Top 50 Influential Books by Women Writers

Books
Last week, The Guardian revealed a list of English literature's fifty key moments, 'from Marlowe to J.K. Rowling.' And quelle suprise, it was a total sausage-fest, with only a handful of women writers being mentioned.

Although apparently acknowledging the gender inequality of the original list, no attempt was made to redress this – instead the women get their own separate list.

we took the liberty of compiling a list of our own, of books and authors who reinvented genres, set literary precedents, won prestigious literary prizes; books that have and continue to influence readers, writers and academics around the world...That in itself came across somewhat patronising and tokenistic. But then we got to the list itself. And all its numerous, seemingly obvious omissions. At this point, we were being deluged with tweets and emails suggesting McCrum had simply googled ‘women writers’ to put his list together, and we’re inclined to agree it looks that way.

It didn’t take us long to come up with a long list of names who should have been featured, so we took the liberty of compiling a list of our own, of books and authors who reinvented genres, set literary precedents, won prestigious literary prizes; books that have and continue to influence readers, writers and academics around the world…

1. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
2. The Women’s Room by Marilyn French
3. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
6. them by Joyce Carol Oates
7. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
8. Beloved by Toni Morrison
9. Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
10. Forever by Judy Blume
11. The Madcap of the School by Angela Brazil
12. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall
13. Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
14. Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker
15. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center by bell hooks
16. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel
17. Push by Sapphire
18. Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
19. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein
20. South Riding by Winifred Holtby
21. Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
22. The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay
23. The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory
24. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
25. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
26. We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
27. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
28. The Dialectic of Sex by Shulamith Firestone
29. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
30. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
31. Gigi by Colette
32. A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
33. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
34. Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
35. On Lies, Secrets & Silence by Adrienne Rich
36. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend
37. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
38. The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader by Joan Nestle
39. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
40. Live or Die by Anne Sexton
41. The Naughtiest Girl in the School by Enid Blyton
42. Suite Francaise by Irène Némirovsky
43. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
44. Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker
45. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
46. The Progress of Love by Alice Munro
47. The Disposessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
48. The Story of O by Pauline Réage
49. SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas
50. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

And here’s fifteen other options from The Guardian list we wanted to include too:

1. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
2. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (we’d go for the classic option over Colossus and Other Poems)
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4. Little Women by Louisa Alcott
5. A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Wollstonecraft
6. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
7. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
8. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
9. The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
10. Middlemarch by George Eliot
11. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (We’d go for this rather than Emma, as its success allowed her to continue writing)
12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
13. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
14. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
15. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

What do you think of The Guardian’s list? And is ours any better? We’ve tried hard to ensure that it’s diverse, inclusive, accessible and exciting, but with such a wealth of options, there’ll inevitably be some titles and authors we’ve missed, so tell us: who would you have included?

(Image via Thomas Hawk)