Lady Classics


This is a reading series at the slow pace of a minimum of one book a month plus a review that focuses on ‘classic’ books by women that may or may not fit the Western Literary canon. These books include currently considered classics by women, classic books that were once popular but have fallen out of favour, modern classics, queer classics, classics by women of colour, translated classics, classics by Indigenous women, books that should have been classics but never were, and more. I’m also not just sticking to novels but am also opening the definition of classic up to poetry, journals, memoirs, short stories, correspondence and other pieces of writing that may not fit the Eurocentric definition of a classic. This list is very British-centric right now but I’m endeavouring to change that. Please feel welcome to send me any recommendations not on this list.

Books are ordered by timeframe and then by author’s last name. If the author does not have a last name, then their work is sorted by first name and title. If a book was published or translated at a much later date than written, I’ve ordered the book based on when it was originally written.


Sappho: If Not, Winter


Murasaki, Shikibu: The Diary of Lady Murasaki
Murasaki, Shikibu: The Tale of Genji
Shonagon, Sei: The Pillow Book


Comnena, Anna: The Alexiad
Marie de France: Guingamor, Lanval, Tyolet, Bisclaveret: Four lais rendered into English prose


Lady Nijō: The Confessions of Lady Nijō


Marguerite of Navarre: The Heptaméron


Cavendish, Margaret: The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World
Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne, comtesse de La Fayette: La Princesse de Clèves
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: Poems, Protest, and a Dream: Selected Writings


Cavendish, Georgiana: The Sylph
Burney, Fanny: Camilla: Or, A Picture of Youth
Burney, Fanny: Cecilia: Or, Memoirs of an Heiress
Burney, Fanny: The Wanderer: Or, Female Difficulties
Foster, Hannah Webster: The Coquette or, The History of Eliza Wharton
Inchbald, Elizabeth: A Simple Story
Lennox, Charlotte: The Female Quixote
Radcliffe, Ann: The Mysteries of Udolpho
Radcliffe, Ann: A Sicilian Romance
Reeve, Clara: The Old English Baron
Wheatley, Phillis: Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral
Wollstonecraft, Mary: A Vindication of the Rights of Woman


Alcotte, Louisa May: Little Woman
Austen, Jane: Emma
Austen, Jane: Mansfield Park
Austen, Jane: Northanger Abbey
Austen, Jane: Persuasion
Austen, Jane: Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane: Sense and Sensibility
Brontë (Charlotte, Emily & Anne): Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell
Brontë, Anne: Anges Grey
Brontë, Anne: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Brontë, Charlotte: Jane Eyre
Brontë, Charlotte: Shirley
Brontë, Emily: Wuthering Heights
Edgeworth, Maria: The Absentee
Edgeworth, Maria: Castle Rackrent
Ferrier, Susan: Marriage
Gaskell, Elizabeth: Mary Barton
Howe, Julia Ward: The Hermaphrodite
Lady Hyegyeong: The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong
Liliuokalani: Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen
Lister, Anne: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister
Martineau, Harriet: Deerbrook
Mitford, Mary Russell: Our Village
Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus


