8 female fictional characters who were massively ahead of their time

From Matilda to Jane Eyre, here are the world's favourite literary rebels

8 female fictional characters who were massively ahead of their time

Who are your most inspirational book heroines? Forget damsel-in-distress types, we’ve whittled down some of our favourite feisty females. 

And yes, they may be fictional, but they've still inspired billions of readers to be brave and different. And for that we salute them! 

Matilda, by Roald Dahl

 “Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable…” 

Matilda Wormwood may be under seven but she’s no average little 'un. A child genius that refuses to be repressed by bullying adults. She uses her intellect and telekinesis powers to protect her and her classmates. Her strong sense of justice and clever sassiness, makes her the girl we all longed to be at school. 

Nancy Drew, by Carolyn Keene

“I’ve fought imaginary elves that were stronger than you!” 

Nancy Drew has been showing girls since the 1930s that it’s okay to grab your torch and check out a hidden staircase without the need for boy backup. 90 years of sleuthing and our detective heroine is still going strong, cracking more crimes than Sherlock Holmes could even dream of solving. 

George from The Famous Five, by Enid Blyton

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"I shan't answer to the name Georgina!"

George - real name Georgina - refused to play by the gender rules of the 40s. Fierce, adventurous and unapologetically unfeminine, she was every bit as brave as the boys in the gang. 

Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë.

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"I am no bird and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will”

Jane Eyre turned down respectable marriage proposals and never took the easy road, preferring to venture out on her own than settle for safe. All frightfully daring for a Victorian woman. 

Moll Flanders from The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe

“I had been tricked once by that cheat called love, but the game was over” 

You could hardly call Moll Flanders a 'beacon of respectability’ - she's an expert thief, an accomplished con artist and marries purely for money - but her immoral actions are all actioned so she can stay self-reliant. Intelligence and independence were not traits associated with 18th century women. 

Alice from Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret - all the best people are” 

Alice was curious and independent, two qualities hardly surprising to be found in a young girl these days, but back in 1865 this was enough to enduce a fainting fit. Alice stands up to the 'beheading-happy' Queen of Hearts and always remains true to her morals. 

Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Predjudice, by Jane Austen

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"Do you dance Mr Darcy?"

Elizabeth Bennet was a 20th century woman - born 150 years ahead of her time. A strong character able to stand up for her rights, speak her mind freely and disregard social status. No wonder she’s one of Jane Austen’s most loved characters. 

Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing, by William Shakespeare

“I would challenge you to a battle of wits, but I see that you are unarmed” 

Beatrice is a delightfully sassy young lady. She declares she never wants to marry and was loud and witty in the days where women were expected to be quiet and polite. We salute you Bea. 

Get inspired with more great literary ladies by heading over to Asda or pop into your local store to browse our full range.