The following books are my recommendations for feminist reading.
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Published in 1847 under the pseudonym Currer Bell, Bronte draws on her experience of working as a governess. The story follows the growth of Jane from a young orphan to a working women. Her lust for her master Mr Rochester is a large part of the story. But this is more than just a love story. Jane talks the reader, giving us an insight into her internal struggle. There’s issues of class, gender, status and women’s mental health. This is a great 19th century piece on what is expected of women and shows the first signs of women revolting battling against those expectations.
Miss Julie – August Strindberg
It may seem a little odd to include this 1888 play as it is often criticised for it’s mysogony. However, I believe it is important to know what you’re up against. This play gives an insight into the view of 19th Century women.
Strindberg portrays Miss Julie as a corrupt, spoilt and deviant women. Modern readers will see how she is manipulated by her father’s servant , Jean. Following a brief affair, the plays takes a very tragic turn. This is a short read but has a huge impact.
The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
This 1892 short story is another tragic tale. Like Jane Eyre and Miss Julie, this story tackles the issue of women’s mental health. The unnamed narrator of the story is kept in a room by her husband who believes she is hysterical. We follow her demise into madness.
Written on the Body – Jeanette Winterson
Jumping forward to 1992, this is a novel like no other I have read in that we never know the name or gender of the narrator. It tells the tales of the narrators love affairs. The narrator then finds love with Louise a married woman. It follows their relationship and struggles as Louise is soon diagnosed with cancer.
How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran
The last book of my recommendations is this 2011 memoir. With chapters on abortion, periods and body issues, Moran addresses what it’s like to be a modern women. Her hilarious anecdotes are what makes this such a great read. Although we have come a long way since Bronte’s time, they are still issues we faces as women. How To Be A Women is a witty, clever, funny look at contemorary feminisim.