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Britain has been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men, and its monarchs. To say that it’s high time that it was defined by its women falls some way short of an understatement. Jenni Murray draws together the lives 21 women to shed light upon a variety of social, political, religious and cultural aspects of British history. In lively prose Murray reinvigorates th Britain has been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men, and its monarchs. To say that it’s high time that it was defined by its women falls some way short of an understatement. Jenni Murray draws together the lives 21 women to shed light upon a variety of social, political, religious and cultural aspects of British history. In lively prose Murray reinvigorates the stories behind the names we all know and reveals the fascinating tales behind those less familiar, ultimately producing a unique history of Britain that is as long-overdue as it is absorbing. From famous queens to forgotten visionaries, and from great artists to our most influential political actors, A History of Britain in 21 Women is a veritable feast of page-turning history. A History of Britain in 21 Women will profile Boudicca, Aphra Behn, Elizabeth I (this chapter will also feature Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots), Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Constance Markievicz, Nancy Astor, Ada Lovelace, Caroline Herschel, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Gwen John, Rosalind Franklin, Ethel Smyth, Margaret Thatcher, Nicola Sturgeon, Mary Quant, Barbara Castle and Mary Somerville.


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Britain has been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men, and its monarchs. To say that it’s high time that it was defined by its women falls some way short of an understatement. Jenni Murray draws together the lives 21 women to shed light upon a variety of social, political, religious and cultural aspects of British history. In lively prose Murray reinvigorates th Britain has been defined by its conflicts, its conquests, its men, and its monarchs. To say that it’s high time that it was defined by its women falls some way short of an understatement. Jenni Murray draws together the lives 21 women to shed light upon a variety of social, political, religious and cultural aspects of British history. In lively prose Murray reinvigorates the stories behind the names we all know and reveals the fascinating tales behind those less familiar, ultimately producing a unique history of Britain that is as long-overdue as it is absorbing. From famous queens to forgotten visionaries, and from great artists to our most influential political actors, A History of Britain in 21 Women is a veritable feast of page-turning history. A History of Britain in 21 Women will profile Boudicca, Aphra Behn, Elizabeth I (this chapter will also feature Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots), Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Constance Markievicz, Nancy Astor, Ada Lovelace, Caroline Herschel, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Gwen John, Rosalind Franklin, Ethel Smyth, Margaret Thatcher, Nicola Sturgeon, Mary Quant, Barbara Castle and Mary Somerville.

