Top 100 Famous Women

A list of the most famous women from around the world.

1. Princess Diana (1961–1997)  Princess of Wales, married to Prince Charles. Later divorced. Known for her humanitarian and charity work.

2. Indira Gandhi (1917–1984) Third Prime Minister of India, 1966-77 and 1980-84. Influential in shaping post-war Indian constitution and society.

3. Queen Victoria (1819–1901) Queen of Great Britain during the nineteenth century. Oversaw dramatic rise in prominence of Great Britain and her Empire.

4. Madonna (1958– ) American singer and songwriter. Often noted for her controversial lyrics and activities. Best selling female artist of all time.

5. Mary Magdalene (4 BCE–40 CE) Devotee of Jesus Christ. Present at Christ’s crucifixion and the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection.

6. Benazir Bhutto (1953–2007) Prime Minister of Pakistan. First woman to lead a Muslim state.

7. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1929–1994 ) Wife of John F. Kennedy. Cultural and fashion icon of the 1960s.

8. Cleopatra (69 BCE–30 BCE) Last Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Had relationship with Roman rulers Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.

9. Joan of Arc (1412–1431) Young girl who inspired French to revolt against British rule. Burnt at the stake for witchcraft.

10. Marilyn Monroe (1926–1962) Actress, model and icon of post-war America.

11. Mother Teresa (1910–1997) Nun and charity worker. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to serving poor and disadvantaged.

12. Anne Frank (1929–1945) Jewish diarist who documented her life in hiding in an Amsterdam attic during the Nazi occupation. Died in Belsen concentration camp.

13. Audrey Hepburn (1929–1993) Actress. Voted greatest female screen legend of all time. Fashion icon and humanitarian who worked for UNICEF.

Oprah_winfrey14. Oprah Winfrey (1954– ) Chat show host and icon of American women. Winfrey’s chat show and book club are very influential.

15. Billie Jean King (1943– ) Tennis player and advocate for equality between men and women.

16. Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122–1204) Queen of France and one of the wealthiest and most powerful women of the Middle Ages.

17. Hilary Clinton (1947– ) US Secretary of State 2009-2013. First lady during Bill Clinton’s presidency and Democratic candidate for President in 2008 and 2016.

18. Brigitte Bardot (1934– ) French actress, dancer, singer and animal rights activist.

19. Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American wife of F.D.Roosevelt and human rights campaigner.

20. Coco Chanel (1883–1971) fashion designer and founder of fashion label Chanel. Influential in the 1920s for setting new fashion trends which broke with previous styles.

Jennifer_Lopez21. Jennifer Lopez (1969 -) An American singer of Puerto Rican descent, Lopez is actress, dancer and producer. Judge on American Pop Idol. Starred in film Selena.

Margaret_Thatcher22. Margaret Thatcher (1925–2013) British Prime Minister during the 1980s. Developed close relationships with Ronald Reagan and got on with Soviet Premier Gorbachev. Known for her strong, controversial leadership style.

23. Beyonce Knowles (1981– ) American singer, dancer and actress. Lead singer in R&B group ‘Destiny’s Child’ and also launched own solo career.

kate-middleton24. Catherine Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge (1982– ) Wife of Prince William, influential figure in world fashion.

mata-hari-15025. Mata Hari (1876–1917) Exotic dancer, executed as spy during First World War.

jk-rowling26. J.K.Rowling (1965– ) Author of Harry Potter series, and adult novels such as The Casual Vacancy

elizabeth-127. Elizabeth I (1533–1603) Queen of England during 16th Century. She stabilized the monarchy after turmoil of Henry VIII’s reign.

Grace_Kelly-15028. Grace Kelly (1929–1982) American actress. Major Hollywood star in the 1950s. In 1956, she married Prince Rainer of Monaco.

Angela_Merkel 29. Angela Merkel (1954– ) Merkel has been chancellor of Germany since 2005 and the de facto leader of the European Union during financial crisis.

ingrid-bergman30. Ingrid Bergman (1915–1982) Swedish actress, featured in Casablanca.

catherine-great31. Catherine the Great (1729–1796) Queen of Russia who brought in reforms to improve the welfare of serfs.

Angelina_Jolie32. Angelina Jolie (1975– ) American actress, film producer and humanitarian. Star of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

rosa-parks33. Queen Elizabeth II (1926– ) The second longest serving British monarch, her reign started in 1953.

Rihanna34. Rihanna (1988– ) Barbados singer, actress and fashion designer.

