Bathsheba Everdene, sure. Tess of the D'Urbervilles? Hmm. I remember finding her very insipid when I read the book at high school but my adult self might be a bit more sympathetic to poor Tess.
good depictions of women in literature written by men
Michael Cunningham, The Hours.
That's a very good reason for writing anything -- if nobody else is writing what you want to read, why not give it a poke? :)
Indeed, although the results are not always as fabulous as was the case for Munro. The same motivation also applied to Agnes-Mary Brooke, who took to writing her own books for children as she was so dismayed what she saw as the left-wing agenda in NZ children's authors (warning: contains a reference to Investigate magazine).
I was well aware of Alice Munro when I lived in Victoria, British Columbia, for a couple of years, as there was a magnificent local bookstore (Munro's books) which was founded by Munro and her then-husband in 1963. Apparently she took up writing as she decided she could do a better job than many of the books that were available back then.
Speaking of stories short - I don't think anyone's mentioned KM. Or Alice Munro, or Lorrie Moore. Closer to home I've really enjoyed Charlotte Grimshaw's short story collections even if she observes her characters with a baleful eye.
Have you read Tove Jansson's The Summer Book, Hilary? One of my favourites ever.
A word here for Hilary Mantel and her inspired re-imaginings of the reign of Henry VIII (Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies). Oh how I wish the third book in the trilogy would appear. The BBC adaptation with Mark Rylance seems fantastic, what little I've seen of it.
She's also a handy social commentator - this interview with Der Spiegel is well worth a read.
You've rounded up some of my favourites there Joe. A few more of mine:
My first thought was Kipling:
And a woman is only a woman, but a good Cigar is a Smoke.
The poem it comes from is quite .. something.