30 review for A History of Britain in 21 Women

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I seem to be reading a lot of feminist texts at the moment, but they’ve all been so good and empowering and, most importantly, inspirational. This was no exception. Easy to dip in and out of, it charts a personal look at 21 great women in British history. The author states at the beginning that this is very much a selective and individual take on what it is to be an inspiring woman in British history. There are some rather controversial picks (Margaret Thatcher stands out as probably the most po I seem to be reading a lot of feminist texts at the moment, but they’ve all been so good and empowering and, most importantly, inspirational. This was no exception. Easy to dip in and out of, it charts a personal look at 21 great women in British history. The author states at the beginning that this is very much a selective and individual take on what it is to be an inspiring woman in British history. There are some rather controversial picks (Margaret Thatcher stands out as probably the most polarising inclusion in the list), but also some criminally underrated women I knew nothing, or next to nothing, about. Women like Ethel Smyth - composer, bisexual (she had two affairs going at the same time, with a husband and wife) and all round fighter for equality, who used the First World War to her advantage. Or Nicola Sturgeon. Leader of the SNP, anti Trump, pro Scotland, but most importantly a successful and passionate leader. When asked in an interview if she was going to have children she replied with the cutting remark that such a question would never have been asked of her predecessor- the also childless Alan Salmond. And with that remark, it just highlighted that women’s rights still has such a long way to go if we want to change society’s views on what it is to be a successful woman. This was such an eye opener for me, and just lit a fire underneath me to continue that fight. Not for myself, but for my children. The conclusion alludes to this, stating we should never be complacent, never back down, and always fight to further the goal of gender equality because at any moment it could be taken away.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    3.5 stars This pretty much does what it says on the cover and provides a pen picture of twenty-one significant women in British history. These are only pen pictures, ten to twelve pages; she has done a similar book for world history. The list is Boudicca (Murray insists on Boadicea), Elizabeth I, Aphra Behn, Caroline Herschel, Fanny Burney, Mary Wollstoncraft, Jane Austen, Mary Somerville, Mary Seacole, Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Ethel 3.5 stars This pretty much does what it says on the cover and provides a pen picture of twenty-one significant women in British history. These are only pen pictures, ten to twelve pages; she has done a similar book for world history. The list is Boudicca (Murray insists on Boadicea), Elizabeth I, Aphra Behn, Caroline Herschel, Fanny Burney, Mary Wollstoncraft, Jane Austen, Mary Somerville, Mary Seacole, Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Ethel Smyth, Constance Markievicz, Gwen John, Nancy Astor, Barbara Castle, Margaret Thatcher, Mary Quant and Nicola Sturgeon. It is a list that can be debated. The only two living women are Sturgeon and Quant. There is no Virginia Woolf, only one black woman (Mary Seacole) and no Asian women. And would I have included Thatcher? There is a focus on the struggle for the vote with suffragettes and suffragists. Nancy Astor is included as the first female MP to take her place in the Commons. Also included is Constance Markievicz who was the first woman elected. She stood in Ireland for Sinn Fein and even then Sinn Fein had a policy of not sitting in parliament. What stands out if Fanny Burney’s account of a mastectomy she had without anesthetic at the age of 59. It is a vivid and horrific piece of writing. This also reminded me that I must read Ethel Smyth’s memoirs. It was Carlyle who said: “The history of the world is but the biography of great men,” and Murray provides a good counterpoint. One grumble is that there is no bibliography. This is a simple straightforward introduction to the lives of 21 women. Information and analysis is limited and I didn’t agree with all of her choices. A book club read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katheryn Thompson

    “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” Or so Thomas Carlyle claimed. Jenni Murray, a journalist and broadcaster who has presented BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour since 1987, provides an alternative history, in A History of Britain in 21 Women, through short, fascinating, and humorous biographies on twenty-one women who have made Britain what it is today: Great. While the selection of women was never going to please everyone, Murray makes it clear from the start that her choices w “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.” Or so Thomas Carlyle claimed. Jenni Murray, a journalist and broadcaster who has presented BBC Radio 4’s Women’s Hour since 1987, provides an alternative history, in A History of Britain in 21 Women, through short, fascinating, and humorous biographies on twenty-one women who have made Britain what it is today: Great. While the selection of women was never going to please everyone, Murray makes it clear from the start that her choices were wholly personal, and in fact the entire book has a very personal feel to it as she weaves her own stories and opinions with those of the women she is presenting. I also think that, while I may not necessarily agree with the choices, Murray has chosen very wisely. The women range from the well-known, such as Elizabeth I, to those whose names are familiar but not their stories, such as Mary Quant, to the unknown, such as Constance Markievicz. The women’s political stances range from right, as Margaret Thatcher, to left, as Nicola Sturgeon; their fields from medicine, like Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, to art, like Gwen John; and Murray has shrewdly, in my opinion, included both Suffragist, in Millicent Garrett Fawcett, and Suffragette, in Emmeline Pankhurst. Murray’s talent as a journalist and especially as a broadcaster shines through the biographies, as her ever-present voice makes the reader feel a personal connection to each woman. She brings them to life through their voices, stories, and stunning illustrations (courtesy of Peter Locke), and shares quotations and anecdotes ranging from the intimate to the all-encompassing, and from the humorous to the awe-inspiring. She presents them as role models, history makers, and most importantly as women. And her tone throughout is as witty and engaging as these incredible women deserve. The overtly personal tone surprised me at first, but I soon became accustomed to the refreshingly different style, finding it the perfect voice in which to tell such intensely powerful and personal stories. Murray manages to capture that elusive balance between information overloading and storytelling. And although the odd comment still made me cringe, such as her wish that Boadicea (to follow Murray’s spelling) had won her rebellion, and her seeming lack of understanding, in relation to Elizabeth I, of the importance of a monarch to provide for the succession, it never detracted from that balance. So while I may not agree with everything that Murray said, and everyone whom she chose, I definitely agree with her that the history of the world, to correct Carlyle, is but the biography of great men and women, as this inspirational book so aptly shows.