Austen, Jane: Lady Susan
Braddon, Mary Elizabeth: The Doctor’s Wife
Braddon, Mary Elizabeth: Lady Audley’s Secret
Brontë, Charlotte: The Professor
Brontë, Charlotte: Villette
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett: Sonnets from the Portuguese
Callahan, Alice: Wynema: A Child of the Forest
Cambridge, Ada: The Three Miss Kings
Chopin, Kate: The Awakening and Other Stories
Collins, Julia C.: The Curse of Caste, or The Slave Bride
Craik, Dinah Maria Mulock: John Halifax, Gentleman
Dickinson, Emily: Poems: The Complete Three Series
Dunbar-Nelson, Alice: Laughing to Stop Myself Crying
Eliot, George: Middlemarch
Eliot, George: Scenes of Clerical Life
Far, Sui Sin: A Chinese Ishmael and Other Stories
Gaskell, Elizabeth: Cranford
Gaskell, Elizabeth: North and South
Gaskell, Elizabeth: Wives and Daughters
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins: The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories
Grand, Sarah: The Beth Book
Grand, Sarah: The Heavenly Twins
Higuchi, Ichiyo: In The Shade Of Spring Leaves: The Life Of Higuchi Ichiyo, With Nine Of Her Best Stories
Howe, Julia Ward: Reminiscences: 1819–1899
Jacobs, Harriet Ann: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
Jewett, Sarah Orne: The Country of the Pointed Firs
Keckley, Elizabeth Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House
Moodie, Susanna: Roughing it in the Bush
Oliphant, Margaret Oliphant Wilson: The Beleagured City: and Other Tales of the Seen and the Unseen
Seacole, Mary Jane: Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands
Spence, Catherine Helen: Mr. Hogarth’s Will
Truth, Sojourner: The Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Ward, Mary Augusta: Helbeck of Bannisdale
Ward, Mary Augusta: Robert Elsmere
Watkins, Frances Ellen: Iola Leroy
Wells, Ida B.: The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States
Wells, Ida B.: Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases
Wilson, Harriet E.: Our Nig; or, Sketches From the Life of a Free Black
Winnemucca, Sarah: Life Among the Paiutes: Their Wrongs and Claims
Wood, Elizabeth Jay: East Lynne
Yonge, Charlotte Mary: The Heir of Redclyffe


Babb, Sanora: Whose Names Are Unknown
Barney, Natalie Clifford: Quelques portraits – Sonnets des femmes
Brooks, Gwendolyn: A Street in Bronzeville
Chang, Eileen: Half a Lifelong Romance
Chang, Eileen: Love in a Fallen City
Colette: The Pure and the Impure
Crawford, Isabella Valancy: The Collected Poems of Isabella Valancy Crawford
de Pougy, Liane: Idylle Saphique
Deloria, Ella Cara: Waterlily
Far, Sui Sin: Mrs. Spring Fragrance
Fauset, Jessie Redmon: Plum Bun
Ferber, Edna: Buttered Side Down
Freeman, Mary Eleanor Wilkins: By the Light of a Soul
Gildow, Lisa: On a Grey Thread
Grimké, Angelina Weld: Rachel
Goldman, Emma: Anarchism and Other Essays
Hall, Radclyffe: The Unlit Lamp
Hall, Radclyffe: The Well of Loneliness
Hong, Xiao: The Field of Life and Death & Tales of Hulan River
Hopkins, Pauline: Contending Forces: A Romance Illustrative of Negro Life North and South
Hopkins, Pauline: Of One Blood
Hurston, Zora Neale: Moses, Man of the Mountain
Hurston, Zora Neale: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Johnson, E. Pauline: Flint and Feather
Johnson, E. Pauline: Legends of Vancouver
Johnson, E. Pauline: The Moccasin Maker
Johnson, E. Pauline: The Shagganappi
Johnson, Georgia Douglas: The Plays of Georgia Douglas Johnson
Keller, Helen: The Story of My Life
Larsen, Nella: Quicksand
Lehmann, Rosamond: Drusty Answer
Lowell, Amy: Pictures of the Floating World
Mistral, Gabriela: Selected Poems
Montgomery, Lucy Maud: Anne of Green Gables
Narsen, Nella: Passing
Ocampo, Silvina: Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Short Stories
Petry, Ann: The Street
Sato, Ineko: Five Faces of Japanese Feminism: Crimson and Other Works
Roy, Gabrielle: Bonheur d’occasion (The Tin Flute)
Smart, Elizabeth: By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept
Stein, Gertrude: Q.E.D. (Things As They Are)
Undset, Sigrid: Kristin Lavransdatter
Vivien, Renée: Woman of the Wolf and Other Stories
Watanna, Onoto: The Heart of Hyacinth
Waugh, Evelyn: Brideshead Revisited
Wells, Ida B.: Crusade for Justice: The Autobiography of Ida B. Wells
West, Dorothy: The Living is Easy
Wharton, Edith: The Age of Innocence
Wharton, Edith: The Custom of the Country
Wharton, Edith: The House of Mirth
Wharton, Edith: Summer
Woolf, Virginia: Jacob’s Room
Woolf, Virginia: Mrs Dalloway
Woolf, Virginia: Night and Day
Woolf, Virginia: Orlando
Woolf, Virginia: To the Lighhouse
Woolf, Virginia: The Voyage Out
Woolf, Virginia: The Waves
Woolf, Virginia: The Years
Yoshiya, Nobuko: Two Virgins in the Attic
Zitkala-Sa: American Indian Stories


