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Women Authors : Recommended Resources

The most famous female authors

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855)

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888)

Willa Cather (1873-1947)

Kate Chopin (1850-1904)

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)

Suggested databases for articles on 19th and 20th century British and American women authors

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar includes both books and articles. Be careful when selecting that the source is reputable. If an article is not made freely available online, remember that you can use the BC3 Library's Request an Article service to request it and we will do our best to obtain it and email it to you - free of charge.

Meet the past: Willa Cather

Bronte County: The story of Emily, Charlotte, and Anne Bronte

Jane Austen Country: The life and times of Jane Austen

Featured Print Books

Featured E-Books

Related Guides by the BC3 Library

The Academic Article

Click the smiling Librarian to view how to quickly scan and evaluate an academic article.

Books

The BC3 Library has both print and electronic books on works by women authors  (both the novels and criticisms). They are all listed in the BC3 Library Catalog where you will find Dewey call numbers to locate books on the shelves (lower level of the library) and links to connect you to e-books. E-books can also be searched separately in our two e-book collections: e-Book Central by Proquest and e-Book Collection by EBSCO.

Browsing the Stacks

American literature goes from 810-819.

  • 811 is the call number for American poetry in English. 
  • 812 is the call number for American drama in English. 
  • 813 is the call number for general works of American fiction in English

British literature goes from 820-829.

  • 821 is the call number for English poetry
  • 822 is the call number for English drama
  • 823 is the call number for English fiction 

Secondary material on literary sources will also be from 810-829. They will be next to the works published by an author like Virginia Woolf (they will be cataloged under the author's name, NOT the name of the scholar who has published a work on the author's overall collection or a specific novel). For example: Virginia Woolf: her art as a novelist, by Joan Bennett can be found at 823.912 W883Yb

Novels (works of fiction) can be found on the second floor of the library in the fiction collection (i.e. Emma, My Antonia, Wuthering Heights). 

 

 

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Reference Librarian

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Julie Tulba
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724.287.8711 ext. 8292

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and the "rest cure"

In 1892 American author Charlotte Perkins Gilman published a short story entitled "The Yellow Wall-paper." It's considered to be at the forefront of early American feminist literature for its depiction of the attitudes towards women's mental and physical health during the 19th century. 

The story is about a young woman and her husband who imposes a rest cure on her when she suffers "temporary nervous depression" after the birth of their baby. The women who is the story's narrator is confined to an upstairs nursery and begins to lose her mind after a time, the wallpaper becoming her focus of discontent. While her madness progresses, so does her awareness of the way her creative energies are curtailed. Her obsession with the wallpaper continues as she struggles to free the woman crawling behind the pattern. 

Women's rights advocates of the era believed that the outbreak of this mental instability was a result of their setbacks regarding the roles they were allowed to play in a male-dominated society (a wife, mother, and keeper of house). Women were even discouraged from writing because it would ultimately create an identity (one that was separate from that of their husband's, father's, or other male relative) and become a form of defiance. Gilman realized that writing became one of the only forms of existence for women at a time when they had very few rights. 

The rest cure was considered to be effective in curing "female hysteria." As its name suggests, rest cure consisted of a significant amount of bed rest and the avoidance of all physical and intellectual activity.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, female hysteria was one of the most readily diagnosed medical disorders with many believing that women were predisposed to mental and behavioral conditions. By giving this fictitious health condition a name and thus legitimatizing it, it allowed men to explain away any behaviors or symptoms that made them uncomfortable (i.e. a woman thinking for herself...a woman having an outspoken opinion on a topic that was considered men's affairs...a woman who enjoyed reading and writing, beyond what society dictated was appropriate for their gender). 

The call number for the library's copy of The yellow wall-paper is 813. G42y2.