Holly Bourne: Author, Feminist and the Original Spinster

If you haven’t read one of Holly Bourne’s books, you’re missing out. Yes, I may be ever-so-slightly biased (she is my favourite author), but since her work is the reason why I first called myself a feminist, I think that this bias is somewhat understandable. Her books are also the reason why I first bonded with one of my now best friends, so I really do have a lot to thank this woman for. Meeting her at a Women’s Aid event a few weeks ago was everything I expected and more, and has inspired me to write this piece… hopefully, after learning about her, you too will realise why she is such a great role model for young women everywhere.

 

The Author

Best known for her YA novels including ‘Am I Normal Yet?’ and ‘The Manifesto on How to be Interesting’, Holly focusses on telling stories which are centred around key issues facing younger generations today: mental health, the pressure of young relationships and how social media can create an echo-chamber of self-doubt. She has also started writing adult books, so watch this space! When reading her books for the first time, I remember being struck by a feeling of resonance, that this reflected my experience of those early teenage years more accurately than anything I’d read before. Reading has always been a big deal to me, and books such as these have definitely shaped my early views on the world and my place within it. This is what makes authors such as Holly so important; her work not only made me realise that my feelings about growing up were perfectly normal, but also gave me relatable characters to look up to. The value of role models cannot be underestimated, and Holly’s work certainly gave me plenty of them.

 

The Feminist

Whilst her books tend to be centred around the experiences of female protagonists, Holly’s work outside of her books also marks her out as a great feminist icon. She has recently been announced as a brand ambassador for Women’s Aid’s new project, ‘#loverespect’ (you can read my article about this here!), and she used to also work for ‘The Mix’, a charity specialising in providing support and advice for under-25s. Her 2016 piece ‘I AM A FEMINIST’ went viral within days, sparking conversation worldwide. Listening to Holly talk, it is inspiring to see how much she values her writing skills as a tool to help feminist causes such as Women’s Aid. When faced with an audience question about how would-be activists can help causes when they feel unable to public speak or debate, her answer was simple: take whatever skills you have, and tailor them to help the cause. For her, this is writing, not just her books but also the skill of documenting the thoughts and feelings of feminists worldwide in a more persuasive and poetic manner than many of us could do.

Scrabble tiles spelling Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash When discussing the prevalence of romance films within our society (one only needs to see the near-cult following of ‘The Notebook’ or the hype surrounding the sequel to ‘All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ as examples of the influence such films have on girls of all ages), Holly summed up the sub-conscious anti-feminist tones of many of these films in one simple sentence- “we see red flags, and turn them into red roses”. It’s not only a great way to explain the subliminal problematic gender and relationship issues of such films, but also acts as an illustration to her earlier point about using your talents as an activist. Her talent at weaving persuasive lessons about society is her way to be an impactful feminist- in doing so, she also inspires people the world over to find their own way of doing this.

 

The Original Spinster

Read her series ‘The Spinster Club’, and you’ll know what I mean. Shout out to all my fellow spinsters out there (and hopefully this article has done enough to persuade you to become one yourself, if you weren’t already!).