Angelou’s other works include And I Still Rise, On The Pulse Of Morning, Letters To My Daughter, Mom & Me & Mom, The Heart Of A Woman, Gather Together In My Name and many others.
Roxane Gay was born October 15, 1974. She is a writer, professor, editor, and social commentator. She is The New York Times best-selling author of an essay collection Bad Feminist published in 2014, short story collection Ayiti published in 2011, the novel An Untamed State published 2014, the short story collection Difficult Women published in 2017, and the memoir Hunger published 2017.
Gay is she a visiting professor at Yale University. She is also a contributing opinion writer at The New York Times, founder of Tiny Hardcore Press, essays editor for The Rumpus, co-editor of PANK which is a nonprofit literary arts collective, and the editor for Gay Mag, which was founded in partnership with Medium. Gay is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. Her other works include Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, How To Be Heard, Sacrifice Of Darkness, Graceful Burdens and many others.
Alice Walker was born February 9, 1944. She is an novelist, short story writer, poet, and social activist. In 1983, she became the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the novel The Color Purple published in 1982. She also won the National Book Award. In 1985 the book was adapted into film by Steven Spielberg. The cast include Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. The film received several Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Walker is an avowed feminist, she even coined the term womanist in 1983 to mean “A black feminist or feminist of color”. As an activist Walker has addressed the problems of injustice, inequality, and poverty. Her other works include Possessing The Secret Of Joy, The Temple Of My Familiar, In Search Of Our Mother’s Gardens, Meridian, The Third Life Of Grange Copeland and many others.
Angela Davis was in born January 26, 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama. She is a political activist, philosopher, and author. Davis was a longtime member of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and is a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS). She has authored over ten books based on class, feminism, race, and the US prison system. In 1960s Davis emerged as a nationally prominent activist and radical as a leader of the Communist Party USA. She had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, but she was not an official member of the party.
In 1969 at Ronald Reagan’s request due to her membership in the Communist Party she was barred from teaching at any university in the State of California. Time’s magazine in 2020 listed Davis as the 1971 “Woman of the Year” in their “100 Women of the Year” edition. The edition covered the 100 years that began with women’s suffrage in 1920. Davis was also included in Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020. The books by Angela Davis are Are Prisons Obsolete?, Women, Culture And Politics, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, Women, Race And Class, Angela Davis: An Autobiography and many others.
Octavia E. Butler born on June 22, 1947 was a science-fiction author. She as an African-American woman broke new ground in science-fiction as the genre was known for being traditionally white and male. Butler despite having dyslexia was a storyteller by 4, and she began writing at the age of 10. Butler’s evocative science-fiction novels featured race, sex, power and humanity. Her books were highly praised by an audience beyond the genre. Her books have been translated into multiple languages and sold more than a million copies.
Butler is best-known for her novel Kindred, which was published in 1979. The book tells the story of a Black woman who must travel back in time in order to save her own life by saving a white, slaveholding ancestor. She has won two Hugo Awards and two Nebula Awards. In 1995 Butler became the first science-fiction writer to win the MacArthur fellowship. Her works include Parable Of The Sower, Parable Of The Talents, Wild Seed, Dawn, Mind Of My Mind, Patternmaster, Adulthood Rites and many others.
Dorothy West born June 2, 1907 was a short story writer. She is best known for her novel The Living Is Easy and many other short stories and essays, based on the life of an upper-class black family. West wrote many short stories for the New York Daily News. When she moved to Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, she wrote her first novel, The Living Is Easy which was published in 1948. Her novel was well received critically but did not sell many copies. After that West worked as a journalist writing for a small newspaper on Martha’s Vineyard.
In 1982 a feminist press brought her book The Living Is Easy back into print and it gave new attention to West. Because of this attention, West at the age 85, finally finished a second novel, The Wedding. The book was published in 1995 and was a best-seller. Her other works include The Richer, the Poorer: Stories, Sketches, and Reminiscences, Where the Wild Grape Grows: Selected Writings, The Last Leaf of Harlem: The Uncollected Works of Dorothy West .
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was born January 7, 1891. She was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. In her work Hurston portrayed racial struggles in the early-1900s American South. Their Eyes Were Watching God published in 1937 is her most popular of novel. She wrote more than 50 short stories, plays, and essays. In the 1930s, Hurston was a preeminent Black female writer in the United States. Hurston did not write explicitly about the Black people in the context of white America.
She concentrated more on the culture and traditions of African Americans through the poetry of their speech. In spite of her literary success, Hurston suffered later in her career. She had difficulty getting published and she died poor and alone. Years later, Alice Walker helped revive the interest in Hurston’s work with her essay, “In Search of Zora Neale Hurston,” which was published in Ms. magazine in 1975. Zora Neale Hurston’s works include Dust Tracks On A Road, Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, Mules And Men, Jonah’s Gourd Vine, Tell My Horse, How It Feels To Be Colored Me, and many others.
Harriet E. WIlson
Harriet E. Wilson was born March 15, 1825 and was African-American novelist. She is considered as the first female African-American novelist and the first African American of any gender to publish a novel on the North American continent. Her novel Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black was published anonymously in 1859 in Boston, Massachusetts. The novel was not widely known until it was discovered in 1982 by the scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Gates documented it as the first African-American novel published in the United States.
Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black is the story of a mixed-race girl, Frado. She is abandoned by her white mother after the death of the child’s black father. Frado becomes the servant of the Bellmonts, who are the lower-middle-class white family in the free North. As slavery is still legal in the South, Frado suffers numerous abuses in their household. After leaving the Bellmonts, she eventually marries a black fugitive slave, who later abandons her. Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black is a tragic story of Frado.
Patricia Hill Collins was born 1948 is an American academic specializing in race, class, and gender. Collins is the Distinguished University Professor of Sociology Emerita at the University of Maryland, College Park. She was the former head of the Department of African-American Studies at the University of Cincinnati, and former President of the American Sociological Association. Collins was the 100th president of the ASA and the first African-American woman to hold that position.
Collins’s works concerns with issues involving race, gender, and social inequality within the African-American community. She gained national attention for her book Black Feminist Thought which was published in 1990. Collin has contributed a lot in sociology, feminism, and activism for African-American and civil rights. Patricia Hill Collins books include, Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice, Black Sexual Politics, From Black Power to Hip Hop, and others.
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