From the Library: Tell Us Your Favorite Literary Heroine & Win a Copy of The Heroine's Bookshelf

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The cover of The Heroin's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder shows a photograph of a white woman with long brown hair holding an old book up over her face. Her back is facing a huge shelf covered in stacks of books, which take up the bulk of the coverIf you're a fan of literary heroines and free books, you're in luck! Erin Blakemore, who recently participated in our online young adult book club, has five copies of The Heroine's Bookshelf to give away to Bitch blog readers. All you have to do is leave a comment letting us know who your favorite literary heroine is (additional contest details at the bottom of the post). And now we'll hand you off to Erin...

I'll be the first to say it: the author's life has its pitfalls. To wit: I wrote a book called The Heroine's Bookshelf (newly in paperback from Harper Perennial), and now I'm paying the price. When you go out on a limb and write a book about heroines, you need to be ready to list your favorites, which I find akin to choosing which finger you'd like to sever or which kid you'd like to keep. Still, I soldier on, especially since I believe that there's much to be learned from both real-life and literary heroines who connect us to our sense of self, our sense of daring, and our sense of adventure on the page and off.

So which literary heroines inspire me? They're a motley crew, but here are a few.

Jane Eyre (Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë): Okay, so her taste in men is...questionable. But her sense of steadfastness and self? Inspiring. Jane stumbles over the moors of despair and comes out her own woman. "I am no bird;" she declares, "and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will." Hear, hear.

Janie Crawford (Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston): This woman is a survivor, plain and simple. She survives an atrocious childhood and an abusive marriage. She survives the force of internal and literal hurricanes. And she comes to her own self in the process: "Janie did what she had never done before, that is, thrust herself into the conversation." Something we should all do every once in a while.

Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett): Okay, do you see a theme here? I love the little heroines, the ones who are small and obscure and kick ass every which way to Sunday. Mary Lennox is a great example. She's strait-laced and sour when the book opens, but as she cultivates her secret garden, she loosens up and learns to make her own magic. She goes from Mistress Mary Quite Contrary to a red-cheeked child whooping in her own personal paradise. And the heroic journey doesn't get much more heroic than that.

Okay, so I've covered the it's your turn. Which literary heroines do YOU find inspiring (contemporary or classic)? Leave your favorites in the comments section and you'll be entered for a chance to win a paperback copy of The Heroine's Bookshelf.

If you're going to leave a comment, make sure you leave it under your registered account (or register a new account if you haven't already) so that we will be able to contact you. Again, if you don't leave the comment under a registered account, you won't be eligible to win a copy of the book. Erin will pick her five favorite comments about literary heroines on Monday, November 21st! Good luck!

by Ashley McAllister
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80 Comments Have Been Posted

Literary Heroine

Anne Shirley. Strong, passionate, ready for adventure, and the smartest person around.

Betsy Warrington Ray (from

Betsy Warrington Ray (from the Betsy-Tacy series) by Maud Hart Lovelace. Growing up at the turn of the century was a turbulent time. Betsy and her sisters (including those "from another mister") struggle through challenges and all become strong characters with stronger convictions. From a young age, Betsy wants to write, and write she does. She goes off to college, only to drop out when she finds it doesn't work for her. Instead she travels through Europe until WW1 breaks out and she bribes her way back to the states.

I love Betsy's spunk and spirits, and I encourage everyone to take a look at them.

Kick-ass Female Characters!

Some of my favorite female literary characters are Dolores Haze from Lolita, Astrid Magnussen from White Oleander, and Edna Pontellier from the Awakening. These women are totally bad-ass and find themselves through questioning the conformity of their surroundings.


Edna Pontellier is probably my favorite literary heroine as well. I really love stories where women are going through some type of sexual awakening and learning to build autonomy. I am also a sucker for any metaphorical comparison between "woman" and the sea. Woman gets swallowed by the sea and returns to the fluidity and mystery of the abyss!

Literary Heroines

My favorites are Jane Eyre (definitely first on the list), Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia, Lyra Silvertongue from His Dark Materials series and Jo March from Little Women. Love this topic so much!! :)

Dinah Morris from George

Dinah Morris from George Eliot's (Mary Ann Evans) novel Adam Bede. As a feminist from a religious background, I enjoy seeing women in positions of religious leadership, and we would think it would have been less common in the 1700's. Throughout the novel, Dinah was always true to herself and her beliefs. And *spoilers follow* I liked that she didn't just fall into Adam's arms when he confessed his love for her, but reserved her right to make the decision.

Thursday Next -- smart,

Thursday Next -- smart, independent and capable of taking care of herself and saving the day with the added bonus of being a literary detective!

You Win!

I can't resist a literary detective, plus I've never read this one. It's on the to-read list, and you win a copy of my book! :)

Octavia Butler's female

Octavia Butler's female leaders have always inspired me. And the Thomas Hardy heroines have always impressed me. Then there's George from the Famous Five, and Nancy drew of course. The mysterious Agent 355 from Y the Last Man, Harper Lee's Scout Finch, and the Bene Gesserit in the Dune Series and Éowyn in the Lord of the Rings. Those are just what I can think of now. I'm sure I'll have a list a mile long later

Sara Crewe from Burnett's A

Sara Crewe from Burnett's A Little Princess. Not only did she love books and the magic they bring to our lives, she shared that love with others and she believed in the power of imagination even when terrible things happened.

Don Quixote Which Was A Dream

Kathy Acker's feminist re-imagining of Don Quixote as a mad woman fighting the evil forces of government, economics, and society during the period in which the book was published remains to me one of the most compelling heroine's in modern literature. The project represents both an attempt at challenging the mad woman paradigm and the separation of reason from emotion, the mind from the body, and the public from the private. I could rant for some time about all the reasons I love this book, this heroine, and this author but I'll summarize by saying that with my intellectual devotion to the French Feminist movement of the 70's and 80's with Irigaray, Kristeva, and Cixousand those that followed in their tradition there really is no competition for me.

Offred from The Handmaid's

Offred from The Handmaid's Tale. I always think back to her re-tracing what the woman before her carved into the floor. I can't imagine not being allowed to read, and would cling to any words written anywhere if I had found them.


I love Michelle Tea- her perspective in all her books, Valencia especially, is something I never get tired of revisiting. I also love super heroine Inga Muscio for all she writes!!


Eloise (from the book Eloise by Kay Thompson) taught me how to be badass. She was never limited by her gender, only by her imagination, and that was a pretty powerful thought for a six-year-old me. Like all heroines she had her weaknesses - she was beyond privileged, and was of an age when she did not question it - but also like all heroines she fought against a very real hardship, the loneliness she faced as a child alone in an adult's world. Even now, I feel inspired by her will to survive, her energy, and her total willingness to create havoc in the name of personal enjoyment. Oh, and the ever important lesson - "A tissue box makes a very good hat".

Favorite Heroine

I don't know if she'd be considered a heroine, but I love Oryx from Margaret Atwood's "Oryx and Crake".
I also enjoy Amabelle Deris from Edwidge Danticat's "The Farming of Bones".

I like Oryx because she's very indifferent to the men in her life, and is living her life mostly as she wishes. There are men who oppress her, but she continues until the end.

Amabelle is a recent addition. She's a fascinating character that has a similar personality to Oryx, but she's a little more personable and her tale of endurance is really inspiring.

Literary Heroine

I know most "Gone with the Wind" fans prefer Scarlett, but I'm a HUGE fan of Melanie Hamilton Wilkes. She's not physically strong, but in every other way she trumps every other character in the book. Scarlett lies, schemes, and kills and everyone in Atlanta ends up hating her. Melanie also lies and helps Scarlett scheme and glories in Scarlett's murder of the Yankee deserter, but she does it in such a way that everyone in Atlanta ends up loving her. As Rhett said after her death, "A very great lady."

Nancy Drew and Harriet the

Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy :)

Madame Bovary

Emma Bovary.. such an interesting character!
She's tragic, a little messed up, sure, but I couldn't help but notice how much she felt trapped by her sex and how hard she fought against it (in all the wrong ways one could argue).. the incredible internal struggles of her character just made me love her.

Idgie Threadgoode in "Fried

Idgie Threadgoode in "Fried Green Tomatoes" And I have to agree with the others who said Anne Shirley...she's a force to be reckoned with!

I love all the women in Fried

I love all the women in Fried Green Tomatoes! I always thought that Idgie was amazing


I know Offred's gotten at least one vote so far, but she takes the prize in my opinion. Atwood writes women beautifully, and Offred is one of her best characters.

Thursday Next!

