By Librarian Alyssa, Omak Public Library
Women have been writing literature for as long as people have been reading it. Yet, the more well known authors are usually men. Women have only been credited in more recent times for their contributions to the literary world. As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, these inspirational women are perfect examples of writers who rose above societal degradation to tackle the issues that women face.
This list of books available in our library collection starts with the first known novelist in history and progresses to more recent authors who are using their craft to explore social issues.
Murasaki Shikibu (born c. 987- died c. 1014) is considered to have written the greatest work of Japanese literature and her book Tale of Genji is considered to be the first novel ever written. Although not a lot is known about Shikibu she is the first of our female writers to ever be credited with writing a book.
Jane Austen (born December 16, 1776- died July 18, 1817) was never known for her writings while she was alive. She published anonymously with the help of her brother. It wasn’t until after her death and many years later before people realized the impact her books had on portraying society and the lack of prospects for women during that time period. To this day Austen is known as a literary master for the way her works weave everyday life with the issues of society.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (born June 14, 1811- died July 1, 1896) is most famous for writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. She had written other novels as well that center around her travels and social issues of the day. Her books are contested to this day for shedding light on social injustice and have been translated into many languages around the world.
Edith Wharton (born January 24, 1862- died August 11, 1937) was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for her book The Age of Innocence. Her books focused on social protocols of the elite and the expectations of maintaining their social standing.
Virginia Woolf (born January 25, 1882- died March 28, 1941) is credited with being a Modernist with postmodern awareness. Her books influenced the Feminist movement due to the issues she highlightedl in regards to women in society.
Agatha Christie (born September 15, 1890- January 12, 1976) is to this day the most translated author in the world. Even her play The Mousetrap is the world’s longest running play. Her books are still widely read and are still having movie adaptions created.
Doris Lessing (born October 22, 1919- died November 17, 2013) was the oldest person to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007. She is famous for scrutinizing the social and political upheavals that surrounded the 20th century.
Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926- died February 19, 2016) is most famous for writing To Kill a Mockingbird. Her book was inspired by her father who unsuccessfully defended two African American men for murder. Her writings focused on social injustice, which earned her a Pulitzer Prize in 1961.
Maya Angelou (born April 4, 1928- died May 28, 2014) wrote about the struggles of the civil rights movement and pulled from her life to spread her story of being an African American woman in the United States. She is held in high esteem among the literary community for her life work and her publications.
Isabel Allende (born August 2, 1942) is credited with being the most successful Latin American writer. Her books center around issues facing Latin American women and the social political issues as well. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (born September 15, 1977) was awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant in 2008 and has written many books on war, sexisim, and social issues. She is a modern feminist who has taken her gift of writing to point out the issues that still exist. Her book We Should All Be Feminists was adapted by a TEDx talk she did and draws on her own experiences.
Jackie Townsend is a modern writer who’s work centers around displacement, crossing borders, belonging, loss, and love. She has written four books so far, all of which you can find at your local library!
Susie Orman Schnall writes about being a modern woman trying to balance work and life. Her debut novel On Grace centers around turning 40 years old.
Meredith First’s debut novel Gridley Girls is the start of a series that is somewhat based on her childhood and her friends. First looks into female childhood and the issues that all women face when growing up. A portion of the profit from each book sold will be donated to an organization to help children who are ill.