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About the book
  • Published: 18 September 2017
  • ISBN: 9781783446377
  • Imprint: Andersen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $22.99

Things a Bright Girl Can Do

Following three courageous young women as they join the fight for women's votes, Things a Bright Girl Can Do is Sally Nicholls' dazzling return to YA fiction

Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women's freedom.

May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.

But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?

  • Pub date: 18 September 2017
  • ISBN: 9781783446377
  • Imprint: Andersen
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

Sally Nicholls

Sally Nicholls grew up in Stockton-on-Tees, and after school, travelled the world, working for a period at a Red Cross hospital in Japan. Sally's first novel, Ways to Live Forever, won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and she has been shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize and the Costa Children's Book Award. She lives in Oxford.

Also by Sally Nicholls

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Praise for Things a Bright Girl Can Do

“Nicholls has brought alive the young women of the past to empower the next generation”

Alex O'Connell, The Times, Children's Book of the Week

“The politics of the time are skilfully woven into the personal stories of Evelyn, May and Nell, touching feminist, LGBT and social issues... This inspirational novel is very welcome.”

Fiona Noble, The Bookseller

“Fantastic. Conveys all the intricacies of the political and social situation in a way that's vivid, hard-hitting, funny and emotionally compelling. It feels like we're living it, rather than just learning about it.”

Frances Hardinge

“A perfect balm to a frustrating world”


“Each voice is distinct, resonant and authentic... uniquely special”

Imogen Russell Williams, Guardian

“The three main characters that lead the story are vividly alive, Nell in particular is utterly compelling! Historical fiction at its best”

Hilary McKay

“Inspiring and infuriating in equal measures, Things A Bright Girl Can Do is an utterly captivating novel. Sally Nicholls deftly weaves history and politics into the narrative with such a lightness of touch, it was impossible to stop reading. Immensely enjoyable”

Louise O'Neill

“[A] chocolate box of a novel ... books such as this are all the more to be prized”


“Romantic and inspiring”

Nicolette Jones, Sunday Times, Best Books of 2017

“Things A Bright Girl Can Do doesn’t sugarcoat the process of becoming politically active, but it does render it as an absolutely vital experience.”

Do You Ever Stop to Think blog

“A captivating YA novel... Things a Bright Girl Can Do explores sexual identity, the grim realities of poverty and war and the fraught nature of first love. Its appeal will reach readers of any age.”

Sarra Manning, Red Magazine

“Timely, informative and hugely enjoyable... the book excels at what fiction is best at: inviting empathy and understanding for others”

Irish Times

“Offering a historical snapshot of a society in turmoil, this comprehensive coming-of-age novel is a thought-provoking and highly engaging story of love, life and hope”


“Things A Bright Girl Can Do is relevant for every generation”

Evening Standard

“Hurrah for Sally! This is a lovely and engrossing novel about three girls caught up in the Suffragette movement and WW1. It's Sarah Waters for teens, pitch-perfect, historically accurate, very romantic and a jolly good read.”

Robin Stevens

“An insightful and honest portrayal of young women growing up amongst the Suffragette movement and the Great War”

Askews & Holts Library Services

“A very realistic portrayal of the struggles faced by women during the early 1900s”

UK Vote 100

“A richly textured novel”

Geraldine Brennan, Observer, Best books of 2017

“This book is a powerful tribute to women who changed the world, and whose courage and sacrifice we should never take for granted. It's important, humane and even funny. Read it and be grateful. And then vote.”

The Alligator's Mouth

“This novel is the perfect tribute to the incredible women who blazed a trail during the early twentieth century, and its inspirational scope and storytelling excellence cannot be praised enough.”

Joanne Owen, Lovereading4Kids

“A fascinating and emotive read for any budding feminist”


“Things A Bright Girl Can Do is the perfect introduction for teens looking to learn more about either the history of the feminist movement”

The Bookbag

“Nicholls explores difficult questions about poverty, empowerment, sexuality, pacifism and war with wise sensitivity. An excellent read.”


“A sheer delight... Nicholls ensures that every voice is authentic and credible, every experience real and immediate.”

Teach Secondary

“Tough, unsentimental and well realised”

Amanda Craig, New Statesman, Best Books of 2017

“An inspiring novel for older readers from acclaimed author Sally Nicholls”

WRD magazine

“An incredible read for any young person, that teaches the importance of equality”

Natasha Harding, The Sun

“Young women readers will be caught between admiration for the courage of their predecessors, and a growing disappointment that more has not changed in the intervening century”

Big Issue, Kids' Books of 2017

“Will provide insight into an overlooked aspect of social history”

The School Librarian

“I adored this bright, sparky book with its strong characters and knockout plot… Nicholls deftly handles a wide range of topics – empowerment of women, poverty, sexuality – in this warm, wise novel”

Irish Times, Best Books of 2017

“Beautifully written and totally gripping... For budding feminists aged 12+”

Angels and Urchins

“Popular and inspirational… a riveting read on the build up to World War I and its consequences on ordinary people”

Sunday Independent (Dublin)

“Things A Bright Girl Can Do is both moving and inspiring, capturing the essence of who the Suffragettes were perfectly.”

Shift Zine

“The message to be drawn from this marvellous historical novel is that history is about everyone... A compelling and moving narrative. Compulsory reading.”

Children's Books Ireland, Bold Girls Reading Guide



“A saga of rallies, marches, sacrifices, hunger strikes and love, told authentically”

Best New Children's Books Guide, produced by the Publishers' Association and published in the Guardian 2018

“One of the best and most important books I have read this year... Things a Bright Girl Can Do shows us that change is possible and achievable.”

Delightful Book Reviews blog


Love It

“The historical scholarship and period detail are exemplary.”

Books For Keeps

“Nicholls has researched and recreated the era impeccably and despite the heaviness of the subject matter there is deftness and humour in the characters.”

Historical Novel Society

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