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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Truth about British Female Fantasy Writers

What I find interesting about this topic is that when you delve into their books their female characters are often feminists in one form or another and their antagonists are often depicted as patriarchs...

One might even call it "feminist fantasy".

And this concept isn't limited to female fantasy authors either. Male writers such as George R. R. Martin and Charles Moffat have also had their characters described as feminist.

When you consider that being a writer used to be considered a male dominated field you also realize you'd have to be a bit more uppity to want to enter a career of writing, and with respect to fantasy writing, a field that is largely dominated by Conan the Barbarian-esque characters which are often rescuing damsels in distress instead of fighting alongside them.

There are literally hundreds of female fantasy authors out there (in many languages) and so to narrow the list down I am only including British fantasy authors in the following list. I recommend you check out a few of them the next time you are looking for a book to read.

21 Biographies of British Female Fantasy Writers

Catherine Banner (born 1989) is a British fantasy author, living in Cambridge, England. She gained international attention with her first book, The Eyes of a King, which she began writing when she was fourteen and still a school student. In October 2008 Banner began her studies in English literature at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. She is currently writing a third part of her series The Last Descendants, The Heart at War. The sequel to The Eyes of a King, Voices in the Dark, was released on September 22, 2009. In 2012 will the series be completed.

Georgia Byng, (b. 6 September 1965), is a British author of children's books. She went to The Central School of Speech and Drama but gave up acting to write. Her first writing was in comic strip. Byng illustrated too. Her first published book was a comic strip story - The Sock Monsters. Byng's best known work is Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism, about a girl who finds a book about hypnotism and learns how to hypnotise people. In the books that follow, Molly Moon's powers grow. In 'Molly Moon Stops the World' Moon learns how to stop time. In 'Molly Moon's Hypnotic Time Travel Adventure' Moon time travels to nineteenth century India. In 'Molly Moon, Micky Minus and the Mind Machine' Moon goes to the future and learns to mind read. In 'Molly Moon and The Morphing Mystery' Moon shape shifts.

Moyra Caldecott (June 1, 1927) is a British author of historical fiction, fantasy, science fiction and non-fiction. Her works include "Guardians of the Tall Stones" and The Egyptian Sequence. Moyra Caldecott was born in Pretoria, South Africa, and moved to London in 1951. She has degrees in English and Philosophy and an M.A. in English Literature. In 2000, Moyra Caldecott became one of the earliest proponents of commercial e-books, when she contracted with Mushroom eBooks to re-publish most of her titles in electronic formats.

Louise Cooper (29 May 1952 - 21 October 2009) was a British fantasy writer who lived in Cornwall with her husband, Cas Sandall. Cooper was born in Hertfordshire. She began writing stories when she was at school to entertain her friends. She continued to write and her first full-length novel was published at the age of twenty. She moved to London in 1975 and worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer in 1977. She became a prolific writer of fantasy, renowned for her bestselling Time Master trilogy. She published more than eighty fantasy and supernatural novels, both for adults and children. Cooper gained a great deal of writing inspiration from the coast and scenery, and her other interests included music, folklore, cooking, gardening and "messing about on the beach". She was treasurer of her local Lifeboat station; she and her husband both sang with the shanty group Falmouth Shout. Cooper died aged 57 of a brain haemorrhage on 21 October 2009.

Maggie Furey was born in Northeast England, UK, in 1955. She is a qualified teacher but has also reviewed books on BBC Radio Newcastle, been an advisor in the Durham Reading Resources Centre and organized children's book fairs. She now lives in County Wicklow in Ireland. She is a well-known fantasy author, especially for the Artefacts of Power tetralogy, is centred around the lead character (and first novel namesake) Aurian, which were published as paperback originals in the United States.

Jane Gaskell is a British fantasy writer. Gaskell was born in 1941. She wrote her first novel Strange Evil, when she was 14. It was published two years later. In 1970 she received the Somerset Maugham Award for her novel A Sweet Sweet Summer (jointly with Piers Paul Read who received it for his Monk Dawson.) She later became a professional astrologer. Her Atlan saga is set in prehistoric South America and in the mythical world of Atlantis. The series is written from the point of view of its clumsy heroine Cija, except for the last book, which is narrated by her daughter Seka. China Miéville lists Strange Evil as one of the top 10 examples of weird fiction. John Clute called it "an astonishingly imaginative piece of fantasy by any standards."

