Launching on International Women’s Day, I’d be pretty remiss not to share my three favourite female authors. This isn’t a test; there’s no right or wrong answers, but for me these amazing, talented women would make any list of “bests” you would care to create.
To truly love Emily Bronte, I think you have to understand what she achieved from a small Northern-industrial town in a life blighted by sorrow and ill-health culminating in her untimely death aged only 30.
A clergyman’s daughter but not constrained by the customs of the time, Emily (and her sisters) were educated and encouraged to be more. Emily’s talent was unparalleled in her ability to create passion and darkness and love and hate with no real life experiences of her own to draw from. Most famed for Wuthering Heights, she was a prolific poet.
How could a single, Victorian woman write such words as
“He comes with western winds, with evening’s wandering airs,
With that clear dusk of heaven that brings the thickest stars.
Winds take a pensive tone, and stars a tender fire,
And visions rise, and change, that kill me with desire.
One of the original Bright Young Things, Nancy Mitford for me remains one of the wittiest and most clever female writers of the 20th century. Frequently drawing on her own experiences, and not afraid to poke fun at the class system, Nancy Mitford’s insightful – and pretty much endearing characters – make her a true creator of “the comfort read”.
I would rate Love in a Cold Climate as a true modern classic, with the incomparable Jassy Radlett ultimately foiled in love by her own unfortunate demise. The ending of the novel is one of my most favourite quotes of all time: –
“But I think she would have been happy with Fabrice,’ I said. ‘He was the great love of her life, you know.’
Oh, dulling,’ said my mother, sadly. ‘One always thinks that. Every, every time.”
Jean Plaidy. What can I possibly say about Jean Plaidy?
Ok, I know strictly speaking that’s not her real name. The amazing Eleanor Hibbert who had no less than eight pseudonyms wrote a staggering volume of works.
It is her historical fiction written under the name Plaidy that I’m putting into my “favourites” list today. Amazingly colourful and no-less worthy of being read for her sheer productivity, I must admit to being a little bit of a Jean Plaidy-obsessive.
Currently owning 83+ of her works, I remain hopeful of one day finishing the collection!
This was a pretty tough list to create, position one was easy but there are so many wonderfully talented female authors that I must give honourable mentions to Emily Dickinson, Sara Teasdale, Dorothy Parker, Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, Anne Bronte, Charlotte Bronte and moving into current authors, I’m partial to Cynthia Harrod-Eagles, Barbara Erskine, Sarah Waters, Kate Ellis, Elly Griffiths, Syd Moore.
Long may talented women create works to spell-bind us!