As International Women’s Day (IWD) is next week (March 8th) I am dedicating this blog post to female authors. I have only included authors who are no longer with us. Sorry J. K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and dare I say it, E. L. James.
Here are 11 of the most influential female authors/writers ever.
Jane Austen(December 16th 1775 – July 18th 1817)
Jane Austen’s 6 novels were published at a time when virtually all well-known authors were male. Her erudite social commentary and use of irony continue to resonate with readers to this day. Marriage and the role of women are recurring themes in her writing.
Mary Shelley(August 30th 1797 – February 1st 1851)
English novelist, short story writer and dramatist Mary Shelley published her seminal work, the Gothic novel Frankenstein, when she was only 21. Today she is considered to be a major Romantic figure, praised for both her literary achievements and her liberal views.
George Eliot(November 22nd 1819 – December 22nd 1880)
Mary Ann Evans used a male pen name because she wanted to be taken seriously as a writer. She was one of the foremost writers of the Victorian era. Eliot’s novel Middlemarch is widely considered to be amongst the greatest English language novels ever.
Emily Dickinson(10th December 1830 – 15th May 1886)
The reclusive Emily Dickinson was a prolific American poet who penned over 1700 poems. The flexible and innovative structures of her poems, the conciseness of her language, the blending of different themes, and use of metaphors were in stark contrast to the rigid conventions of the era.
Edith Wharton(January 24th 1862 – August 11th 1937)
Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer Edith Wharton was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature on 3 occasions. Her writing is characterised by its humour, conciseness and social insights. A number of her books have been adapted for the silver screen.
Virginia Woolf(January 25th 1882 – March 28th 1941)
Novelist and critic Virginia Woolf was an influential interwar writer and one of the foremost modernists of the 20th Century. She embraced an experimental stream of consciousness writing style, in which the subjective impressions of her protagonists formed the narrative. Feminist ideas are a recurring theme in her work.
Click here to read my review of Mrs Dalloway.
Agatha Christie(September 15th 1890 – January 12th 1976)
Prolific author Agatha Christie is best remembered for her 66 detective novels. The Guinness Book of World Records lists the creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple as the best-selling novelist of all time. Over 2 billion copies of her books have been sold.
Zora Neale Hurston(January 7th 1891 – January 28th 1960)
Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist and author, who wrote 4 novels and more than 50 short stories, plays and essays. Her most famous novel is Their Eyes Were Watching God. The highly opinionated Hurston was a staunch patriot, who was vehemently anti-Communist.
Margaret Mitchell(November 8th 1900 – August 16th 1949)
Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for her romantic novel Gone With the Wind. It sold more than a million copies in its first 6 months. Readers appreciated its masterful use of symbolism and treatment of archetypes. Mitchell never published another novel in her lifetime.
Maya Angelou(April 4th 1928 – May 28th 2014)
African-American author, poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou is best remembered for her 7 autobiographies. For many years she used the same writing ritual, which entailed waking up early and going to a hotel room, where she would spend her working day.
Sylvia Plath(October 27th 1932 – February 11th 1963)
Sylvia Plath was well known for her poetry during her short-life. In 1963 Plath committed suicide. She went on to achieve posthumous fame for her mental health themed semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, which was published in the UK a month after her death.
Click here to read my review of The Bell Jar.