Much of the world of literature is still dominated by men, as it has been for centuries, but the increase in prize winning female authors shows that women are rightfully being recognized more and more for their contribution to literature. If you’re looking for some new reading material, here are 7 awesome prize winning female authors to consider.
1. Margaret Atwood
One of the most prolific of the prize winning female authors, Margaret Atwood has won the Booker prize and a whole host of other awards and honorary degrees. Highly recommended are The Blind Assassin, which won her the Booker Prize, and The Handmaid’s Tale, set in a world with incredibly low fertility where fertile handmaids must join a couple to try and have a baby with the husband, much to the wife’s distaste.
2. Selma Lagerlof
This talented lady was the first ever woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was Swedish, so you’ll probably have to get your hands on the translations, but if you’re looking for a more unusual book to read with your children, try The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, a charming tale of a boy that goes flying with wild geese. Its popularity can be seen in the numerous film adaptations in several languages.
3. Toni Morrison
African American author Toni Morrison is not just a writer but an editor and professor too, and is still working hard, being on the editorial board of The Nation magazine, at the age of 82. One of the most celebrated prize winning female authors, she has won the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest civilian award in the USA. Notable works include Beloved, The Bluest Eye and Song of Solomon.
4. Alice Munro
If you enjoy reading short stories, then you should definitely check out Alice Munro’s work. This amazing lady was still writing well into her 70s, and is reportedly a contender for the Nobel Prize every year. It’s difficult to recommend any specific works because they’re all fabulous, but try The Progress of Love and Runaway, both of which are diverse and fascinating short story collections.
5. Iris Murdoch
This prize winning female author won the Booker Prize for Fiction for her novel The Sea, the Sea, a tale about the power of love and loss. Also well worth a read is The Black Prince, a title that refers to Hamlet, which has a remarkable narrative structure, with the story centered on erotic obsession.
6. Nelly Sachs
Nobel Prize winner Nelly Sachs was a Jewish German poet and playwright who became a spokeswoman for the plight of the Jews during World War Two. Having a very sheltered childhood due to frail health and spending several years in a mental institution, this fascinating woman wrote intensely lyrical poetry that was influenced by German Romanticism. There are several collections of her poetry, but the best thing is that individual poems can be accessed online. Look for “Already in the Arms,” “Israel” and “We Orphans.”
7. Doris Lessing
One of the best known of the female prize winning authors, Doris Lessing is a winner of the Nobel Prize and many other prestigious awards. She has written on three very different themes in three very distinct periods: communism, psychology and Sufi (essentially part of the science fiction genre). Her most celebrated works include The Golden Notebook, Children of Violence and The Good Terrorist.
All of these prize winning female authors are not just incredible writers but incredible women who have helped to make the world into what it is today. Whose work will you be picking up first?