‘The great daunger of childbyrth’

While not an absolute rarity, portraits of pregnant women were not common in the Renaissance period. Surprisingly, there are  a number of late Elizabethan and early Jacobean portraits of women at an advanced stage of pregnancy, sometimes surrounded by their children, sometimes alone. Many of these were painted by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. When I … Continue reading ‘The great daunger of childbyrth’

One Minute Book Review – The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl

In 1612 William Shakespeare gave evidence in a case at the Court of Requests brought by Stephen Belott against the tire-maker, Christopher Mountjoy who was his father-in-law and with whom he had served an apprenticeship. Belott was suing Mountjoy for failure to pay in full the dowry promised when Belott had married Mountjoy's daughter Mary … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl

One Minute Book Review – Sumerford’s Autumn by Barbara Gaskell Denvil

Sumerford’s Autumn begins in 1497, twelve years after Henry VII won the crown of England by defeating Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth. The Earl of Sumerford, who fought on the wrong side, has been doing his best ever since to rehabilitate the family name and keep his family below notice of the king. … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Sumerford’s Autumn by Barbara Gaskell Denvil

One Minute Book Review – Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell

First published in 1853, Ruth begins with sixteen-year-old Ruth Hilton, raised in a respectable loving family and newly orphaned, working for a seamstress in the town of Fordham. Beautiful, innocent and unworldly, she unwittingly attracts the attention of a wealthy young man, the feckless Henry Bellingham. When he convinces her to let him take her … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell

Early Modern Women – Elizabeth Paston (1429-1488)

I have been fascinated by the 15th and 16th centuries since I studied Early Modern British history in my first year at university. In my reading over the ensuing years I have caught sight of people who had no influence on the grand scheme of things yet they  brought history to life, reminding me vividly that … Continue reading Early Modern Women – Elizabeth Paston (1429-1488)

One Minute Book Review – The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton by Diane Atkinson

The starting point of The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton by Diane Atkinson is the legal case brought by George Norton against William Lamb, Lord Melbourne, in 1836 for compensation for illegal use of his property, Norton’s wife Caroline. Norton was, in essence, suing Melbourne for adultery. Norton lost the case, Melbourne remained as Prime … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton by Diane Atkinson

One Minute Book Review – Affinity by Sarah Waters

Margaret Prior is an well-to-do spinster who is recovering from her father's death and her own failed suicide attempt. Hoping to bring some purpose to her life, she volunteers as a ‘Lady Visitor’ at Millbank Prison. There she becomes entranced by Selina Dawes, a spiritual medium imprisoned for fraud and assault. The story covers a … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Affinity by Sarah Waters

One Minute Book Review – The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Published in 1966, Dominican-born Jean Rhys imagines the story of Edward Rochester’s first wife Antoinette Bertha Cosway and her troubled journey from a vulnerable new bride in the lush tropical paradise if the West Indies to madness and imprisonment in a cold English attic. Rhys uses multiple voices to tell the story and transforms the … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys