To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8, we put together a list of a few of the most fierce women in literature - both fictional and real.
From Virginia Woolf, to Helen Keller, to Jane Eyre, to Katniss Everdeen - read about these extraordinary women in the books below.
Of course, there's a much longer list of trail-blazing women we couldn't include, including Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Marilyn Monroe, Oprah Winfrey, Benazir Bhutto, Rosa Parks, Sandra Day O'Connor, Emma Watson, Florence Nightingale and Gloria Steinem (to name but a few!). Who's your favourite heroine?
Before she was two years old, a scarlet fever destroyed Helen Keller's sight and hearing. At seven, alone and withdrawn, she was rescued by Anne Sullivan, her teacher and friend. She learned to read (in several different languages) and speak so well that she graduated with honors in 1904 from Radcliffe, where she authored The Story of My Life.
'I am Malala' tells the inspiring story of a schoolgirl who was determined not to be intimidated by extremists, and faced the Taliban with immense courage. Malala speaks of her continuing campaign for every girl's right to an education, shining a light into the lives of those children who cannot attend school.
Christmas won't be the same this year for Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy, as their father is away fighting in the Civil War, and the family has fallen on hard times. But, though they may be poor, life for the four March sisters is rich with colour, as they play games, put on wild theatricals, make new friends, argue, grapple with their vices, learn from their mistakes, nurse each other through sickness and disappointments, and get into all sorts of trouble.
In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss's skills are put to the test when she voluntarily takes her younger sister's place.
Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage. She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester. However, there is great kindness and warmth in this epic love story, which is set against the magnificent backdrop of the Yorkshire moors. Ultimately the grand passion of Jane and Rochester is called upon to survive cruel revelation, loss and reunion, only to be confronted with tragedy.
Pride and Prejudice delightfully captures the affectations and rivalries of class-conscious English families in an age when status and security for women hung entirely on matrimonial ambitions. It is also the source of some of the most memorable female characters ever written, from the meddling but hilarious Mrs Bennet, to the graceful Jane Bennet, and, of course, the fierce, independent, funny and strong Elizabeth.
It is the mid-1800s At Sweet Home in Kentucky, an era is ending as slavery comes under attack The world of Sethe, however, is to turn from one of love to one of violence and death - the death of Sethe's baby daughter, Beloved, whose name is the single word on the tombstone, who died at her mother's hands and who will return to claim retribution.
This masterpiece of modernist literature is often considered Woolf's greatest achievement In it, her intensely characteristic prose style culminates in a new method of communication, shedding materialism and concerning pure essence A necessary book for those interested in the great landmarks of literature.