Arts and Entertainment

10 Obscure Women Authors Throughout History

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A look at amazing authors who deserve more attention

By: Rachel Gutjahr, Hali Meloy, Issy Renoit and Emmett Willemin

All throughout history there have been amazing women authors who have gone unnoticed by the public at large. Whether it be because their ideas were too progressive for the time or their works were simply unnoticed until recently, these women undeniably deserve the same amount of recognition as their male counterparts. The few women this list brings to light are just a small portion of the amazing writers that have shared their work through history. We hope that in reading this list, a new understanding and appreciation for these obscure women authors will be born.

Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019)
Toni Morrison was an American novelist born in the year 1931. She grew up in Ohio and eventually became a professor at Princeton University. She wrote many books but the one that won her the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award was Beloved, written in 1987. Her writing elevated the experiences that many enslaved African American women suffered.

 

Barbara Clegg (1926 – Present) 
British Actress and television writer Barbara Clegg was born in Manchester, England in the year 1926. Her acting career started in theatre before she moved to film and television around 1957. Her first show being Emergency-Ward 10, A medical soap opera that lasted almost 10 years. She began writing scripts for television in 1961, eventually finding a place working for potentially the most iconic British series, Doctor Who in 1981.

Doris Gates (1901 – 1987)
Doris Gates was an American author born in the year 1901 in Mountain View, California. She is credited with creating the first-ever fictional children’s book based in reality. The book was titled, Blue Willow. It was considered a “problem novel,” which meant it didn’t shy away from the social issues of the time such as gender, race, or class prejudice.

Laura Z. Hobson (1900 – 1986)
Laura Hobson was born in New York City in the year 1900. She is perhaps best known for her novel Gentleman’s Agreement, written in 1947. It was transformed into a film starring Gregory Peck that same year. She was a Jewish woman, and a majority of her stories are centered around the struggles and triumphs of Jewish individuals, specifically women.

Miles Franklin (1879 – 1954)
Miles Franklin was an Australian writer who was considered an active feminist during her life. Her most well-known book, My Brilliant Career, follows the life of a young girl in the Australian bush. The subjects covered in this novel are timeless, and though the story was published in 1901, many of the topics addressed are still relevant today.

Emma Orczy (1865 – 1947)
Born in Hungary in 1865, Emma Orczy was a famous novelist and playwright. She was taught in London and submitted some of her early works to the Royal Academy. It wasn’t until 1905 that she truly rose to fame with her novel The Scarlet Pimpernel about a masked hero during the French Revolution. There hadn’t been anything similar to this type of writing prior to her book. Technically you could say she invented the first masked superhero.

Anne Bronte (1820 – 1849)
Anne Bronte is often eclipsed by her elder sisters Charlotte and Emily. Many do not know that Anne herself was a writer and often overlook her when discussing the Bronte family. Anne Bronte The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Is just as noteworthy as her sibling’s creations but often falls to the wayside when discussing Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. During the initial publication of Anne Bronte’s work, she was met with high praise and recognition and it is a shame she does not receive as much praise as her sisters.

Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851) 
As a teenager, English author Mary Shelley wrote the story of Frankenstein. Though Frankenstein is well known, many are not aware that a woman was the one behind this timeless story. Shelley is often credited with creating the concept of the horror and science fiction genres through this chilling tale.

Phillis Wheatley (1753 – 1784)
Phillis Wheatley was originally born in West Africa and lived there until around the age of seven. At this time she was abducted and sold into slavery, eventually going to live with the Wheatley family. Though she was still considered a slave, Phillis had a unique opportunity to learn about many subjects. This included learning to read and write which lead to her eventual career in poetry. Phillis broke boundaries by becoming the first published African American woman poet and cemented her place in history with works such as “On Being Brought from Africa to America” and “On Imagination.” Phillis Wheatley should without a doubt should be a household name.

Sappho (c. 570 BCE)
One of the first published female authors, Sappho’s works consisted mainly of poetry and reflected themes of love and sexuality quite openly. Sappho was counted as one of the greats, so much so that Plato had referred to her as “one of the great ten poets.” Sadly the majority of her poetry has been lost, most likely due in part to the controversy of her writings and numerous religious figures (such as Pope Gregory VII) demanding that her works be censored as well as burned.

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