Literary Musings

12 Essential Works of Classic Feminist Fiction

Here are 12 essential works of classic feminist fiction — according to Literary Ladies’ Guide. Some of the books listed were considered daring (and sometimes shocking) in their time. Because of the courage and foresight of their creators, women writers today are freer to speak their truths — and to see them in print — than the authors highlighted in the list following.

These timeless classics have proven foundational for contemporary feminist novels. From Jane Eyre (1847), Charlotte Brontë’s gothic romance, through Octavia Butler’s Afro-futurist Parable of the Talents (1998), the books listed here feature heroines who continue to inspire and surprise. 

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Imagining Helen: The Life of Translator Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter

I first heard about Helen Tracy Lowe-Porter (1876 – 1963) when I fell in love with her grandson, a visiting American graduate student at my university in New Zealand. I knew of the great German novelist Thomas Mann but had not read his novels, and certainly had never wondered about how they came to appear in English.

“My grandmother was Mann’s translator,” my new boyfriend informed me. I was mildly impressed. He told me a little about her: how forbiddingly intellectual she was, how un-grandmotherly.

His mother, Patricia, who soon became my mother-in-law, always spoke with mixed awe and resentment of her illustrious mother, though adoringly of her illustrious father, a renowned paleographer. Read More→

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6 Essential Novels by Daphne du Maurier

If you want to delve into the novels of Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989), where should you begin? The prolific British novelist, playwright, and short-story writer launched her publishing career at age twenty-two with The Loving Spirit (1931), her first novel. She went on to publish numerous works of full-length and short fiction as well as nonfiction and plays.

Arguably, Rebecca (1938) is du Maurier’s masterwork and best-known work. And there’s a group of novels among her canon that approach it in terms of quality and longevity.  Here we’ll list the books that Dame Daphne is best remembered for.

With the exception of The Loving Spirit, all of the following have also been made into well-known films, sometimes more than once. Read More→

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10 Modernist Women Writers Who Shouldn’t be Forgotten

Female authors have always been overshadowed by men, but this does not make their writing any weaker or lesser than. Though popular Modernist works in today’s day tend to gravitate toward the male voice, the following Modernist women writers were well known in their day.

Some of their work has fallen into a literary abyss, where little attention has been given to them almost a century later. Their names appeared regularly on bestseller lists in the 20th century, and they were no strangers to readers. At right, May Sinclair.

Most of these women were connected to one another in some way, either through schooling, a crossing of literary paths, or in reviewing another’s work. Read More→

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10 Fascinating Facts about Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe (1819 – 1910) was an American poet, essayist, editor, speaker, and activist extraordinaire, especially in the causes of abolition, suffrage, and the advancement of women everywhere. 

Although her iconic “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is ubiquitous in patriotic, inspirational, and popular settings, its author is far less known. Let’s look at 10 fascinating facts about the woman behind the verses. 

Howe was born on Bond Street and Broadway in New York City to an affluent, Calvinist family; when she was five, her mother died in childbirth. She was educated in a home with its own library and art gallery and well-propertied for a secure future. Her heroic but controlling husband stymied her spirit and mishandled her land holdings. Read More→

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