I only recently discovered her, but Thursday Next from Jasper Fforde (first book is "The Eyre Affair") is the best female protagonist I have found. Actually, there are more than one Thursdays, but I like the real world one and Thursday5 is growing on me. What's so amazing about her? First of all, she's more about her brains than anything else. In her like in an alternative history, she works as a Literary Detective, policing claims of first editions, keeping fandom in check, and making sure that books read as they're supposed to be. All the while dealing with the occassional vampire, a kooky pet dodo, and family members who get erased from history. She does her job because that's what she does. She detests the fame that comes from it, but will use it when necessary.

Finally, I really like how her appearance is characterized. Unlike many police women in fiction, she is viewed as very plain. Hair in a ponytail, rumpled clothes, a beaten up jacket, and trainers or boots. In the first book, she even comments about her looks in regards to how she noticed as a child that the more attractive children got more attention so she had to focus on her actions and intelligence instead. Wow.

I love Jo March--her

I love Jo March--her awkwardness, her determination to be a writer, her fierce love for her family, and her love of dancing and fun.

Literary heroine(s)

Jane Eyre, Elinor from Sense and Sensibility and Lily Bart from House of Mirth

Meg Murray

So many amazing heroines on this list. It makes me want to go a reread a stack of Margaret Atwood books!
My long standing favorite is Meg Murray from Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time". I loved Meg when I was growing, and reading her story now I love seeing he grow in confidence as she recognizes her inner strength by embracing the things that make her feel insecure.

Oh, it's a toss-up between

Oh, it's a toss-up between Harriet Vane in the Dorothy L Sayers' books, and Polly Whittaker from Diana Wynne Jones' Fire and Hemlock. Anne Shirley is a definite honourable mention!

Cycler - Jill

Jill from Cycler! I think her character is so engrossing and inspiring because she is so different, so uniquely herself and so human. I ADORE her!

Flavia, oh Flavia

Flavia de Luce may only be 11, but she already has my complete admiration, and Alan Bradley's books in the series are on my "as soon as it's out I'm buying the first darn copy I can get my hands on!" list. Chemistry and dry wit are all I need to fall in love with a character, but the fact that this particular character is an 11 year old girl with a "penchant for poisons" just makes me fall that much harder. Sure, there are those other lovely heroines like Jane Eyre, but nobody can compete with Flavia. She's just got that...something...


I just wanted to utterly second your motion!

so, one of my personal

so, one of my personal literary heroine is jody goodman (a.m homes - in a country of mothers). the way how she is dealing with her family issues and her doubt in becoming a filmmaker inspired me a lot.

literary heroine

My longtime favorite is Jo March of "Little Women" fame. I first read the trilogy in high school and was highly inspired by the [then] radical vision that Louisa May Alcott put into Jo's character.

So many choices!

I love that I had so many strong female characters immediately come to mind. Some of my favorites are Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice, Anne Elliot from Persuasion, Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, Connie Ramos from Woman on the Edge of Time, and most recently Liesel Meminger from The Book Thief. I also know that Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking helped make me the woman I am today. But my vote has to go to Offred from The Handmaid's Tale. I think I appreciate both this character and the novel as a whole more with each passing day.

So glad you included Connie

So glad you included Connie Ramos! I could not for the life of me remember her name!

Offred for sure, and Offred's mother. Jane Eyre and Anne Shirley! There are too many to mention!

Jane Eyre is by far my

Jane Eyre is by far my favorite heroine. I was inspired to read Charlotte Bronte's novel a few years ago after reading an article in Bitch's Nior edition. As an emerging feminist, Jane's ability to stand up against the 'status quo' only reinforced my own beliefs which differed so much from those of my peers. Jane's journey was not a simple one- she illustrates that a woman who chooses her own path faces much adversity, but in the end, she was maker of her destiny.

My favourite literary

My favourite literary heroines are Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice; Anne Elliot, from Persuasion; Jane Eyre, from the book with the same title, and some others. In general, any heroine who is truthful to herself and has a good personality is a favourite for me.

Awesome Women

As a kid, it was Harriet the Spy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Sophie from the BFG. Now I would have to say Nora Bonesteel from Sharyn McCrumb's Appalachian novels...and Sophie from The BFG.

Suiza, Serrano, Tarabotti!

I love Esmay Suiza and Heris Serrano from Elizabeth Moon's sci-fi world--particularly in Once a Hero and Winning Colors. Both women are tough, surviving hard life struggles while struggling to be the best they can be in their fields and inspiring those around them. And I love Alexia Tarabotti from Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate books--a steampunk world where the heroine is no-nonsense and takes charge to set things right both in her personal world and in her social/political world. All three women are smart, thoughtful, capable and inspiring--and they refuse to go down without a serious fight.

