Women in History

Posted: January 5, 2024

Janis Robinson Daly, author of The Unlocked Path

The following compiled list of historical fiction represents thirty-one titles to read, discover, learn, and celebrate women who’ve made history, individually or collectively. Their achievements languish in the shadows, awaiting authors to write their stories and readers to embrace them.


Developing the list was no easy task and I know there are many more books worthy of inclusion. I had read some of the books and several avid readers recommended others. For my final selections, I used the following criteria:

  • Historical fiction genre – no biographies or memoirs.
  • Women authors only.
  • Diversity in authors – cultural, as well as type of publishing and name recognition.
  • Diversity in the subject – cultural, setting, field of recognition.
  • Goodreads ratings.


Through historical fiction, I expect more readers will pick up a novel than a biography to learn about these women and their accomplishments. A level of trust must be placed upon the authors that they have conducted exhaustive research to write stories based on facts, yet fictionalized to imagine emotional responses as these women strode forward with dreams in their minds and hopes in their hearts.

Which ones have you read? Share using #31titleswomeninhistory

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2024 LIST

  1. After Anne by Logan Steiner – Author of Anne of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery, Prince Edward Island, Canada early 20th century
  2. The American Queen by Vanessa Miller – Leader of her African American community, Louella Montgomery, US Reconstruction Period, late 1800s
  3. A Beautiful Rival by Gill Paul – Cosmetic industry titans, Helena Rubenstein & Elizabeth Arden, US early 20th century
  4. Becoming Madam Secretary by Stephanie Dray – Frances Perkins, first woman Cabinet member, US early 20th century (releases 3/12/24)
  5. Bessie by Linda Kass – Bess Myerson, first Jewish Miss America, US mid 20th century
  6. Champagne Widows by Rebecca Rosenberg – Barbe-Nicole Clicquot, wine business owner, France 1800s
  7. Crow Mary by Kathleen Grissom – Goes First (Crow Mary) of the Crow indigenous people, Canada West, late 1800s
  8. The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn – Mila Pavlichenko, Soviet Army, WWII Eastern Front
  9. The First Ladies by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray – Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt, US mid 20th-century
  10. The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon – Midwife Martha Ballard, US late 1700s
  11. A Girl Called Samson by Amy Harmon – Deborah Samson, enlistee in the Continental Army, American Revolution
  12. The Girls in Navy Blue by Alix Rickloff – US Navy Yeomanettes, WWI
  13. In Her Own Right by Amanda Schiavo – Mary Tudor, England mid-16th century
  14. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez – Revolutionists Mirabel sisters, Dominican Republic mid-20th century
  15. Lady Tan’s Circle of Women by Lisa See – Healer & doctor Tan Yunxian, China 1400s
  16. The Last Queen: A Novel of Courage and Resistance by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
  17. Learning to See by Elise Hopper – Photographer Dorothea Lange, US Depression era
  18. The Lost Journals of Sacajewea by Debra Magpie Earling – Native American guide, Sacajewea, US late 1700s
  19. Momentum: Montessori, A Life in Motion by Elizabeth Slade – Educator Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy, early 20th century
  20. The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher – Educator Cora Wilson Stuart, US early 20th century
  21. The President’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood – First Lady Edith Wilson, US early 20th century
  22. Queen of Exiles by Vanessa Riley – Queen Marie-Louise Christophe, Hatii / Europe, mid-19th century
  23. The Queen of the Platform by Susan Higginbotham – Suffragist Ernestine Rose, US mid-19th century
  24. The Queen of Sugar Hill: A Novel of Hattie McDaniel by ReShonda Tate, Actress Hattie McDaniel, US early 20th century
  25. A Right Worthy Woman by Ruth P Watson – Banker / business owner Maggie Lena Walker, US late 19th century / early 20th
  26. Sisters Under the Rising Sun by Heather Morris – POWs Norah Chambers and Sister Nesta James, Pacific Theatre, WWII
  27. Switchboard Soldiers by Jennifer Chiaverini – Switchboard operators, France WWI
  28. The Unlocked Path by Janis Robinson Daly – Graduates of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, US early 20th century
  29. The War Librarian by Addison Armstrong – Dual timeline: WWI war librarians in Europe & US Naval Academy women cadets (1970s)
  30. The Woman with a Purple Heart by Diane Hanks – US Army Nurse Annie Fox, Pacific Theatre WWII
  31. The Woman at the Wheel by Penny Haw – Entrepreneur automotive industry Bertha Ringer Benz, Germany, late 19th century