  4. 4 out of 5

    BAM Endlessly Booked

    What a topical book! This is a must-have for high school girls in doubt, women interested in women's history, feminists. I wish I had a hard copy so I could go through the women with you, but there is mention of nurses and doctors, a composer, legislators, a designer, suffragettes, a warrior and a queen. This is not your typical discussion. What a topical book! This is a must-have for high school girls in doubt, women interested in women's history, feminists. I wish I had a hard copy so I could go through the women with you, but there is mention of nurses and doctors, a composer, legislators, a designer, suffragettes, a warrior and a queen. This is not your typical discussion.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bea

    Anyone had a particular book slump where there’s a book you’re mildly interested in but cannot get yourself to pick up and read? Yeah. DNF AT 45%

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    A really great book that looks at 21 women who have changed history for the female sex. There are a wide range of women from ones we all know, such as Elizabeth I, Margaret Thatcher and Emmeline Pankhurst, to ones I've ashamedly never heard of but I have come to wholeheartedly respect such as Fanny Burney (author and firsr woman to document a successful mastectomy without pain relief), Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (first female doctor) and Aphra Behn (who I knew as a playwright but not as a spy!). A really great book that looks at 21 women who have changed history for the female sex. There are a wide range of women from ones we all know, such as Elizabeth I, Margaret Thatcher and Emmeline Pankhurst, to ones I've ashamedly never heard of but I have come to wholeheartedly respect such as Fanny Burney (author and firsr woman to document a successful mastectomy without pain relief), Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (first female doctor) and Aphra Behn (who I knew as a playwright but not as a spy!). There were those who I knew about and simply loved reading more about their lives; like Aphra Behn, as mentioned above, Mary Wollonstonecraft, Queen Liz I, Mary Quant, Millicient Garrett Fawcett, Jane Austen and Emmeline Pankhurst. However, there were those who I thought shouldn't be included, not because they weren't great but simply because the author wasn't entirely positive about them, Maggie Thatcher, or they were only loosely linked to Britain in some way; Mary Seacole, Caroline Herschel and Constance Markievicz. I feel Constance certainly wouldn't want to be included in this book seems as she fought so strongly against Britian, abstained from anything associated Britain and was a lead figure in the Easter Rising events in Ireland. Overall, this book is a fantastic insight into the strength and determination of women and it highlights what we can achieve when we have a cause in us that we want/need to fight for. We certainly have a lot to thank these women for and it is important that our children, male or female, know who they are and the impact they made in history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    Not only very interesting short biographies of the 21 women, but also a good reminder to appreciate the freedoms women now enjoy which shouldn't be taken for granted. Not only very interesting short biographies of the 21 women, but also a good reminder to appreciate the freedoms women now enjoy which shouldn't be taken for granted.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I received this book as a gift from my best friend when I went back home to visit and it was such a lovely surprise! I'm really glad I finally had the chance to read it. I've always been a lover of history, and in more recently got into the feminist side of life so this seemed to be a great idea! I felt the book covered a wide selection of different women, for all different reasons. Some were for their political contributions, others artistic, scientific, medical, etc. Each held their own! The aut I received this book as a gift from my best friend when I went back home to visit and it was such a lovely surprise! I'm really glad I finally had the chance to read it. I've always been a lover of history, and in more recently got into the feminist side of life so this seemed to be a great idea! I felt the book covered a wide selection of different women, for all different reasons. Some were for their political contributions, others artistic, scientific, medical, etc. Each held their own! The author, Jenni, was confident in her curation of these women. I liked how some of them included small influenced they had had on her. In her writing, she addressed the elephants in the room of some women whose policies or ideologies she disagreed with. It was good to see that although elements of their lives may not have been great, they weren't disregarded but addressed. She also didn't detract from other women when describing her choices - e.g. choosing a chapter on Mary Seacole rather than Florence Nightingale despite her importance to British history. I felt each chapter gave a good amount of context to the time period as well. It helped me to understand the lives of the women, especially those I hadn't heard of or wasn't familiar with. As someone who enjoys history but doesn't get a chance to study in much anymore, this was a really nice and easy-to-digest read. There was the odd bit of humour in there too which was a nice addition. Today I went out and bought her other addition 'A History of the World in 21 Women' because enjoyed this one!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Ruddick

