Classic Women Authors in Men’s Clothing: Expressing the Masculine

A number of classic women authors were known for their penchant for male clothing. And in pretty much all of the instances we’ll see here, it’s not merely cross-dressing for fun and comfort, but an expression of the duality of their nature.

It’s no longer unusual for women to wear pants or man-tailored jackets, of course. But in the context of the time and place in which the following authors lived, it was an act of rebellion and a statement of more fluid identity.

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Jane Austen Postage Stamps: 2013 & 1975

On January 28, 2013, the Royal Mail of Britain celebrated the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen with a set of six postage stamps. 

Her other novels received the “royal” treatment equally, and included the five that rounded out her set of six: Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey (there were two unfinished novel as well, Sanditon and The Watsons, in addition to a posthumously published early work, Lady Susan). Read More→

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Illustrations from Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1888)

At one of the library sales I frequent in my quest for classics by women authors, I came upon Sara Crewe: or, What Happened at Miss Minchin’s by Frances Hodgson Burnett. This confused me; wasn’t this the story always known as A Little Princess?

It turns out that Sara Crewe is an earlier version of what became the classic. It was serialized in St. Nicholas magazine in 1887, then collected into a novella, published in 1888 by Charles Scribner’s Sons.

In 1905, the expanded story was published for all time as we best know it, titled A Little Princess. And since then, the story has been performed on stage, filmed in several versions, and is consistently named one of the top novels for children of all time. 

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Illustrations for Little Women by Jessie Willcox Smith

Jessie Willcox Smith (September 6, 1863 – May 3, 1935) was a prolific American illustrator who thrived during what was called the Golden Age of illustration. She was among a handful of respected women illustrators called The Red Rose Girls, who lived and worked together.

Her art embellished more than sixty books and scores of magazine stories and articles from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Among the books she so beautifully illustrated was the 1915 edition of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Here are a few of them.

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Classic Women Authors as Children

Here’s a gallery of portraits of some of our favorite classic women authors as children, proving that they started out life just like the rest of us mere mortals! First up, Edith Wharton (1867 – 1937) in a painting (at right) done when she was around 8 years old, by Edward Harrison May.

Despite the world of wealth and privilege in which she grew up, she didn’t come into her own until she started to have her writings published. Read More→

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