As it is International Women’s Day we thought it apt to discuss our favourite female authors from different stages of our lives. These are in order of discovery.
Firstly it goes without saying that there are many amazing female authors I have chosen to leave off my list. I have read and loved many more works of fictions by female authors but I do not believe I owe them as much as the six female authors I have singled out. I may also have left a particular author out as I believed Danny would have chosen to include them in his own list.
The first female author I can remember loving was Jill Tomlinson who wrote various children’s novels related to animals. Her work includes ‘The Aardvark who Wasn’t Sure,’ ‘The Penguin who wanted to Find Out’ and perhaps her most well-known novel ‘The Owl Who was Afraid of the Dark.’ I discovered Tomlinson’s work in Primary school as her books were often selected for reading groups and school projects. Her books are must reads for any little wildlife lovers. Tomlinson’s novels are always adventurous and teach children that it is ok to have doubts and fears. She humanises these animals in such a way that children gain a deeper understanding of the animal kingdom while also being able to apply the moral of the story to their own lives, the animal protagonists are always young and are therefore always relatable to Tomlinson’s target audience. They are each short and sweet but will also teach new vocabulary and are never patronising.
The next female author I had a great love for and hope to re-read soon was Jacqueline Wilson. I remember doing a school project on Jacqueline Wilson at Primary School and enthusiastically passing around all of her books. I read these books alongside Horowitz’s Alex Ryder series and it seemed like everyone in the class was reading one of these authors. Her writing style is witty and her character’s are unexpectedly original. I never found her work repetitive despite the similar ages of her characters. I always find authors writing about tweens and teenagers problematic as they often misjudge their beliefs, moods and emotions. There is often so much emphasis on trying to identify how that character is handling all of their emotions and mood swings that the plot is overlooked. Childhood is not simple but children are not some kind of separate, alien species as some authors would have you believe. I remember going to see her talk at Edinburgh Book Festival one year and being extremely excited to see her, she was as lovely and colourful as her books. Wilson has created a series of beautifully written easy-reads full of quirk and excitement.
My childhood was filled with reading and this was probably the time I read the most female authors. I was always intrigued by the adult-fiction section of the library that was banned for readers under the age of sixteen and would often ask my mum to loan books from the library on my behalf. I also enjoyed reading children’s books as I do till this day and one of my favourite female authors of children’s classics remains Frances Hodgson Burnett. ‘The Secret Garden’ is without a doubt my favourite children’s book and I bought myself the special edition for my 21st birthday from the NewYork Public Library complete with introduction by Sophie Dahl.
High School is the time of my life where I often forget the books I read and unfortunately the stories I read do not seem to stick with me. I am also horrified to say that I was never set a book by a female author throughout my whole time at High School. Thus the female authors I did read were of my own choosing. The series I believe more memorable than any other during this time was ‘Noughts and Crosses’ by Malorie Blackman. Perhaps I will also re-read this series later this year.At the time I really enjoyed these novels and one character in particular haunts me to this day, Callum’s sister. An honourable mention here to Sara Gruen as I also loved her novel ‘Water for Elephants.’
I was lucky and will be forever grateful that ‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley was one of the set books during my years at college. ‘Frankenstein’ is not only my favourite novel by a female author but my favourite novel of all time. I find the history of how Shelley came up with the story fascinating and I find the historical events that inspired the novel fascinating, Galvinism, Body-snatching, The Murder Act/The Anatomy Act. I love Romantic-Era Literature in general but find Shelley’s writing style completely immersive. I am currently reading her collection of short stories titled ‘The Pilgrims’ and am pleased to be yet again enjoying every sentence.
Finally, my favourite female author that I discovered at University is Margaret Atwood. I read ‘Alias Grace’ as part of a Neo-Victorian Literature module and it quickly became one of my all-time favourite books. Interestingly I did find this novel predictable although this did not hinder my enjoyment of what is a very large novel. I have since read ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Oryx and Crake’ and have loved both. However ‘Alias Grace’ remains my favourite, all of Atwood’s books would make excellent choices for book-clubs as they definitely lead to interesting and important discussion. I hope to read ‘The Blind Assassin’ and ‘The Year of the Flood’ this month.
Danny: I have not read as many books and authors that I would have liked to however I do have a couple of female authors in my all time favourites and I do have a lot of female authors to whom I am excited to read.
My first choice would have to be J.K.Rowling, I have recently finished re-reading the Harry Potter series and I just absolutely loved it. I can’t express fully how reading those books makes me feel. My happiest time was in Disney World Florida, the experience is immersive and makes you feel like you are in a completely different environment to the normal working day. Reading Harry Potter does that to me to, it transports me to another life, to another world much more interesting and exciting than work. I first received Harry Potter from a Great Auntie on my 10th Birthday after she had heard good things. I was not what you would call a reader back then but after both my mother and father read the book and loved it I had to give it a go and I am so happy I did.
My next choice would be Harper Lee, I read To Kill a Mockingbird whilst at University as part of my Law and Literature course and I loved it. I then watched the movie adaptation starring Gregory Peck and feel in love with Atticus Finch. Lee created one of the most memorable characters in any book I have ever read and for that all I can say is thank you so much. I am yet to read Go Set a Watchman however it is on my TBR for this year.
My final choice would be Mary Shelley, Sophie recommended Frankenstein to me as it is her favourite novel of all time, she also loves the writing style of Shelley and wanted to share that with me. I loved Frankenstein and would definitely put it in my top 5 favourite books of all time and am therefore very grateful to Sophie for introducing me to this novel.
The female authors I am most excited to read are:
- Margaret Atwood
- Diana Galbaldon
- Sue Monk Kid
- Michelle Magorian
- Sunjeev Sahota
Happy International Women’s Day…