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Forgotten Female Storytellers Through the Ages

It is great to see the growth of female recognition in writing, particularly in the last century. But what is important to remember is that female storytellers have always existed, and had a big influence on art and writing.

1. To show you how much influence that really is, I will bring you first all the way back to the Roman Era.  
Faltonia Betitia Proba (circa 300AD) was a Latin Roman Christian poet, perhaps the earliest extant female Christian poet. She wrote countless poems that influenced writing in the Roman Empire, and therefore the rest of the world it conquered and influenced. Though she is forgotten in many history books, her influence will never be.
2. We can’t talk about famous female storytellers without talking about the legendary Persian queen, storyteller, and narrator of The 1001 Nights‬‬, Scheherazade (circa 1100s-1200s).
Though she is a legend and not real, it is important to note how even a female character can be influential in storytelling. These stories have influenced a lot of cultures around the world, and many are adapted into modern stories today.
3. Isotta Nogarola (1418–1466)
is an important one to note due to her notability during one of the most important times in history-the Renaissance. During her time she was considered a great writer and intellectual, but has lost her fame through history books. She was passionate about her education, and became one of the most famous female humanists of the Italian Renaissance, inspiring generations of female artists and writers. Her most influential work was a literary dialogue, “Dialogue on Adam and Eve”, in which she discussed the relative sinfulness of Adam and Eve, contributing to a centuries-long debate in Europe on gender and the nature of woman. Her influence has not only significantly shaped writing as an art form, but has also influenced the female role throughout history, having connections to the many feminist movements throughout history.
4. Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924)
Though she was born in England, this inspiring writer moved to America at the age of sixteen right as tensions were high regarding the laws of slavery. She lived through the Civil War and WWI and continued to write inspiring children’s books throughout her life. She is famous for many classics that we still read in schools today-including Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Secret Garden, and A Little Princess. Her influence is inspiring in children’s literature and continues to be read today.
5. Dorothy West (1907 – 1998) (Most influential work 1948s)
This storyteller is inspiring through feminist and writing movements alike. Dorothy West was one of the few black women writers to be published in the 1940s, and her novel The Living is Easy about the ambitious, clever, and somewhat devious Cleo Judson is a classic. The main character is interesting as a flawed character with conflicting morals, and this makes her a complex main character not often seen in books before this time. Through her flaws, Cleo is a feminist who defies gender stereotypes even before the feminist movement was really a thing. It makes her a female author worth remembering- and a great book to read, too!
6. Nawal El Saadawi (1931 – Present) (Most influential work 1970)
Based on a true story, Woman at Point Zero is about an Egyptian woman Egyptian woman in a Cairo prison who is awaiting death row for killing her pimp. The story deals with struggles of prostitution and female roles in society, and for this Nawal is an Egyptian feminist writer, activist, physician and psychiatrist who pushes against the traditions of her society. She has always been known to be a progressive woman, having struggled through pains such as female circumcision at the age of six. Her push against traditional ways makes her a memorable author indeed.
7. Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (1919 – 2004)
was an award-winning Portuguese poet and writer. In 2014, she was unanimously chosen by the Parliament with National Pantheon honours, only the second woman to be so honored. She is important due to her influence on poetry. She has one more than ten big time awards, and her fiction and poetry, both children and adult, is really inspiring. Though she is a newer addition to this list, we all hope she will be remembered in history.
8. Grace Lin (1987 – Present)
This author is still alive and making great work, but she should already be in the memorable female authors list. Her works are countless in awards, and her book, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, is a children’s book with strong female characters that is not to be ignored. These characters are influential in a plethora of ways, and the strength of the main character is a powerful female role that cannot be ignored.
9. Harper Lee (1926 – 2016)
This is another character who is an interesting choice. This author was chosen due to the mixed reviews people have of her life works. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird, and more recently, Go Set a Watchman have mixed reviews from the public. However, this shows that female storytellers can be viewed in positive or negative ways, however the fact that they can influence people to speak out their opinions makes them notable of remembering. Regardless of the conflict in opinions, this author will not be forgotten anytime soon.
With that note, this is not nearly as much of a list as is deserved. There are countless other female authors who are also inspiring and should never be forgotten. As history goes on, this will continue. Female writers have always influenced writing in the best of ways, and they will always continue to do so.
Write to us with female authors who have influenced you. #influentialfemalewriters #internationalwomensday #thepowerofthefemalevoice


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