A young woman sits by the water, reading a book.

Leading Ladies in Literature

| Burlington County Library

While much of the focus during Women’s History Month is on the women who made their mark throughout history, we also want to celebrate those unforgettable women of the imagination – the smart, sassy and strong leading ladies found in classic literature!

BCLS invites you to join the celebration by reading about a few of our handpicked women in fiction. Want to explore even more? Be sure to access Bloom’s Literature, an online resource accessible to library cardholders that highlights popular works from beloved authors. It also features in-depth summaries of various works, author interviews and related videos.

Check out these stories of our favorite fictional women, including notable quotes and interesting facts:

Elizabeth Bennet - The leading lady in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was once referred to as “delightful” by the author herself.  Not only does Elizabeth easily bounce back from disappointments, she maintains a positive and courageous spirit. She has no problems with speaking her mind and standing up for her beliefs. What’s more, family is everything to her and she especially holds a close relationship with her older sister, Jane. Elizabeth possesses many good qualities, and women today will no doubt find her relatable.

Jo March- While the plot of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women revolves around the four March sisters, Jo is unique as she was based on the author herself. Her greatest desire is to become a writer, however, the strong need to protect her family holds her back. For many years, Jo wrestles with herself over whether to pursue a writing career or tend to her family. Eventually, she is able to do both, although at different times during her life. Jo’s independent spirit has inspired generations of young women to chase after their dreams, no matter how small.

Desdemona- One of the main characters in Shakespeare’s famous play Othello, Desdemona isn’t afraid to go against popular opinion, even if it means she will disappoint her loved ones in the process. Moreover, she is able to see individuals for who they really are – and not just what’s on the outside. Her “free-spirited” nature is one that women today can embrace wholeheartedly.

If you’re looking for more, read about Amanda Wingfield from Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, Celie from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple or Margaret Simon from Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. These characters, though fictional, give us stories that make us think, feel and experience life through their lens.

Audience: Adult Seniors