10 Female Black Writers you should be reading

Read Daniella's, a student journalist, recommendations!

Person looking down at a book

In celebration of Black History Month, we’ve curated a list of Black female writers. The names feature poets and authors as well as spanning decades and locations. There is something for everyone to enjoy on the list – all that is left to say is happy reading!

#1 Alice Walker

Alice Walker is an American novelist, writer, and social activist. Her most famous work is  her third novel, The Color Purple (1982), which won her the Pulitzer Prize in 1983 and made her the first Black Women to do so.

#2 Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman is an American poet and activist and National Youth Poet Laureate.

She is most famous for her poem ‘The Hill we Climb’ that she presented during the Biden inauguration. The poem is part of a debut poetry collection on hope and healing titled ‘The Hill We Climb And Other Poems.’

#3 Bernardine Evaristo

Bernardine Evaristo is a British writer and author and has published eight books and many other pieces of writing. Her work consists of different genres including short fiction, poetry, essays, and more with much of it based around her interest in the African diaspora. Her recent novel ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ won the Booker Prize 2019 – making her the first Black British person doing so.

#4 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria. She is an award winning author having won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, the Orange Prize, and US National Book Critics Circle Award, and her book Americanah was featured in The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013. She was also named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2015.

#5 Toni Morrison

Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison – better known as Toni Morrison – was an American novelist. She won several awards for her work including the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved (1987) and she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. Her work includes the novels The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon.

#6 Yrsa Daley-Ward

Yrsa Daley-Ward is the author of ‘bone,’ and ‘the terrible.’ Her newest book ‘THE HOW,’ is coming out Nov 2nd. Hailing from the north-west of England, Yrsa draws heavy inspiration from her own experiences and larger issues affecting our behaviour and quality of life and love. She also writes THE UTTER newsletter.


A post shared by Yrsa Daley-Ward (@yrsadaleyward)

#7 Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, born in the US in the state of Missouri. She was also a civil rights activist working both with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Her work includes I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Mrs. Flowers: A Moment of Friendship (1986), Alone (1975). According to Angelou’s website, Alone is a poem about loneliness and togetherness, a ‘thinking out loud’ reflection on vulnerability and community ‘Nobody, but nobody, can make it out here alone’, and the poem was recently used in a short film about lockdown by Andy Delaney.

#8 Kiley Reid

Kiley Reid is a Los Angeles native and broke onto the scene with her debut novel “Such A Fun Age” in 2020. Subsequently shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize her writing style resonated with graduates at a crossroad in their life. She seeks to reveal the symptoms of the bigger systemic problem when it comes to race in America.

#9 Judith Bryan

Judith Bryan originally trained as a social worker and lived in London before moving up to Scotland in 1990 and writing her first (and most famous novel) Bernard and the Cloth Monkey. The novel won the 1997 Saga Prize. It is being republished this year as part of Black Britain: Writing Back series curated by Bernardine Evaristo.

#10 Jackie Kay

Jackie Kay is an award-winning writer of fiction, poetry and plays often centring around personal, racial, and sexual identity. Her work is in part influenced by her own experiences of being born to a Nigerian father and a Scottish father and then being adopted by a white couple. Some of her work includes Other Lovers (1993), Trumpet (1998), Why Don’t You Stop Talking (2002), and Red Dust Road (2010). She has won a number of awards, including the Guardian Fiction Prize in 1998 and from 2016 to 2021 she was the Makar, the poet laureate of Scotland.

The Jackie Kay Plaza – part of the new Learning and Teaching building is also named in her honour.

This is only a small collection of works by Black female writers we wanted to shine light on this month. Reading provides the opportunity to explore different cultures and stories outside of our own background connecting with others through the beauty of fiction. There are more incredible Black female writers out there and there are many amazing writers yet to be discovered you just have to get started.