Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History

Book List – Women’s History Month March 2023

In 1976, in an obscure scholarly article, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote, “Well behaved women seldom make history.”  Today these words appear on T-shirts, mugs, bumper stickers, greeting cards, and all sorts of Web sites and blogs. More importantly, we know that women (well-behaved or not) DO make history. The women in these books changed the world.


“Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History” by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Historian–and coiner of the title phrase embraced by feminists–explores women who made their mark on history, defying societal expectations and challenging the very way that history is written.


“Jane Austen: A Life” by Claire Tomalin

Austen is a literary figure who has had more influence on British culture than she would ever have known during her relatively short life (sadly, she died at the age of 41 in 1817). This book explores the life and times of the author and her close clan in Georgian England.


“Florence Nightingale: The Courageous Life of the Legendary Nurse” by Catherine Reef

If there was ever a true hero who dedicated her life to helping others, Florence Nightingale is it. Born in Italy in 1820, Florence went against what was traditionally expected of her, by becoming a war-hero nurse.


“Madame Curie: A Biography” by Eve Curie

Marie Curie is one of the most famous scientists of all time. She won the Nobel Prize twice, the first woman to win that prize. This biography was written by her daughter.


“Katharine Hepburn” by Barbara Leaming

Hepburn was quite a fashion icon, but one of the main ways that she left her mark was by changing the idea of what people believed it was to be feminine. Some strong language and some descriptions of sex.


“Something Beautiful for God: Mother Teresa of Calcutta” by Malcolm Muggeridge

A biography of the Catholic Saint and Nobel Peace Prize winner who devoted her life to helping the poor and outcast in Calcutta.


“The Iron Lady: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher” by Hugo Young

As with most political figures, some people loved her, while others didn’t. Some thought she saved Britain when the commonwealth was having many economic problems. Others thought she ruined the lives of millions of workers. Yet there’s no question that her strong will certainly meant she left her mark on British politics.


“Queen of the World” by Robert Hardman

A biography of Queen Elizabeth II, monarch of the United Kingdom, that focuses on her active role in international affairs as a diplomat, stateswoman, pioneer, and peace-broker.


“I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai

In 2021, Malala was the target of a Taliban assassination attempt due to her crusade for girls’ education. She is the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Violence.

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