10 Literary Wonder Women

Last week I put up this post, asking about readers’ favourite female protagonists in literature. I wanted to compile a list, but decided that I could only give my stamp of approval to characters from books I have already read!

So here are my ten literary wonder women…

Jean Paget – Feminine, but tough in the face of adversity and a visionary philanthropist. From Neville Shute’s A Town Like Alice.

Marion Halcombe – Un-pretty but intelligent and resourceful, and a fabulous heroine in The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

Jo March – A tomboy with a passion for writing who is always getting herself into trouble in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women

George Kirrin – Another adventurous and courageous tomboy from Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five children’s books.

Betty Vanderpoel – Rescues her downtrodden sister with panache in The Shuttle, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Jean Brodie – Charismatic and (dubiously) opinionated teacher in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Hermione Granger – Wonderfully sparky, girl-geek from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series

Matilda Wormwood – A brave little girl with a love of books who stands up to her bullying head-teacher in Roald Dahl’s Matilda.

Maya – Overcomes racism and personal trauma in coming of age novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Antigone, Classical heroine who stands up for what she believes in despite facing punishment by death in Sophocles’ Antigone (Oedipus Tragedies)

There are quite a few books I now want to read after all your suggestions including Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (for Becky Sharp), Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (for Miss Taggart) and Pride and Predjudice by Jane Austen (for Elizabeth Bennet) as I’ve only seen the TV series, whoops!

What do you think of my top ten?

19 responses to “10 Literary Wonder Women

  1. I heartily applaud Marion Halcome and Jo March but haven’t read the others yet.

    I insist that you read The Hunger Games, Polly, too. Katniss is a great heroine and I guarantee you will love the book!

    • novelinsights

      Sounds like one I will definitely have to look out for! I may allow myself a book binge in the not too distant future…

  2. Oh what am I talking about? I have read A Town Like Alice and The Famous Five too! Both brilliant!

  3. I love your list! Personally I would have included Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables, but that’s because I live very close to PEI and I’m currently re-reading it as an adult!

    • novelinsights

      I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables so I couldn’t judge, but with so many recommendations it sounds like a book I should pick up anyway, if a little belatedly in life!!

  4. I love your top ten list! Especially, Jo March, Hermione Granger and Maya. Great picks!

  5. Great list. I love Jo but, I really didn’t like how she married that other man at the end. I always felt she belonged with Laurie and that was just compensating.

    I also forgot to add Lucy Snow from Villette. She was quite the heroine and not too dissimilar from Jane Eyre.

    All these women ended up being married!

    • novelinsights

      That is true… it was a bit out of character, almost as if she gave in I suppose. Thanks for the extra recommendation too!

  6. I hope you get around to read Pride and Prejudice sometime.. And I love that you included Matilda. I always wanted to be Matilda when I was younger.

    • novelinsights

      Oh Matilda was such a little heroine wasn’t she. I think I wanted to be her too a little bit. Definitely need to read P&P. It’s a bit of a bookish crime that I haven’t…

  7. Great list. And I think the fact that Maya is a real person makes her even more amazing.

  8. Jo March, Nancy Drew, Jane Eyre, the wife Ellen in Whipple’s Someone at a Distance, Mrs. Ramsay in To The Lighthouse, Lady Slane in All Passion Spent, Pru in Precious Bane, Cather’s Antonia Shimerda, Peggotty, and Elizabeth Bennet. Honorable mention to all the women in almost any novel by Barbara Pym, carrying on bravely.

  9. I am in complete agreement with George, Betty, Marion and Hermoine what a marvellous list!!!

  10. Love that list! definitely agree with you on Marion, Matilda, Hermione. And of course Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Eyre, Elphaba, Ronja the Robber´s daughter, . . . 🙂

  11. One name to add to the list of literary Wonder Women would be Dorothea Brooke of Middlemarch. She is brilliant.

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