    I had read Mary beards SPQR recently and was hoping for a history book that was equally rich and satisfying. This book is not that kind of book. It reads like a cross between a set of Wikipedia pages and a set of personal remarks that are mostly just fandom and admiration. Its only contribution is the authors own encounters with some of these people, such as Thatcher. It's feminist intention is admirable. However this is not a real history book. I had read Mary beards SPQR recently and was hoping for a history book that was equally rich and satisfying. This book is not that kind of book. It reads like a cross between a set of Wikipedia pages and a set of personal remarks that are mostly just fandom and admiration. Its only contribution is the authors own encounters with some of these people, such as Thatcher. It's feminist intention is admirable. However this is not a real history book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)

    some thoughts: (1) shame the author's a terf huh... (2) it was interesting in a way, because about half of these women are ones i've never heard of so that was cool, but then later on it went with some really boring choices (important women, yes, but boring choices) and yeah (3) it's really interesting how murray didn't include marie stopes because of her interest in eugenics but included both millicent fawcett who was a staunch imperialist and classist, and maggie thatcher who was homophobic so! (4 some thoughts: (1) shame the author's a terf huh... (2) it was interesting in a way, because about half of these women are ones i've never heard of so that was cool, but then later on it went with some really boring choices (important women, yes, but boring choices) and yeah (3) it's really interesting how murray didn't include marie stopes because of her interest in eugenics but included both millicent fawcett who was a staunch imperialist and classist, and maggie thatcher who was homophobic so! (4) she makes no judgements about these women, which, okay, being non-biased and all, but how can you be non-biased about imperialism and classism and homophobia i'm sorry i just got so tired of her pointedly refusing to take a stance (she even says she grew up in a mining town, and all she says of thatcher is some people loved her and some people loathed her) (5) it's very white (20/21) and very straight (20/21*) *one lesbian, two potential bisexual women but i didn't count them as aphra behn is never mentioned as maybe being so, and gwen john only is in briefest passing with some unrequited infatuation so who really knows (6) also to note on the thatcher chapter, it brings up some of her controversies like taking away free milk, not supporting women in cabinet, the falklands' war, and the miners, but there's a notable gap where section 28 should be - and ultimately these are all only briefly touched on, and no real judgement made (7) i guess though, in the end, this was just to bring attention to some figures who are mostly overlooked in the history curriculum (i hate men) (8) once again, it's a shame the author's a terf huh...

