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Best Biographical Books on Some of History’s Most Famous Women

If you’d like to read some books about some important women from our history, here I recommend you some of my personal favourites:

  Anne Frank, the diary of a young girl by Anne Frank

I read this book when I was only twelve and it captivated from the very first page. The only though of Anne, who was thirteen in 1942 and who had to suffer all the horrors and atrocities of the WWII, made me feel compassionate about her and her family who had to hide in a secret refugee in Amsterdam to be safe from the Nazis’ attacks.

Anne starts her diary as any other girl of her age, full with dreams, hopes and illusions, unfortunately she has to grow up and become an adult long before her time, but she never loses her hopes and has faith in humanity and that is one of the most important messages from this novel, as in a time of hate and violence, this young girl behaved with sensitivity and courage and her book is a proof of this.

 

The mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria’s rebellious daughter by Lucinda Hawksley

Princess Louise was one of the pioneers in the suffragette movement as she broke many laws that established women could not access to higher education or work. As well as sponsor many hospices, hospitals and educational centres for women, she tried to pursue a career as a sculptor and be independent from her husband, Marques of Lorne.

The sixth daughter of Queen Victoria, Princess Louise was quite far beyond her time in her thoughts, opinions and behaviours and this cost her many problems with her mother, but the public’s affection.

This book tells you the life of a magnificent and intelligent woman who was a pioneer back on her time and fight against the elements to try to find her place in the world.

Out of the shadows, a life of Gerda Taro by François Maspero

Gerda Taro was a Polish – German photographer who is regarded as the first female photojournalist.

Taro moved from Germany to Paris, after Nazis took control in the 30’s, and she started to work as a secretary. In Paris she met Endre Friedmann, a Hungarian Jew, who was also a refugee and was interested in photography. Both of them learned photographic techniques and, as soon as they thought they have improved their skills enough, started sending them to the press.

Taro suggested sending them under a fictitious name to sound more believable and she became with the idea of naming both of their pictures under Frank Capa’s name, a fictitious professional American photographer.

Capa’s pictures became very popular and attracted positive reviews, but as soon as Taro saw Friedmann was taking all credit for all of them, she decided to start a career of her own. She moved to Spain, a country that was involved in the Spanish Civil War and started to portray all the suffering Spanish people were experiencing. Gerda Taro died in Spain covering photo reportage, but doing what she loved the most: taking pictures.

 

Save me the waltz by Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald is best known as being the wife of one of the best known American authors. F. Scott Fitzgerald, but she was much more than that.

Wrongly labelled as a “flapper” and being described as frivolous and superficial, Zelda never had the reputation she was meant to deserve.

She was an excellent writer, with a very accurate eye for being descriptive; actually Scott Fitzgerald took some pieces of Zelda’s letters to include on his books. When the Fitzgerald’s started to have economic problems, Zelda turned out to be very resourceful and helpful and wrote many articles for the press, even though most of them were published under her husband’s name.

Trying to find an artistic field where she could belong to, Zelda tried first writing, then dancing and, on her final years, painting. Unfortunately her art – in any form – was never appreciated when she was alive and only started to have some recognition on recent years.

“Save me the waltz” is her only novel published and it tells the story of a young girl who falls in love with an aspiring painter who soon became very successful and starts having an affair with an actress. Inspired by her life, “Save me the waltz” was Zelda Fitzgerald’s way of expressing all of those years of anger, frustration and depression, but F. Scott Fitzgerald blamed her on copying the plot for his latest novel “This side of paradise”. If you have the chance, you should read both novels and compare how there’s two versions of the same events.

 

 

Four sisters by Helen Rappaport

The story of the Romanov sisters is involved with mystery as their deaths continue to be investigated today. Even though for the public all of them were the same, the Princesses were very different one from the other. They had their own personalities and the book gives you lots of information and an insight look to these four extraordinary women.

Telling you the story of Tsar’s Russia, you get to know more facts about this country and how the Russian revolution began. You also get an inside look to the private lives of the Princesses, who lived in golden cages and barely had no access with the “real world”.

When WWI started, the Princesses didn’t hesitate in helping their country and they enrolled as nurses and worked in hospitals, helping those in need. Russians were thrilled to see how affectionate and down to earth their Princesses were and, even the ones who were against the Tsar, had to admit the Princesses had captivated everyone’s hearts.

As the revolts became unbearable, the Tsar and his family were forced to emigrate to be safe somewhere else, but even there, they couldn’t escape their terrible fate.

Make sure you read this book and, perhaps, you’ll become as fascinated by these four women as I am.

 

 

 Diary of Frida Kahlo, by Frida Kahlo

Kahlo is a world famous painter and her paintings and portraits show us her reality. As she once said “I do not paint my dreams, I paint my own reality”.

Kahlo’s life was painful, hard and full of heart breaking moments, but she was a courageous woman who decided to show the world her art and prove she had many things to offer.

Her paintings are full with colour and passion and, as her life, full with turbulence and dramatic moments.

Full with sketches, projects that she never develop and endless love letters to Diego, this is an original piece of art that should be taken into consideration if you like art and history.

This diary show us how much pain Frida suffer, but how she learnt to express it through her art. Through pictures, texts and other images, we learn about this extraordinary woman who fight against the elements and did what she loved until the last day of her life.

 

Posted in Blog by Carmen Jimenez