Female Authors Who Were Great Innovators in Other Fields

Women are wonderful and versatile, and these five accomplished women are no different! Read on to learn more about these multi-talented female authors.

Book Culture Bookstr Trivia Female Authors
Mary Phelps Jacob smiling and tilting her head.

Women are often portrayed as one-dimensional, both in fiction and in real life. They’re defined by one thing, whether that’s being a writer, a teacher, a mother, etc. But women are so much more than one thing, and we don’t fit neatly into one box. For example, the women on this list were wonderful writers and literary figures, but they weren’t limited by writing. Read on to learn more.

A.D.T. Whitney, aka Adeline D.T. Whitney

Whitney was born in Massachusetts on September 15, 1824. She primarily wrote for young girls, with stories like Mother Goose for Grown Folks and Faith Gartney’s Girlhood. She also wrote poetry and occasional journal articles, but she was best known for her novels.

A signed drawing of Adeline D.T. Whitney.
IMAGE VIA LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

Whitney invented modern alphabet blocks in 1882. Although they existed since the late 17th century, we’re most familiar with her version. Not only that, but she was the one who introduced the possibility of using these blocks to teach small children the alphabet. While alphabet blocks look different now than in 1882, they are still important for child development.

Marie Curie

Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland on November 7, 1867. She didn’t start writing until 1898, when she and her husband, Pierre Curie, started writing for scientific journals at the School of Chemistry and Physics in Paris. She has written a few books about her research, such as Radioactive Substances and a biography of her husband titled Pierre Currie. She also kept detailed notes on her research, though because they are still radioactive due to her and her husband’s research, it is difficult for anyone to look at them.

Marie Curie staring distantly with a serious expression.
IMAGE VIA MARIECURIE.ORG

Curie is best known for discovering radium as well as polonium, and she majorly contributed to cancer treatments. She was given many awards, including two Nobel Prizes. The first one was in 1903, which she shared with her husband for their research on radiation, and then in 1911 for her work in radioactivity. However, the radiation exposure ultimately caused her death by aplastic anemia, meaning her body couldn’t produce new blood cells. It was a terrible loss, but her work was revolutionary and has contributed much to what we know today.

Caresse Crosby, aka Mary Phelps Jacob

Crosby was born in New York on April 20, 1892, and she was an incredibly successful woman. Along with her husband, Harry Crosby, she cofounded a publishing house called Éditions Narcisse, later changing it to Black Sun Press, and later founded the Crosby Continental Editions publishing house. She was also a poet, and she published books of poetry such as Crosses of Gold and Graven Images, both of which are out of print.

Mary Phelps Jacob smiling and tilting her head.
IMAGE VIA PHELPS FAMILY HISTORY

Not only this, but Crosby was the inventor of the modern-day bra. She had it patented in 1914 after getting frustrated with her corset poking out of her dress. There had been attempts to reform bras in the past, but Crosby’s idea stuck because she was intimately familiar with the problem of corsets. She founded her own company, Fashion Form Brassière Company, in 1922. If not for her, there’s no telling what bras would look like now.

Mary Shelley

Shelley was born in London, England, on August 30, 1797. She was best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein, (also called The Modern Prometheus), and she was often called the mother of science fiction. She wrote many other books, such as Valperga and The Last Man, but none of them ever had the same literary achievements and popularity.

Mary Shelley looking away with a thoughtful expression.
IMAGE VIA MARYSHELLEY.NET

Shelley was a political radical, which can be seen in her works. Her political book, Rambles in Germany and Italy, challenges the societal convention that women shouldn’t write politics. Some of her books, including Frankenstein, argue that sympathy and compassion, attributed to women at the time, were sorely needed to change their society. Most of her radical and political ideology was censored, and most of her books were out of print for decades.

May Sinclair, aka Mary Amelia St. Clair

Sinclair was born in Cheshire, England, on August 24, 1863. She wrote about two dozen novels, including Audrey Craven and Mary Olivier: A Life. She was also a literary critic and the first to use “stream-of-consciousness” in a literary sense. Many of her works included psychological themes, including the impacts of war and sexual repression.

May Sinclair leaning on a wall with her arm raised.
IMAGE VIA MAY SINCLAIR SOCIETY

Sinclair was a prominent suffragette and a member of the Woman Writers’ Suffrage League and the Women’s Social and Political Union. These groups published letters and other works of hers, fighting to gain women’s rights, including the right to vote. She has been forgotten, yet she played an essential role in women’s suffrage.

These women did so much for literature and other fields. They deserve to be remembered and celebrated for all of their contributions.


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FEATURED IMAGE VIA PHELPS FAMILY HISTORY