My new book is a bit of a special project. For years I had wanted to redress the imbalance inherent in historical narratives – they are dominated by men and by men’s narratives. My students are always asking me where the women are in history; and often I hear the view that women in history were either queens, nuns, or totally invisible. I hope that Unquiet Women answers that. Not many of the fifty odd stories in this book are about nuns or queens. Several of the Seven Women who formed the core of a course taught at the centre for Lifelong Learning (see Words and musings) have made their way into the light of day, while I hope that all the stories link and connect in many ways, to be discovered and explored by the curious reader.
From the inside flap….
‘Wynflæd was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who owned male slaves and badger-skin gowns; Egeria a Gaulish nun who toured the Holy Land as the Roman Empire was collapsing; Gudfrid an Icelandic explorer and the first woman to give birth to a European child on American soil; Mary Astell a philosopher who out-thought John Locke. In this exploration of some of remarkable – but little-known – women living between between the last days of Rome and the Enlightenment, Max Adams overturns the idea that women of this period were either queens, nuns or invisible. In a sequence of chronological chapters, a centrepiece biographical sketch is complemented by thematically linked stories of other women of the time. A multi-faceted and beautifully illustrated study of women’s intellect, influence and creativity, Unquiet Women brings to life the experiences of women whose voices are barely heard and whose stories are rarely told.’
There is a strong personal element underlying the book: my mother was one of fourteen, and as I was growing up in a family without a father around I was heavily influenced by my extraordinary aunts and Grandmother – not to mention my heroic mother. So the book is both inspired by them and a tribute to a remarkable family of positively unquiet women.
Unquiet Women will be published by Head of Zeus in hardback on November 1st 2018.