Since it’s Women’s History Month in March I thought I’d take this opportunity to share my favourite classic books by women. I haven’t read many classic books by women which is a shame and I’m determined to change that this year.
Okay, on to my top five classics by women…
Zofloya by Charlotte Dacre (1806)
I’ve written about this book a lot but I do think that Dacre’s writing is amazing. She fully explores how the 18th century viewed female sexuality and this book was used to condemn the Madonna/Whore complex that influenced this era. Dacre wrote complicated, intriguing female characters and Zofloya is one of the best Gothic novels I’ve ever read.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin (1899)
Chopin is one of the best female authors of all time. Many people don’t like The Awakening but I think that it is genius. Chopin captured how a specific group of women felt at a specific time and she explores a woman’s role as a wife and mother. Ultimately, her main character is ‘selfish’ (I hate to use that word) but The Awakening highlights the need for self-care even though women are expected to be selfless.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
I could talk about Charlotte Perkins Gilman for days. Her writing is spectacular and it is always focused upon women because she was a feminist writer. The Yellow Wallpaper examines how women were treated by the medical profession in the 1800s when women were made to rest to cure ‘hysteria’. The short story focuses on a young woman and it depicts the effect of understimulation on her mental health. It’s a compelling story and it is well worth a read.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
Mary Shelley was the mother of modern science fiction and Frankenstein is a literary masterpiece. It’s an amazing book that discusses so many different things including: expeditions to the Arctic, man’s vanity, scientific discovery and curiosity, and humanity. It’s one of my favourite books of all time and I love it so much.
Villette by Charlotte Brontë (1853)
Villette is my favourite Brontë novel that I’ve read so far. Brontë drew a lot of inspiration from her own life and experiences for this novel and I think that’s why I enjoy it so much. It feels very realistic and it gives you an insight into how women travelled during this time, how women earned a living during this time, and how women were expected to behave. It’s a beautifully written novel.
- The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
- Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
Do you have any favourite classic books by women? Let me know because I’m always on the lookout for new books to read!