Heroines --who seem to be mainly from Fantasy and SF

<p>As a child I was inspired by Éowyn in <em>The Lord of the Rings</em>.</p>
<p>As a tween, Anne Shirley, but even more by Emily from the three Emily books by L.M. Montgomery.</p>
<p>As an adult:</p>
<p>Alyx from Joanna Russ's <em>The Adventures of Alyx</em>.</p>
<p>Anaynwu (from <em>Wildseed</em>) and Lilith (from <em>Dawn</em> and the rest of the trilogy) by Octavia Butler.</p>
<p>Responsible and most of the Grannys in Suzette Haden Elgin's <em>Ozark Trilogy</em>.</p>
<p>Tenar from Ursula K LeGuin's Earthsea series.</p>
<p>Senneth from Sharon Shinn's <em>Mystic and Rider</em>.</p>
<p>Onyesonwu from Nnedi Okorafor's <em>Who Fears Death</em>.</p>

I love Francie Nolan from A

I love Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. And Frankie Landau-Banks from The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. To name two of many!

Louisa May Alcott's Jo March,

Louisa May Alcott's Jo March, who would not let any man, or woman for that matter stand in the way of her career or life choices. She took a path to letting life make her happy before worrying about any sort of romantic relationship in a time when women were found ineligible for marriage after a certain age. When she did marry it was for the simplicity of love and friendship she found in a partner.

Literary Heroines: Some favorites of mine...

Consuelo from Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time. Also, her depiction of real life heroine Victorial Woodhull in Sex Wars makes me want to stand up and cheer. And Anyanwu from Octavia Butler's Wild Seed.

Lyra Silvertongue and Mary Malone from His Dark Materials,

Toby, Ren and Amanda from The Year of the Flood, and Katniss and Prim Everdeen from The Hunger Games. For starters!

I know she has already been

I know she has already been mentioned, but my favourite heroine is Anne Shirley. In an age when women were expected to get a minimal education and then marry and start having kids, Anne goes to college, gets her teaching certificate, becomes the breadwinner of her household, helps to raise orphan twins, works her way through university earning a B.A., becomes the principal of a prestigious girls' school and all the while turning down multiple proposals because the proposers are not her "ideal." Always the smartest person in the room, strong and principled, she is adored by her friends and community.


It has to be Thursday Next. She's tough, and she saves the world, but it's her wits and love of literature that drive her.


Scout Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, Lucy Penvensie from Narnia, Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, Anne Frank, Lily Owens from Secret Life of Bees. I think it is easier to find young heroines. I haven't been able to come up with an adult yet.

Heroines for the ages

First has got to be Princess Petronella, of Jay Williams' 70's classic: Petronella. A princess who doesn't wait for a prince to find her? One who battles a powerful enchanter to rescue a prince instead? And learns all kinds of valuable skills on the way, including how to look beneath the surface of things? Petronella has had my heart and inspired me since I was four. Thank goodness!

But I can't leave out a two other favorites: Pippi Longstocking (do I need to tell anyone here why?! I'm sure not) and Karana, from the Scott O'Dell classic, Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Those three characters made sure that I kept looking for other strong women, and other heroines, all my life. I owe them - and I'm grateful.

Tamora from Shakespeare's

Tamora from Shakespeare's TItus Andronicus & Agatha Raisin from the MC Beaton mysteries.

Elinor Dashwood from 'Sense

Elinor Dashwood from 'Sense and Sensibility'
I've always loved and related to her for being practical and thinking of her family first to help them get through their hardships
It'd be so easy to dramatic like her sister Marianne, but she keeps a level head and I've always admired that.

Anne Shirley. She's never

Anne Shirley. She's never afraid to be herself, even though what she is isn't what she was told she was supposed to be. And who she is is someone I'd like to be friends with. Smart, strong-willed, imaginative, fun and kind.

Yay! Books and characters!

Yay! Books and characters! First to come to mind are, oddly, YA-characters; Frankie from E. Lockhart's 'The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks' and Margot from John Green's 'Paper Towns'. Both these girls are assertive, ambitious, love pranks and while they like boys, they always know what they like better: their own individual lives. Plus, a major theme in both novels is: girls are human beings! Which, unfortunately, is still a bit of a radical idea in fiction.

