THE BLOG

Writing She-roes

06/30/2015 03:12 pm ET | Updated Jun 28, 2016

Harper Lee's book Go Set a Watchman has already become a bestseller - and it won't be released until July 14. Lee is the author of the perennial bestseller To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960 and made into a movie. To celebrate the success of Lee's previous and anticipated novels, let's discover other women authors through history. Match the woman with her accomplishment.

____ 1. Galvanized into action by the Fugitive Slave Act, her best-selling book Uncle Tom's Cabin, sold 300,000 copies in its first year of publication.
____ 2. A tireless advocate for social justice and one of the founders of the NAACP, her 1895 book A Red Record was an examination of lynching.
____ 3. A MacArthur Foundation Fellow who has been publishing for more than 40 years and whose writings reflect her Mexican-American heritage.
____ 4. A member of the Cahuilla tribe who captured language, tribal lore, sacred songs, and medicinal use of plants in books that she wrote.
____ 5. The first African-American women to publish a book; she was brought to the U.S. as a slave when she was about eight years old.

A. Phillis Wheatley
B. Harriet Beecher Stowe
C. Ida Wells-Barnett
D. Sandra Cisneros
E. Katherine Siva Saubel

Phillis Wheatley was brought to the U.S. on a slave ship in 1761, when she was about eight years old, and purchased by John Wheatley. Phillis served as a personal servant to his wife and was taught to read and write English as well as Greek and Latin, which was quite unusual for the time. She wrote poetry as well and her book, published in 1773, is titled Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. She is the first African-American woman to have a book published.

When President Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe he is rumored to have said "So, you are the little lady that started this great war." Stowe was galvanized to write Uncle Tom's Cabin after the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Act. Having lost her infant son to cholera, Stowe emphasized with the grief slave women felt when their children were sold. In the first year after its publication, Uncle Tom's Cabin sold 300,000 copies, shocking the country with its frank descriptions of the harsh conditions of slavery. Stowe wrote more than 30 books. She has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

An early civil rights activist, in 1895, Ida Wells-Barnett published A Red Record - a detailed look at lynching. The daughter of slaves, Wells-Barnett fought social injustice in many aspects over her entire life. She crusaded against inequities in education for African-Americans and the justice system as well as systemic discrimination from seating on a train to exhibiting at the World's Columbian Exposition. A tireless advocate for equality, Wells-Barnett formed the National Association of Colored Women and was one of the founders of what is today called the NAACP. Ida Wells-Barnett has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

A preserver of tribal culture and language, Cahuilla Indian Katherine Siva Saubel captured tribal lore, sacred songs, medicinal use of plants, and language in books working with linguists and anthropologists. Her efforts to preserve the culture were counter to many societal pressures; when she was in school, Native American children were beaten for speaking their native language. Saubel launched the Maliki Museum in 1964, the first nonprofit museum on a reservation. She has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

MacArthur Foundation Fellow Sandra Cisneros has been writing for 45 years and publishing for more than 40 years. Her 1984 novel, The House on Mango Street, won numerous awards and has sold over two million copies. Much of her writing is inspired by her Mexican-American heritage. Cisneros has received many awards including the Texas Medal of the Arts, and her books have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Learn about more she-roes and celebrate amazing women.
All of these women writers through history are profiled in the book Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. We laud their contributions to our culture and salute their accomplishments.

(answers: 1-B, 2-C, 3-D, 4-E, 5-A)