By Tommie, Moses Lake Public Library
Women have always been on the front lines of the literary world. From poets like Emily Dickenson and authors like Mary Shelley, to women writers like Octavia Butler and Agatha Christie. So many powerful women who created genres, new poetic meters, and incited revolutions that are still ongoing.
As we wrap up our celebration of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting just a few whose contributions are still recognized today. (Click on their names to discover books written by them!)
One of the most well known female poets of the ancient world, Sappho of Lesbos was considered a “muse” in her time, with recognition from famous philosophers like Solon and Plato. She perfected an ancient meter of poetry that was later coined as the “Sapphic Meter” in her honor. It is because of her poetry that we have terms like “Sapphic” and “Lesbian” today.
Most known for her written essay, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”, Mary Wollstonecraft is largely credited for the early strides of the feminism movement. Her work outlines how in the 18th century, society was training women to be frivolous and incapable. She rallied the women of her time around the betterment of education, positing it toward a new societal change. Her early work led the way for modern women to be able to fight for their rights and even get to the place where we are today.
As the first African-American woman to win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, her acclaimed novel “The Color Purple” was just the start of what remains a fantastic and prolific career. Not only is Walker a groundbreaking author, but she also has made leaps and bounds for women in civil rights and womanism, the term Walker coined for the intersectionality of feminism and being a woman of color.
One of the most widely known Spanish-language author writers of all time, Isabel Allende broke political and literary ground with her novel “The House of the Spirits”. Challenging the Chilean government, the book was also a letter to her dying grandfather. She has won several awards for her novels and for her activism efforts in the preservation of women’s rights.
A member of the Muscogee Nation, Joy Harjo is the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States. Her works of poetry have won awards for decades and she is a well celebrated poet across the entire nation. With emphasis on First Nation storytelling traditions, Harjo also touches on concepts of feminism, social justice, and the beauty of the natural world.
Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel, “The Hate U Give” was published in a time of great turmoil for the US. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, her novel sparked conversations across the nation, leading to a film produced by Fox 2000. Her novel helped to inspire more authors of color to be able to publish their own works, giving voice to experiences that were once silenced.
For these authors and more, check out our blog as we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month this March!