Classic literature may be largely made up of white, male authors, but it wouldn't be the same without the many female authors who left their mark on the literary world. It's quite remarkable what women authors have been able to achieve, despite not receiving the same privileges, recognition, or treatment of their male counterparts.
Today, on International Women's Day, we'd like to honor some of these amazing women. Read on for 5 incredible classic female authors who not only made history, but forever changed the literary landscape.
1. Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley was raised by eccentric parents to be an independent woman who wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted. She was an incredibly driven and prolific writer, but also a woman of romantic dalliances, passionate affairs, and hair-raising adventures.
When she put her mind to it, and pen to paper, there was really very little Mary Shelley couldn't achieve. Remember, this is the female author who wrote one of the scariest novels in classic sci-fi, Frankenstein, when she only 18 years old.
2. Emily Brontë
Though she was known to be a very reserved and shy person, this female author showed herself to also be fierce and determined. This was a woman who once, in order to avoid worrying her family, cauterized her own wound with a hot iron!
Emily Brontë initially published her tempestuous love story, Wuthering Heights, under the male pen name Ellis Bell because she knew it'd give her a greater chance of publishing success. Following her death, her sister Charlotte edited her famous novel and released it with Emily Brontë's real name. Now that's what you call women supporting other women.
3. Daphne du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier deserves a special spot on our list of iconic female authors for her lasting literary impact. Known for penning moody, dark tales of love and mystery, she created some of the the great Gothic tales of the 20th century.
Among these is Rebecca, with the famed first line: "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." All of Daphne du Maurier's works are well worth the read for their elements of surrealism and Gothic romance alone.
4. Jane Austen
Not only is she one of the most widely-read female authors of all time, but Jane Austen also changed the literary world with her feminist takes on love and marriage in 19th century England.
Austen wrote romantic and humorous novels like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, and explored in depth the role women had in society at the time. This female author was particularly critical of the unfair dependency women had on marriage, and turned down various real-life proposals herself!
5. Kate Chopin
How could we list influential female authors without giving a nod to Kate Chopin? Her most famous novel, The Awakening, is considered one of the premier early works of American feminist literature.
It was clear the male critics of the time felt threatened by Chopin's book about a woman's emotional and sexual awakening. They were quick to label the novel as 'vulgar' and treated its themes with disgust. Ultimately, these critiques crushed Chopin's spirit, and The Awakening would turn out to be the last novel she'd ever write.
Who are your favorite female authors and why?
Share in the comments which female writers and artists inspire you!