Pen and Sword Books

#Review Exploring The Lives Of Women, 1558 – 1837 by Louise Duckling, Sara Read, Felicity Roberts & Carolyn D. Williams @WSGUK #ExploringTheLivesOfWomen #WomensHistory #WomensStudiesGroup via @penswordbooks

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Exploring the Lives of Women, 1558-1837 is an engaging and lively collection of original, thought-provoking essays. Its route from Lady Jane Grey’s nine-day reign to Queen Victoria’s accession provides ample opportunities to examine complex interactions between gender, rank, and power. Yet the book’s scope extends far beyond queens: its female cast includes servants, aristocrats, literary women, opera singers, actresses, fallen women, athletes and mine workers.

The collection explores themes relating to female power and physical strength; infertility, motherhood, sexuality and exploitation; creativity and celebrity; marriage and female friendship. It draws upon a wide range of primary materials to explore diverse representations of women: illuminating accounts of real women’s lives appear alongside fictional portrayals and ideological constructions of femininity. In exploring women’s negotiations with patriarchal control, this book demonstrates how the lived experience of women did not always correspond to prescribed social and gendered norms, revealing the rich complexity of their lives.

This volume has been published to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Women’s Studies Group 1558-1837. The group was formed to promote research into any aspect of women’s lives as experienced or depicted within this period. The depth, range and creativity of the essays in this book reflect the myriad interests of its members.

 

This is a fascinating collection of essays that covers all aspects of women’s history and the women themselves from Lady Jane Grey to Eliza O’Neill and many, many more between, plus there are essays on women’s rights, lives, sports, intellect, novels and even sex. I was intrigued by it as soon as I saw it and it did not disappoint. If you are interested in women’s history and the more under-celebrated figures from women history then this will be the perfect book. It is a compelling, richly historic and fabulously written book which will entertain as well as educate.

I was particularly engaged with the chapter about the three ‘radical’ Mary’s; Mary Wollenstonecraft, Mary Hays and Mary Robinson now I have heard of all three, any woman who each in their own way fought for women’s rights and to educate not just women but men too. I thought this particular chapter was wonderfully written, with great insights into these fascinating women plus highly educational, I never knew that Mary Shelley was the daughter of Mary Wollenstonecraft, how amazing!

Plus, the chapter about women’s running is utterly fascinating, I never knew that between 1700 and 1749 there was a t least 68 ladies running races across the country, how fascinating is that? It was those essays that focused more on the ordinary woman such as the brave women who went down the colliery which really jumped out at me, that is one of the reasons I really connected with this book, was the fact that’s its not all about royals and aristocrats its got a lot of depth into the ordinary woman and what she faced.

For those that are more fond of novel’s and lighter historic non-fiction this may be a little heavy, but I would definitely recommend everyone to read it, and the beauty of this book is that you necessarily have to read it in order, you can very easily jump in an out and it will make a fantastic research book for anyone who writing, if you have a woman in your work in progress then I would definitely have a read of this, it will amaze you.

A great book, and one that definitely should be any woman’s bookshelf.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, Thank you Rosie.

Exploring The Lives Of Women 1558 – 1837 can be purchased from Amazon and Pen & Sword.

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#Review Rebel With A Cause; The Life and Times of Sarah Benett, 1850-1924, Social Reformer and Suffragette by Iain Gordan #Suffragette #100years #SarahBenett #RebelWithACause @penswordbook

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One hundred years on, it is hard to imagine the violent disruption caused by the suffragette movement. After a century of peaceful protest had brought no progress a small group of determined women took matters into their own hands and turned to direct action. By virtue of their actions the cry ‘Votes for Women’ was heard throughout the country.

One of these unlikely ‘vandals’ was a mature middle-class spinster called Sarah Bennet. After leaving home on the death of her parents, she spent a decade attempting to improve deprived workers’ conditions in the Staffordshire potteries. Realising that nothing could be achieved until women obtained the vote and could compete with men on equal terms, she moved to London aged 55. Disowned by her family she joined Mrs Pankhurst’s Women’s Social and Political union and became an active suffragette. Ahead of her lay verbal and physical abuse, public contempt, imprisonment and hunger strikes.

Rebel with a Cause is her extraordinary story told largely in her own words.

My View

When I got offered the chance to review this book, I literally snatched it up, I knew that this would be right up my street and I was right. This is an extraordinary book, it is told mostly through Sarah’s words from her letters, diaries and documents that have survived and it tells the story of a truly inspiring and remarkable woman who gave everything for the suffrage movement.

This book tells the story of Sarah Benett, who was one of the most unlikely militant suffragette’s, before joined the cause she was working tirelessly in the Staffordshire Potteries trying to improve the workers conditions, trying to get them the rights they deserved but unfortunately unless women had equality and more immortal the right to vote her actions came to naught. Which is when after attending a meeting and hearing Flora McKinnon Drummon – or otherwise known as ‘The General’ speak Sarah knew then that this was her calling, this was what was needed. At the age of 57, Sarah Benett became a Suffragette.

I have read so much about the Suffragette’s and what they went through to be able to put that cross on the ballot paper, but this has brought a whole new understanding and even further respect to those brave and wonderful women who gave their all for something that many women today do take for granted and we truly are indebted to them.

Iain Gordan has written an informative, brilliantly researched and compelling book that can be read and enjoyed by anyone who has an interest in the subject. His writing is powerful, thoughtful and sympathetic to the subject as well as illuminating and engaging especially with the addition of the brilliant illustrations and photographs that really work to bring the time and this woman to life.

This is definite must read, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This was a complimentary copy via the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Rosie at Pen and Sword.

A Rebel With A cause is available from both Pen and Sword and Amazon.