Influential women writers of the 20th c

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Virginia Woolf, Flannery O'Connor, Iris Murdoch.

ice bat (f/k/a xero), Thursday, 30 November 2006 00:24 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh, LATE 20th-c. Scratch Woolf, then.

ice bat (f/k/a xero), Thursday, 30 November 2006 00:26 (fourteen years ago) link

Octavia Butler

milton parker (milton parker), Thursday, 30 November 2006 01:17 (fourteen years ago) link

Marilynne Robinson, Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Munro, Carson McCullers (maybe not late 20th c), Mary McCarthy

W i l l (common_person), Thursday, 30 November 2006 01:27 (fourteen years ago) link

Forgot to say Rebecca West earlier.

James Morrison (James Morrison), Thursday, 30 November 2006 04:29 (fourteen years ago) link

Thank you. Sorry that I am such a philistine.

vingt regards, Thursday, 30 November 2006 14:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Interesting to see Elizabeth Taylor's name come up in this context -- Kingsley Amis used her to illustrate an argument that "importance isn't important -- good writing is". I agree with Amis -- she probably isn't influential, but I wish she were -- the best of her short stories, in particular, are exquisite.

frankiemachine, Thursday, 30 November 2006 17:19 (fourteen years ago) link

Lorrie Moore, Joan Didion.

Ozick is a genius.

horseshoe (horseshoe), Thursday, 30 November 2006 18:29 (fourteen years ago) link

I'd like to add Dawn Powell, though I don't know how "serious" or "influential" she is/was. I do love her stuff though.

jaq (jaq), Thursday, 30 November 2006 19:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Kathy Acker (my favorite is Empire of the Senseless)

Marguerite Duras (my favorite is The Malady of Death)

Nathalie Sarraute

milton parker (milton parker), Thursday, 30 November 2006 19:34 (fourteen years ago) link

perhaps too early to call 'influential' but Anne Carson, for Plainwater & Autobiography of Red

milton parker (milton parker), Thursday, 30 November 2006 19:42 (fourteen years ago) link

Also, she may not have written much, but Elizabeth Hardwick.

o. nate (o. nate), Thursday, 30 November 2006 19:49 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh, and Sontag, of course (but more for her non-fiction).

o. nate (o. nate), Thursday, 30 November 2006 20:25 (fourteen years ago) link

Yes, Taylor really is wonderful. It's good to see a bunch of her books have recently been rereleased, and a film made of one of them ('Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont'). 'At Mrs Lippincote's' is her first novel, from meory, and a great place to start for anyone who wants to see what the fuss is about, assuming they've ever even heard the fuss. Did that make sense? It did not.

James Morrison (James Morrison), Thursday, 30 November 2006 23:17 (fourteen years ago) link

"Penelope Fitzgerald, Beryl Bainbridge, Thea Astley, Elizabeth Taylor (the writer one, not the crap actor one), Christina Stead, Doris Lessing, Muriel Spark, Patricia Highsmith"


what a great list! yoo r a man after mi own heart. i LOVE elizabeth taylor. and, yeah, except for the movie coming out, i can't remember hearing her mentioned much at all. at least in the states.

did anyone mention barbara pym?



James, have you read The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead? What a strange strange book. And so epic! I need to read more by her.


This thread is where i live. Most of my fave writers are 20th century wimminz.


Did anyone mention Annie Dillard? Or Ann Beattie? Or Anne Tyler? All the Anns really.

scott seward (121212), Friday, 1 December 2006 04:29 (fourteen years ago) link

Also, Laurie Colwin.

jaq (jaq), Friday, 1 December 2006 04:40 (fourteen years ago) link

katherine anne porter. you know who is pretty influential in short story circles even though she didn't write much, tillie olsen.

and jeezus, willa cather. and gertrude stein. oh really too many to name. but i'll probably come back and name more. stein + cather = hemingway

scott seward (121212), Friday, 1 December 2006 04:51 (fourteen years ago) link

I was thinking Cather was earlier 20th c., but didn't check.

jaq (jaq), Friday, 1 December 2006 05:00 (fourteen years ago) link

Janet Frame

franny (frannyglass), Friday, 1 December 2006 19:33 (fourteen years ago) link

Paula Fox, Louise Erdrich, E. Annie Proulx

jaymc (jaymc), Friday, 1 December 2006 19:44 (fourteen years ago) link

Thanks, Scott. The Man Who Loved Children I have not yet read, though I did only recently manage to get my hands on a copy. What's sad is that, given she may be Australia's best-known female novelist (well, beside Colleen McCulloch, ahem), pretty much none of her stuff is even in print here. I had to get a hardback Everyman edition from the US. And well done with the Willa Cather - can't believe I forgot her.

