Literary Milestones in Women’s History

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| By Carol Schwartz, Senior Content Developer, Gale |

As the end of International Women’s History Month approaches, Gale would like to take a moment to recognize a few milestones in women’s literary history.

  • Early eleventh century: Japan’s Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji is considered by many to have been the first novel.
  • 1648: Birth of Mexico’s Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a nun who was an accomplished writer, poet, and playwright, and who championed intellectual freedom for women.
  • 1688: Aphra Behn publishes her most famous work, Oroonoko; or, The Royal Slave. Behn is often credited with being the first Englishwoman to earn a living from her writing. 
  • 1818: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley publishes Frankenstein, effectively becoming the mother of the science fiction genre.
  • 1909: Sweden’s Selma Lagerlöf becomes the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • 1913: The Sun Dance opera premiered, with libretto and songs by Zitkala-Ša (aka Gertrude Bonnin), a Yankton Dakota writer and activist. She collaborated with composer William F. Hanson on this work, which adapted Native American oral musical tradition.
  • 1959: Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is the first play by a Black woman writer to premiere on Broadway.
  • 2017: Amanda Gorman is named the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate. She achieved international recognition in early 2021 when she recited her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden.

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