Surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), Women’s History Month dates only back to 1981, when Congress passed Pub. L 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week”. Women got the whole month of March beginning in 1987.
I wanted to create a women-centric booklist to commemorate Women’s History Month, but I couldn’t quite decide on a more precise topic. Suffragettes? The stories of the women (and men) who fought and died to assure women a place in the voting booth deserve to be told more widely, especially as 2020 marks the centennial of the year women got the right to vote. But stronger voices than mine are telling the stories of Women’s Suffrage – like the Library of Virginia’s “We Demand” exhibition on the history of women’s voting rights in Virginia.
I wanted something a little … wider. Something that included the voices of more women. I decided I wanted to look at historical fiction. Many of us found history a deadly dull school topic – memorizing dates and battles and names of famous men and more dates. My eyes roll back in my head just remembering history classes! But historical fiction is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish! The research is there. The facts and figures and dates are there. But so are the people. Even though you might already know the bare bones outlines, historical fiction authors give voices to the people of history, and what a difference that makes! History is no longer a dull recitation, but compelling stories that keep you up late, turning pages, wanting to know what happens next.
But the search term “historical fiction” turned up w-a-a-a-y too many titles, even limiting the results to books about women. I needed a new search term. Hmmmm. Aha! The search term I wanted turned out to be “biographical fiction”. This is the correct search term for books that are fictionalized accounts of real people. Some of them may be very loosely based on a historical personage, others hew very close to official historical documents.
Still, I ended up with So. Many. Titles. Too many for even a lengthy book list. How to prune the list? Well, instead of limiting myself to one list, I decided that MORE LISTS was the way to go. How many did it take? Well, I stopped with SEVEN, but I could have created many, many more!