“The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers. She whips a pistol from her knickers. She aims it at the creature’s head, And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.”
Out of the several classic novels out there, we bring you 10 with fabulously strong female characters or protagonist. Who’s your favourite?
10. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
It’s a social novel set in the fictional industrial town of Milton and portrays the relations between employers and workers. We follow Margaret Hale’s perspective of this world alongside the effects of industrial revolution. Twice it has been adapted for television, the recent being in 2004, which awoke renewed interest in the book.
9. The Nancy Drew Series by Carolyn Keene
It’s a mystery fiction series created by Edward Stratemeyer. The first story was published in 1930. After that the stories were ghost written by numerous writers and published under the collective name, Carolyn Keene. Over years various elements in the stories have undergone tremendous changes reflecting the changes in the society, culture, taste etc. For example, things like racism was taken out, Drew was made more assertive opposed to originally being a feminine stereotype. Since its first appearance in bookstalls, over 80 million copies of the books have been sold worldwide.
8. The age of innocence by Edith Wharton
It first published in 1920 in the Pictorial Review magazine in four parts. Edith Wharton won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The age of innocence, becoming the first woman to ever win this award in this category. Set in 1870s New York City among the upper-class society, it depicts a young man Newland Archer who is stuck in his life. It is a story of love and despair. One of the most intriguing characters is Countess Olenska who lives by her own rules. She is kind of a black sheep in the family and suffers for being just that. Reportedly the upper-class society were so outraged by criticism in the novel, that the next novel Wharton wrote – The House of Mirth, was an apology for this book.
7.Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Heidi is a children’s classic published in 1881 in two parts. Depicting the life of a young girl who is left to the care of her grandfather then torn away from him, Heidi is one of the best known works of Swiss literature. Also one of the best-selling books in human history, the novel has also got four sequel books. The original story has been adapted in 20 different films or televisions.
6.Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Published in 1908, this timeless story is for all age groups. The novel follows Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old girl as she makes her way in her adopted home where a boy was expected to arrive. Today, Anne of Green Gables is taught in school and has sold over 50 million copies since its publication. A number of sequels have been written by Montgomery and released posthumously. A prequel too exists. Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 36 languages and was released in Japan as Red-haired Anne where it gained notorious popularity. It has been adapted numerous times for films, plays, anime series, television movies, television series, radio shows, web series etc.
5.Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The novel topped the list of American fiction bestseller when it was first published in 1936. Set during the Reconstruction era and the American Civil War, it’s the story of a spoiled rich plantation owner’s daughter Scarlett O’Hara and her desperate attempts to crawl out of dreadful situations. The novel has sold over 30 million copies worldwide and in 2014, according to a poll, Gone with the Wind came second to being the favourite book of American readers’, right behind the Bible. Interpreted and studied with absorbed attention, the novel has become a part of the American pop culture. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction the year it was published and has been adapted into a commercially and critically acclaimed film of the same name in 1939.
4.Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Published in 1813, Pride & Prejudice is largely regarded a romance novel and also a novel of manners. It depicts the story of Elizabeth Bennet in which she deals with her family and issues of marriage, education, morality, mannerism etc. Set in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice is one of the ‘most adored classic’ of our time. It has sold over 20 million copies. The novel was never as popular as it is today. Consequently it has been adapted in films and television shows a number of times. The most popular one being BBC’s 1995 Pride & Prejudice mini-series.
3.The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
It’s a historical novel published in 1850 and was also one of the first mass-produced books in America. Regarded as Nathaniel Hawthorne’s greatest novel, The Scarlet Letter: A Romance in set in the years between 1642 and 1649. The story revolves around Hester Prynne, who has a child out of wedlock. The book deals with Prynne’s guilt, sin, repentance and issues like legality and dignity. It was an instant bestseller and a controversial novel. Natives of Salem protest against the novel for how they were represented in it. Literary greats like D. H. Lawrence and Henry James were full of praise for the book.
2.Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, the novel is a bildungsroman, following the lives of four sisters from childhood to womanhood. When Alcott’s publisher asked her for a novel, she quickly penned down the first volume. Upon publication the work was a huge hit and readers demanded to know further of the womens’ lives. This prompted Alcott to write the second volume. It is believed that the story is based on the lives of the author and her three sisters. Later she also wrote sequels to the Little Women called Little Men (1871) and Jo’s Boys (1886). Undoubtedly the Little Women have been adapted several times for films, television series, anime, musical versions, opera versions etc.
Whoever hasn’t heard of Jane Eyre! Published in 1847 under the pen pseudonym ‘Currer Bell’, Jane Eyre is another bildungsroman. We follow the life and experiences of Jane Eyre, through her tormented childhood to a gradual unfolding of adulthood. Built around a strong sense of morality, Jane Eyre is also a social critic. The novel is considered by many as a book ahead of its time with elements like proto-feminism, sexuality, classicism, gender relations, forgiveness and atonement, love and passion, search for home and family etc. Jane Eyre has been adapted films and television series numerous times.