Mary Rosalyn Gentle (born 29 March 1956) is a UK science fiction and fantasy author. Mary Gentle's first published novel was Hawk in Silver (1977), a young-adult fantasy. She came to prominence with the Orthe duology, which consists of Golden Witchbreed (1983) and Ancient Light (1987). The novels Rats and Gargoyles (1990), The Architecture of Desire (1991), and Left to His Own Devices (1994), together with several short stories, form a loosely linked series (collected in White Crow in 2003). As with Michael Moorcock's series about his anti-heroic Jerry Cornelius, Gentle's sequence retains some basic facts about her two protagonists Valentine (also known as the White Crow) and Casaubon while changing much else about them, including what world they inhabit. Several take place in an alternate-history version of 17th century and later England, where a form of Renaissance Hermetic magic has taken over the role of science. Another, Left To His Own Devices, takes place in a cyberpunk-tinged version of our own near future. The sequence is informed by historically existing ideas about esotericism and alchemy and is rife with obscure allusions to real history and literature. Grunts! (1992) is a grand guignol parody of mass-market high fantasy novels, with orcs as heroes, murderous halflings, and racist elves. Her novel Ash: A Secret History (published in four volumes in the US) was a long science fantasy epic that won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History in 2000. Gentle has since published Ilario, set in the same timeline.

Geraldine Harris (born 1951), aka Geraldine Harris Pinch, is an author (of both fiction and non-fiction) and Egyptologist. She is a member of the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford. Her works include the Seven Citadels quartet and numerous information text books about Egypt.

Rosemary Jeanne Harris (born 1923, London) is a British writer of fiction for children. Harris attended school in Weymouth, and then studied at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, the Chelsea School of Art and the Courtauld Institute. She served in the British Red Cross Nursing Auxiliary Westminster Division during World War II, and has worked as a picture restorer, a reader for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and a children's book reviewer for The Times from 1970 to 1973. She won the Carnegie Medal in 1968 for The Moon in the Cloud. This book was the first in a trilogy set in ancient Egypt. The subsequent books were The Shadow on the Sun and The Bright and Morning Star. The book was also the basis for a 1978 episode of the BBC series Jackanory. Other books dealt with topics as diverse as terrorism, magic and futuristic totalitarianism.

Mary Hoffman is a best-selling British author and critic, born in 1945. Mary Hoffman won a scholarship to James Allen’s Girls’ School in Dulwich, which she describes as “an exercise in punctuation in itself.” From there she went to the University of Cambridge to study English at Newnham College and then spent two years studying Linguistics at University College London. Since 1998 she has been an Honorary Fellow of the Library Association in 1998 for her work with children and schools. She worked at the Open University for nearly five years, contributing to courses for teachers on reading, language and children’s literature. For eighteen years she was Reading Consultant to BBC Schools TV’s Look and Read series and wrote the teaching scripts. She has been a freelance, self-employed professional writer and journalist since the mid-90s. She has been nominated for the post of Children's Laureate, 2011–2013.

Roz Kaveney (born 9 July 1949) is a British writer whose work includes both fiction and non-fiction, poetry, and editing. She was educated at Pembroke College, Oxford. On her website Roz says: "I was reared Catholic but got over it, was born male but got over it, stopped sleeping with boys about the time I stopped being one and am much happier than I was when I was younger." She is working on a memoir. Roz was a core member of the Midnight Rose collective. She is perhaps best known for her critical works about pop culture. Her review of Little, Big was appended to the 2002 Harper Perennial reprint of the novel. Kaveney is a regular contributor to The Independent, The Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. She appeared as one of the numerous commentators in the BBC television documentary (May 2008) about the idea of parallel worlds as used in science fiction. She is also a founding member of Feminists Against Censorship; a former deputy chair of Liberty; and a transgender rights activist .

