Any historian analysing a historical novel is bound to appear a little pedantic, taking a spade to the proverbial soufflé, but here goes.
This readable and accessible book has secured an impact beyond the academic world, becoming the Guardian book of the week in March 2011 and drawing positive reviews in both the academic and non-academic press.
Rachel Beer first caught my attention some 20 years ago when I was trawling through Who Was Who looking for journalists. She was unusual because she was the editor of The Sunday Times in the 1890s, when no other national newspaper had a woman editor. She was also deeply conscious of her background, proud of being a member of the wealthy and important Jewish family of Sassoon.
In recent years, historians have begun to explore the political experiences of Victorian women outside the well-trodden suffrage narrative. As a consequence, we have a far greater understanding of how certain women were able to negotiate, exploit and overcome the legal and ideological constraints society placed upon them.
Amanda E. Herbert’s fresh and important study of women’s alliances in early modern Britain opens with a quotation from Mary Evelyn listing the duties of elite women in the late 17th century. Reading as follows: ‘the care of children’s education, observing a husband’s commands, assisting the sick, relieving the poor, and being serviceable to our friends’ (p. 1).
Crafting the Woman Professional in the Long Nineteenth Century / eds. Kryriaki Hadjiafxendi, Patricia Zakreski
Both the problematic discourses of ‘professional/amateur’ and ‘public/private spheres’, and also the multifaceted hierarchies between the fine and the applied arts, have received substantial academic enquiry in the last thirty years. This is particularly true for the art historians researching the cultural activities of middle-class women in 19th-century Britain.
INTERVIEW: Female Alliances: Gender, Identity, and Friendship in Early Modern Britain / Amanda Herbert
In the latest of our occasional Reviews in History podcast series, Jordan Landes talks to Amanda Herbert about her new book, Female Alliances: Gender, Identity, and Friendship in Early Modern Britain.
Amanda Herbert is assistant professor of history at Christopher Newport University.
Over years of supervising student dissertations I have been petitioned by many with a wish to undertake a study of gender (or more particularly women) and the Scottish Enlightenment. I usually caution against this. Gender relative to the Enlightenment is so very difficult to pin down. The Enlightenment, after all, wasn’t something that anyone knew they were doing or experiencing.
Susan Doran is an established, well-respected Elizabethan historian, and her most recent book confirms that she can successfully analyze Elizabeth in ways accessible and interesting to both an academic audience and a popular one.
In a recent blog post for the Women’s History Association of Ireland, Caitriona Clear reflected on how Irish women’s history had now reached a critical mass ‘whereby it does not need to be identified with any one historian or any group of historians’.