History scarcely mentions her,” wrote Virginia Woolf, lamenting the invisibility of women from the past. But how many women’s histories are really lost—and how many are ignored? 500 Years of Women Authors, Authorizing Themselves invites viewers to see history differently.

Let us introduce you to some of the most infamous female authors you’ve never heard of who carved out cultural spaces for themselves. Our challenge to you: Remember their names. Share their stories. Rewrite history.

Highlights include:

  • A copy of Phillis Wheatley's collection of poems autographed by the author
  • A mysterious ownership inscription by a medieval woman named "Johanna" in a copy of Jerome's Vitas Patrum
  • Mary Wroth's copy of Xenophon's Cyropaedia, bearing her cryptic monogram
  • A first edition of Gwendolyn Brooks' poetry collection, Riot
  • George Eliot's notebook "quarry" in preparation for writing Middlemarch

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The exhibition was guest curated by Vanessa Braganza, Joani Etskovitz, and Katherine Horgan, PhD candidates in the Department of English, Harvard University.

Planning to visit?

500 Years of Women Authors is on view December 13, 2021 – March 11, 2022.  The exhibition is open to all visitors with proof of vaccination and booster.