Females in Literature: Few & Far Between

Over the last few weeks I’ve seen several people asking for recommendations over Twitter and Facebook for book suggestions with strong female leads.  I realized most of the books that immediately came to mind were mainly about men.  So last week I started asking people one question: Who is your favorite female literary character?

Here is the list I wound up with:

Elizabeth Bennett, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jo March, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Scout Finch, To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

Scarlett O’Hara, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Dagny Taggart, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

“any protagonist in Tamora Pierce books” (per Fem2’s Christina Black)

Emma Woodhouse, Emma by Jane Austen

Janie Crawford,  Their Eyes Were Watching God by Nora Zeale Hurston (from Fem2’s K. Salis)

Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Kasta, Graceling by Kristen Cashore (from Fem2’s Abigail Collazo)

Katniss Everdeen, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Skeeter Phelan, Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson, The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Hermione Granger, Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

Lisbeth Salander, Millennium series by Steig Larson

Okay, the last four were absolutely my additions!  Though I know I have back up on them from others who has read those books.  And if you haven’t read The Hunger Games books or The Help – jump on that now!  Movie versions are coming soon!

It seems people tend to reach way back in time, or at least to those books we read over and over again, to the characters we find most comforting, to the passages we know by heart.

I’ve read most of this list – some of the characters I feel I almost know too well.  Here is my big question mark from this process though: why is the list so short?  Why was this a hard question for people?  I got the same response from a few different people.  Do we all read the same books growing up?  We all read the same things in school, yes.  And I know I am not the only one of my friends who reads classic novels for fun (hence Jane Austen appearing twice).  I feel as though there are some obvious characters and authors missing.  Moving away from the classics – what have you read recently that stuck with you?  What book did you want to reread?  That’s how The Hunger Games got on here.

Who do you want to see added to the list?

Thanks to everyone who shared their favorite characters!  I hope you find something interesting to read from this list or from Huffington Post’s recent list.


*Photo Credit: austinevan taken at Shakespeare & Co., Paris, France

Originally appeared on Fem2.0


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