4 Female Writers’ Writing Styles

Every author, myself included, has his/her own distinctive writing style. Earlier this year I dedicated a blog post to 4 famous male writers’ writing styles.

This week’s blog post is dedicated to 4 famous female writers’ writing styles:

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

(January 25th 1882 – March 28th 1941)

Notable works: To the Lighthouse, Mrs Dalloway, A Room of One’s Own

Novelist and critic Virginia Woolf was an influential interwar writer and one of the foremost modernists of the 20th Century. Woolf embraced an experimental stream of consciousness writing style, in which the subjective impressions of her protagonists formed the narrative. This writing device is in evidence in her novel Mrs Dalloway, in which Woolf parallels a single day in the lives of two people, adeptly portraying their internal emotions. This was a marked shift from the rigid objectivism of 19th Century fiction. Her rhetorical, informal personal style, effective use of metaphors, similes and symbolism continue to endear her to readers to this day.

George Eliot

George Eliot

(22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880)

Notable works: The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda

Mary Ann Evans was an author who used the male pen name George Eliot in order that she be taken seriously by the literary establishment. Her most famous novel, Middlemarch, is widely regarded as one of the greatest English language novels ever written. Her writing style incorporated an unusual style of phrasing, deep psychological insights, sophisticated character portraits, religious themes, highly original use of metaphors, comical elements and realism. Eliot also had a distinctive narrative voice, which some have criticised her for, because it often disrupts the action and casts judgement on the given event, as it is taking place.

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson (10th December 1830 – 15th May 1886)

The reclusive Emily Dickinson was a prolific American poet, who penned over 1700 poems. Dickinson’s early poetry was fairly conventional, but her writing style became increasingly innovative and idiosyncratic. Her lineation, punctuation, capitalisation and extensive use of dashes were highly unusual. Most of Dickinson’s poems were written in short stanzas, the majority being quatrains, whilst other stanzas employed triplets and pairs of couplets as well as partial rhyming schemes. She also experimented with Iambic rhythms. The flexible and innovative structures of her poems, the conciseness of her language and the blending of different themes, such as the homely and exalted, in addition to her use of metaphors were in stark contrast to the rigid conventions of her era.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen

(16th December 1775 – 18th July 1817)

Notable works: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma and Persuasion

Jane Austen employed an elegant, experimental and innovative writing style. In contrast to other early 19th Century authors, Jane Austen’s novels have considerably more dialogue and much less description and narrative. She adroitly utilised indirect speech, burlesque, parody and realism to critique the portrayal of women in 18th Century literature, in addition to the perceived role of women during her own era. But it is her constant, imaginative use of irony that she is probably best known for. Austen utilised irony to highlight the social hypocrisy of her time, particularly with regards to marriage and social divisions.


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