Then there are clear winners like Hermione Granger, Elizabeth Bennett. Intelligent, emotional, with enough stubbornness to stick to their plans and enough confidence to take advice.

But my most recent girlcrush is Sacha from Jennifer Egan's 'A visit from the goon squad' with her wit, independence and long, adventurous life (from prostitute in Italy to kleptomanic assistant in New York).

One of my favorite characters of all time...

The combined novels Crown Duel and Court Duel by Sherwood Smith are both the story of Meliara (Mel). Mel is a tomboy countess that rallies her people to fight against a tyrannical king with her motley crew of villagers. Mel bucks the traditional weak heroine archetype that hides behind the strength of her male counterparts; she instead invests in her own ingenuity, cleverness, and spirit to fight for her land and her people. She is a well-fleshed out character that has her flaws and insecurities, but still remains true to herself and her ideals. I have always loved Meliara because she is a fighter, and is a great example of a woman that is unwilling to sit back and allow the world to decide her destiny. She instead takes the reins her own destiny (through better and worse), and is able to create her own happy ending.

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green

Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables series)- intelligent, assertive, ambitious
Josephine March (Little Women)- see above
Eloise (Eloise Series)- brave enough to do her own thing, imaginative
Miss Rumphius- well rounded, unselfish

As a girl, I thought that Anne and Jo were really my friends.

Roxana is no hero, but I

Roxana is no hero, but I love the character. Sure, Defoe was trying to paint a moralistic picture of what happens to "loose women" in Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress, but he failed in that message. Instead the reader sees what women are subjected to due to a patriarchal system and what they have to resort to in order to survive.


Love this topic. Never enough emphasis put on strong women characters in books. My most inspiring are Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, Hermione from Harry Potter, Alanna from Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness, Ruby Oliver from E. Lockhart's The Boyfriend List, Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Cyd Charisse from Rachel Cohn's Gingerbread, and Mia from The Princess Diaries. Thanks for such an amazing giveaway!

Oddly enough, I really like

<p>Oddly enough, I really like Lucy Snowe from <em>Villette</em>. I just love how honest and disparaging she is.</p>


Thursday Next, Elizabeth Bennet, Ayra Stark, Lisbeth Salander & Nancy Drew. They're all intelligent and uncompromising in their own way.

Lyra and Hattie

Lyra Silvertongue from His Dark Materials. The freedom, the seriousness, and the passion. Terrific character.

And I recently read "Hattie Big Sky" with a student of mine and I gotta admit, if I had read this book as a child, Hattie Inez Brooks would have been my utter hero for LIFE! She moves to Montana to prove up a claim of 320 acres left to her by her deceased uncle during WW1. She's tough, loving, and a fantastic writer. And the ending is NOT your average happily-ever-after! I was extremely impressed with this author, this book, and of course, Hattie herself.

Sassy strong ladies

My three favorite heroines: 1) Scarlett O'Hara for her perseverance and for her ability to forge her our version of what it means to be feminine, 2) i330 from We because she is kick-ass femme fatale revolutionary character and 3) Hermoine from Harry Potter because she is smart, loyal, and gutsy. All of these three characters are still feminine while being super strong.

Princess Smartypants from

Princess Smartypants from Babette Cole's lovely children's book of the same name. She just didn't want to be a Mrs!
In adult lit... I would probably have to go with Foursquare Jane, from Edgar Wallace's stories. Master of disguise, master thief, master philanthropist- what's not to love? I also support the rousing chorus of Anne Shirleys... just lovely!

Anne Shirley because she is

Anne Shirley because she is full of imagination, she really understands, listens, and cares about others feelings as well as her own and she assumes the best about people until proven otherwise and wants to make friends everywhere she goes.

How many am I allowed to name before it's excessive?

So many, I have to divide them into categories.

Contemporary, there's Mary Russell, from Laurie King's Beekeeper's Apprentice series. She's an unabashed feminist, smart enough to keep Sherlock Holmes on his toes, and unfailingly awesome. Harry Crewe, from Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword, who manages to be completely real and someone to aspire to.

There are some YA writers who bring it on with pretty much every book. Patricia C. Wrede writes almost nothing but awesome heroines, but my favorites are Cimorene and Morwen from the Enchanted Forest books and Eff from Frontier Magic. I kinda jumped on the Tamora Pierce bandwagon as a six-year-old and never looked back; Kel's my favorite but it's a pretty close race. And Ella, from Ella Enchanted? (The book. We ignore the film.) I am really grateful I read that book as a thirteen-year-old; it was good for me then and is still a favorite now. Finally, Mikey and Margalo, from Cynthia Voigt's Bad Girls series. Those are books that remind you how hard it is to be yourself and how important it is to do it anyway.

