One of the earliest works of feminist philosophical literature, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects was written by Mary Wollstonecraft and published in 1792. Mary Wollstonecraft (not to be confused with her literary daughter, Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein) argues in Vindication for the educational equality of men and women. She argued that men and women are both born with the ability to reason, and therefore power and influential status should be equally available to all.
Wollstonecraft believed that regardless of wealth and social status, males and females should have the same educational opportunities. She sought radical reform of the 18th-century education system, believing that a society where females are offered the same opportunities as males would bring only beneficial change to the future of humanity. Read More→
The Awakening (1899) by Kate Chopin focuses on the struggle against societal expectations for women in their roles as wives and mothers. The novella follows the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman with unfulfilled sexual desires who questions the sanctity of motherhood. The theme of marital infidelity is approached from the unique perspective of the wife.
Because critics reacted negatively to its taboo subject matter, The Awakening was widely banned, and even fell out of print for several decades before being rediscovered in the 1970s. It’s now considered a classic of feminist fiction.
In her analysis of this novella on this site, Sarah Wyman writes that it “came under immediate attack when published and was banned from bookstores and libraries. The author died virtually forgotten, yet The Awakening has been rediscovered and holds a secure and prominent position as a watershed text in U.S. literature and feminist studies.” Read More→
Emma by Jane Austen (1775 – 1817) was first published in December 1815. Before she began the novel, Austen wrote, “I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” In the first sentence she introduces the main character as “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich.” Emma is privileged and headstrong, greatly overestimating her matchmaking abilities, her imagination often leading her astray.
Emma was the last novel to be completed and published during Jane Austen’s life, as Persuasion, the last novel Austen wrote, was published posthumously. Emma has been adapted for several films, many television series, multiple stage plays, and has been the inspiration for several novels. Following are a collection of quotes from Emma, a novel that has been said to have “changed the face of fiction”: Read More→
Vita Sackville-West (1892 – 1962), the British author best known for All Passion Spent and The Edwardians was nearly equally known for her passion for gardening and garden design. The gardens at her ancestral home, Sissinghurst, are masterful. Though she considered herself an amateur, she remains a respected name in garden design.
She had a voice that was at once authoritative yet never bossy, often acknowledging that the garden can become the master of its caretaker, rather than the other way around. Something that always comes through is her passion for gardens, gardening, and beauty in bloom. According to The Telegraph in a recent appraisal of Vita’s gardening legacy:
George Eliot, the chosen pen name of Mary Ann Evans (1819 –1880), was an esteemed British author of Victorian-era novels. Her writing was political and inventive, inspired by art, psychology, and current events. The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, and Middlemarch are considered some of the finest and most important literary works in British literature. In addition to these and other novels, George Eliot also wrote poems, short stories, translations, and essays.
Middlemarch (1871) follows the tale of Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate, two characters destined to enter marriages that are not only unfulfilling, but also conflict with their personal aspirations. George Eliot scrupulously builds a richly textured picture of a provincial Victorian town, populating it with people whose struggles with love, relationships, and their own ambitions are instantly recognizable. Following are some classic quotes from Middlemarch, a novel that remains one of the great works of world literature: Read More→