Rediscovering Forgotten Female Authors of the 19th Century

19th Century Female Authors

Female Authors of the 19th Century

The 19th century was a time of tumultuous change and societal transformation. Amidst the fervor of the Industrial Revolution and the burgeoning fight for women’s rights, literature emerged as a powerful voice of the era. While names like Jane Austen and George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) grace our syllabi and dominate popular adaptations, a myriad of female writers from this period remain shrouded in obscurity. Let’s journey into the pages of the past and rediscover these forgotten female scribes of the 19th century.

Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915)
Mary Elizabeth Braddon via Wikipedia

1. Mary Elizabeth Braddon (1835-1915) Known For: “Lady Audley’s Secret”

Though Braddon’s sensational novels made her one of the best-selling authors of the Victorian era, she’s now often overlooked. “Lady Audley’s Secret” was a masterpiece of the sensation novel genre, filled with bigamy, arson, and insanity.

Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826-1887)
Dinah Maria Mulock Craik via Wikipedia

2. Dinah Maria Mulock Craik (1826-1887) Known For: “John Halifax, Gentleman”

Craik’s works explored the changing middle class of Victorian England. While some considered her work sentimental, her characters were imbued with morality and principles that resonated with readers of her time.

Charlotte Riddell (1832-1906)
Charlotte Riddell via Wikipedia

3. Charlotte Riddell (1832-1906) Known For: “The Old House in Vauxhall Walk”

Riddell, born in Ireland, was known for her chilling ghost stories and supernatural fiction. Her understanding of financial hardships and her keen observations of London life made her tales both haunting and grounded.

Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr (1831-1919)
Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr via Wikipedia

4. Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr (1831-1919) Known For: “Jan Vedder’s Wife”

Born in England but spending much of her life in the U.S., Barr’s novels are gripping accounts of women navigating societal norms, challenges, and the vast landscapes of a changing America.

Rosa Nouchette Carey (1840-1909)
Rosa Nouchette Carey via Wikipedia

5. Rosa Nouchette Carey (1840-1909) Known For: “Nellie’s Memories”

Carey’s novels were known for their domestic themes and intricate portrayals of English home life. They combined evangelical Christianity with themes of love and duty.

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)
Elizabeth Gaskell via Wikipedia

6. Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) Known For: “North and South”

While Gaskell isn’t entirely forgotten, she certainly doesn’t get the attention she deserves. Her works often delved into class conflict, industrialization, and the position of women in society.

Julia Kavanagh (1824-1877)
Julia Kavanagh via Wikipedia

7. Julia Kavanagh (1824-1877) Known For: “Nathalie”

Kavanagh’s novels often discussed issues like women’s employment and the challenges faced by Englishwomen in France. They highlighted the struggles and quiet heroism of women in everyday life.

Reflection: The 19th century was more than just a period of gowns, ballroom dances, and traditional norms. It was a canvas on which women authors painted tales of societal issues, personal struggles, and the silent revolutions of everyday life. These authors, though faded from modern memory, deserve a fresh readership and acknowledgment for their literary contributions.

Rediscovering them isn’t just a nod to the past but an appreciation of the foundations they’ve laid in literature. Next time you’re in a bookstore, or browsing online, take a chance on one of these forgotten gems. And if you’re gifting one, consider using a “Blind Date With A Book” wrap from one of our Blind Date With a Book Templates – making the experience of discovery all the more enchanting.

Did this post inspire you to delve deeper into 19th-century literature? Share your thoughts on social, and let’s celebrate these incredible women together.