Women’s History Month 2020

This month we recognise Women’s History Month, an annual declared month where the contribution of women to events in history and society are celebrated. It is the hope that one day it will become impossible to teach or learn history without remembering these remarkable contributions.

At Boydell & Brewer we celebrate Women’s History Month by highlighting some of our publications focussing on women, across our imprints. Learn about Joan the Fair Maid, a Yorkshire heiress, a Nigerian writer, “The Wicked Lady”, and a Nobel Prize-winning poet.

Remember, you can get 35% off these publications using code BB685 at checkout.

Joan the Fair Maid

Joan, Countess of Kent, was known as The Fair Maid of Kent. She was the mother of King Richard II of England, whose father was her third husband Edward the Black Prince, son and heir apparent of King Edward III. Joan’s life has been chronicled to be rich and eventual, with two clandestine marriages. She gained respectability in later life, and exercised her influence and control during a time when the Crown faced a series of political and social crisis.
Read more about Joan as she is portrayed as a spirited medieval woman who was determined to be mistress of her fate and to make a mark in challenging times in Joan the Fair Maid of Kent, A Fourteenth-Century Princess and her World by Anthony Goodman.

Lucy de Thweng, “that notorious woman”

Lucy de Thweng is often referred to as a notorious woman. Lucy was a Yorkshire heiress and as a child she was married to her first husband, but later divorced him. She then entered into an adulterous relationship with another man, was forced into marriage with a second husband, which was followed by a period of widowhood, ending with Lucy being married a third time to a congenial partner of her own choice.
Read more about Lucy as she is used as a prism through which to consider the agency of aristocratic women in the Middle Ages in Aristocratic Marriage, Adultery and Divorce in the Fourteenth Century by Bridget Wells-Furby.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“We Should All be Feminists” she proclaimed in an essay, giving feminism a “tweak and twist” and suggesting new outlooks in literary theory. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie provides her era and generation with a leading and engaging voice. She has bridged gaps and introduced new motifs and narrative styles which in turn, has energized contemporary African fiction. Her work explores art and ideology, feminism and war, matters of myth and perception and the challenges of multicultural existence and complex human identities.
Learn more about Chimamanda in A Companion to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie edited by Ernest N. Emenyonu.

Lotte Reiniger, the originator of feature-length animation

Reiniger is the little-known originator of feature-length animation, who preceded Walt Disney by over a decade. Her work has been marginalised due to her status as a woman, and her contribution to the development of animation film has been largely written out of history. It is widely, and wrongly, believed that Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937) was the first feature length film ever made. It actually was Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (English Translation: The Adventures of Prince Achmed), that was the earliest film of its kind. Lotte wanted to show the capabilities of stop-motion animation, and invented the Tricktisch device to achieve the special effects of a flying horse, witches, and magic islands.
You can read more about Lotte Reiniger in A Critical History of German Film by Stephen Brockmann.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed, 1926, trailer

Kitty Clive or “Mrs Riot”

Women’s rights activist, Handel’s favourite, top London stage star: the eighteenth-century singer-actress Kitty Clive led a remarkable life. Proudly defying male authority, Kitty Clive led an actors’ revolt, when theatre manager Charles Fleetwood stole salaries to pay for gambling. She was the first performer to maintain a celebrity identity though English song, and won the hearts of audience by combining charisma and fearlessness in her performances. In 1740, Handel recognised Clive’s popularity when recruited her for the first run of his ode, L’Allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato.
Learn more about Kitty Clive in this blog post by Berta Joncus, who has been researching the star’s career for 20 years, and has written her biography Kitty Clive, or The Fair Songster .

Margaret Lockwood “The Wicked Lady”

July 2020 will mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Margaret Lockwood. The British film actress forged an onscreen identity as the “bad girl” with her performance as Lady Barbara Skelton, the noblewoman turned highwaywomen, in The Wicked Lady (1945). However, it was in the British Musical Film genre that Lockwood first cut her teeth in the film industry, with her performances in The Street Singer (1937), and The Beloved Vagabond (1936). Lockwood was popular with wartime audiences, for whom the cinema was a much-needed source of morale.
You can read more about Margaret Lockwood’s roles in musicals in Cheer Up! British Musical Films, 1929-1945 by Adrian Wright.

Augusta Browne “Be bravely singular”

An inspiring role model for women musicians. Augusta Browne’s quintessential American story of immigration, struggle, and success spans the nineteenth century, with the Civil War intervening. A musician from earliest infancy, instilled by the Logierian System of Music, at the age of six she astonished Boston audiences with her piano performances. By twenty, she was a rising composer, a Professor of Music, and music journalist in the competitive New York City musical scene. The digitization of nineteenth-century sources has finally uncovered her music and prose, and following on from this the first book-length study of this gifted composer will soon be published by the University of Rochester Press.
Read more in Augusta Browne: Composer and Woman of Letters in Nineteenth-Century America by Bonny H. Miller here.

Gabriela Mistral, the Nobel Prize-winning poet

Gabriela Mistral, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, teacher, widely travelled diplomat and prolific prose writer, is a revered icon in Chile. In 1945, Mistral became the first Latin American author to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature, 26 years before Pablo Neruda’s award in 1971. Gabriela Mistral actually nurtured Neruda’s love of literature during his boyhood and the two were lifelong friends, yet unlike Neruda, Mistral is not widely known by English-speaking readers.
A complicated literary figure (the best poets always are!), her poems address themes such as femininity, motherhood, and grief. Feminist critics are now seeking to reclaim Mistral as a staunch defender of women’s rights and social justice.
Gabriela Mistral is the subject of Chapter 3 in A Companion to Latin American Women Writers edited by Brígida M. Pastor & Lloyd Hughes Davies, published by Tamesis Books.