And, you know, pretty much any main character in a Jane Austen novel. It's not like there are any I don't like.

I ... definitely did not just stand in front of my bookshelf for ten minutes going "awwww," and "can't forget her!" That didn't happen. Absolutely not.


As a kid I loved Nancy Drew, George from the Famous Five, and the Australian heroine Norah Linton from the Billabong series (set on a cattle station in the early 1900's).

Love Jane Austen's Elizabth Bennett and Elinor Dashwood; Hermione Grainger; Jill from the Deverry series (who turns her back on the love of her life to fulfill her destiny as one of the greatest magicians in the land); Kinsey Milhone (Sue Grafton's Alphabet series); and Phryne Fischer (a 1928 Melbourne detective) who enjoys her many lovers as much as her many cocktails. Great topic, by the way!

So many ladies!

Agree with all those Thursday Nexts and Ann Shirleys, but I loved Lydia Sanderson from the moment I read "The Jump Off Creek". She was stoic and independent and never shied from work or a challenge (plus, she gets points for being set in Oregon, like Bitch, n'est-ce pas?).

Dinah from "The Red Tent" (although I am more a Leah myself) - I loved that Anita Diamant took an existing character from another work and layered her so completely. Dinah is a survivor like Lydia.

Finally, and I'm not ashamed to admit it, Claire Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. Claire anchors herself around her family, but understands her own needs and manages her own growth.

Several echoes and a slight stretch of the word heroine.

I can't take credit for nominating, but can only back up the following: Lyra of the His Dark Materials set. Octavia Butler's Mary, and Kathy Acker's many female protagonists, though it does help, as one reader pointed out, to have a little Cixous under your belt. Dinah of Red Tent, a survivor to the core.

If we're talking favorite influences from my late teens, Sissy Hankshaw of the mighty thumbs from Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. Tashi from Posessing the Secret of Joy. Jeanette (shout out to queer women in lit!) from Oranges are Not the Only Fruit; more than half of my own copy of that book is underlined.

And I humbly submit my favorites, both murderers: First, Bernadette O'Brien of Carole Maso's Defiance. Maybe she's not someone you would hope your daughter grows up to be, but the unapologetic way she copes with her world, the richness of her psyche--embedded in the language of lyricism--is unforgettable. And finally and most importantly, Sethe of Beloved. Who finds a way to go on in an emotionally impossible world.

Annie on My Mind

Liza Winthrop of Nancy Garden's novel Annie on my Mind. Neither of these young girls, Liza or Annie, act particularly heroically, but they like each other so much and together try to figure out teenagehood and first love. Reading about girls who liked each other, who lived in big exciting New York City, who were able to dash over to the Metropolitan Museum... I was jealous and in love with the both of them all at once! My copy of the book is older than I am, and so well-read you can barely read the title on the spine.

Gemma Doyle from the Gemma

Gemma Doyle from the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. She is a young woman growing up in strict conservative Victorian times. She is stubborn and nonconfirming, she is strong, determined and holds great power within herself. She can open the door to the realms where her and her friends are far away from their other world. At the end of the story she sets sail for a new life in America. She risked her life for the one she loved.

I was wondering when she

I was wondering when she would get mentioned she is an amazing character in an amazing series

I think Coraline should

I think Coraline should definitely make the list!

Hermoine Granger

Hermoine Granger from the Harry Potter series was the best heroine, because she is so smart, in a time when girls aren't supposed to be smart. It's even stated by more than one adult/professor/auror that she is the brightest witch of her age. She's not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, she is fiercely loyal to Harry Potter; she knows how to love unconditionally, but she's not afraid to punch Draco Malfoy in the face. She stands up for the right of house elves; which would be like standing up for slaves’ pre-civil war. She is always there to give a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on. And she knows just about everything there is to know about magic. She can heal, she can transfigure, she can pack a Mary Poppins-esque bag, and she can jinx, and do complicated charms. She is truly a role model for girls everywhere; because she isn't afraid to be smart, or look weird. She is fine with people talking about her behind her back, or professors being annoyed with her infinite knowledge. And in a time when girls are seeing shirts that say "I'm allergic to algebra" and told to be prettier, skinner, and dumber, Hermoine is the perfect example of what we should be seeing ourselves. As a heroine; not some girl that gets all the boys, but a girl that is smart, independent and doesn't care what anyone else thinks.


