Enlightening pieces of passion about 21 pioneering women delivered with personal verve.
This fascinating follow-up to the author’s bestselling A History of Britain in 21 Women immediately invites a big question: how to select only 21 women from around the globe, through all time? The source material is huge (if underrepresented), and the author sets out her criteria thusly: “What unites my chosen twenty-one is that each has faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve her ambition regardless of her colour or class.” Murray also notes her decision to “include as wide a range of clever, talented and determined woman as possible’” from all walks of life (“politicians, writers, artists, musicians, scientists and athletes”) and ethnic backgrounds.
Many of the women are high profile figures - among them, Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Coco Chanel, Frida Kahlo, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Hilary Clinton, Angela Merkel and Madonna - and Murray adds fresh personal perspective to her coverage of these. For example, in the account of her interviewing Atwood for the first time in 1988 she describes being “overwhelmingly impressed by her vast knowledge of history, culture and the human condition.”
Other featured women are lesser-known trailblazers, such as the ingeniously inventivePharaoh Hatshepsut (c. 1500 BCE - c. 1458 BCE). This remarkable woman cleverly crafted her own creation myth (that she was born of the god Amon) to secure and validate her appointment as Pharaoh, a role in which she “was very successful artistically and politically.”
As Murray writes in her introduction, these women “should be known, remembered, cheered and emulated by we who follow them.” This edifying anthology will certainly imbibe its readers with a sense of celebratory awe.
A History of the World in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
|Publication date:||1st December 2019|
|Publisher:||ABC/Audible Audio an imprint of Bolinda Publishing|
|Primary Genre||Biographies & Autobiographies|
Closing date: 05/06/2022