2025 LIST

Help me develop another list for 2025! Add your suggestions through my survey – also includes a chance to enter to win ARC copies of a few of the titles from 2024.

2023 LIST

  1. Band of Sisters by Lauren Willig – Smith College graduates (France, WWI)
  2. The Black Rose by Tananarive Due – First Black female self-made millionaire in America, Madam CH Walker
  3. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson – Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians
  4. By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley – Fashion designer, Ann Low
  5. Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland – Artist and designer of nearly all of Tiffany’s lamps, Clara Driscoll
  6. Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird – Former slave who served with the Buffalo Soldiers by disguising herself as a man, Cathy Williams
  7. The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood – Architect & Engineer, Emily Roebling
  8. Fast Girls by Elise Hooper – U.S. Women’s 1936 Olympic track team
  9. Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd – Plantation Owner/Grower, Eliza Lucas
  10. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir – Lady Jane Grey
  11. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – Abolitionists, Sarah and Angelinka Grimke
  12. Island Queen by Vanessa Riley – Landowner and Entrepreneur, Dorothy Kirwan Thomas
  13. Island of Sea Women by Lisa See – Women Divers of Jeju Island
  14. The Last Empress by Anchee Min – Tzu Hsi, Lady Yehonala
  15. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly – Philanthropist, Caroline Ferriday
  16. Love and Ruin by Paula McLain – Journalist, Martha Gellhorn
  17. Loving Frank by Nancy Horan – Mamah Borthwick Cheney
  18. Luminous: The Story of a Radium Girl by Samantha Wilcoxson – Factory worker, Catherine Donohoe
  19. Madame Presidentess by Nicole Evelina – Presidential candidate, Victoria Woodhull
  20. The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki – Heiress and philanthropist, Marjorie Post
  21. The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland – Empress, Josephine Bonaparte
  22. Monticello by Sally Cabot Gunning – First Daughter, Martha Jefferson
  23. My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie – Eliza Schuyler Hamilton
  24. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray – Librarian Belle da Costa Greene
  25. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier – Paleontologist, Mary Anning
  26. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn – Code breakers of Bletchley Park (England WWII)
  27. The Unlocked Path by Janis Robinson Daly – Graduates of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania
  28. A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler – Socialite, Suffragist Alva Smith Vanderbilt Belmont
  29. When We Had Wings by Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris & Susan Meissner – Angels of Bataan, WWII nurses
  30. The Woman with the Cure by Lynn Cullen – Scientist and infectious disease researcher, Dr. Dorothy Hortsmann
  31. The Women’s March: A Novel of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession by Jennifer Chiaverini – Suffragists Alice Paul, Maud Malone, Ida B. Wells

More Recommended Reading…

Telling Her Story: 40 Books for Adult Readers About Women Heroes of WWII – from A Mighty Girl blog site


All In by Billie Jean King

Ain’t I a Woman by Bell Hooks

The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Prague Winter by Madeleine Albright

West with the Night by Beryl Markham


The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and the Harrimans by Catherine Grace Katz

Doctors Blackwell by Janice P.  Nimura – Medical History, Elizabeth & Emily Blackwell

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly – Science/Space History, NASA’s Female Mathematicians

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – Medical History, Henrietta Lacks (HeLa)

Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore – Workplace Safety Advocates, Radium Dial Workers


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