Celebrating Women's History Month Through Reading

March is Women’s History Month! This month is dedicated to highlighting the contributions of women throughout American history. People celebrate Women’s History Month across the United States as a way to recognize the specific achievements women have made. Women’s History Month is declared an annual “theme” by the National Women’s History Project. This year the theme is, "Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced". Throughout history, strong women have expressed themselves through the power of writing. Here are three women writers who refused to be silenced.

  1. 1. Virginia Woolf

    Virginia Woolf was an English writer who lived from January 1882 - March 1954. She is considered an innovator in 20th-century literature, as well as a pioneer in using consciousness as a narrative device. Woolf was also a trailblazer for the feminist movement, inspiring many young women through her literature. One of her best-known pieces of writing is titled A Room of One’s Own (a personal favorite of mine). In this fiction essay, Woolf examines the status of women in fiction writing. She attributes the lack of women writers to the scarcity of resources and opportunities to write and publish works. This is due to the absence of “a room of one’s own,” a space for women to write freely. Woolf’s literature has inspired women across the world, motivating them to publish their writing and create a room of their own.

  2. 2. Mary Wollstonecraft

    Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer who lived from April 1759 - September 1797. She was a passionate advocate for women’s rights during the 17th-century, publishing controversial “feminist” literature. Although the term “feminist” would not be mentioned until many years later, Wollstonecraft is credited as being a trailblazer for the feminist movement. One of her most popular feminist writings is titled, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. The novel advocates for equal educational and social opportunities for women. She argues that women are intellectually equal to men, and should be educated as such. This idea was considered controversial in the 17th-century, causing Wallstonecraft to receive backlash as a result of her ideas. Nonetheless, this did not stop her from publishing literature and expressing her views. Mary Wollstonecraft’s literature has motivated women around the world to seek education and opportunity.

  3. 3. Sylvia Plath

    Sylvia Plath is an American poet, novelist, and short-story writer who lived from October 1932 - February 1963. She was a prolific writer during the 1950s and early 1960s, advancing the genre of confessional poetry. Much of her work was based on the emotional and psychological turmoil she experienced daily, having suffered from depression for much of her life. Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar demonstrates a semi-autobiographical view of her life’s struggles. In this novel, she highlights the issues women faced in the workplace during the 1950s. She argues that women have the ability to become great writers and publishers, but are hindered by society's expectations of them. She explains how women are often forced into secretarial roles, stifling their potential as writers. Sylvia Plath wrote numerous works of literature, inspiring many women to follow in her footsteps.

These women and countless others throughout American history have paved the way for new generations of writers, both female and male. This month was created to commemorate these women as pioneers in American history. To learn more about women writers, as well as Women’s History Month, here are some links that can help:

Books By Women

Women's History Month

Women's History

National Women's History Alliance