Other random ones ...

from Mrs. Dalloway, Clarissa Dalloway

I think we should also include Michael Cunningham's Virginia Woolf in his book The Hours

from Love in the Time of Cholera, Fermina Daza

from Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Antoinette (since so many have mentioned Jane Eyre)

from The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, the Countess Ellen Olenska

A number of my favorites have

A number of my favorites have already been mentioned (some several times), so I'll try to limit it to a few that haven't:
Dicey from the Tillerman series by Cynthia Voigt, Valancy Stirling from The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery, Helen Graham/Huntington from Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle, Mercy Thompson from Patricia Briggs' series, and Molly Gibson from Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell.

my favourite female heroin

My newest favourite female heroine has got to be Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games.

favorite heroine

Pippi longstocking... Kind of silly, but she was a huge inspiration to me as a kid! Totally independent, lived by her own rules, and utterly free. Not to mention her superhuman strength.

Already mentioned, but my

Already mentioned, but my childhood heroines were Tamora Pierce's Keladry, and Cimorene and Morwen from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles—all very down-to-earth, hardworking, strong and uncompromising, all qualities I aspire to. Tempered with idealism and a sense of what is right, too.

After a recent re-read, I've really come to respect Mehitabel Parr from Sarah Monette's series the Doctrine of Labyrinths. (Very adult books.) Introduced in the second book, she becomes a viewpoint character in the third book. In a patriarchal society, she has sex not just because she's an actress and a spy, but because she also genuinely likes it and is unabashed about it. She's smart, very smart, is put in some genuinely awful situations but makes the best out of them, and despite her cynicism is drawn to helping the vulnerable. She isn't the most beautiful, but she gains high status because of her wit, abilities, and personality.


I recently read <i>Sabriel</i> by Garth Nix, per a recommendation, and I loved it. I'm not even particularly interested in YA, and I still devoured the whole trilogy. Despite my eternal love for Scout Finch, I have to vote for Sabriel here. She takes it upon herself to go on a dangerous, fantastical mission to rescue her father, using her own knowledge and strength. I love her agency--she's everything a delicate princess isn't.

To the little girl, inspiration at its finest

Coraline - Kids make the best heroes. They teach us that even at our most vulnerable stage of life, we harbor an inner strength unlike any other. That's why my choice for a kick-ass heroine goes to the girl who conquered her own fantastical monsters with unexpected courageousness and resourcefulness. Being trapped in a hostile, parallel universe certainly is not easy. Coraline’s spunk and sense of adventure make this simple yet haunting tale a win for those who find themselves having trouble defeating their own button-eyed witches.

Lisbeth Salander, from Girl

Lisbeth Salander, from Girl With A Dragon tattoo. She may completely fucked-up in the head and do some morally "wrong" things, but I love seeing a heroine that gets to kick ass and save the hero, instead of playing damsel in distress.

Friday from the novel Friday,

Friday from the novel Friday, Deety and Hilda from Number of the Beast by Robert A. Heinlein, are all inspiring to me. (Yes there are seriously problematic things in Heinlein's novels, but all of these women are exceedingly smart and capable. As well, Heinlein is one of the few authors who has female mathematician characters.)

Elspeth from Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar novels. She transforms from a bratty child, to a powerful woman able to take destiny into her own hands.

Phedre from Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel books. Intelligent, brave, highly sexual and able to be submissive/masochist without letting that make her less of a person. Plus she saves her country from destruction multiple times.

(Yes, these are not necessarily, the best written of books....but the characters are inspiring to me.)


Congrats to de Pizan, ninah, Jellybean Bonanza, Daemon, and winter_rouge! Each of you will be receiving a paperback copy of <em>The Heroine's Bookshelf</em> (look for an email soon). Thanks to everyone else for participating! Feel free to keep adding to the list as you think of other favorites.

A little late, but I can't resist...

...mentioning Ellen Olenska from Edith Wharton's the Age of Innoncence. She lives in 19th century New York in the extremely contricting upper class "society" but manages to be on her own and doesn't see the point in conforming to pointless and rigid class standards. While her inner-life isn't as well imagined as Archer's (the novel's male hero) she's a standout gal with a house full of books!

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