This is a response to 11 Female Authors You Need To Read.
My favorite writers have always been women. Their voices reflect mine and their words resonate something deep within me that I can connect with. Through their words, I feel seen and understood, each word like a mother to me, holding me with their intellectual thoughts.
Women were always the leading charge in literature for centuries. Female authors like Mary Shelley, The Bronte Sisters, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Sylvia Plath, and my favorite writer of all time Emily Dickinson, each tell their own ideas, but all share the same component of expressing female emotions throughout their works.
While the structure of men’s literature is littered with intellectualizing, evangelizing, and satirizing, women’s literature are love letters to our emotions with the feelings and experiences we know and understand. I think their hope was that one day, the world would eventually recognize the struggles and injustices women face and finally do something to change it. These writers informed us, educated us, and showed us what it truly means to be a woman.
From the 19th through the 21st century, women weren’t seen as anything else besides housewives and property that only belonged to a man. So, writing was the only form of expression for women, as they could write their feelings and ideas they weren’t allowed to verbalize on pieces of paper for only them to reflect on.
Emily Dickinson is a great example of a writer who took part in this. She would let out all of her emotions on tiny pieces of paper that held such imagery. The Apple TV+ show Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld as Emily, tells the beautiful story of how Emily Dickinson came to be. The show has three seasons which covers Emily's use of an outsider's perspective to explore the constraints of society, gender, and family in the 19th century. I believe that this is a phenomenal show that depicts who Emily was as a writer and even as a person. (I encourage everyone to watch it!)
Women who wanted to be successful in literature had to overcome stereotypes and obstacles to achieve their own personal status. They have long been marginalized in the writing profession being mistreated and discriminated against; their careers hardly as fulfilling as those of their male counterparts.
But throughout the challenges faced in women’s history, they have shown the world how their contribution in literature has evolved throughout the centuries, from women being seen as only “angels in the house”, to working their way up to world-renowned writers.
The Angel in the House is a poem written by Coventry Patmore, which the phrase “angels in the house” derives from. The term came to be used in reference to women who embodied the Victorian feminine ideal: a mother and wife who was devoted to her children and submissive to her husband. This was the exact model of behavior that was expected of women during that time period— they could not be thinkers, they could not be writers, they couldn’t even receive an education, and were even seen as weird for finding pleasure in reading.
As I read many powerful pieces of literature written by many inspiring women authors, I can see myself within the characters they have created, or even as themself as they share their own personal feelings. As a society, we should never forget these women writers who paved the way for many of the women writers we read today. Celebrating them through reading their works is a great way to honor them, as they never backed down from wanting to have a rightful place in the writing profession.