Without women in creative fields, the world would be an extremely boring place to live. Throughout all of history, women have shone bright and given us some of the best work and creations. One of these subjects is writing. Women writers bring something dynamic and exciting to the table. As a writer myself, I have always favoured the writing of other women. My role models are all women writers.
The very first novel thought to have been written was called ‘The Tale of Genji’ and was written by a Japanese woman named Murasaki Shikibu in 1010 AD, that’s exactly one-thousand-and-ten-years ago. I haven’t included her in this list because it’s disputed whether she did create novels. But, she is also someone who helped shape this world.
Many other amazing and clever women have since used their creativity and brilliance to produce some of the best stories the world has ever known. So, here is a list of five of the brilliant women writers that have changed the world:
1. Jane Austen
Seeing four of her six novels published when she was alive, Jane Austen has, rightfully, become one of the best-loved authors of all time. Publishing her first novel, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ in 1811 anonymously, only six years before she prematurely passed away. Jane’s stories have embedded themselves in our more modern culture despite being released over two-hundred years ago.
More of Austen’s stories include ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Emma’, and ‘Mansfield Park’. The year after she died, two more of her novels, ‘Northanger Abbey’ and ‘Persuasion’, were published by her family. These are the only novels Jane completed in her life, but a few unfinished works were found and released after her death too.
Jane was a favourite of Princess Charlotte of Wales, King George IV’s (then Prince Regent) daughter, and also admired by the Prince Regent himself. Despite such wealthy fans, Jane’s novels only brought her moderate success when she was alive; hard to believe that now.
A number of film adaptations of her novels have been made including the 2020 version of ‘Emma.’ starring Anya Taylor-Joy as the main character. Arguably her most famous story is ‘Pride and Prejudice’ which too has been made into a film (or five), and is parodied in the 2009 book titled ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ by Seth Graham-Smith.
Jane Austen has made a huge impact on me and my taste in novels, that’s why I consider her one of the best writers of all time.
2. Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou had a tough start in life. As a black woman growing up in early 20th century America, Maya had to fight for everything she had. At the age of seventeen, Maya gave birth to her son, Clyde. Her mother warned her that she would have to work harder than her white colleagues after she got a job as the first black cable car conductor in San Francisco.
In 1969, Maya published her autobiography ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ which told the story of her life up until she was seventeen-years-old. The book delves into the hardships Angelou faced including rape and racism. Becoming a best-seller almost immediately after being published, the book is the first part of a seven-volume series all about Maya’s life, although this one is probably her best-known work.
3. Emily Brontë
Despite only publishing one novel, Emily Brontë has cemented herself in literature history. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is now considered a literacy classic and is often studied by English students around the world. Originally published in 1847 under the pseudonym ‘Ellis Bell’, and alongside her younger sister Anne’s novel, ‘Agnes Grey’, Emily’s brilliant story about love and revenge was met with mixed reviews. Due to the dark nature of the story, many truly believed that something like this could only be written by a man. As well as an author, Emily also published a book of poems.
Emily died only three years after her debut novel was published, meaning she never got to see the impact it had on people. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is my favourite novel of all time, I’ve read it countless times and I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of it. The story has inspired many interpretations throughout media including a 1939 film starring Merle Oberon and Laurence Olivier as Catherine and Heathcliff. Kate Bush’s hit 1978 song with the same name is inspired by Emily’s story.
4. Alice Walker
In 1982 Alice Walker published her award-winning novel ‘The Color Purple’. The story focuses on African-American women and their treatment in rural Georgia in the 1930s. Due to its violent nature, it is frequently censored by schools and libraries.
The story has won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and also the National Book Award for Fiction, both in 1983.
Walker’s novel has been adapted for stage and screen. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, and Danny Glover. Directed by Steven Spielberg. This led to eleven Acadamy Awards nominations and four Golden Globe nominations where Whoopi Goldberg won the award for best actress.
The novel has been a firm favourite and I think will continue to be for year and years to come.
5. Mary Shelley
The mother of science fiction. In 1816 on a wet and dreary night in Geneva, Switzerland, something amazing was about to happen. Mary Shelley, her future husband, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron decided to see who could come up with the best horror story. Mary remained quite whilst other stories were told. That night she had a terrible nightmare that would change the world forever. Mary wrote down her dream and alas, the birth of Frankenstein and his monster.
Mary officially published ‘Frankenstein – or The Modern Prometheus’ in 1818. Since its publication, the novel has never been out of print, despite being over two-hundred-years old.
Women have continued to push boundaries within society and we’re not stopping. All of these women have had to fight to be heard despite their obvious talent and skill. And this is only a small portion of amazing women in this subject. I could come up with many more lists, which I think I will. I hope you enjoyed this post.