Celebrating 100 Years of Inspirational Female Authors #100YearsVote

Celebrating 100 Years of Inspirational Female Authors #100YearsVote

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Dr Maya Angelou was one of the world’s most important writers and activists. Born 4 April 1928, she lived and chronicled an extraordinary life: rising from poverty, violence and racism, she became a renowned author, poet, playwright, civil rights’ activist – working with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Maya Angelou’s seven volumes of autobiography are a testament to the talents and resilience of her as an extraordinary writer.

In this first volume of her seven books of autobiography, Maya Angelou beautifully evokes her childhood with her grandmother in the American south of the 1930s. She learns the power of the white people at the other end of town and suffers the terrible trauma of rape by her mother’s lover.

“I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it’s like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again” – Maya Angelou

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

Published in 1938, Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca launched her into the literary stratosphere and made her one of the most popular authors of her day.

Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers.

An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood is Canada’s most eminent novelist, poet and critic.

A dystopian novel that’s been turned into a compelling TV drama, The Handmaid’s Tale tells the story of Offred. She has only one function: to breed. If she refuses to play her part she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. She may walk daily to the market and utter demure words to other Handmaid’s, but her role is fixed, her freedom a forgotten concept. Offred remembers her old life – love, family, a job, access to the news. It has all been taken away. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire.

Brilliantly conceived and executed, this powerful evocation of twenty-first century America gives full rein to Margaret Atwood’s devastating irony, wit and astute perception.

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel was awarded the Man Booker Prize for both Wolf Hall and its sequel, Bring up the Bodies, which is a hugely impressive, unprecedented achievement.

Set in Tudor England in the 1520’s, Henry VIII is on the throne but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey’s clerk, and later his successor. Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

From one of our finest living writers, Wolf Hall explores the intersection of individual psychology and wider politics. With a vast array of characters and richly overflowing with incident, it peels back history to show us Tudor England as a half-made society, moulding itself with great passion, suffering and courage.

How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

How to be a Woman is the multi-award-wining book by columnist Caitlin Moran, loved by many for her opinionated, funny and passionate articles, which often tackle feminist issues.

Part memoir part manifesto, in How to be a Woman Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With her trademark wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it’s about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism.

With humour, insight, and verve, How To Be a Woman lays bare the reasons why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

One of the most famous accounts of living under the Nazi regime of World War II comes from the diary of a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl, Anne Frank. The Diary of a Young Girl is a poignant, heartbreaking book that everyone should read.

Anne Frank and her family fled the horrors of Nazi occupation by hiding in the back of a warehouse in Amsterdam for two years with another family and a German dentist. Aged thirteen when she went into the secret annexe, Anne kept a diary. She movingly revealed how the eight people living under these extraordinary conditions coped with hunger, the daily threat of discovery and death and being cut off from the outside world, as well as petty misunderstandings and the unbearable strain of living like prisoners.

The Diary of a Young Girl is a timeless true story to be rediscovered by each new generation. Tens of millions have read it since it was first published in 1947 and it remains a deeply admired testament to the indestructible nature of the human spirit. It continues to bring to life Anne’s extraordinary courage and struggle throughout her ordeal.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath’s own life and descent into mental illness, and has become a modern classic.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar has been celebrated for its darkly funny and razor sharp portrait of 1950’s society and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, Malala Yousafzai fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, 9 October 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price when she was shot in the head at point-blank range.

Malala Yousafzai’s extraordinary journey has taken her from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations. She has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and is the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

I Am Malala will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple is the award-winning novel that made Alice Walker a household name.

Set in the deep American South between the wars, The Color Purple is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

A moving, haunting and stunning book, The Color Purple won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1983, making Alice Walker the first black woman to win the prize.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense, and generous-hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila.

The story begins in the 1950’s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.

Elena Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship.

Opal Plumstead by Jacqueline Wilson

Jacqueline Wilson delights and educates young minds worldwide with her books that explore important emotional issues. She has been awarded a number of prestigious awards and was given an OBE for services to literacy in schools in 2002.

Opal Plumstead might be plain, but she has always been fiercely intelligent. Yet her scholarship and dreams of university are snatched away when her father is sent to prison, and fourteen-year-old Opal must start work at the Fairy Glen sweet factory to support her family. Opal struggles to get along with the other workers, who think her snobby and stuck-up. But Opal idolises Mrs Roberts, the factory’s beautiful, dignified owner, who introduces Opal to the legendary Mrs Pankhurst and her fellow Suffragettes. And when Opal meets Morgan – Mrs Roberts’ handsome son, and the heir to Fairy Glen – she believes she has found her soulmate. But the First World War is about to begin, and will change Opal’s life forever.

Opal Plumstead is the brilliantly gripping new story from bestselling, award-winning Jacqueline Wilson.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Few will dispute that God in Ruins proves that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations.

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

American author Lionel Shriver made people stop and think with her brave and provocative novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Eva never really wanted to be a mother; certainly not the mother of the unlovable boy who murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker and a teacher who tried to befriend him. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood and Kevin’s horrific rampage in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her absent husband, Franklyn. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails.

