Who run the literary world? GIRLS. Women writers have been kicking butt for a long time and it’s time we acknowledge those who changed the literature game.
8 Women Who Changed Literature
A list curated by Mackenzi Lee
My novel This Monstrous Thing is based on Frankenstein and the life story of its author, Mary Shelley. She wrote Frankenstein, which is widely considered the first science fiction novel, at the tender age of nineteen. In honor of Ms. Shelley and her history-changing novel, here are some things you might not know about eight other badass ladies who changed literature.
1. Murasaki Shikibu
What is widely considered the first modern novel, The Tale of Genji, was penned anonymously by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting in the Imperial court of Japan in the 1000s who learned to read and write in secret when she was a child.
2. Phillis Wheatley
Born in West Africa and sold into slavery at a young age, poetess and author Phillis Wheatley was the first published African American woman. George Washington himself was so impressed with her poetry he invited her to his house for a visit.
3. Mary Wollstonecraft
Mother of my girl Mary Shelley, Miss Wollstonecraft is one of the founding feminist philosophers and author of the gender-equality hoisting A Vindication of the Rights of Women. She also talked her way into a job as one of the first female foreign correspondent for a newspaper while she was living in Paris during the French Revolution.
4. Baroness Emma Orczy
Baroness Orczy is the writer of the play, then the novelization that play, The Scarlet Pimpernel, which some historians credit as the first appearance of the modern superhero. That is, if you believe being a superhero require nothing but a secret identity and daring do.
5. Virginia Woolf
Aside from being a pioneer in the modernist movement and member of the Bloomsbury Group, Virginia Woolf was also a participant in the Dreadnought Hoax, a legendary prank in which she and her friends disguised themselves as a group of Ethiopian dignitaries and tricked the British Royal Navy into showing them their flagship, the HMS Dreadnought.
6. Agatha Christie
The Queen of Mystery remains one of the best-selling writers of all time–her estate claims she’s only outsold by Shakespeare and the Bible. She was also one of the first Britons to surf, and was obsessed with archeology–she had a meet-cute with her second husband, Max, after being stranded in the Egyptian desert on a dig together. Recommended reading: And Then There Were None.
7. Isabel Allende
Isabel Allende was the daughter of a Chilean diplomat and grew up in South America, Europe, and the Middle East. She was forced to flee her native Chile in 1975 after a military coup, and had a career in politics and journalism before writing The House of the Spirits and becoming one of the foremost female writers of magical realism.
8. JK Rowling
The first time she ever wrote about a boy wizard, it was on a train napkin, and she was a single mum on welfare. Now she’s the author of the best-selling series of all time and subject of so many fangirls’ adoration. All hail queen Jo!
Who are your favorite female authors? Tell us in the comments below!