Obstinate, Headstrong Girls

A lively display curated by our Creative Engagement Officer Ellora Sutton, an award winning poet and lover of all things Austen. This special display was created for Women's History Month, March 2024.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine de Bourgh calls Elizabeth Bennet an ‘obstinate, headstrong girl’ as though it’s the worst thing a woman can be. But Jane Austen’s novels are full of obstinate, headstrong girls – women who know their own minds, who defy social expectations, and who go after what they want. In fact it’s virtually impossible to be a heroine in a Jane Austen novel without being an obstinate, headstrong girl.

Jane Austen’s relationship with strong, independent women extended well beyond the page – this display celebrates some of the unruly women that she knew, loved and was inspired by, from swashbuckling female ‘rakes’ to secretive sister-writers; wronged women to women who did wrong. Here come the obstinate, headstrong girls!