Ellen_DeGeneres35. Ellen Lee DeGeneres (1958– ) American comedian and TV personality. She starred in her own TV sitcom ‘Ellen’ and later ‘The Ellen Show’.

writer36. Jane Austen (1775–1817) English author. Her novels include: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813) and Emma (1816).

37. Scarlett Johansson (1984– ) American actress, model and singer.

38. Lady Gaga (1986– ) American singer, songwriter, activist, actress, and fashion designer. Known for her flamboyant stage performances.

Teresa_of_Avila39. St Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) Spanish saint, mystic and writer.

aung-san-suu40. Aung San Suu Kyi (1945– ) Burmese democrat.

people41. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1869) American Campaigner against slavery. Her influential novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) helped challenge attitudes on slavery within America.

Mae_West42. Mae West (1892–1980) American actress, singer, playwright, wit. A charismatic and controversial figure, West was often the subject of censorship.

writer43. Agatha Christie (1890–1976) Best selling crime fiction author, and creator of the Poirot and Miss Marple detective series.

Florence_Nightingale44. Florence Nightingale (1820–1910) British nurse (born in Italy) who helped improve standards of hospitals and nursing during Crimean War.

susan-b-anthony45. Susan B. Anthony (1820–1906) Campaigner against slavery and for the promotion of women’s and workers rights.

writer46. Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) American poet. She led a secluded life, and left a legacy of many short vivid poems, often on themes of death and immortality.

47. Marie Antoinette (1755–1793) French Queen, of Austrian birth, executed in French Revolution. Wife of King Louis XVI.

emily-pankhurst48. Emmeline Pankhurst (1858–1928) British suffragette. Pankhurst was one of the most high profile campaigners for women’s suffrage.

49. Marie Curie (1867–1934) Polish physicist and chemist. First person to win the Nobel Prize in both Chemistry and Physics.

emily-murphy50. Emily Murphy (1868–1933) Canadian magistrate. The first female magistrate in the British Empire.


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Zsa_Zsa_Gabor51. Zsa Zsa Gabor (1917– ) Hungarian-born American actress and socialite.

Bette_Davis52. Bette Davis (1908–1989) American actress. She starred in a wide range of film, TV and theatre, and was known for her acting versatility.

Catherine-medici53. Catherine de Medici (1519–1589) Born in Florence, Italy, Catherine was married to the King of France at the age of 14.

Helen Keller54. Helen Keller (1880–1968) At the age of 19 months Helen became deaf and blind. Overcoming the frustration of losing both sight and hearing she campaigned tirelessly on behalf of deaf and blind people.

writer55. Emily Brönte (1818–1848) One of the Brönte sisters, Emily is best known for her novel Wuthering Heights, and her poetry.

french56. Edith Piaf (1915–1963) Singer widely regarded as France’s national diva. Famous songs include “La Vie en rose” (1946), and “Non, je ne regrette rien” (1960).

57. Amelia Earhart (1897–1937) American aviation pioneer and author. First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

people58. Raisa Gorbachev (1932–1999) Wife of Mikhail Gorbachev. Also engaged in humanitarian efforts in Russia.

59. Katharine Hepburnactor (1907–2003) Multiple Oscar winning American actress.

billie-holliday60. Billie Holiday (1915–1959) Given the title “First Lady of the Blues,” Billie Holiday was widely considered to be the greatest and most expressive jazz singer of all time.

marlene-dietrich61. Marlene Dietrich (1901–1992) German-American actress. Dietrich’s career spanned several decades from silent movies to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.

rosa-parks62. Rosa Parks (1913–2005) Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man indirectly led to some of the most significant civil rights legislation of American history.

french63. Juliette Binoche (1964– ) French actress, artist and dancer.

eva-peron64. Eva Peron (1919–1952) Humanitarian and political activist. She campaigned on behalf of the poor and less privileged. She died aged only 32, in 1952.

Anne_boleyn65. Anne Boleyn (1501-1536) 2nd wife to Henry VIII. Anne Boleyn was influential in forcing Henry VIII to break with Rome and set up the Church of England. She was crowned Queen in 1533, but after failing to produce a male heir, Boleyn was executed in 1536.

66. Yoko Ono (1933– ) Japanese-American artist and musician. Married John Lennon, star of the Beatles. Yoko Ono was also a fashion icon.

germaine-greer 67. Germaine Greer (1939– ) Leading feminist icon of the 1960s and 1970s. Greer is often outspoken on controversial issues.

writer68. Enid Blyton (1897–1968) British children’s writer, known for series such as The Famous Five, The Secret Seven. Wrote an estimated 800 books over 40 years.

