The two works under review are on broadly the same subject - writing by women in later medieval England - but could not be more different and are therefore difficult to compare directly. One author is an historian, the other a literary scholar.
For a long time the historical study of early modern women seemed destined to be confined to the domestic sphere. Almost axiomatically, 'women' have been treated as a subset of household, family, or marriage.
Historians of early modern marriage have made much use of court records in uncovering the matrimonial difficulties of our ancestors.
This exciting new study argues that medieval aristocratic women not only had power to exercise authority, but that they did so in different capacities depending on the times of their life cycle.
The tenacity of the Women’s Voluntary Services (WVS: they were awarded ‘Royal’ status in 1966) in maintaining their unique position in the voluntary sector must, in no small degree, be due to the powerful personality of its founder, the redoubtable Stella Charnaud, Lady Reading.
The explosion of research on early modern gender in England has focused primarily on the experience or perceptions of women. Alexandra Shepard's excellent new book forms part of a new wave directing our attention equally to the construction of early modern masculinity.
Elizabeth Freke has the distinction among my autobiographical acquaintance of being the memoirist I would least like to meet. This is not because she was toothless, lame, blind and probably bald and, as she said in 1711, 'a diseased criple with a rhumatisme and tisick confined to a chair for this eighteen months past' (p.158).
‘It is time to effect a revolution in female manners’ declared the Vindication of the Rights of Woman in 1792 ‘– time to restore to them their lost dignity – and make them, as a part of the human species, labour by reforming themselves to reform the world’.(1) Mary Wollstonecraft’s legacy, which had such important ramifications for the wa
Public Lives: Women, Family and Society in Victorian Britain by Eleanor Gordon and Gwyneth Nair is a meticulously researched study of the lives of middle-class families in Glasgow. In particular, they focus upon the residents of twelve streets drawn from the Claremont/Woodside/Woodlands estates, situated west of the city centre.
Laura E. Nym Mayhall begins her book by re-telling the familiar story of the arrest in 1909 of Marion Wallace Dunlop, a member of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), which led to her imprisonment and notoriety as the ‘first hunger striker’. In doing so, she focuses on the action that led to the arrest.