I loved a book as a child (would have been reading it in the early 1990s), an old fashioned one with a hard cover bound in blue linen and fairly thick. I think there might have been a bird cage with a bird in it on the spine. It also would have had a different slip cover when it was new. I think it was called something like ‘Book for Girls’ or ‘Stories/Tales for Girls’
It was aimed at older girls, and had a variety of short historical stories in it, with female protagonists. It was interspersed with full page black and white ink illustrations, but not many, maybe one or two for each short story.
I think there was an Ursula Le Guin story in it, but I could also be confusing that with other books.
I know for certain that there was a story about a woman whose castle was under siege and the people in it are starving. There was also a historical love story where a man jumped over a women’s wall and starts to court her, even though she is married. She almost runs away with him, but he is actually a criminal so she stays with her husband, who brings her roses he picked himself, even though he was cut by the thorns. There was also a Chinese love story that was a ghost story, where the love between two young people is forbidden by her family. In the end maybe one turns into a swan? Or they both die?
Any help really appreciated, I have been trying to find this book for 7 years!