Late last year we asked you, our loyal customers and keen bibliophiles, to name the greatest living female author. We knew J.K. Rowling would lead the votes after the final count, which she did by a country mile, but it was intriguing to see who would be next.
In short, it was Canada who ran closest to the Harry Potter creator, with Margaret ‘Peggy’ Atwood at No. 2 and Alice Munro at three. American Toni Morrison was in fourth place.
Rowling, Atwood, Munro and Morrison garnered the vast majority of the votes between them and there was some distance between them and Joyce Carol Oates, who is followed by Harper Lee, Joan Didion and Zadie Smith. Hilary Mantel and Barbara Kingsolver round out the top 10. Lee makes the list with just a single book to her name, To Kill a Mockingbird published in 1960.
Customers could vote for any living female writer, regardless of genre or standing or her number of published works, so this list is broad and stretches from bestsellers you find by the supermarket checkout to Nobel Prize winners and authors whose books are studied in universities. A number of these authors have been writing for decades and we should applaud the likes of Atwood, Morrison, Munro, Oates, Ursula Le Guin, Penelope Lively and PD James for their ability to regularly produce books that people want to read.
Notable female writers who received no votes and did not make the list include Danielle Steel, Mary Stewart, Donna Leon, AS Byatt, Margaret Drabble, Anita Brookner, PC Cast, Lois Lowry, Joanna Trollope, Jane Urquart, Kate DiCamillo, Kiran Desai, Diana Wynne-Jones and Patricia Cornwell.