How would you like to travel through time? Or perhaps join a wizard on his flying castle? Or if fantasy’s not your thing, observe the silent shenanigans of English high society, or of high school students?
We’ve compiled a list of 10 inspiring female authors who have pushed the boundaries of convention with their brilliant, imaginative works, which you should definitely read this summer!
1. Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton remains one of the most popular children’s authors even today. She is best known for beloved children’s cartoon Noddy, and book series like Mallory Towers, St. Clare’s, Famous Five and The Secret Seven. Apart from those, she wrote many short story collections for kids. Her work remains popular and beloved for its charming characters and boundless imagination.
Check out: Younger kids can check out her Five Find-Outers series, which is a series about five children and a dog solving mysteries in their town, as they try to outsmart their annoyed local policeman.
2. Tamora Pierce
American author Tamora Pierce has been a household name in fantasy fiction for teenagers since her first book series, The Song of the Lioness, which featured heroine Alanna as she struggles through a series of trials in her quest to become a knight. Her works usually feature strong, bold female characters in a variety of roles, and imaginative fantasy worlds.
Check out: Apart from The Song of the Lioness series, her other notable series is the Circle of Magic series which revolves around four young mages, each specializing in a different kind of magic, as they learn to control their extraordinary and strong powers and put them to use.
3. Diana Wynne Jones
Diana Wynne Jones was an English author who wrote fantasy fiction for children and teenagers. She has been cited as an inspiration for many popular authors such as Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman, with Gaiman describing her as “quite simply the best writer for children of her generation.”
Check out: The Moving Castle series, which features Sophie, a quiet and shy hatmaker’s daughter, and Howl, a mischievous, irresponsible wizard who owns the titular moving castle.
4. Madeleine L’Engle
Madelein L’Engle was an American writer of non-fiction, poetry and fantasy fiction for young adults. Her works are notable for their themes of religion and modern science. One of her most famous books, A Wrinkle in Time, was adapted into a film in 2018 starring Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.
Check out: A Wrinkle in Time which follows 13-year-old Meg as she teams up with three time travelers to find her missing father.
5. Tove Jansson
Tove Jansson was a Swedish-speaking Finnish author, novelist, painter, illustrator and comic strip author. She wrote and illustrated her first book at age 14. She is well-known for her Moomin series for children, which have been adapted into comic books and animated series.
Check out: The Moomins and the Great Flood, which follows little troll Moomintroll and his family as they navigate life in the forest.
6. Ursula K LeGuin
Ursula LeGuin was an American author, known for her work in fantasy, speculative fiction and science fiction. Her works typically feature detailed fantasy settings and are known for subverting typical cliches of fantasy fiction. She was vastly influential as a literary critic and has been cited as an inspiration for authors like Salman Rushdie and Neil Gaiman. She has written for both children and adults, and is one of the most prolific authors of her time.
Check out: The Earthsea series, a fantasy trilogy for young adults following young wizard Ged on his journey through a wizarding school.
7. Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison was an American fiction author known for her powerful and moving novels about the harsh realities of racism in the United States. Morrison became the first black female editor in fiction at Random House in New York City in the late 1960s. Her book Beloved earned her a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a film of the same name in 1998, starring Oprah Winfrey and Danny Glover. She has also written many books for children.
Check out: The Song of Solomon, which follows the life of Macon “Milkman” Dead III, an African-American man living in Michigan, from birth to adulthood, and earned Morrison a Nobel Prize in Literature.
8. Jane Austen
Jane Austen needs no introduction. She was known for her witty, satirical novels about the peculiarities of English high society, featuring headstrong, flawed female protagonists. Be it the witty Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, or the flighty Emma, from Emma, Austen’s heroines are always a delight as they deal with the unfairness and difficulties of being a woman in a rigidly patriarchal society.
Check out: Nobody needs an introduction to Pride and Prejudice so check out another Austen book, Sense and Sensibility, which tells the story of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor (age 19) and Marianne (age 16½) as they come of age.
9. Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith is an English novelist and short story writer. She completed her first novel, White Teeth, when she was in her final year of university at Cambridge. It received international acclaim and was also adapted into a television series.
Check out: White Teeth which focuses on the later lives of two wartime friends, the Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and the Englishman Archie Jones, and their families in London. The novel’s primary theme is the relationship between Britain and the immigrants from the British Commonwealth.
10. Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy is an Indian author best known for her political fiction. She has also worked on screenplays and television scripts. Her debut novel, The God of Small Things received acclaim from major international newspapers and catapulted her to international fame. She is also known for participating in human rights activism and environmental activism.
Check out: The God of Small Things, which follows a pair of fraternal twins in India as they grapple with forbidden love and caste discrimination in India.
These are just a few of the authors who have been bold and inspirational in their works. The number of female authors putting out boundary-pushing work has increased more than ever. Whether it is fantasy, or science fiction, romance or social fiction, the contributions of women have been integral to the literary world!