Thursday, December 3, 2015

Women's Classic Literature Event

Well, I've found my challenge for next year!  The Classics Club is hosting the Women's Classic Literature Event, which began with an announcement a few weeks ago, and which continues through the end of 2016.  They've also posted a survey for this event here, which I am now going to fill out.

1.  Introduce yourself. Tell us what you are most looking forward to in this event.  I'm Hamlette, 35, wife and mother and writer.  I was homeschooled until I went to college.  I have a BA in Liberal Arts with concentrations in English and History.  I now homeschool my children.  I'm looking forward to acquainting myself with some female authors who have been on my radar for years, but whose books I just haven't gotten around to reading, especially Edith Wharton and Anne Bronte.

2.  Have you read many classics by women? Why or why not?  Yes, though I tend not to read books because they were written by a man or a woman, but because the books themselves interest me.  So this will be a unique exercise for me, focusing more on books based on the gender of the author.

3.  Pick a classic female writer you can’t wait to read for the event, & list her date of birth, her place of birth, and the title of one of her most famous works.  Edith Wharton, born Edith Newbold Jones on January 24, 1862, in New York City.  She wrote The Age of Innocence, among many other things.

4.  Think of a female character who was represented in classic literature by a male writer. Does she seem to be a whole or complete woman? Why or why not? Tell us about her. (Without spoilers, please!)  I'm very fond of Lucy Honeychurch in A Room with a View by E. M. Forster.  She is young and fairly naive, but very curious about life and society's rules and mores.  While in Italy with her cousin-chaperone, she meets George Emerson and his father, who both question said rules and mores to figure out whether they are worth following or not.  Over the course of the book, Lucy grows into an intelligent young woman who knows how to use her mind and make her own decisions, and then live with the consequences of them.  To me, she is a whole or complete woman, and thoroughly believable as well.

5.  Favorite classic heroine? (Why? Who wrote her?)  Jane Eyre.  Because she's got lots of good sense and a strong spirit, she's filled with kindness and generosity, and she loves to help others.  She was written by Charlotte Bronte.  I will be hosting a read-along of Jane Eyre beginning in May of 2016!

6.  We’d love to help clubbers find great titles by classic female authors. Can you recommend any sources for building a list? (Just skip this question if you don’t have any at this point.)

I found a cool site called Women Writers that highlights several female authors for the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th century.  They give a brief bio of each author and list one or more of her important works.  It's obviously not meant to be any kind of comprehensive list (Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, and Lucy Maud Montgomery are not included, but is actually a list of rare books by famous female authors that were on display at a university library back in 2000.

7.  Recommend three books by classic female writers to get people started in this event. (Again, skip over this if you prefer not to answer.)

Trying not to use the same books I've already mentioned, and also none that are really hard and difficult to get through so as to not discourage newer readers of the classics, here are three I heartily recommend (and have read within the past year, actually):

1.  Persuasion by Jane Austen
2.  North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
3.  The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

8.  Will you be joining us for this event immediately, or will you wait until the new year starts?

Joining immediately!

9.  Do you plan to read as inspiration pulls, or will you make out a preset list?

Kind of both.  I intend to read books from my Classics Club list, but choosing each one as it appeals to me.  I am also planning to reread all of the Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maud Montgomery in 2016, which will work nicely with this event.

10.  Are you pulling to any particular genres? (Letters, journals, biographies, short stories, novels, poems, essays, etc?)

Novels, just because that's what I love the most.  Might dabble in other things, though.

11.  Are you pulling to a particular era or location in literature by women?

Nope.  Neither am I pulled that way in literature by men.  I read what interests me, and my interests are many and varied.

12.  Do you hope to host an event or readalong for the group? No worries if you don’t have details. We’re just curious!

Yes!  As mentioned above, I am planning to host a read-along of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, beginning in May of 2016.  I haven't set a precise start-date yet, since that's six months away, so stay tuned for details! 

13.  Is there an author or title you’d love to read with a group or a buddy for this event? Sharing may inspire someone to offer.

Virginia Woolf daunts me, so I might be quite inclined to join a read-along for one of her books.  I have To the Lighthouse on my Classics Club list already.

14.  Share a quote you love by a classic female author -- even if you haven’t read the book yet.

"A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself." - Jane Austen:

15.  Finally, ask the question you wish this survey had asked, & then answer it.

Q.  Have you ever read a book written by a woman that contained a male character and thought, "Wow, wouldn't that character be way more believable if it was written by a man?"

A:  No.


  1. YOU ARE JOINING THIS WILL BE EPIC! Also, Edith Wharton and Anne Bronte are excellent. :)

    Also, I love the women Tennessee Williams writes. Laura and Amanda Wingfield. Blanche DoBois. I feel like he gets it.

    I wonder what Mr. Rochester would be like if a man had written him?

    1. Jillian, yes I am! I have kind of a curious, wondering attitude toward this particular event because I truly don't tend to read books based on the gender of the author or of the characters, so it'll be an interesting exercise to pay attention to that.

      I don't want to know what Mr. Rochester would have been like if someone else had written him, because then he wouldn't have been Mr. Rochester and I love him dearly. However, have you read The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde? His take on Rochester is great fun.

  2. Virginia Woolf daunts me too. I read Mrs. Dalloway a year or so ago and still am not sure what I think of it. I have The Voyage Out on my Classics Club list. Maybe I should give that a try soon.

    1. Jennifer, I read Mrs. Dalloway probably 10 years ago now, and it gave me headaches. Literal, physical headaches. I just found out about a Virginia Woolf year-long read-along that someone posted about to the Classics Club, and I wish they weren't doing The the Lighthouse in January because that's the one I really want to read, but I'm hosting my own Shane read-along in January, so I know won't be able to keep up. But if you're interested, here's the link.

  3. I think I'll be joining you for the Jane Eyre read-a-long when it comes around. I think a re-read and discussion might help me appreciate it more. I like it... but it's not a favorite. I'm hoping to read the Age of Innocence this year as well!

    1. Lois, yay! I think JE will be great fun to dig into -- I remember reading it in college and loving the discussions. Maybe I can dig up some of the papers I wrote on it and share those, just for fun.

      Age of Innocence has been on my TBR list for forever, and I'm just Going To Read It at last. We can compare notes!

  4. Ooh, I am really excited about your Jane Eyre read along. That has been on my re-read list for awhile now, so your event may just be the incentive I need to get at it.

    Have a great day,

    1. Patti! Wonderful! I'd love to have you along for that read-along :-)

  5. YES, I love Edith Wharton and Anne Bronte!

    When it comes to male authors writing female characters, I really love the way Wilkie Collins wrote women. He did a much better job of it than his BFF Charles Dickens. Marian Halcombe in 'The Woman in White' is one of my favourite fictional heroines ever :)

    1. Hannah, I'm reading my first Wilkie Collins right now, The Moonstone, though, I haven't gotten far into it yet because Real Life has gotten in the way of reading lately. I look forward to seeing how he writes women.

  6. I just have to say that your Jane Eyre read-along sounds like fun-I may join if time permits! :)

    1. Natalie -- yay! I'll be happy to have you aboard :-)


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