The best books about women artists and activists

Alvin Schnupp Author Of Goods & Effects
By Alvin Schnupp

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by women who are artists and activists, such as Ivy Bottini, Käthe Kollwitz and Peggy Guggenheim. (All subjects of plays I wrote). They are convicted, unique, champions of justice, diversity and inclusion.


I wrote...

Goods & Effects

By Alvin Schnupp,

Book cover of Goods & Effects

What is my book about?

Devastated by the death of her husband and sons, Hannah, a Mennonite, sells the family farm and creates a store and living quarters in a delivery truck. She travels several circuits, selling her wares.  Hannah becomes the heart of a network of interlinking lives that span many years. As Hannah’s relationships deepen, her faith diminishes but her vision of humanity expands. Hannah is a clever problem-solver, shrewd schemer, spinner of tender lies, advocate for justice, unwitting promoter of the arts, and dream weaver.   

The books I picked & why

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Art Lover: A Biography of Peggy Guggenheim

By Anton Gill,

Book cover of Art Lover: A Biography of Peggy Guggenheim

Why this book?

An insightful examination of art collector Peggy Guggenheim, a fascinating character, Ms. Guggenheim was friends with a vast assortment of American and European writers and artists. The reader gets to see the contradictory sides of this brilliant and unconventional woman. As a result of reading this book, I wrote a play about her entitled The Collection.


Käthe Kollwitz: Woman and Artist

By Martha Kearns,

Book cover of Käthe Kollwitz: Woman and Artist

Why this book?

Ms. Kollwitz is one of the most famous expressionistic German artists and was the first female to teach in a university setting. She was a pacifist, champion of the poor, a politically-active socialist. Under the Nazi regime, her work was labeled “Degenerate.”  After learning about Ms. Kollwitz, I wrote a play about her entitled Censored.


Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

By Rhoda Janzen,

Book cover of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Why this book?

A fun, insightful, humorous revelation about a celebrated poet who returns to her conservative home and examines the people and ideas that shaped her. I identify with this book because I, too, was raised Mennonite. In addition. The protagonist of my book is a Mennonite.


Harold and Maude

By Colin Higgins,

Book cover of Harold and Maude

Why this book?

Maude is such a joyful, wise older woman who embraces life, who refuses to judge people, who provides guidance for a young troubled man.  

Especially infectious is Maude’s love of life which balances nicely with and counters Harold’s preoccupation with death.

The advice delivered by Maude, such as, “It’s best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality,” always contains a unique perspective that is profoundly unpredictable and truthful.


Where the Crawdads Sing

By Delia Owens,

Book cover of Where the Crawdads Sing

Why this book?

A resourceful woman, an outcast, cleverly survives a harsh life. She turns to art for inspiration and fulfillment.

The descriptions of Kya’s drawings of shells, feathers, and seabirds were evocative. Equally compelling was the poetry composed by the talented and insightful Kya.

The relationship between Kya and the black couple, Jumping’ and Mabel, was moving and heartfelt.

The book tackles topics of abandonment, isolation, and betrayal; against this reality Kya proves to be resilient, creative, and resourceful.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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