Read The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in Seventeenth-Century England by Antonia Fraser Free Online
Book Title: The Weaker Vessel: Woman's Lot in Seventeenth-Century England|
The author of the book: Antonia Fraser
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2239 times
Reader ratings: 4.5
Date of issue: August 1st 2002
ISBN 13: 9781842126356
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.27 MB
Read full description of the books:
This fabulous, fabulous book. I'd quote it at you extensively, but I finished it on holiday last week and immediately palmed it off on a friend.
Last summer, I saw Lady Antonia Fraser in conversation with Kate Mosse at the Edinburgh Book Festival. I went by myself, and I'm pretty sure I single-handedly lowered the average age of the audience by a few years, but I'm so glad I went. The audience questions were interesting and considered, the discussion was great fun... and when I grow up, I want to be Antonia Fraser. She's an unstoppable force, who wrote her first book on Mary Queen of Scots while also looking after a toddler. She's the ultimate tangent-follower, who seems to have written thousand-page tomes on British history pretty much as the whim takes her, tracing along the things she finds most interesting and finding out everything there is to know about them. So when I discovered she'd written about women in the seventeenth century - that's what this one is about - I made a noise a bit like "HNNGH" only more high-pitched, and immediately got my hands on a copy.
In this book, Antonia Fraser writes about everything there is to write about seventeenth-century English women. She starts with marriage and being widowed and having babies, she talks about women joining the army and getting accused of witchcraft and commanding besieged castles, of women painting and writing stories and acting, of women being politically active and running businesses and campaigning for the rights to read and write, and studying science and philosophy. There's a whole chapter on Quaker women preaching and campaigning for equality and for better conditions in prisons. There's a chapter on midwives and women in medicine, handing down knowledge from one to another because they weren't allowed to study as doctors. There's everything.
And the thing is that Fraser is clearly having such a good time - she tells a good story, but her commentary is so affectionate. I'd love to read this in combination with A Room of One's Own, and to know what Woolf might have thought of this book, lamenting as she did the lack of women's history and voices and traditions. I suspect they might have got on extremely well. I'm also reminded of Kameron Hurley's fantastic essay We Have Always Fought: history has never gone on without women. It's not just that they've sewed its clothes and washed up after it, or that they've pleaded for it when it got itself in trouble, although women did all of those things. But I tell you that reading this women-led history of one of my favourite parts of English history was like looking at a lake that I've seen out of the window for all my life, and realising that it's miles deeper than I realised. Not just because thousands and thousands of people like me did interesting and difficult and important things after all, but because in 1984 Antonia Fraser was as interested in them as I am, and had as much affection and respect and, yes, pride, for them as I do.
At any rate it seemed so important to me personally, that I took my time over it and just marinated in the stories of the women who made it possible for me to be the person I am today. All I can say is that Alexander Pope would have hated me with a fiery obsession, and that quite frankly he wouldn't have been wrong to.
God, she's wonderful. Next, I'm going to read the Cromwell biography, and I'm really looking forward to it.
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