What's Tillie Olsen like? I recently went on a 2nd-hand book-buying binge, but had already exceeded my budget when I came a cross an interesting-looking old Virago collection by her ('Tell Me A Riddle', I think it was called). Should I have bought it?

James Morrison (James Morrison), Monday, 4 December 2006 01:38 (fourteen years ago) link

i'm actually not a huge olsen fan. i just know that she is an influence on certain american fiction writers. fiction workshop people. tell me a riddle is her most famous story. i don't know if she influenced any of the minimalist folks in the 80's, probably. someone else i could never get into who was also sorta influential was kay boyle. but i should give her another shot. and grace paley come to think of it.

i keep forgetting that the person who started this thread said LATE 20th century. oh well.


i love thea astley. she should be a lot better known. you could say that about a lot of people though. janet frame is a god to me and i don't know many people who have read her books.

scott seward (121212), Monday, 4 December 2006 05:14 (fourteen years ago) link

meanwhile, how could i forget joy williams! one of my favorite late 20th century writers. friggin' astounding to me. buy all her books.

scott seward (121212), Monday, 4 December 2006 05:18 (fourteen years ago) link

Astrid Lindgren.

Tuomas (Tuomas), Monday, 4 December 2006 12:29 (fourteen years ago) link

Carol Shields

nuneb (nuneb), Tuesday, 5 December 2006 20:09 (fourteen years ago) link

Jamaica Kincaid
Bobbi Ann Mason
Leslie Marmon Silko

nuneb (nuneb), Tuesday, 5 December 2006 20:17 (fourteen years ago) link

Jorie Graham

thom lab, Wednesday, 6 December 2006 14:04 (fourteen years ago) link

alice munro cannot be rec. enough

Susan Douglas (Susan Douglas), Sunday, 10 December 2006 00:35 (fourteen years ago) link

Hurston, Atwood, Rhys, Morrison, Harper Lee

D'you mean Zora Neale Hurston? she wrote in the early 20th century... not late.

max (maxreax), Sunday, 10 December 2006 23:24 (fourteen years ago) link

yeah and uh Sylvia Plath (& Anne Sexton)

W i l l (common_person), Monday, 11 December 2006 08:07 (fourteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
The NYRB has Christina Stead's "Letty Fox" in print. I plan to get it ASAP after her works were rcommended to me by a friend. I am always startled by all the good authors I read from the NYRB classics that are so unheralded.

Arethusa (Arethusa), Friday, 29 December 2006 05:43 (fourteen years ago) link

I agree - if it weren't for NYRB I'd never have found Caroline Blackwood, JR Ackerley, Harvey Swados, John Collier, Cesar Pavese, etc etc. It's a fine series of books.

James Morrison (James Morrison), Monday, 1 January 2007 23:16 (fourteen years ago) link

Pat Barker ought to be on this thread too.

jaq (jaq), Tuesday, 2 January 2007 00:52 (fourteen years ago) link

Joan Didion - IMPOSSIBLE TO UNDERRATE; LIKE CRACK COCAINE FOR WRITERS, IF CRACK COCAINE WROTE IN THE ELEGIAC MODE

Angela Carter?

Name Not Found (rogermexico), Tuesday, 2 January 2007 19:13 (fourteen years ago) link

Yes, James,not to mention Ivy Compton-Burnett and Sylvia Townsend Warner, two of my favourite NYRB finds. They also released a stories collection by Eileen Chang, a well known author in China and the surrounding areas but not in North America, I think. By all accounts she's an excellent writer.

Name, Angela Carter is on my reading list this year. England seems to produce a lot of great weird fantasy/fantastical authors.

Arethusa (Arethusa), Wednesday, 3 January 2007 05:50 (fourteen years ago) link

Oh yeah, Sylvia Townsend Warner. She has to go on this list. I don't know how influential she is, but she's bloody great. And Barbara Comyns is another writer NYRB recovered, similarly uninfluential but brilliant. I Think Virago in the UK also do a few of her other books, which are well worth seeking out.

James Morrison (James Morrison), Wednesday, 3 January 2007 22:18 (fourteen years ago) link


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