How feminism has improved today’s literary scene

Literature may still be saturated with straight white men, but it wouldn’t be the same without feminism and some of the great female authors it helped create. Or did they create it? Never mind the chicken and egg question. Women writers have been breaking barriers throughout history, from the famed poet Sappho in the 6th century BCE to the 18th century revolution voices and even modern-day female writers. Feminism has transformed every facet of literature and changed culture and history.

This article discusses some feminist writers and their contributions to modern literature.

Anne Bradstreet

Anne Bradstreet was the first woman to be published in Puritan-era North America. She was a prominent figure in the literature of the period and her works are praised for their historical significance and critical appeal.

Sappho

Many believe Sappho, who wrote poetry in ancient Greece, was the first female writer. She was celebrated for her work back in antiquity and called “the tenth muse” by Plato. Despite the myriads of controversies, Sappho is a celebrated writer, feminist, and lesbian role model.

Mary Wollstonecraft

The mother of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley was a feminist and pioneering writer. Among the most important early feminist works was her “Vindication of the Rights of Women.” Wollstonecraft laid the foundations for the women’s suffrage movement and has inspired generations of writers.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

The author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an epic anti-slavery novel, was a famous anti-abolitionist. After it was published, her novel sparked national outrage on both sides of the barrier. Critics have praised its massive impact not only on literature, but on American history as a whole. Stowe was a role model to writers after her like Zora Neale Hurston “the black woman is the mule of the world” and Toni Morrison.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen is just as significant to the British and world literary traditions as the great Shakespeare. Her classic love stories changed literature, defining the romance novel. Her writing is praised for its feminist ideals because it offered a poignant portrayal of women’s low social status and dependency on marriage.

Gabriela Mistral

Mistral, whose real name was Lucila Godoy y Alcayaga, was a novelist, poet, educator, and diplomat from Chile. She was also the first Latin American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She started writing poems as a way to deal with a loved one’s death. Her humanitarian work transformed the Mexican and Chilean education systems.

Edith Wharton

Back in 1921, Edith Wharton won the Pulitzer in Prize for Literature, changing literature and history forever with her work The Age of Innocence (for which she won). Her honesty and insight was refreshing and genre-defining.

Most Successful Female Authors

What is the ultimate measure of success? We believe it’s a combination of sales and influence. Please enjoy our humble list, which is just a fraction of the most successful female authors across the world, dead or living.

J. K. Rowling

Joanne “Jo” Rowling is the famous author of the Harry Potter books. The series has won many awards, gained worldwide attention, and sold more than 400 million copies. It is the best-selling book series ever and the film series based on them is also one of the highest-grossing ever even though the writer refused to have them made Hollywood-style. The cast is all-British like Rowling herself, and British-ness is maintained through and through.

Margaret Eleanor Atwood

The Canadian writer, poet, literary critic, and environmental activist has won the Booker Prize once (with five nominations), the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and the Prince of Asturias Award for Literature. She was entered in the Canadian Walk of Fame in 2001. Atwood founded the Writers’ Trust of Canada, a not for profit organization that supports writers in Canada.

Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath is most famous for the Bell Jar, but she has many other works. The American poet and was born in Boston and studied at the University of Cambridge. She and her husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes, lived together in the US and then England. Plath lost the battle against depression, which she’d fought almost her whole life.

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison focused on the African-American community in her works, but she’s an inspiration even to non-African-American women. The American writer and professor of literature has written a large number of epic novels characterized by fiery, vivid dialogue and complex characters. Her best-known novels include Beloved, Sula, The Bluest Eye, and Song of Solomon.

Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1988 and the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1993.

Isabel Allende

Allende is a Chilean-American writer, famous for commercially successful novels such as City of the Beasts and The House of the Spirits. Heralded as “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author”, Allende won Chile’s National Literature Prize in 2010. Four years later, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then- President Barack Obama.

Gertrude Stein

Stein was an American poet, playwright, and novelist who spent most of her life in France. A Modernist literature pioneer and literary innovator, Stein’s work broke with 19th century linear, narrative, and temporal convention. She was also openly gay, which was unusual at the time she created (early 20th century) – to say the least.

New up-and-coming female authors

Maybe 2019 will be the year women’s voices are finally heard? There are definitely some great new authors that are making an effort.

Mira Jacob

One is Mira Jacob, whose book Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations was published this year. The book is illustrated with pictures and drawings by the author. It emphasizes how necessary it is for people to consider the language they use between one another and realize how real experiences regarding representation and race are.

The book introduces us to the Indian writer’s family in all its realness. It talks about how difficult interracial relationships in America still are. Jacob is an Indian woman married to a Caucasian man, and if that weren’t hard enough to deal with, there are also her young son’s pressing concerns about their resemblance to terrorists.

Han Kang

This Korean writer writes in her native language, but the English translations of her novels are making her work accessible to western readers, and we’re fascinated. Human Acts, her second novel, tells the tale of a violent student protest in South Korea, in which a young boy loses his life. The book traces the deep impact of the boy’s death and the protest and features the interwoven narratives of the victims of violence, those protesting, those mourning the loss of loved ones, and those bemoaning their country’s fate.

Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Buchanan’s novel, titled Harmless Like You, is about the many different ways, in which children inherit identity”. Fluidly moving through space and time, the novel is about a Japanese woman struggling to realize herself as an artist and her son, whom she abandoned as a child and is now an adult.

Ethel Rohan

Ethel Rohan’s debut novel, The Weight of Him, is a poignant and riveting tale of a morbidly obese man who tries to lose weight to raise funds for treatment of depression and suicide prevention. His health isn’t his main consideration, surprisingly – his main motive is that he lost his son to suicide. The book explores weight loss, compulsive eating, suicide, suicide prevention, and the will to survive against all odds. The main character’s public weight-loss campaign is full of ups and downs. Losing weight and coping with the pain takes more courage and willpower than he imagined.

These new, up-and-coming writers represent the millennial age with all its pinnacles and pitfalls. Their works paint a fascinating landscape, sometimes quite literally.