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Interesting Facts About Women Authors

Last updated 4 years ago

Happy International Women's Day! Let's celebrate together with a few interesting facts about famous female writers.

1. Two famous women writers called themselves George. George Eliot, author of Adam Bede and Middlemarch was really Mary Ann Evans. French author Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin was known to her readers as George Sand.

Because women writers struggled to be taken seriously by publishers and the reading public, a number of them published their work under male pen names.  Charlotte Bronte, for example, published Jane Eyre under the name of Currier Bell. Her sister Charlotte published Wuthering Heights as Ellis Bell.

2. Jamaica Kincaid, born Elaine Potter Richardson on the island of Antigua, and Alifa Rifaat, an Egyptian writer whose real first name is Fatimah, both had to change their names because their families disapproved of their writing.

3. Beatrix Potter, author and illustrator of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and many other well-loved children’s books, was a successful farmer and sheep breeder.

4. Maya Angelou, poet and author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings was the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco. At age 16, she sat in the San Francisco Transit Office all day long for two weeks before her job application was accepted.

5. As a child, Amy Tan, famed San Francisco writer, recalls sleeping with a clothespin on her nose to look more like what she thought an "American girl" should look.

6. Edith Wharton, the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, was best known for her novels Ethan Frome and The Age of Innocence. After death, she was apparently reluctant to leave her home The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts. Her ghost still haunts it!

7. Writer Julia Alvarez, author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, established a "sustainable farm-literacy center" called Alta Gracia to promote literacy in the Dominican Republic.

8. Nellie Bly, a pioneering journalist, set a world’s record in 1889 when she traveled by train and steamship around the world in 72 days.

Learn more fun facts and quiz yourself about women authors here. Happy International Women's Day from The Literacy & Language Center!

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