In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to give acknowledgement and thanks to the many amazing women writers and the characters they created who invaded my thoughts, roused my emotions and influenced my life.
Storytelling has been a part of our human existence since the beginning of time. It helps us to fulfill our very real need to make connections and identify with others. It allows us to share knowledge and ideas over vast time and space.
That storytelling captures our imagination and excites our emotions allowing new or conflicting information to be accepted unchallenged makes it a powerful tool of persuasion.
But storytelling is also a participatory transaction. We each have the responsibility to extract and learn what we want and need from the storytelling process. A lucky reader is one who finds the right story told by the right teller at the right time. I’ve been a very lucky reader.
My humble thanks to each and every woman writer who believes in using storytelling to inspire dreams, impact lives and shape futures. These are just a few such writers that I was blessed to encounter in my formative years:
Jane Taylor‘s “Little Star” made me look up and wonder.
Beatrix Potter‘s “Peter Rabbit” gave me a girl crush on bunnies and made me look for rabbit holes.
Gertrude Chandler Warner invaded my childhood imagination and anxieties with the hardships, resourcefulness and family loyalty of her “Box Car Children” orphans and gave me a love of small “houses.”
Anna Sewell‘s “Black Beauty” showed me the value of kindness, that love comes with responsibilities, that strength could be beautiful and a flowing black mane could be masculine.
Astrid Lindgren‘s “Pipi Longstocking” helped me to celebrate generosity and oddity and to become a non-conformist.
Laura Ingalls Wilder‘s “Laura” deepened my suburban girl’s fascination and love of country folk and rural living.
Lee Harper‘s “Scout” taught me to face fears, that law and justice required people to take action, and to never ever wear a ham costume.
Louise May Alcott‘s many women showed me that love comes in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes and personalities.
Betty Smith‘s “Francie” affirmed my young and growing awareness of the complexities of family dynamics, economic stress and family planning.
Anne Frank revealed how twisted government could be, how the need for love and acceptance is universal, and how even a young girl can leave a lasting impact on the world.
Baroness Emmuska Orczy‘s “Sir Percy” beguiled me with the delights of witty conversation, the destructive illusion of egos and the vast gulf between “an action hero” and the deliberate and thoughtful acts of a smart, heroic man.
Barbara Mertz (aka Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels) inspired my early library addiction to excavating mysteries, histories, romance, travel and the supernatural and showed me what sexy, confident, man-loving feminists looked like in action.
Agatha Christie‘s “Mrs. Marple” feed my passion for puzzles and confirmed the usefulness of quiet contemplation.
Eleanor Roosevelt won my heart with her candid, optimistic writings and persuasive, no-nonsense practicality.
Anya Seton‘s “Jenny” opened my eyes to the historical roles and inevitable tolls of women in war and politics and made me ponder the depths of love, loyalty, and marital rape.
Margaret Mitchel‘s “Scarlett” demonstrated the resourcefulness of women to survive and thrive, that love without respect left you empty handed, and drama is as drama does.
Edna Ferber‘s “Clio” exposed me to the ideal of a passionate/romantic relationship as a partnership and women as allies of men instead of pawns.
Mary Shelley‘s “Adam” Frankenstein captured my sci-fi imagination, made me aware that we are each responsible for what we create, and to be wary of men with yellowed skin who are searching for companionship.
Erma Bombeck made me laugh at the complexities, indignities, and sheer silliness of being female.
Dorothy Gilman‘s “Mrs. Pollifax” revealed that age was a number, we all had unexpected depths, and being underestimated had advantages.
Molly Ivins proved that government could be vitally important, utterly stupid and hilariously funny all at the same time.
Phillis A. Whitney first made me wonder if I could, than gave me a roadmap to be an organized and creative writer.
What women writers affected your life? And how?