  11. 4 out of 5

    J.A. Ironside

    Ok so this was history lite, but then it was never intended to be anything else and it's delivered in a very enjoyable and engaging way. A while back I read Cailyn Moran's 'How to be a Woman'. While shd is very funny and astute as well as savvy with gender politics, she made a comment that struck me with unease: that there is no proper canon of women scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, musicians, leaders and politicians. For about 5 mins I was horribly afraid she was right. Women thro Ok so this was history lite, but then it was never intended to be anything else and it's delivered in a very enjoyable and engaging way. A while back I read Cailyn Moran's 'How to be a Woman'. While shd is very funny and astute as well as savvy with gender politics, she made a comment that struck me with unease: that there is no proper canon of women scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, artists, musicians, leaders and politicians. For about 5 mins I was horribly afraid she was right. Women throughout the centuries start ag such a disadvantage when trying to succeed in a world built and arranged for the primary usr of men. And then I made a quick mental list of all the women I could think of off the top of my head who had bucked the system and made significant contributions to art, history, medicine and science. In a thirty second mental check list I came up with over 50. I decided Moran was just wrong on that point. However as Murray points out in this book you could be forgiven for thinking women haven't achieved very much unless you specifically go and find less biased accounts of history and science. Murray does an excellent job of providing her own favourite examples of female historical figures from British history, drawn from a far larger pool. They are not all good people. They are not modest or mild or even good natured. They make mistakes and have foiables and ethics clashes with a modern audience. But every single one of them is great, not just by the standards of what is percieved as being acheivable for a woman but by the standards we set for men. This is a great springboard from which to jump on findjng more out about women in history, art and science. In addition Murray is not strident or in anyway alienating to those with a broader viewpoint. Her call for equality is just that - all genders equal not 'now it's time for women to have a turn running things'. She appreciates the forward thinking supportive fathers who encouraged their daughters, the husbands who supported their wives reaching for more than marriage and children. It's a well rounded book and very enjoyable. I wish I'd read the book rather than listened to the audio. Murray is an excellent radio host/ newsreader but is not suited for reading adio books. There are weird pauses at strange junctures in sentences that were at first distracting and then irritating. For all that a very good book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    It is worth pointing out, author Jenni Murray is clear, that this is a very personal selection. I think if you asked any group of people who would make their list they would all look very different. I fully admit I raised an eye brow at the inclusion of one or two and wondered at the exclusion of others. In reality, the book is twenty-one chapters of short biographies, there is very little from one chapter that feeds into another. Still, it does provide some fascinating information, the stories It is worth pointing out, author Jenni Murray is clear, that this is a very personal selection. I think if you asked any group of people who would make their list they would all look very different. I fully admit I raised an eye brow at the inclusion of one or two and wondered at the exclusion of others. In reality, the book is twenty-one chapters of short biographies, there is very little from one chapter that feeds into another. Still, it does provide some fascinating information, the stories of many of these women are quite extraordinary. The book begins with Boadicea (she insists on Boadicea rather than the more accepted Boudicca) and ends with Nicola Sturgeon. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would be writing about a book. In between we have; Elizabeth I, Aphra Behn, Caroline Herschel, Fanny Burney, Mary Wollstoncraft, Jane Austen, Mary Somerville, Mary Seacole, Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst, Ethel Smyth, Constance Markievicz, Gwen John, Nancy Astor, Barbara Castle, Margaret Thatcher and Mary Quant. There were a few names there completely new to me – others who I had fully expected to be included in a book of this kind. Full review: https://heavenali.wordpress.com/2018/...

  13. 5 out of 5

    victoria_tonks

    This book is very hard for me to rate. I started by enjoying it immensely. I did not (do not) mind what some of the reviewers see as the arbitrariness of the author's choice of historical figures. Her book, her choice. I certainly never heard of some of the women before I found this book, and I am glad I finally have. As I said in one of my status' updates - we do owe a lot to the 19th/early 20th century feminists. A lot we nowadays take for granted. However, what has spoilt the whole experience This book is very hard for me to rate. I started by enjoying it immensely. I did not (do not) mind what some of the reviewers see as the arbitrariness of the author's choice of historical figures. Her book, her choice. I certainly never heard of some of the women before I found this book, and I am glad I finally have. As I said in one of my status' updates - we do owe a lot to the 19th/early 20th century feminists. A lot we nowadays take for granted. However, what has spoilt the whole experience for me was that I felt that toward the final chapters, the author's political views started taking over the narration. This culminated in the afterword which for me smacked strongly of modern left wing feminist propaganda. All in all, I do not regret reading the book - the greater part of it was indeed a fascinating, informative and inspiring listen, but I know I will not check out this writer's other books. I thought I would, but I won't.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary Arkless