Elizabeth Kay, born July 9, 1949 in London, is an English writer. She is the author of The Divide trilogy, a series of children's fantasy novels, originally published by Chicken House Press, then picked up by Scholastic Books. Before going to art school she attended Nonsuch High School for girls in Cheam. Then went to art school and in her mid-twenties started writing radio plays, which were broadcast on BBC Radio 4. She also wrote stories which were published in newspapers and magazines and broadcast on Capital Radio in London. Kay has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, and has taught both Creative Writing and Art for a number of years. She has illustrated several books and produced nearly all the artwork for her own website. An avid wildlife enthusiast, she has travelled extensively to places as diverse as the Ivory Coast, Borneo, Iceland and India. She has won several awards, including the Cardiff International Poetry Competition for a sestina "Pond Life" and the Canongate Prize for her short story "Cassie". A chapbook of poetry, The Spririt Collection, was published in 2000. The Divide, her first book for children, was published in 2003. She was a keynote speaker at Accio 2005, the Harry Potter conference, and spoke at a children's book conference in Ukraine in 2007. She has appeared at other literary events, including the Cheltenham and Edinburgh festivals. She has had three shorter books for children published by Barrington Stoke. Fury, in 2008, Hunted in 2009 and Lost in the Desert in 2011. The Tree Devil, for reluctant readers, was published in 2010 by Eprint. A novella for adults, Missing Link, was published in October 2009.

Tanith Lee (born 19 September 1947(1947-09-19)) is a British writer of science fiction, horror and fantasy. She is the author of over 70 novels and 250 short stories, a children's picture book (Animal Castle) and many poems. She also wrote two episodes of BBC science fiction series Blake's 7. She was the first woman to win the British Fantasy Award best novel award (also known as the August Derleth Award), for her book Death's Master (1980). She also writes under the pseudonym Esther Garber

Geraldine McCaughrean (pronounced "Muh-cork-run") (born 6 June 1951) is a British children's novelist. The youngest of three children, McCaughrean studied teaching but did not like it, and found her true vocation in writing. She claims that what makes her love writing is the desire to escape from an unsatisfactory world. Her motto is: do not write about what you know, write about what you want to know.

Joanne "Jo" Rowling, (born 31 July 1965), better known as J. K. Rowling, is a British novelist, best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series. The Potter books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, sold more than 400 million copies to become the best-selling book series in history and been the basis for a popular series of films, in which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts as well as maintaining creative control by serving as a producer on the final instalment. Rowling conceived the idea for the series on a train trip from Manchester to London in 1990. Rowling has led a "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on social security to multi-millionaire status within five years. As of March 2011, when its latest world billionaires list was published, Forbes estimated Rowling's net worth to be US$1 billion. The 2008 Sunday Times Rich List estimated Rowling's fortune at £560 million ($798 million), ranking her as the twelfth richest woman in the United Kingdom. Forbes ranked Rowling as the forty-eighth most powerful celebrity of 2007, and Time magazine named her as a runner-up for its 2007 Person of the Year, noting the social, moral, and political inspiration she has given her fans. In October 2010, J. K. Rowling was named 'Most Influential Woman in Britain' by leading magazine editors. She has become a notable philanthropist, supporting such charities as Comic Relief, One Parent Families, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain, and Lumos (formerly the Children's High Level Group). On 12 April 2012, Rowling announced that her new adult novel The Casual Vacancy would be published in the UK by Little, Brown & Company on 27 September 2012.

Jessica Rydill is a British fantasy author from the West Country. She was born in 1959. She studied at King's College, Cambridge and the College of Law, working as a solicitor for 13 years. Her travels have provided some of the inspiration for her writing. She was a founder member of the Write Fantastic writers' group together with authors including Juliet E. McKenna and Sarah Ash. Her interests include collecting Asian ball-jointed dolls, Sasha dolls, myth, and East European music. Her short story My Brother Jonathan was short-listed for the Ian St James award in 1999 and she appears in The New Writer magazine Roll of Honour. Her first novel Children of the Shaman was published by Orbit in 2001, and was short-listed for the Locus magazine best first novel in 2002. A sequel, The Glass Mountain, appeared in October 2002. A short story, The Anniversary, was published in an anthology printed by NewCon Press in 2010 to celebrate the fifth anniversary of The Write Fantastic. In 2006, Rydill married Stephen Saunders, a writer and designer. Her sister Sarah Ash, author of the Tears of Artamon trilogy, is also a fantasy novelist.

