If someone had told Thomas Jefferson that a woman would be running for president someday, he probably would’ve said that would never be a possibility. The world has always been full of women who have worked towards a better future for the next generation, even when people refused to listen to them. A novelist’s job is to write a story that will enlighten readers long after the author’s death. Some of the most influential women have written books to educate and inspire readers to do great things. No matter the content of their work and the controversy it may have led to, female novelists have continued to motivate the succeeding generations to aspire to positions of power and prove that their voices and fictional characters can change the world. Here are four inspirational female novelists who did just that.
It’s no surprise that just about everyone knows the name J.K. Rowling. She stole the hearts and imaginations of a generation through her Harry Potter series, which quickly became one of the most popular film and book series in the world. As an aspiring writer, she wrote the first installment of this iconic series as a single mother to her daughter, Jessica, in Edinburg, Scotland while living on welfare. She later gave up her billionaire status to donate most of her wealth to different charities as well as founding her own charity called Lumos to help disadvantaged or institutionalized children in Eastern Europe.
When it was first released, To Kill a Mockingbird was banned from schools across the country for containing politically, sexually, and racially explicit themes. Harper Lee tackled these sensitive societal issues whether people would accept the truth in her work or fight against it. Today, it remains the most banned novel in history and one of the best novels of the 20th century. Harper Lee won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 for her notable contribution to our literary tradition. To Kill a Mockingbird was her only novel until its sequel, Go Set a Watchman, came out in 2015 displaying many of the same themes from her first novel. Each novel was published during a paramount time in American history, the themes of both still ringing true in today’s society.
In the 1840’s women had only a few goals to aspire to; wife, mother, and housemaid; this was the future Charlotte Bronte knew she would inevitably fall into. Instead of accepting this fate, she began to write poems and stories, challenging the idea that women of her generation wouldn’t amount to much. Male authors had a perception of ‘the real world’ in the 1840’s that women weren’t credited with knowing anything about. Jane Eyre was first published under the name Currer Bell, not Charlotte Bronte. Had Charlotte published this novel under her own name at the time, she wouldn’t have been taken seriously as a writer or given the attention her novel deserved.
Philosopher. Realist. Individualist. Novelist. Ayn Rand has been described as each since her first novel, We the Living, published in 1939. As a Russian immigrant, she fought back against the communistic way of thinking that was sweeping the world. Identifying as a philosopher, she founded the idea of ‘Objectivism’, which encourages the potential of an individual by teaching them to think freely. This idea was evident in her characters as they used this philosophy to take charge of their own destinies against controlling leaders. Ayn Rand inspires even those who don’t read her novels to adapt this way of thinking because she believed that it was the only way to ensure the survival of mankind.