6 Sep 2018

Suffrage 125 - Feminist Non-Fiction

A History of NZ Women HR

2018 marks the 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. On 19 September 1893 the Electoral Act 1893 was passed, giving all women in New Zealand the right to vote. Throughout the year, and across the country, various events have been run to commemorate this significant time in New Zealand's history. This month we have a Friends of the Library Talk on Sunday 16 September at 2pm - Gail Collingwood will be speaking about women's suffrage in New Zealand.

Throughout the month we will also be sharing a range of items from our collection. In this first post, we'll highlight a few of the books in our non-fiction collection that are about women's lives and histories. The following five books are all collections that cover a broad sphere of women's history and women's live. This is just a glimpse of what we have on our shelves and a nice jumping-off point. 

A History of New Zealand Women - Barbara Brookes

Highly anticipated at the time of its publication in 2016 and now considered a must-read for New Zealander's, Brookes provides a comprehensive history of New Zealand from the points of view of our country's women. This is not a quick read - at around 500 pages - but one to pore over and savour. It includes wonderful photographs. You can listen to an interview with Brookes on Radio New Zealand -  "Barbara Brookes covers social and economic change – the fights for suffrage, equality, the right to vote – and groundbreaking New Zealand women such as Kate Sheppard, Whina Cooper and Jean Batten, as well as intimate and domestic stories."

 the periodic table of feminism

 The Periodic Table of Feminism - Marisa Bate

Published this year, The Periodic Table of Feminism is a concise exploration of many different women that are considered feminist or who have contributed to the lives of women in some way. The book uses the periodic table structure to categorise the women across the four waves of feminism and their achievements or contributions. This book is easy to dip in to, or to read from cover to cover. Meet significant figures like Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvoir, to more contemporary women like Caitlin Moran and Oprah. Most of the entries are short but do provide suggestions for further reading.

this bridge called my back

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color - Edited by Cherríe L. Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa

This is an important and beautiful collection of essays, poetry, art and interviews written and created by women of colour. It is a rich and insightful read. It was first published in 1983 but remains relevant and readable.


#girlgaze by Amanda de Cadenet

Once you have read the first three, you might need some visual stimulation. #girlgaze is a photography collection that was born online - de Cadenet was disappointed by the lack of female representation across film and photography and started the project on social media to capture girls across the world. The book is a wonderfully diverse, colourful and unique expression of girlhood that challenges the male gaze - and a great expression of female photography. You can read more about the author and the project here.

well behaved women


Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

You might have seen the title of this book appear as a phrase on coffee mugs and memes. After it had gained widespread popularity - and some confusion - Ulrich decided to write the book that would explore what she meant when she first said the infamous words. This is a broad-sweeping view into the history of women which traverses time and space. The book begins by considering three writers -  Christine de Pizan, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Virginia Woolf - and then moves outward to explore different women's lives. This book provides a good starting point for women's history.