Women writers

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Women have made significant contributions to literature since the earliest written texts. Women have been at the forefront of textual communication since early civilizations.


Among the first known female writers is Enheduanna; she is also the earliest known poet ever recorded. She was the High Priestess of the goddess Inanna and the moon god Nanna (Sin). She lived in the Sumerian city-state of Ur over 4,200 years ago.[1] Enheduanna's contributions to Sumerian literature, definitively ascribed to her, include several personal devotions to Inanna and a collection of hymns known as the "Sumerian Temple Hymns". Further additional texts are ascribed to her.[2] This makes her the first named author in world history.[3] She was the first known woman to hold the title of EN, a role of great political importance that was often held by royal daughters.[4] She was appointed to the role by her father, King Sargon of Akkad. Her mother was probably Queen Tashlultum.[5][6] Enheduanna was appointed to the role of High Priestess in a shrewd political move by Sargon to help secure power in the south of his kingdom, where the City of Ur was located.[7]

7th century B.C.E.[edit]

Sappho (/ˈsæf/; Aeolic Greek Ψαπφώ Psapphô; c. 630 – c. 570 BCE) was an archaic Greek poet from the island of Lesbos.[a] Sappho is known for her lyric poetry, written to be sung while accompanied by a lyre.[8] Most of Sappho's poetry is now lost, and what is extant has survived only in fragmentary form, except for one complete poem: the "Ode to Aphrodite". As well as lyric poetry, ancient commentators claimed that Sappho wrote elegiac and iambic poetry. Three epigrams attributed to Sappho are extant, but these are actually Hellenistic imitations of Sappho's style. In 3rd Century, Tamil poetess named, the Avvaiyar who lived during the Sangam period is considered to be contemporary to poets Paranar,[1] Kabilar and Thiruvalluvar.[1] She is attributed as the author of 7 verses in Naṟṟiṇai, 15 in Kuṟuntokai, 4 in Akanaṉūṟu and 33 in Puṟanāṉūṟu.[1] Legend states that she was a court poet of the rulers of the Tamil country. She travelled from one part of the country to another and from one village to another, sharing the gruel of the poor farmers and composing songs for their enjoyment. Most of her songs were about a small-time chieftain Vallal Athiyamaan Nedumaan Anji and his family.[1] The chieftain had also used her as his ambassador to avert war with another neighbouring chieftain Thondaiman.[1] The rest of her songs related to the various aspects of state governance.

11th century[edit]

The Tale of Genji was written in the early 11th century by the noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu and is considered by some to be the first novel.

15th century[edit]

Christine de Pizan was the best known late medieval French writer, rhetorician, and critic, who wrote Book of the City of Ladies in 1405, a text about an allegorical city in which independent women lived free from the slander of men. In her work she included real women artists, such as Anastasia, who was considered one of the best Parisian illuminators, although none of her work has survived. Other humanist texts led to increased education for Italian women.

The first known book in English by a woman was Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich. It was written between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and survived in various manuscripts until it was first published in 1670.

16th century

Gulbadan Banu, daughter of Mughal Emperor Babur, wrote the biography of her brother, Emperor Humayun.

19th century[edit]

Angelica Kauffman, Literature and Painting, 1782, Kenwood House

One of the best known 19th-century female writers was Jane Austen, author of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1816), who achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began another, eventually titled Sanditon, but died before its completion.

Writers from this period include:

The followed is a list of interdisciplinary female writers of the 19th century:

20th century[edit]

J.K. Rowling receives honorary degree from Aberdeen University in Scotland, July 6, 2006

In the 20th century women produced many books of all genres. Among fiction books can be named such titles as Harry Potter and The House of the Spirits, among others. The following is a list of female writers of 20th century:

Women awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature[edit]

The followed women have won the Nobel Prize in Literature:

See also[edit]

Additional reading[edit]


  1. ^ The fragments of Sappho's poetry are conventionally referred to by fragment number, though some also have one or more common names. The most commonly used numbering system is that of E. M. Voigt, which in most cases matches the older Lobel-Page system. Unless otherwise specified, the numeration in this article is from Diane Rayor and André Lardinois' Sappho: A New Translation of the Complete Works, which uses Voigt's numeration with some variations to account for the fragments of Sappho discovered since Voigt's edition was published.


  1. ^ Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary by Jeremy Black and Anthony Green (1992, ISBN 0-292-70794-0), p. 134 (entry "Nanna-Suen").
  2. ^ Hallo and Van Dijk 1968, p. 3.
  3. ^ Roberta Binkley (2004). "Reading the Ancient Figure of Enheduanna". Rhetoric before and beyond the Greeks. SUNY Press. p. 47. ISBN 9780791460993.
  4. ^ J Renger 1967: "Untersuchungen zum Priestertum in der altbabylonischen Zeit", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie. Vol. 58, p. 118.
  5. ^ Elisabeth Meier Tetlow (2004). Women, Crime, and Punishment in Ancient Law and Society: The ancient Near East. Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8264-1628-5. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  6. ^ Michael Roaf (1992). Mesopotamia and the ancient Near East. Stonehenge Press. ISBN 978-0-86706-681-4. Retrieved 29 July 2011.
  7. ^ Franke, p. 831.
  8. ^ Freeman 2016, p. 8.

[[Edward Jewitt Robinson (2001). Tamil Wisdom: Traditions Concerning Hindu Sages and Selections from Their Writings. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. Krishnamurti, Dr. C.R. (Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Canada) Thamizh Literature Through the Ages [1]]]