All virtual services are available and some libraries are open for in-person use, while others remain closed through January 23, 2022. Learn more.

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 of the exhibition 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

Explore the exhibition online.

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


Plan on visiting the exhibition in-person? Please note that:

  • The exhibition will be temporarily closed on Thursday, December 16 from 3pm to 5pm and, for Winter Recess, from Friday, December 17 at 5pm, reopening on Monday, January 3, 2022 at 9am.
  • All visitors to exhibits at Houghton Library age 12 or older will be required to present Harvard ID, or proof of COVID-19 vaccination along with a photo ID for those age 17 and older.
  • Minors under the age of 17 may visit exhibits when accompanied and supervised by an adult who has satisfied the requirements of the Harvard Library Vaccination Requirement Policy.
  • Exhibit visitors younger than 12 years old do not need to provide proof of vaccination or identity but must adhere to all other visitor policies and must be accompanied and supervised at all times by an adult who has satisfied the abovementioned requirements.