Today is International Women’s Day and I’ve been inspired by Whispering Gums to think of texts by women which have inspired me. I’m busy today, running off to a Ballarat Writers event, which for the last year has had a committee of only women (this AGM we managed to get one male committee member) so my list will be brief.
Kate Jennings: I’ve written about Kate Jennings before. I found her collection of poetry Come to me my Melancholy Baby, when I was about 15 and just learning about poetry. The literature texts at school were very male focused, Shakespeare, Wordsworth etc and David Malouf novels for the Australian component. So when I came across her poetry, punchy, raw, emotive – full of sex, swearing and brutal Australian-ness I loved it. I’ve since collected all of her works.
Judith Wright I fell in love with Judith Wright’s poetry and again used it to balance the male poetry that I was fed at school. I had a great literature teacher who would include non-curriculum texts into the mix for us. I’m pregnant now, and occasionally get lines of Woman to Man floating through my head.
Jean Sasson I was given Princess and Daughters of Arabia to read from my mother when I was about 15. I passed these onto my friends and they stirred many discussions. While we still giggled on sleepovers about boys we also discussed arranged marriage, female circumcision and a whole range of issues we would never have learned about growing up in rural Australia.
Rosa Praed I wrote my thesis on the works of Rosa Praed, which look at whole range of female issues in early Australian life. But it was her life which fascinated me the most. In short; a female Australian author who wrote 23 books published from 1880 to 1916 – we should hear more about her.
Mary Wollstonecraft: I first encountered the Marys – Wollstonecraft and Shelley at University. I’ve recently spent some time studying The Vindication of the Rights of Woman for work in my novel. It’s such a magnificent work and one that I find myself yelling ‘yes’ to out loud, despite the fact that I’m a gen Y and this was written in 1792 – goes to show that sometimes generational change doesn’t exist.