On the literary front Mrs. Radcliffe is considered to have begun the gothic genre. She wrote: The Mysteries of Udolpho, The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne, Gaston de Blondeville, The Italian, The Romance of the Forest and A Sicilian Romance.
Continuing onward would be the teen-aged Mary Wollstonecroft (soon to be Mary Shelley) writing the masterpiece, Frankenstein. This novel, to my mind, is the real starting point of the entire horror genre.
In more recent times: Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill House) Susan Hill (The Woman in Black) Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber) Anne Rice (The Vampire Chronicles, Lives of the Mayfair Witches, Servant of the Bones, etc)--!
These are the greats of literary horror, thinking horror. Horror with richly drawn characters and a plot to die for!
So what about the actresses? Those iconic ladies that frightened the daylights of me, for instance! Although there have been more there are two who stand out: the late, great Ingrid Pitt and Barbara Steele.
Women have contributed greatly to horror fiction and film and they deserve our respect.
I seek in my own small way to honor them by contributing what I can in writing good horror fiction.
I thank those who first led the way and the greats who continue to do so.
And if you don't think a woman can write terrifying horror, here's scene from Susan Hill's The Woman In Black: