I kept this one for last as it’s hands down one of my favourite books. Wild Women and Books – Bibliophiles, Bluestockings, and Prolific Pens contains entries that span from Aphra Ben to Zora Neale Hurston. Now this may sound like it’s similar to Literary Witches but it’s quite different. It’s a much bigger book and while it contains photos, illustrations, and pictures of artwork, there is a lot of text in each chapter and on each writer. Additionally, to the chapter texts, it has boxes that give information on where to find the authors online and themed lists.
There is a total of seven chapters.
Chapter 1 – First Ladies of Literature is on the precursors and pioneers like Anne Bradstreet, Aphra Behn, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lorraine Hansbury.
Chapter 2 – Ink in their Veins focusses on women who come from writing dynasties, like the Brontës or Mary Shelley.
Chapter 3 – Mystics and Madwomen explores authors like Hildegard von Bingen and Teresa of Avila.
Chapter 4 – Banned, Blacklisted and Arrested is particularly fascinating. Why do women get blacklisted and who are they? I’ve always been baffled when I saw these lists of books that have been banned in the US. You can find many of them above. There are a lot of children’s authors like Judy Blume on that list.
Chapter 5 – Prolific Pens explores those women who seem to be publishing nonstop or have published a lot like Margaret Mead, Joyce Carol Oates, and also Margaret Atwood, Edith Wharton, Danielle Steel, and Barbara Cartland.
Chapter 6 – Salonists and Culture Makers looks at authors like Dorothy Parker, Simone de Beauvoir, Virginia Woolf, Getrude Stein, Djuna Barnes and many more.
Cahpter 7 – Women Whose Books are Loved too Much is interesting and diverse. These are the authors who have a large fanbase, fervent followers and admirers. Some of them are Agatha Christie, Alice Walker, Anne Rice, and Margaret Mitchell.
I’m sure it’s easy to see why this is such an appealing book. Anyone will stumble upon authors they hadn’t heard of before as it is so diverse. The high and the low and those in the middle, they are all there. The book has a handy index at the back, lists with online book groups and further reading on women and books. Wild Women was initially published in 2000 and then reissued and updated in 2006. The only bad thing – it looks like it’s currently out of stock but second hand copies are cheap and easily available and there’s a kindle version too.