Women’s History Month: Women in Writing

By Rachel Birnam

jhumpaJhumpa Lahiri is an Indian American author and Pulitzer Prize winner. Upon graduating from Barnard College with a B.A. in English Literature, Lahiri went on to receive multiple degrees from Boston University, including M.A. in English, M.F.A. in Creative Writing, M.A. in Comparative Literature, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. Lahiri’s career, however, did not have an easy start. Her early works of short stories were rejected multiple times year after year until, finally, her debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies, was picked up and published in 1999. Her career took off from there and she later published novels and more short stories, earning her a spot on top of the New York Times best seller list.

“What drew me to my craft was the desire to force the two worlds I occupied to mingle on the page as I was not brave enough, or mature enough, to allow in life” – Jhumpa Lahiri

angela davisAngela Davis is an American author, activist for social rights and equality, and UCSD alum. Davis emerged in the sixties as a leader of the Communist Party USA and a prominent civil rights activist, with ties to the Blank Panther Party and a focus on feminism and prison rights. Davis has written a variety of books and articles on feminism and racial equality, such as Women, Race, & Class, and her famous 1997 speech on the Prison Industrial Complex. In addition to her activism, Angela Davis is a scholar and professor. She served as an assistant professor in the Philosophy department at UCLA during the late sixties, and later went on to become a professor of Ethnic Studies at SF State and director of the Feminist Studies department at UCSC.

jane austenJane Austen, arguably the queen of romance and one of the greatest novelists of all time. Her social commentary of nineteenth century England led her to become one of the most celebrated, most respected, and progressive writers of English Literature. Austen experimented with elements of romance and realism in her novels such as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. Her novels are famously known for her independent female characters and criticizing the “social norm” of the time that women were required to be dependent on a man for marriage and financial stability. Austen left a legacy behind after her death in 1817, and her novels are still widely popular today, with film and television adaptations of many of her novels. Pride and Prejudice is taught in most high schools across the country, and you can even take a course right here at UCSD dedicated entirely to the legendary novelist.

“I think I may boast myself to be, with all possible vanity, the most unlearned and uninformed female who ever dared to be an authoress” – Jane Austen

isabel allendeKnown as “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author,” Isabel Allende is a Chilean-American writer known for her unique and vivid style of writing known as “magic realism.” Growing up in Latin America, Allende often highlights the lives and struggles of Hispanic women in many of her novels, drawing on her own experiences and critically examining the role of women in Latin American society, including novels such as Daughter of Fortune and Portrait in Sepia. Allende has received wide praise for her works and has won a variety of international awards such as Chile’s National Literature Prize, an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded to her by President Obama himself.


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