A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray

She dedicates it to “all the young people who need to know”. I actually wish I’d got the audiobook in some ways, as much as I enjoyed the illustrations in my print copy. But however much one disagrees with Thatcher’s politics, surely no one can say that she didn’t influence British history. Jenni Murray:   A History of Britain in 21 Women (London: Oneworld, 2016). Related

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Pingback: A History of Britain in 21 Women by Vulpes Libris – Inspire For A Better Life What makes the book charming throughout, though, is Murray’s own personal take on each woman. Each chapter is prefaced by a line drawing of the woman concerned and a quotation by or about them. Mary Seacole is there, along with Jane Austen, Barbara Castle, and Gwen John. Elizabeth I sits side by side with Mary Quant. It is exactly what it says on the tin: she’s chosen 21 notable women from British history and written short chapters on each, explaining why she believes them to have influenced the history of Britain. I think it’s an excellent, wide-ranging selection, and a good combination of women I already knew a fair bit about and a couple I am ashamed to say I had never heard of. But that is understandable to an extent: Boadicea has a lot more already written about her than, say, Mary Quant. RRP £16.99
 
Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestEmailPrintGoogleLike this:Like Loading… For good or bad is a separate issue. There is some assumption that women have achieved total equality and that’s that. Let’s not talk about the past. Instead, the suffragettes would be crowbarred into a section on pressure groups. But most of the women included in the book are much admired by Murray. Hurrah for Jenni Murray, who is brilliant on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, and is on brilliant form again in this book. Thatcher’s policies were, to put it mildly, extremely damaging. In the introduction of her “personal selection” of the 21 women who shaped the history of Britain, Jenni Murray reminds us that just over a year ago, in November 2015, it was announced that feminism would no longer be taught as part of the A Level Politics course. Her voice comes through beautifully, and I could hear it in my mind as I read. We need as many celebrations of women and their achievements as possible in these Interesting Times. ISBN 978-1-78074-990-7. Selection for the book doesn’t mean she likes them. All of British cultural life is here: politics, art, music, literature, and science are all covered. (My favourite is the beginning of Sturgeon’s chapter: the   Daily Mail calling her the most dangerous woman in Britain.) Some chapters are, admittedly, fuller than others. Murray makes no bones about the fact that she’s from Barnsley, the granddaughter of miners who spent their lives in the pits. The miners’ strike of 1984-5, then, was an exceptionally difficult time. Recent events on the other side of the pond illustrate that all too starkly. Believe me, we need feminism more than ever. A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray
Sometimes it feels like we are going backwards. Except we haven’t. We’re looking at you, Margaret Thatcher. I wish   A History of Britain in 21 Women wasn’t as timely as it is. The selection spans most of history, opening with Boadicea (yes, she knows it’s now accepted to be   Boudicca but she has stuck with the pronunciation she grew up with) and closing with the current First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.