Jan Siegel is a pseudonym of Amanda Hemingway (born 1955 in London, England). She is a British author of fantasy novels, best known for the Fern Capel series.

Dr. Alison Louise Spedding (born 22 January 1962) is a British anthropologist and fantasy author. Spedding studied Archaeology and Anthropology and later Philosophy at King's College, Cambridge, receiving her BA degree in 1982. She received a PhD from the London School of Economics in 1989. She wrote a trilogy of fantasy novels, set approximately in the time of Alexander the Great. In the novels, Alexander dies, and the female protagonist, Aleizon Ailix Ayndra, goes on to fulfil Alexander's destiny. In 1989, Spedding moved to Bolivia and lectured at San Andres University in La Paz. While there she published the academic work Wachu Wachu. Cultivo de coca e identitad en los Yungas de la Paz (1994) and Kausachun-Coca (2004). She is the author of three novels in Spanish: Manuel y Fortunato. Una picaresca andina (1997), El viento de la cordillera (2001), and the sci-fi, anarcho-feminist novel De cuando en cuando Saturnina (2004). She is also the author of a book of short stories, El tiempo, la distancia, otros amantes (1994) and the play Un gato en el tejar, the latter published under the pseudoym Alicia Céspedes Ballet. In Bolivia she became an outspoken critic of the government's policy of cracking down on peasant coca farmers. In 1998, she was arrested on drug charges, having been found with 2 kg of cannabis in her possession. Although she claimed the cannabis was for personal use, she received a 10 year sentence for trafficking. Academics widely considered the arrest was politically motivated and campaigned for her release. She was released in 2000 on payment of a surety.

Mitzi Szereto is an author, blogger, and web TV entrepreneur. She has written novels and short stories, edited fiction and non-fiction anthologies, has her own blog "Errant Ramblings: Mitzi Szereto's Weblog", and is the creator/presenter of "Mitzi TV," a Web TV channel that covers the quirky side of London, England. Her published books to date have been focused on erotic literature, multi-genre fiction, and fiction and non-fiction anthologies. She has also written under the name M. S. Valentine. She makes a cameo appearance portraying herself in the British mockumentary Lint the Movie. Szereto was born in the United States, but lives in the United Kingdom and has UK Citizenship. She holds erotic writing workshops in the UK and Europe. She appears at book and literature festivals, and gives talks on such topics as social media, women's publishing, and erotic writing. She has performed readings of her work in Europe and the United States.

Freda Warrington is a British author, known for her epic fantasy, vampire and supernatural novels. Four of her novels (Dark Cathedral, Pagan Moon, Dracula the Undead, and The Amber Citadel) have been nominated for the British Fantasy Society's Best Novel award. Dracula the Undead won the Dracula Society's 1997 Children of the Night Award. Her novel, Elfland, won the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award in the Fantasy Novel category for 2009. Warrington has also seen numerous short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Born in Leicester, Warrington grew up in Leicestershire. After completing high school, she trained at the Loughborough College of Art and Design and afterward held a job at the Medical Illustration Department of Leicester Royal Infirmary. She eventually moved to full-time writing, pursuing a love she had had since childhood. In addition to her writing, Warrington works part-time in the Charnwood Forest. Some of her books are set in Leicestershire, such as the recent Aetherial Tales series, depicting the lives, loves and adventures of magical people living hidden in this region, passing for - and sharing many cultural traits with - ordinary English people.

Jane Welch (born 1964) is a writer of fantasy short stories and novels. Jane Welch was born in Derbyshire. After school she worked as a bookseller before going for five years to Soldeu, Andorra in the Pyrenees as a ski teacher. Jane Welch wrote three consecutive Trilogies. The second (The Book of Önd) plays 3 years after the first (Runespell Trilogy) with nearly the same protagonists. The last (The Book of Man) is around 15 years later and is also about the next generation.

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