In honor of International Women’s Day, the women’s strike, and generally awesome women around the globe, I’m honoring great female writers who have had an impact on me as a reader or are generally fabulous. This is by no means a comprehensive list — add yours below!
I think many of our childhoods were shaped by Pierce’s badass heroines. Alanna was a personal favorite of mine with her determination, strength, and talking cat. I still find her books compelling as an adult and plan to read them all some day.
J. K. Rowling
She’s just the best. She gave us a frizzy-haired, intelligent, bookish heroine that it seems like every girl born in the past 30 years can relate to. Now that her Harry Potter days are behind her, she still produces compelling content, fights the good fight on social media, and is an overall good person.
Charlie Jane Anders
The author of the highly regarded All the Birds in the Sky, Anders is an author to watch. A founder of i09, the popular science fiction blog, she has been working to make science fiction a mainstream genre rather than a niche interest. Most importantly, i09 aimed to include women in science fiction in a time when the internet is flooded with ‘fake geek girl’ memes and exclusion by male fans.
An author I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read yet, Margaret Atwood is a novelist, writer of short stories, and an activist. Her most famous work is The Handmaid’s Tale, a terrifying look at a world in which most women have no rights and are used as breeders for wealthy and powerful families. The novel is being brought to TV this year and Atwood herself has admitted that it is ‘more relevant than ever’.
Born in 1810, Elizabeth Gaskell became a novelist as a reaction to personal tragedy and the struggles of the working poor in Manchester, England. She brought to light the horrific conditions of factory workers in her novels, which sold thousands of copies. She is also one of the many biographers of Charlotte Bronte, but notable because she chose to chronicle Bronte as a woman rather than as a writer. Her books include Mary Barton, North and South, and Wives and Daughters.
The ultimate lady novelist. From her years as a snarky teenager mocking her schoolroom texts to a fully-formed novelist, Austen is one of the greats in literature. With complex heroines like Anne Elliot and Eleanor Dashwood, Austen’s women are less than perfect and oh-so human.
Except Elizabeth Bennett, who is annoyingly perfect and you know it.
I love Tessa Dare so much. Author of the Spindle Cove series of novels, Tessa’s characters are complex, flawed, and deeply human. I love these books in particular because they feature unconventional women in an unconventional community — they’re far removed from the ballrooms and parlors we so often see in historical romance.
N. K. Jemisin
Award-winning speculative fiction author and New York Times columnist, N. K. Jemisin is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a prominent woman in the genre who uses her popularity to promote underrepresented voices in the SFF genre. She has faced off against racist and misogynistic groups, particularly surrounding the controversial Hugo award, and often discusses issues on social media. An incredibly intelligent and eloquent woman, she’s seriously someone to admire.
Your turn! Who are your most inspirational female authors? Who are your favorite female characters?