Women’s History Month – The Influence of Women Writers

During March, we take the opportunity to highlight the accomplishments that women have made to this country. I, too, want to recognize Women’s History Month by celebrating a variety of women writers; many who have influenced me. I encourage you to make a special effort this month to read works by the talented women writers I have chosen to spotlight below. In addition, I invited four of my contemporaries (Kate Policani, Pari Danian, Simone da Costa, and Sean Wright) to share their thoughts on the women writers who influenced them. They graciously accepted my invitation and their posts will appear every Friday this month on my web site. So join me and my guest writers in this month-long celebration of the women writers we love.

Ann Petry was the first black woman author to top sales of over one million copies for her novel, The Street (1946). She also wrote short stories and children’s books.

Elizabeth George is an American who writes mysteries set in England. Her popular Inspector Lynley Mysteries have been adapted for TV by the BBC.

Helene Johnson’s poems are considered a model for aspiring poets. Her best known work, Poem, is still celebrated today for its simple majesty. She died in 1995 at age 89.

Susan L. Taylor served as editor-in-chief for Essence magazine for almost twenty years. In the Spirit is a collection of her inspirational columns from that magazine.

Anita Shreve has written more than a dozen novels, several of which have been adapted to the big screen. Early in her writing career, she won an O. Henry prize for short fiction.

Tina McElroy Ansa is known as a novelist but her talents extend to journalism, screenwriting, publishing and more. Her novels have held spots on many national bestseller lists.

Bebe Moore Campbell was a best-selling, award-winning author whose works dealt heavily with race relations, social causes and effects, and socio-economic gaps. She died at age 56, a treasured legend.

Alice Dunbar-Nelson published her first book, Violets and Other Tales in 1895. However, she achieved success with The Goodness of St. Rocque, which showed blacks in roles other than as slaves or minstrels.

Margaret Atwood won the Booker Prize, an international prize for fiction, in 2000. Her works have been translated into more than forty languages.

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper published her first volume of poetry at age twenty in 1845. Her writings tackled the tough issues of her time such as abolition, human rights and equality.

Jamaica Kincaid immigrated to the U. S. at age 16. She was a staff writer for The New Yorker and authored many short stories, articles, essays, as well as novels.

Sandra Brown has published more than seventy novels in the romance and other genres. Her works appear regularly on the New York Times bestseller list, and have shattered worldwide sales records.

Valerie Wilson Wesley writes children’s books (Willimena Rules), mysteries (Tamara Hayle Mysteries), and novels. Many of her works have achieved bestseller status and won awards.

Nora Ephron turned to screen and novel writing after a successful career as a journalist. Her works have been published in Esquire, New York Times magazine, and other notable publications. Later in life, she became a film director and producer.

Diane McKinney-Whetstone’s novels have captured many awards including the Black Caucus Literary Award for Fiction — twice! She also writes short works which have appeared in magazines and anthologies.

Anne Rice has written more than 28 novels, several of which were made into movies. Later in her writing career, she turned to Christian writing.

Sandra Cisneros’ collections of stories have appeared on bookshelves since the eighties. Few American writers have achieved the international success that she enjoys; this, a testimony to the universal messages embedded in her works.

Jan Karon started writing at ten years old and won her first writing competition at that age. She is the award-winning, bestselling author of the Mitford series and Father Tim novels.

Connie Briscoe’s works have made frequent appearances on bestseller lists nationwide. She has penned novels, a novella and non-fiction works.

Eudora Welty is an American literary icon, who, upon her death in 2001, left the home where she lived and wrote her fiction and essays to the state of Mississippi.

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