For centuries, it was quite normal for female writers to use a masculine pen name.
“[Female writers] never used their real names on the title page while Emily and Anne [Brontë] were alive,” says Emily Auerbach, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Searching for Jane Austen. “But the pen names helped them open the door and at least get a reading.”
Regardless, female writers have been writing fiction for centuries -- and some of the greatest fiction has memorable characters that served as a voice and an inspiration to readers.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ll pay homage to a few of our favorite inspirational female characters.
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling
When we first met Hermione Granger, she was an eleven-year-old girl with a can-do attitude. Hermione represented young girls in education and had the power to inspire readers that applying themselves will lead to great things.
Through seven books, Hermione showed true inspiration and empowerment through her intelligence, bravery, and kindness.
Not to mention that Hermione was the most masterly girl in their class -- after all, she could single-handedly take down a mountain troll.
(Fun fact: Author Joanne Rowling wrote Harry Potter under the pen name J. K. Rowling, which sounded more masculine. Rowling’s publisher thought that her target audience -- young boys -- would not read the books if they knew it was written by a woman.)
“But from that moment on, Hermione Granger became their friend. Because there are somethings you can't go through in life and become friends, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”
Matilda by Roald Dahl
At six years old, Matilda knew right from wrong more so than most adults- -- and had read more classics more than most adults, too.
As a bumbling genius, Matilda was constantly demeaned by her family and bullied by her evil headteacher. But this never stopped her from educating herself, standing up for what was right, and giving people a taste of their own medicine.
Matilda became a true icon for children everywhere to always do the right thing and never settle.
“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…”