Jenni Murray gives the lie to Thomas Carlyle’s infamous declaration that “the history of the world is but the biography of great men.” Women have played just as great a role in the story of humankind, only for their own tales to be marginalised, censored and forgotten. Their names should be shouted from the rooftops.
Marie Curie discovered radium and revolutionised medical science. Empress Cixi transformed China. Frida Kahlo turned an unflinching eye on life and death. In A History of the World in 21 Women, Jenni Murray celebrates the lives, struggles and achievements of some of the most extraordinary people to have ever walked the Earth. They ruled empires, they led nations. They were pioneers in the arts and geniuses of science. They led while others followed, spoke truth to power and fought for change. All left behind an indelible mark.
“Charming… [Murray’s] selection is pleasingly varied… but the strength of the collection lies in Murray’s relaxed and intimate style… a testament to the achievements and the complicated legacies, of extraordinary women.” – BBC History Magazine.
“In this interesting twist on collective biography… has chosen 21 women to document history… Whether browsing for fun or reading cover to cover, readers will find this equally satisfying.” – Booklist.
“Ambitious, engaging and accessible. Who better than Jenni Murray to curate this whistle-stop tour of the globe and introduce twenty-one women who in different times and different places dared to be different?” – Dr Anna Whitelock, author of Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen.
“A valuable resource for all readers. Jenni Murray’s collection of distinguished women is illuminating and inspiring.” – Charlotte Gordon, author of Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley.
Jenni Murray is a journalist and broadcaster who has presented BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour since 1987. She is the author of several books, including A History of Britain in 21 Women and Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful Daughter.
Interested in learning more about Newham Bookshop and some of the people connected with it? We have four lessons for classroom or family use developed from On the Record’s oral history project centered around Newham Bookshop, Writing and Reading Newham. Click here for full details.
We are proud that Newham Bookshop is LoveReading’s Bookshop of the Month. The article features a Q&A with Vivian Archer, which you can read here.