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  • Susan Stoderl

International Women's Day | Four Women Writers Who Changed the World


Women of Different Nationalities
Four Women Writers Who Changed the World

Scholars believe that Princess Enheduanna, a woman who lived in ancient Mesopotamia (c. 2285-2250 BCE), was the world's first known author. She was the daughter of Sargon of Akkad, the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire. She served as High Priestess of the Moon god Nanna-Suen. Enheduanna later turned to praise Ianna, blaming Nanna-Suen for another priestess trying to usurp her position. She served as a High Priestess for forty years and is credited with writing forty-two Sumerian temple hymns, as well as several poems.


Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), an 18th-century British woman writer and early feminist, wrote about the place of women within society. Thoughts on the Education of Daughters: with reflections on female conduct, in the more important duties of life, published in 1787. It is a “conduct” book, a new genre popular in Britain between 1760 and 1820. Thoughts informed women and girls of the new middle class about proper female education, emphasizing morality and etiquette, and providing basic child-rearing instructions. The target audience was mothers, young women, and teachers.


Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949) was a political activist, feminist, and poet. Naidu was sometimes called the Nightingale of India. As an Indian independence activist, she was an avid follower of Mahatma Gandhi. She was the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress and to be appointed Governor of the United Provinces. She had numerous books of poetry and political commentary.


Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012) was a Polish essayist and poet. Titled the ‘Mozart of Poland,’ her poetry’s ambiguity, precision, and irony earned her the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1996. Her work has been credited with a revival of poetry all around the world. Szymborska was a prolific writer and had twelve major literary prizes in addition to the Nobel Prize.


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