Women have marked art since the dawn of time, despite the challenges and restrictions imposed on them, and literature is no exception. In honor of Women’s History Month, celebrate books created by women telling diverse, emotional and heartfelt stories of grief, joy and pain. Here are eight books by women authors who have shaped and continue to shape literature.
The Story of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
“The Tale of Genji” is considered by many to be the world’s first novel, and it was written by a woman. Murasaki Shikibu was a Japanese poet, novelist, and maid of honor to the Heian Imperial Court. Its 11th-century story shows what court life was like in medieval Japan and follows the life of the emperor’s son as he navigated between love, family and politics.
Their Eyes Were Looking at God by Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an American writer, anthropologist and filmmaker who wrote about racism and the struggles black people faced in the early 1900s in the South. In “Their Eyes Beheld God,” Hurston writes about Janie Crawford, her experiences as a black woman, her three marriages, and her quest to find herself.
Jane Austen Persuasion
Best known for her famous book “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen has become a household name in today’s classrooms, despite death in the dark. However, it is his 1817 book “Persuasion” that most resembles his life. The heroine, Anne Elliot, is past the age of her youth, and after being persuaded to call off her engagement to the man she loved, she lives with her decision. That is until she gets a second chance when he comes back into her life years later.
Letter to my daughter by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou never had a daughter, but she dedicated “Letter to My Daughter” to the women and “girls” she saw all around her. This book by the iconic poet and civil rights activist is filled with advice, wisdom, poetry and essays that describe Angelou’s life and her journey to living with meaning.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Many may know Margaret Atwood for her book-turned TV show, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” but her book “Alias Grace” also touches on the struggles of womanhood. Set in 1843, Grace Marks killed her employer and her governess and mistress. While the audience is shocked by what she did, Grace just wants to remember what happened. A mental health expert is sent to help her unlock these memories, but as she grows closer to them, she discovers she may have missed more than she thought.
Kinship by Octavia E. Butler
As the first science fiction novel written by a black woman, “Kindred” is an important piece of black American literature. Octavia E. Butler woke up every morning at 2 a.m. to write before going to work, and her books explored black injustice, women’s rights, and climate change, among other themes. In “Kindred”, Butler writes about Dana, a black woman who is transported in time to pre-war Maryland, where she sees the same young man every time and realizes that she has been tasked with unique challenge.
Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros
Award-winning author Sandra Cisneros is a Mexican-American writer who worked as a teacher and counselor for high school dropouts in schools where she taught creative writing. She published “Loose Woman” in 1995, and the collection of poetry celebrates the “feminine aspects of love.”
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
Often praising the literary path who guided her, Cherie Dimaline is an award-winning author and a registered and asserted member of the Métis Nation of Ontario. In 2017, TIME Magazine called her book “The Marrow Thieves” one of the “best young adult books of all time.” In his book, the indigenous peoples of North America are hunted for their bone marrow in a post-apocalyptic world. However, the main character, Frenchie, and her party soon discover that someone in their party holds the key to defeating the “Marrow Thieves”.