So often the lists of controversialists, contrarians and rule breakers of the literary world are of men, and last week Flavorwire published a list of their top ten ‘Legendary Bad Boys of Literature‘ (a press shot with a cigarette seemed to be obligatory for inclusion in certainly the top four places of that list). In response, Kerryn Goldsworthy has been compiling her own top ten lists of ‘Legendary Bad Girls of Literature’ on her blog Still Life With Cat, reminding us that female writers can definitely hold their own.
As Goldsworthy put it in her original post: ‘I think the Bad Girls of Literature were infinitely more charming without being in any way less talented or less Bad.’ You can view Goldsworthy’s original top ten list here, and the most recent one here.
I’d add a few of my own: Zelda Fitzgerald – one of the original literary party girls – and Kathy Acker. But here are a few of my favourites from Goldsworthy’s list:
Jane Bowles: ‘I am so wily and feminine that I could live by your side for a lifetime and deceive you afresh each day.’
Dorothy Porter: ‘I wonder if some of the most deeply passionate experiences of my life have happened between the covers of a book.’
Dorothy Parker: ‘There must be courage; there must be no awe. There must be criticism, for humor, to my mind, is encapsulated in criticism. There must be a disciplined eye and a wild mind … There must be a magnificent disregard of your reader, for if he cannot follow you, there is nothing you can do about it.’
Sylvia Plath: ‘And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.’
Katherine Mansfield: ‘Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.’