Courageous, Intriguing: The Women Who Inspire Me

As promised to Suko, here is my list of role models among women writers. They have their faults, but they’re all exceptionally courageous. Some are adventurous, larger-than-life characters while others I’ve selected because of their perseverance under harsh circumstances. I’ve chosen them because being a somewhat trepid soul myself I find their true grit inspiring. I’m sure many others could be added but here are some of my personal favourites: Freya Stark, Elif Shafak, F. Tennyson Jesse, Bryher, Anna Akhmatova, Nawal El Sadaawi, Lisa St Aubin de Terán, Gertrud Kolmar, Alexandra David-Néel, Dervla Murphy, Else Lasker-Schüler, Qiu Jin and Mae West. Not many people know that Mae West wasn’t exactly the ridiculous character that some make her out to be. She wrote novels and was sent to prison for being outspoken about sex.

So these women make up a motley crew that includes both travel writers who explored little known parts of the world and poets who suffered for political reasons. Their biographies make intriguing reading.

Among women artists, and I admit that I know a lot less about them, I would include Kathe Kollwitz, Pan Yuliang, Suzanne Valadon, Marie Bashkirtseff, Frida Kahlo, and Irina Ionesco. Incidentally, there are some curious parallels between the biographies of Suzanne Valadon and Irina Ionesco, which art historians or other writers might enjoy exploring. For instance, they both had early careers as circus performers.

If anyone has a list of their own inspiring women writers and artists, please share it with me. Women in art and literature are still so often overlooked. Let’s make a difference by remembering them and celebrating their lives.

Linda Ann Strang

Linda Ann Strang’s ‘Wedding Underwear for Mermaids‘ is out now, priced £6.99/$10.99.

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2 Responses to “Courageous, Intriguing: The Women Who Inspire Me”

  1. Mae Westside says:

    Thank you for the link to my Mae West Blog! Come up sometime and see Mae . . . the next Mae West walking tour is in mid-August.

  2. Suko says:

    Another writer who comes to mind is New Zealander Katherine Mansfield. One of my favorite short stories by her is The Garden Party (1922). Thanks for the mention.

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