5 Classic Novels Featuring Strong Female Leads


The novels that classify as classics are the ones that we read and reread and with every rereading, it offers as much sense of discovery as the first time. If we turn the pages of history of English Literature, we are bound to find various classic novels written in the past centuries that feature strong female leads. These women are headstrong, audacious, and above all aren’t afraid to speak up. 

Here are 5 Classic English novels that features a woman as the main lead:

1.The Colour Purple by Alice Walker 

The story of this novel revolves around the character Sofia, a young woman born into slavery and in a world where women were inferior to men and for a woman of colour, Sofia had to fight for herself in order to follow her dreams. 

Sofia’s tragic story may bring you to tears. Throughout the novel, Walker portrays female friendships as a means for women to gain the courage to tell stories to resist oppression and dominance. Thus, the theme of the novel is to always stay strong and keep fighting for their rights and relationships among women helps in forming a refuge, providing reciprocal love in a world filled with male violence.

2. Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

The popular Netflix adaptation of this novel, Anne with an E has caused quite a stir lately. Published in 1908, the novel deals with the story of Anne, an orphan child who is fostered by an older sister and brother who gradually become her family. She is a prototype of a fierce young girl, full of wit, imagination and adventure. Besides, at the same time, she also represents romance and joy. 

3. Mrs Dalloway, Virginia Woolf 

Virginia Woolf was not a feminist in the sense that she wanted women to have equal rights and opportunities as men, but she was feminist in the sense that she wanted a psychological acceptance, with due reverence, of women, by men. Clarissa Dalloway is the 51-year-old protagonist of the novel. She is a devoted wife and mother, and, while reminiscing about her past, spends the day organising a party that will be held that night. She is vivacious and self-conscious about her role in London High society, and cares a great deal about what people think of her. She struggles constantly to balance her internal life with the external world. Besides, she often questions the true meaning of life and wonders whether happiness can be actually achieved. 

4. The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

Considered as one of Plath’s best writings, The Bell Jar depicts the life of Esther Greenwood, a college student who dreams of becoming a poet. She is selected for a month-long summer internship as a guest editor of Ladies’ Day magazine, however her time in New York City is unfulfilling as she deals with identity crisis and societal norms. Furthermore, this novel deals with issues relating to feminism such as power, sexual double standard, the quest for identity as well as search for self-love, and the demands of nurturing.

5. Kindred, Octavia E. Butler 

Written in 1979 by multi-award winning American author Octavia E Butler, Kindred discusses the story of Dana, an African-American woman who is transported back in time from 1976 to pre-Civil War Maryland, where she becomes part of life on a plantation, meets her ancestors and has to make some arduous choices as a black woman in the era of slavery. Moreover, Dana is portrayed as a strong, compassionate and courageous character who has to make some tough decisions to survive and find her way home.

  • Mohor Bhattacharjee 
Mohor Bhattacharjee is from Kolkata, currently pursuing Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. Besides writing, she likes music, movies, and cats. 



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