“Wake me when you cover the Bad GIRLS of Literature,” wrote a commenter who goes by the handle of “Literati” on our recent “10 Legendary Bad Boys of Literature” post. Well, rise and shine, friend, because it’s happening. For this post, we showcase ten fantastic female authors whose careers span 3000 years — from Sappho to Alice Walker — and are just as capable of badass behavior as their male counterparts. We easily could have made this list five times as long, so make your case for any omissions in the comments.
Sappho (Seventh Century BC)
Known both in her own time and today as one of Greece’s most important lyric poets, Sappho has also provided much of our current vocabulary surrounding female homosexuality. Hailing from the isle of Lesbos, she gives us both the noun “lesbian” and the descriptor “sapphic.” But Sappho didn’t just write love poems to people of both sexes — she also ran an academy for young, unmarried ladies that was dedicated to the cults of Eros and Aphrodite, and rumor has it that she was the object of some serious girl-on-girl worship, too. There’s little concrete biographical information to back up the millennia of gossip, and yet, all signs point to Sappho being Western literature’s first full-fledged female badass.