Women have been making history for years as we all know. Only now, however, are some of us receiving the recognition we have deserved for decades. For women’s history month, I am excited to share some of my suggestions of biographies of exceptional women you should read to learn more about the ways in which we, as women, have made and continue to make history!
1. Kamala’s Way: An American Life by Dan Morain
Kamala’s Way is a biography about one of the most recent and very significant history makers, Kamala Harris. Kamala Harris, if you somehow do not know, is the first woman and therefore woman of color to hold the role of Vice-President of the United States of America. In this biography, Morain details how Kamala, the daughter of two immigrants, worked her way to being one of America’s most effective power players. This one is definitely a must-read for this month especially since she has made history right in front of our eyes!
2. James Tiptree, Jr: The Double Life of Alice b. Sheldon by Julie Phillips
In this book by Julie Phillips, she details the interesting story of Alice B. Sheldon, a popular science fiction author who published under the male name James Tiptree Jr. The book explores Sheldon’s childhood, her life as a chicken farmer, artist, and even a CIA agent, up until her shocking suicide in 1987. Sheldon influenced the creation of the James Tiptree Jr science fiction award and is a part of women’s history that is worth knowing!
3. CANDY DARLING: MEMOIRS OF AN ANDY WARHOL SUPERSTAR BY CANDY DARLING AND JAMES RASIN
This book, with an introduction by James Rasin, is comprised of the memoirs of Candy Darling, a glamourous, talented, and proactive transgender actress. Born in Queens in 1944, her stories highlight what it was like being transgender during a time when the gay rights movement was in full swing. After coming into her own and fully transitioning by her early twenties, Darling was cast and made into an Andy Warhol superstar as he found her irresistible. Darling made a dent in American culture and is an important story to consume this month!
4. Wrapped in Rainbows: The Life of Zora Neal Hurston by Valerie Boyd
Wrapped in Rainbows is the first biography of Zora Neal Hurston, author of the literary classic Their Eyes Were Watching God among others, in more than twenty-five years. This book highlights the complexities and sorrows of Hurston’s life as Boyd delves into her history including: Hurston’s youth in the country’s first incorporated all-black town, her friendships with other inspiring individuals like Langston Hughes, her sexuality and short-lived marriages, and her mysterious relationship with Vodou.
5. Free Woman: The Life and Times of Victoria Woodhall by Marion Meade
In Free Woman Meade creates a vivid picture of the exceptional figure that was Victoria Woodhall, a revolutionary during the Victorian era whose actions began to change the way Americans thought about the right to vote, particularly women’s suffrage. Woodhall set the stage for political emancipation to come throughout the twentieth century. She ran for president of the United States in 1872 by which she had twice been divorced and her campaign actually outraged even the feminists of her day because she refused to confine her campaign to only the issue of women’s suffrage. Meade fully portrays the era in which Woodhall lived, in all of its truest and often most unflattering colors.
6. Unbowed: A Memoir by Wangari Maathai
Unbowed, Maathai’s own memoir, follows her extraordinary journey from her childhood in rural Kenya to a powerful activist. Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977, beginning a vital poor people’s environmental movement focusing on the empowerment of women that spread across Africa. Preserving through various challenges to now being a Nobel Prize Winner, she is an important figure to learn about this month!
7. Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
Nobel Peace Prize winner and Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai creates a creative and fun story to inspire young readers in this biographical children’s book. The book follows a young Yousafzai as she wishes for a magic pencil to make everyone happy, erase the smell of garbage from her city, and have extra time to sleep longer in the morning. However, as Yousafzai grows older we see her shift her focus to more important social issues and the importance of working hard to achieve her dreams. This picture book is a short way to engage children and even adults into women’s history this month. However Yousafzai has a full-length biography, I am Malala, that can be found here.