Irish authors among 100 essential female reads

Marian Keyes, Eimear McBride, and Edna O’Brien join JK Rowling and Harper Lee on a list of the 100 essential books by female writers from the past 100 years, according to a new poll.

Irish female novelists from l-r: Marian Keyes; Eimear McBride; and Edna O'Brien.

These authors appear alongside the likes of Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Sylvia Plath, and Hilary Mantel on the list, unveiled by the Hay Festival.

The annual literary and arts event in Wales is this year celebrating literature penned by women since 1918 to mark the centenary of women first gaining the right to vote.

Rowling’s third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, published in 1999, succeeded over all the other books in the wizarding series thanks to votes cast by hundreds of voters over the last three months.

Gillian Flynn’s dark thriller Gone Girl, published in 2012, also features on the top 100 selection, described as a combination of “great books of all genres, fiction and non-fiction” by the Hay Festival.

Other books to feature on the list include Orlando by Woolf (1928), The Body in the Library by Christie (1942), To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee (1960), and Plath’s Ariel (1965).

Among the Irish authors to make it to the list are Marian Keyes for Rachel’s Holiday (1997), Eimear McBride for A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing (2013), Iris Murdoch’s Under The Net (1954), and Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls (1960).

Titles by Caitlin Moran, Maya Angelou, Zadie Smith, Carol Ann Duffy, Germaine Greer, and Jacqueline Wilson are also included, while Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding and The
Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson also made the cut.

The Color Purple (Alice Walker), The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood), The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ (Sue Townsend), and Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell feature prominently on the list.

The list was compiled following three months of voting for the festival’s #Vote100Books campaign.

The announcement was made on the opening day of the 2018 Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, which takes place in Hay-on-Wye in Wales.

The selected books will be discussed at an event held by women’s arts and lifestyle website The Pool at the festival on Monday

Hay Festival director Peter Florence said: “There are books here that have changed lives, and changed the world.

“The list is an extraordinary testament to the power of ideas and stories. And a testament to the wisdom of crowds.

“What a fabulous bedside book-pile of empowering and enlightening treasures. Race you to the library!”

This year’s Hay Festival runs June 3, and will feature a programme of 800 events, including appearances from authors such as Margaret Atwood, Ian McEwan, Jilly Cooper, Philip Pullman, and Salman Rushdie.



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