Literary Musings

Memorable First Lines from Classic Novels by Women Authors

There are lots of wonderful novels that don’t grab you with the first sentence (or even the first paragraph or two), but when a book’s first line is great, that bodes well for the story ahead. Here are some memorable first lines from classic novels by women authors. What have we left out? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add more.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)


You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1818) Read More→


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A Conversation with Elise Hooper, Author of The Other Alcott

Many of us grew up reading and re-reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. But while most fans cheer on Jo March, based on Louisa herself, Amy March is often the least favorite sister. Now, it’s time to learn the truth about the “real Amy” — Louisa’s sister, May. In The Other Alcott, a captivating work of historical fiction, Elise Hooper gives readers a glimpse into the youngest Alcott’s artistic pursuits and her side of the sibling rivalry. Here’s an in-depth conversation with Elise Hooper, the author of this intriguing work of historical fiction.


Q: Why did you feel compelled to write about May Alcott?

A: I grew up in Massachusetts near Concord and attended drama camp at Orchard House. Along with all of my visits to the Alcott family home, I read many of Louisa May Alcott’s novels, but it was really Little Women that gave shape to my desire to be a writer at a young age, so for my first novel, I wanted to revisit the historical figures who played such a formative role in my own interests. Read More→


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6 Classic African-American Women Authors You Should Know More About

Historically, it was challenge enough for women to become published authors, and until the 1970s or so, this was especially true for African-American women writers facing the dual struggle of race and gender bias. Somewhat of a turning point came during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, during which time talented women found a more supportive and nurturing community. Here are 6 classic African-American women authors, from the Harlem Renaissance era through midcentury (and a bit beyond) worth getting to know — and reading.

Lorraine Hansberry (1930 – 1965) is best known for A Raisin in the Sun, the first play to be written by an African-American woman that was brought to Broadway. She also wrote political essays and worked for the African-American magazine Freedom. Hansberry was a part of and wrote for the Daughters of Bilitis’ magazine The Ladder. Read More→


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6 Female Journalists of the World War II Era

These six female journalists of the World War II era, who reported on and documented from the field,  pushed gender-defined barriers and fought for what they believed in, paving the way for women correspondents who came after them. They contributed to history with their groundbreaking work and bravery as journalists, photographers, and correspondents during World War II. At right, Ruth Baldwin Cowan’s WW II press credentials. See more about her later in this post. Read More→


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Beatrix Potter’s Letters to Children: The Path to Her Books

Twenty-something Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943) was conflicted. She had two consuming interests at the time: art and the study of fungi. With the exception of letter writing and a journal which she started in 1881—in elaborate code, by the way—becoming a woman of letters was nowhere in sight. What happened to set and redirect the course of her life’s work?

Helen Beatrix Potter was born to wealth, so she didn’t need to earn a living. Her ambitions were more personal, bubbling up from some inner pool. Her parents, Rupert and Helen Leech Potter, both hailed from families whose riches were manufactured, if you will, in Manchester’s booming cotton industry. Born in London to a posh South Kensington address, she and her younger brother, Bertram, were raised in the usual way for children of that social class—by a series of minders starting with nurses, then nannies, and finally governesses. Read More→


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