How to limit myself to ten?! This is worse than the top ten couples! Can I include Anonymous?! In seriousness, though, my top ten is literally my top ten of today, and I guarantee I'll feel differently later!
L.M. Alcott: What can I say about Alcott that's original? Nothing. I love her 'blood-and-thunder' tales the best, like A Long Fatal Love Chase, but I do have a sentimental soft spot for Eight Cousins.
Djuna Barnes: First, she has a fabulous name (the 'd' is silent), and secondly, she lived a horrifically sad life and wrote painfully repulsively scathing novels and plays. I highly recommend the Phillip Herring biography about her.
H.D. (Hilda Doolittle): A novelist and poet, H.D. is sadly quite forgotten, although her work is being reintroduced by a variety of small presses. She combines mythology and religion with the real sexiness of life early 20th century Paris.
Louise DeSalvo: A Virginia Woolf scholar, I first stumbled upon Ms DeSalvo through her book Writing as a Way to Healing, which not only introduced me to a myriad of fabulous authors but also taught me a great deal about writing. After that, Conceived With Malice showed me that writing as revenge could also be therapeutic!
Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen: Most everyone knows of Baroness Blixen from the Meryl Streep/Robert Redford film Out of Africa, which is very pretty and rather romantic. All of her writing is infused with that sort of bittersweet sense of potential and loss, I think, but the best intro to her is still Out of Africa.
Dashiell Hammett: The only guy on my list! He's a long standing literary crush of mine (I even have the Time Life picture of him being questioned by McCarthy on my bedroom wall!) and the author of some of my all-time favorite desert island picks. Pick up The Maltese Falcon (then see the movie!) and see how sexy he is!