One writer on the list:
Christine de Pizan (1364-1430)Read about the other writers Norris tagged for the Guardian.
Christine de Pizan was one of the first women to live by her pen in medieval Europe. Widowed early, she was left with a family of young children, a niece and a mother to support. She began by writing enchanting love poems, perhaps inspired by memories of her own happy courtship and marriage. Always passionate about women's abilities, Christine celebrated their talents and achievements in The Book of the City of Ladies, dreamed up in her study while her mother was preparing supper downstairs.
As her confidence grew, she even dared to challenge the courtly code which favoured clandestine affairs between married women and gallants anxious to win their spurs in the bedroom as well as on the battlefield. Her verse-novel, The Book of the Duke of True Lovers, is a bold exposé of a young wife's unhappiness when she agrees to a secret affair with a pressing suitor. Christine's sympathy with her heroine reveals her sensitivity to the temptations and torments of woman's desire.