The twentieth century was a fascinating era when female writers really came into their own, with the creation of classic literature that is still a must-read today. Here are some of the best from the first five decades of the century.
A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1902)
Although initially published as a children’s novel, the story has captured hearts of all generations. It tells the story of a wealthy seven year old whose privileged life is turned upside down and leads to a life of hardship. Its popularity is such that it has been adapted into a movie six times and there are seven TV versions.
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton (1913)
This story by the American novelist recounts the tale of a midwestern family who try to launch their daughter into New York society. Despite the central character having a less than likeable personality, with her greed always at the forefront of the story, the book is a fascinating study of conventionality and the boundaries of society. It is said to be the inspiration behind Downtown Abbey.
Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)
This is one of Virginia Woolf’s most popular novels and is set in the post First World War era. Set in a single day of the eponymous title character, it delves into the past, before returning to the present at the culmination of an evening party. The themes of mental illness, sexuality and feminism were rarely discussed in the 1920s, and this book brought them out into the open.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
This epic bestseller has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and was turned into a never to be forgotten romantic film in 1939. The story covers the spoiled young girl, Scarlett O’Hara, and her determination to leave poverty behind. This is the perfect read for when you have your imac refurbished and you can settle down and lose yourself for the evening.
Anne Frank; a Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1942)
Nobody can be failed to be moved by the real-life diary of the young girl who hid from the Nazis during the German occupation of the Netherlands. The diary begins on the first day of hiding and continues into the family is captured in August 1944. It has been translated into over 60 languages. The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam is now a popular tourist destination.
Writers today looking for inspiration should look no further than these varied novels, each bringing their own unique style to the world of literature. Female authors no longer have to hide their talents behind a male pseudonym, thanks to these pioneers of the twentieth century.