March 8th is International Women’s Day and what better way to honor the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women than by cracking open a book from the Influential Women Authors Set! This set is a stunning collection of five books that celebrates the works of some of the most influential women writers of the 20th and 21st centuries. This particular set features works by Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, Penelope Fitzgerald, Alice Munro, and Margaret Atwood—five women who have made significant contributions to the literary world and continue to inspire readers today.
The legendary modernist writer Virginia Woolf is represented in this set by one of her most famous novels, Mrs Dalloway, which explores the interior life of its protagonist, Clarissa Dalloway, as she prepares for a party while reflecting on her past, societal expectations, and the tension between the individual and society. Mrs Dalloway is a beautiful story of queer desire and self-exploration in 1920s England; if there is any book in this set that embodies the word “influential,” it is Woolf’s.
Joan Didion, known for her essays and nonfiction works, is represented in this set by her 2006 collection of non-fiction We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live. Didion's sharp observations on American culture and society have made her a beloved and influential writer and We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order—which includes seven remarkable texts by her—is the perfect example of this.
Alice Munro, the celebrated Canadian short story writer, is represented by Carried Away. Munro's complex characters and understated style have made her a master of the form, and she has been recognized with numerous literary awards, including the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013! In the forward to Carried Away, Margaret Atwood (who’s coming up in this blog post!) writes “Alice Munro is among the major writers of English fiction of our time. . . . Among writers themselves, her name is spoken in hushed tones.”
There’s no doubt that Margaret Atwood, the Canadian author best known for her dystopian novel "The Handmaid's Tale," is an influential author—She wrote her first novel at the age of seven (about an ant) and is the oldest ever recipient of the Booker Prize. Even if you are already a cult follower of the Emmy-award winning show, The Handmaid’s Tale is a must-read piece of fiction set in an all-too familiar “future.”
British author Penelope Fitzgerald, known for her spare and elegant prose, appears in this set with her works The Bookshop, The Blue Flower, and The Gate of Angels. Fitzgerald's works explore themes of class, family, and history, and her sharp wit and attention to detail have made her a critical darling!
In celebrating these influential female authors, the Influential Women Authors Set is a powerful tribute to the enduring power of women's voices in literature. It is a beautiful and meaningful addition to any book collection and a reminder of the ongoing importance of championing women writers and their contributions to the literary canon, not only on March 8th, but every day. Virginia Woolf sure would've loved this one!