Lauren_Bacall69. Lauren Bacall (1924–2014) American actress. One of the leading female actors of the 1940s and 1950s.

70. Julie Andrews actor (1935– ) British actress, dancer and singer. Most famous for her roles in Mary Poppins (1965) and The Sound of Music (1966).

tennis71. Martina Navratilova (1956– ) Czechoslovakian tennis player. She was the dominant female tennis player of the 1980s. Won 18 grand slam titles and 31 major doubles titles. She now lives in the United States.


72. Rosa Luxemburg (1870–1919) A leading Marxist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg sought to bring Social revolution to Germany.

mary-wollstonecraft73. Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797) Early feminist and writer.

Elizabeth_taylor74. Elizabeth Taylor (1932–2011 ) British-American Academy Award winning actress. She co-founded AIDS research charity in 1980s and campaigned on behalf of people suffering from AIDS.

writer75. Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) English modernist writer, member of Bloomsbury group.

writer76. Maya Angelou (1928–2014 ) Modern American poet and writer.

77. Anita Roddick (1942–2007) UK businesswoman and environmentalist. The founder of the Body Shop, a cosmetic firm, based on ethical principles.

writer78. Barbara Cartland (1901–2000) One of most prolific and best selling authors of romantic fiction.

Shakira79. Shakira (1977– ) Colombian singer, model, record producer and dancer.

Anna_pavlova80. Anna Pavlova (1881–1931) Russian ballet dancer, who set up her own touring ballet company. The dance The Dying Swan‘ was created especially for her.

writer81. Beatrix Potter (1866–1943) English conservationist and author of Tales of Peter Rabbit.

sappho82. Sappho (c 570 BC) One of the first published female writers. Much of her poetry has been lost but her immense reputation has remained.

tennis83. Serena Williams (1981– ) American tennis player. Williams has won 19 singles grand slam titles, making her the most successful female player of her generation.

Emma_Watson84. Emma Watson (1990 – ) Actress and activist. Watson starred in the Harry Potter movie series. Serves as UN Women Goodwill ambassador

Whoopi_Goldberg85. Whoopi Goldberg (1955–) American actress. Goldberg has won Oscar for best-supporting actress, and numerous TV Emmy Awards.

adele86. Adele (1988– ) English singer and songwriter.  One of the world’s best-selling artists with numerous Grammy and Academy Awards

Maria_Sharapova87. Maria Sharapova (1987– ) Russian tennis player. She has won all four major Grand Slam tournaments and Olympic silver in 2012. She also has a high profile outside the game, with her own business and modelling ventures.

elizabeth-cady-stanton88. Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815–1902) Social activist and leading figure in the early women’s rights movement.

NadiaComaneci89. Nadia Comaneci (1961– ) Romanian gymnast who won three Olympic gold medals at the 1976 Olympics and was the first gymnast to gain a perfect score of 6.0.

malala90. Malala Yousafzai (1997– ) Pakistani schoolgirl who has campaigned for the right to education for girls. She was shot by the Taliban, but survived.

Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez91. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (1989 – ) Democratic Congresswomen. A leading figurehead for a progressive agenda including “Green New Deal,” universal health care, and higher taxes on the rich.

tennis92. Chris Evert (1954– ) American tennis player. She won 18 grand slam single titles, and 3 doubles titles. She had a win percentage in singles matches of 89.9% – the highest in the open era.

betty-williams93.Betty Williams (1943– ) Together with Mairead Corrigan, Betty Williams campaigned to bring an end to the sectarian violence of Northern Ireland.

Monica_Seles_199194. Monica Seles (1973– ) Yugoslavia/US tennis player. Seles became the youngest winner of the French Open in 1990, aged 16.

95. Gabriela MistralGabriela_Mistral  Latin American poet. Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945.

96. Jane Goodall  Environmentalist and Chimpanzee enthusiast.

Golda_Meir97. Golda Meir (1898–1978)  Israeli leader. Elected Prime Minister in 1969

Harriet_Tubman98. Harriet Tubman (1822 – 1913) – escaped slave, early civil rights activist.

Theresa_May_portrait99. Theresa May (1956 – ) British Conservative Prime Minister working out Brexit negotiations with EU.

100. Wangari Maathai wangari-maathai (1940–2011 ) Kenyan born environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.


Citation: Pettinger, Tejvan. “Famous Women”, Oxford, UK – Published 20th February 2011. Last updated 16th October 2018.

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Legends: Women Who Have Changed the World – Through the Eyes of Great Women Writers at Amazon

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