The Rise of the “Lit’ry Lady”

July 24, 2019 | 3 books mentioned

In 1907, it was quite a surprise to see a woman at the top of the bestseller list. Now, women routinely write top-selling books, with Delia Owens‘s Where the Crawdad Sings and Tara Westover’s Educated currently ruling the fiction and nonfiction lists. Over at the New York Times, Tina Jordan unearths an old article marveling over the new phenomenon of the “lit’ry lady,” which at the time, seemed to be led by the record-breaking sales of Edith Wharton’s The Fruit of the Tree. “The really striking thing,” the article goes on to say, “about the encroachments of women on the preserves of man in book writing is not to be found on the purely literary side, but on the business side of the situation. Women are writing more and more best-sellers.”

Image credit: The World’s Work, 1905

is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of two illustrated books, Last Night's Reading (Penguin Books, 2015) and Sanpaku (Archaia 2018).

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