Adnan, Etel: Sitt Marie-Rose
Allende, Isabel: The House of the Spirits
Angelou, Maya: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Ariyoshi, Sawako: The Doctor’s Wife
Atwood, Margaret: The Handmaid’s Tale
Atwood, Margaret: Oryx and Crake
Bâ, Mariama: Une si longue lettre (So Long a Letter)
Belli, Gioconda: The Inhabited Woman
Berlin, Lucia: A Manual for Cleaning Ladies
Brooks, Gwendolyn: Selected Poems
Brown, Rita May: Rubyfruit Jungle
Butler, Octavia E. Kindred
Butler, Octavia E.: Parable of the Sower
Carter, Angela: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories
Castellanos, Rosario: The Book of Lamentations
Chang, Eileen: Naked Earth
Desai, Anita: Fire on the Mountain
El-Saadawi, Nawal: God Dies By the Nile
El-Saadawi, Nawal: Memoirs of a Woman Doctor
Enchi, Fumiko: The Waiting Years
Esquivel, Laura: Like Water for Chocolate
Garréta, Anne: Sphinx
Hansberry, Lorraine: A Raisin in the Sun
Highsmith, Patricia: The Price of Salt
Hilst, Hilda: Letters from a Seducer
Hulme, Keri: The Bone People
Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer: A Backwards Place
Jordan, June: Who Look at Me
Kogawa, Joy: Obasan
Laurence, Margaret: The Diviners
Laurence, Margaret: The Stone Angel
Laye, Camara: The Dark Child
Le Guin, Ursula K.: The Left Hand of Darkness
Lispector, Clarice: The Hour of the Star
Lessing, Doris: The Golden Notebook
Lessing, Doris: Shikasta
Lorde, Audre: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name
Marshall, Paule: Brown Girl, Brownstones
Miaojin, Qiu: Notes of a Crocodile
Miller, Isabel: Patience & Sarah
Morrison, Toni: Beloved
Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye
Morrison, Toni: Song of Solomon
Morrison, Toni: Sula
Munro, Alice: The Love of a Good Woman
Nwapa, Flora: Efuru
O’Connor, Flannery: The Violent Bear it Away
O’Connor, Flannery: Wise Blood
Ortese, Anna Maria: The Iguana
Pizarnik, Alejandra: Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962 – 1972
Plath, Sylvia: The Bell Jar
Rich, Adrienne: A Dream of a Common Language
Roy, Arundhati: The God of Small Things
Roy, Gabrielle: Ces enfants de ma vie (Children of My Heart)
Rule, Jane: The Young in Another’s Arms
Saleh, Arwa: The Stillborn
Schulman, Sarah: Empathy
Shields, Carol: The Stone Diaries
Sone, Monica: Nisei Daughter
Szymborska, Wisława: View With a Grain of Sand: Selected Poems
Taylor, Valerie: They Whisper Their Love
Tiptree Jr., James: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever
Tokarczuk, Olga: Primeval and Other Times
Valenzuela, Luisa: He Who Searches
Vieux-Chauvet, Marie: Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy
Vinge, Joan D.: The Snow Queen
Walker, Alice: The Colour Purple
Walker, Margaret: Jubilee
Winterson, Jeannette: Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Yakubu, Balaraba Ramat: Sin is a Puppy that Follows You Home
Yoshimoto, Banana: Kitchen


Binnie, Imogen: Nevada
Nappaaluk, Mitiarjuk: Sanaaq: An Inuit Novel
Plet, Casey: A Safe Girl to Love
Robinson, Eden: Monkey Beach