Powerful, original and almost unbearably suspenseful, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores the casual assumptions we make about family life and motherhood.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World by Kate Pankhurst

Kate Pankhurst, descendent of Emmeline Pankhurst, has created this wildly wonderful and accessible book about women who really changed the world.

Discover fascinating facts about some of the most amazing women who changed the world we live in. Fly through the sky with the incredible explorer Amelia Earhart, and read all about the amazing adventures of Mary Seacole. Bursting full of beautiful illustrations and astounding facts, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is the perfect introduction to some of the most incredible women who helped shape the world we live in.

Jane Austen, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie and Rosa Parks are just a few of the inspirational women featured in Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

Swing Time is a dazzlingly exuberant novel that takes us from north west London to West Africa, by Zadie Smith, the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, black bodies and black music, what it means to belong, what it means to be free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten either.

Bursting with energy, rhythm and movement, Swing Time is Zadie Smith’s most ambitious novel yet. It is a story about music and identity, race and class, those who follow the dance and those who lead it.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Exploring the concepts of gender, hierarchy and power, The Power is an ingenious and masterfully crafted piece of feminist science fiction as well as a searing indictment of our contemporary world.

Imagine a world where teenage girls awake one morning with extraordinary physical strength and power that outstrips their male counterparts. Thanks to a newly acquired section of muscle near their collarbone, young women can now conduct electricity like electric eels: inflicting pain or electrocuting to death as they wish. They can even waken this power in older women too. In Naomi Alderman’s The Power, the balance of the world is irrevocably altered overnight.

This brave new world is far from a utopia however. As uprisings and revolts spread through the world and after the initial delight in female empowerment subsides, a darker side to the new world order emerges.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

The sequel to the sensational international bestseller, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 offers 100 new bedtime stories, each based on the life and adventures of extraordinary women including Nefertiti, Beyonce, J.K. Rowling and many more.

The unique narrative style of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls transforms each biography into a fairy-tale, filling you with a burning curiosity to know more about each heroine. With an incredible platform already established by the first book, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 promises even more stories to learn from and be inspired by, with magnificent female role models to help you dream bigger, better, harder and faster.

Containing stories about all the inspirational women you can think of, from astronauts and inventors to ballerinas and lawyers, this book will show you that you can be anything you want to be.

What’s a girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne

What’s a Girl Gotta Do? is the last novel in the critically acclaimed Am I Normal Trilogy by Holly Bourne that looks to empower and inspire young adult readers to see the change they want to see.

Lottie is starting a supersonic feminist experiment. For one month she’s going to call out every instance of sexism she sees. But when her project hits the headlines, the trolls come out to play – and they are VICIOUS. Lottie’s not a quitter, but best friends Evie and Amber are worried. What if Lottie’s heading for burnout…or worse?

What’s a Girl Gotta Do? gives an incredibly honest and hilarious insight into ALL the complexities and contradictions of being a teen feminist. Of wanting to shave your legs and have a boyfriend, all whilst fighting The Patriarchy. Holly Bourne blazes a feminist trail for YA in What’s a Girl Gotta Do?

Make More Noise!

Make More Noise! is an incredible collection of brand new short stories, from ten of the UK’s very best storytellers, celebrating inspirational girls and women, published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the UK.

Make More Noise! is filled with fantastic feminist short stories by some much-loved authors including Kiran Millwood Hargrave, M.G. Leonard, Patrice Lawrence, Katherine Woodfine, Sally Nicholls, Emma Carroll and more!

£1 from the sale of every book will be donated to Camfed, an international charity which tackles poverty and inequality by supporting women’s education in the developing world.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for her most recent novel, The Goldfinch, established herself as a major talent with The Secret History, which has become a contemporary classic.

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality their lives are changed profoundly and forever.

Truly deserving of the accolade Modern Classic, Donna Tartt’s cult bestseller The Secret History is a remarkable achievement – both compelling and elegant, dramatic and playful.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

One of the most successful authors of our time, J.K Rowling changed the world with her imaginative, magical books about a young wizard called Harry Potter.

In the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by Harry’s grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

J.K Rowling’s books have made multiple generations fall in love with reading and, from humble beginnings as a single mother to the highest paid author in the world, she serves as an inspiration to many, proving what you can achieve when you don’t give up.

Women & Power by Mary Beard

Britain’s best-known classicist Mary Beard, is also a committed and vocal feminist. In Women and Power she revisits the gender agenda with wry wit and shows how history has treated powerful women.

Her examples range from the classical world to the modern day, from Medusa and Athena to Theresa May and Hillary Clinton. Beard explores the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, considering the public voice of women, our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship with power, and how powerful women resist being packaged into a male template.

With personal reflections on her own experiences of the sexism and gendered aggression she has endured online, Mary asks: if women aren’t perceived to be within the structures of power, isn’t it power that we need to redefine?

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