Women in Writing: A Look at the Journey of Female Writers

Women have been pushing the boundaries of writing since the very beginning of recorded history. From Sappho of Ancient Greece to J.K. Rowling of the 21st century, female authors have been leaving their mark on literature, despite facing unique challenges and cultural expectations. This article takes a look at the journey of female writers, from ancient times to the modern day.

Historical Context

Writing was traditionally a male-dominated field, and women faced immense cultural pressure to stay within their prescribed roles. Until the 18th century, women’s writing was often overshadowed or attributed to men, and it was rare for a female author to receive any recognition or compensation for their work. However, female writers have been making strides in literature since ancient times, and their accomplishments inspire us to this day.

Modern Trends

Today, female authors are widely accepted and celebrated, though there are still challenges that remain. Despite publishing in record numbers, women are still underrepresented in literary prizes, and many female writers still face unequal pay. In the 21st century, female writers continue to break down barriers, as we see more female authors achieving international success and recognition.

Ancient Times

We can trace the history of female authors back to Ancient Greece, with the poet Sappho famously known for her lyrical poetry. Meanwhile, in Ancient Mesopotamia, the priestess Enheduanna wrote hymns and poems dedicated to the goddess Inanna.

Middle Ages

The Middle Ages saw the rise of two influential female authors: Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim, a German nun and poet, and Marie de France, a poet of French origin. Both authors wrote extensively about courtly love and religious themes, and left a lasting impact on the literary world.


The Renaissance saw the rise of two female poets: Isabella Whitney, who wrote the first published volume of poetry by an Englishwoman, and Anne Bradstreet, the first published poet from the American colonies. Bradstreet’s work is considered to be among the most influential poetry of the time.


The Enlightenment period was a time of great change for female authors, with Mary Wollstonecraft among the first female authors to receive widespread recognition for her work. Frances Burney, meanwhile, was the first female novelist to achieve international fame, and her work was highly influential in the development of the modern novel.


The Romantic movement saw the rise of two female poets, Charlotte Smith and Mary Shelley. Smith wrote extensively about the plight of the poor and laboring classes, while Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein, is considered to be one of the greatest works of the period.

Victorian Era

The Victorian period produced some of the most influential female authors of all time. George Eliot’s novels were renowned for their realism and psychological depth, while Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is widely considered to be one of the greatest works of English literature.


Modernism saw the rise of two influential female writers: Virginia Woolf, whose work was renowned for its lyrical prose, and Gertrude Stein, who wrote about jazz and the cultural revolution of the early 20th century.


In the 20th century, female authors continued to break down barriers and achieve international success. Toni Morrison and Alice Walker wrote extensively about race, identity, and the African-American experience, while J.K. Rowling and Kazuo Ishiguro achieved international success with their works of fantasy and speculative fiction.

Despite the strides that female authors have made since ancient times, there are still many challenges that remain. Gender norms and cultural expectations continue to limit female authors, while access to publishing and unequal pay remain an ongoing issue.

From Sappho to J.K. Rowling, female authors have been pushing the boundaries of writing and leaving their mark on literature. Looking forward, we must continue to advance equality and break down barriers so that female authors can be celebrated and recognized for their work. Now more than ever, it is important to recognize the power of female writers and to continue to fight for their rights and recognition.

Looking Forward

The future of female authorship is bright, as more and more female authors continue to break down barriers and achieve success. We must continue to fight for gender equality and recognition for female authors, and ensure that their work is celebrated and rewarded.

The Power of Female Writers

The accomplishments of female authors throughout history are a testament to their resilience and determination. Despite facing immense cultural pressure, female authors have continued to create some of the most influential and acclaimed works of literature.

Advancing Equality

It is important to continue to support female authors, both financially and through recognition, so that they can continue to succeed in the literary world. From mentorship and support networks to equal pay and access to publishing, female authors must be given the same opportunities and support as their male counterparts.

A Call to Action

Now more than ever, it is important to recognize the accomplishments of female authors and to continue to fight for their rights and recognition. We must continue to support female authors and ensure that their work is celebrated and rewarded.


Brantley, W. (2020). A Brief History of Women Writers. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/women-writers-history-3528371

Kerrison, C. (2018). Women Writers of the Renaissance and Reformation. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/women-writers-renaissance-reformation-3528444

McKay, S. (2020). Women Writers of the Romantic Period. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/women-writers-romantic-period-3528456

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019). Women Writers in English Literature. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/list-of-women-writers-2010954

Other Frequently asked questions

Can a man write from a girly point of view?

Totally! It’s totally doable for a man to write from a female perspective, as long as they’re mindful of their audience and don’t make any assumptions. Writing something interesting is way better than just writing what you think readers want to hear. So go ahead and give it a try!

Why is women’s writing so essential?

Writing is a powerful way for us ladies to express ourselves – whether it’s about our identity, sexuality, relationships, family, or life in general. But oftentimes, conventional forms of writing and literary conventions don’t quite capture the richness of our personal stories.

How were the wonderful female authors of the 1900s treated?

Not always with the respect they deserved, unfortunately! Unfortunately, derogatory terms such as ‘female quill-driver’ were often used. Women from well-to-do backgrounds were generally expected to devote their efforts to making a good marriage instead of pursuing a career. However, women still read books and wrote them in large numbers – and we are so thankful for that!

How have the ladies made their mark on the literary scene?

Women have been a big influence in literature, pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. Jane Austen was a trailblazer in this regard, questioning the conventions of marriage and gentility in the Victorian era. Her works highlighted the vanity of these societal rules.

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