With Movember behind us we are going to have a break from the machismo of male writers and dedicate the next month on this blog to female writers.

Like so many industries, the world of letters is still very much a male dominated industry. We venture to guess that if we asked you to list some famous author, the majority of the list would be men, and if you look at the awarding of the Nobel Prize or the Man Booker, or even the Miles Franklin, men are still heavily represented, although in the case of the latter this has changed over the last few years.

But there is an abundance of female authors, and many of these have written some of the greatest works of literature the world has ever seen. Imagine a world without Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice or Emma, a world devoid of the works of George Eliot, and robbed of wonder of Virginia Woolf, or the poems of Christina Rossetti or Sylvia Plath. And there a many contemporary writers who have shaped and defined literature, like Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, or new stars like Emma Donoghue and Hanya Yanagihara.

And these are not simply trifles offered as light entertainment. Some of the most often cited watershed works, works that have changed peoples lives or seen them through a crisis, are by female authors.

So, to mark this we will be spending the next month looking at some great female authors we love and the books that have impacted us the most. Keen to get started? Maybe check out Zadie Smith who just published her latest novel Swing Time. We’ll admit that we haven’t read it yet, BUT she is amazing and White Teeth is wonderful. Or maybe check out Jeanette Winterson because she’s one of the greatest living authors of the 20th century. Her work is seminal. Maybe you prefer short stories? Well then Alice Munro is for you. She is the undisputed master of the short story and has been recognised as such with the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her collections are flawless and her writing style is just stunning. She is widely admired by other authors, male and female. Elena Ferrante is a bit mysterious, and her works are very popular at the moment. It is well deserved, because her work is brilliant. She has mastered the ability to write about human relationships (particularly female friendships) in a high literary style. There’s a reason she’s an international best seller. And there are so many more, like Jodi Picoult, Judy Nunn, Liane Moriarty and Jojo Moyes.

Who are your favourite female authors? What works by female authors are your watershed reads, the books that have changed your life or gotten your through difficult times?