    This was a very personal choice of which women to include by the author. Every single one was a very strong person, every one promoted women in some way. Personally, I wouldn't have included Nicola Sturgeon, but I can't stand the woman. I am sure many wouldn't put in Margaret Thatcher. Murray admits that that woman's name wouldn't even be mentioned in the circles where Murray grew up (her family were miners). There is a lot to be learnt in this book. Some of these women were authors, and I will This was a very personal choice of which women to include by the author. Every single one was a very strong person, every one promoted women in some way. Personally, I wouldn't have included Nicola Sturgeon, but I can't stand the woman. I am sure many wouldn't put in Margaret Thatcher. Murray admits that that woman's name wouldn't even be mentioned in the circles where Murray grew up (her family were miners). There is a lot to be learnt in this book. Some of these women were authors, and I will check if I can get some of their books from the library. This is actually not a long book, but it took me a month to read because of the holidays.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    There were a few here I hadn't heard of - or had heard but knew nothing. They're a mixed bag including an Irish nationalist and a Scottish one, as well as Thatcher, along with a wide range of writers, scientists, campaigners. The stories are about the right length for an introduction like this and I've made notes to find out a bit more about a couple of them (Aphra Behn and Fanny Burney) when I get a chance. There were a few here I hadn't heard of - or had heard but knew nothing. They're a mixed bag including an Irish nationalist and a Scottish one, as well as Thatcher, along with a wide range of writers, scientists, campaigners. The stories are about the right length for an introduction like this and I've made notes to find out a bit more about a couple of them (Aphra Behn and Fanny Burney) when I get a chance.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren James

    A feminist look at women from Boudiccia to the suffragettes, this is a nice little non-fiction collection of biographies. There's a few women I hadn't heard of that I want to learn more about. A feminist look at women from Boudiccia to the suffragettes, this is a nice little non-fiction collection of biographies. There's a few women I hadn't heard of that I want to learn more about.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Thomson

    *3.5 stars

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Alcazaze

    3.5 stars. Great for younger readers who want a brief introduction to our important women, I’ll definitely be lending this to my teenage niece, but I wish this had featured fewer women while offering a more comprehensive insight into those selected. The illustrations and introductory quotations at the start of each section were delightful.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    A very informative and interesting read! I find myself attracted to these kinds of books when I'm in the mood for some not too heavy non fiction (like Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History), and I enjoyed this one. I guess this is essentially a collection of 10ish page long biographies, and is better suited to reading in short bursts. That said, it never gets boring, and the vast majority of these women were fascinating characters who I had never heard of be A very informative and interesting read! I find myself attracted to these kinds of books when I'm in the mood for some not too heavy non fiction (like Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History), and I enjoyed this one. I guess this is essentially a collection of 10ish page long biographies, and is better suited to reading in short bursts. That said, it never gets boring, and the vast majority of these women were fascinating characters who I had never heard of before or knew only by name. As the title states, this is a personal selection from Jenni Murray. But the book itself isn't too personal, and the anecdotes she does add are helpful ones (I enjoyed the chapter on Margaret Thatcher despite having a strong dislike for Thatcher herself, mostly thanks to Murray's memories of meeting her across her career).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aqsa

    Such a great concept! It really felt like a journey through time, progressing from the story of a warrior to playwrights and artists and more, with much focus on the suffrage movement and politics later on. I really enjoyed hearing the stories of these women, though my eyes glazed over more in the latter half of the book, as there were a lot of names being shared (spouses, acquaintances etc) that I probably instantly forgot. I would have liked to hear more analysis about their influence and less o Such a great concept! It really felt like a journey through time, progressing from the story of a warrior to playwrights and artists and more, with much focus on the suffrage movement and politics later on. I really enjoyed hearing the stories of these women, though my eyes glazed over more in the latter half of the book, as there were a lot of names being shared (spouses, acquaintances etc) that I probably instantly forgot. I would have liked to hear more analysis about their influence and less of the smaller details, but I liked it when Murray shared how she learned about them and what made her choose them. In those moments it felt less like a textbook and her passion came across, especially with her closing words. I definitely see this as a book I could revisit. I’ve seen a lot of talk about notable women the author missed out on, but she states from the start that it’s a personal list, and even then, there is still plenty of history covered and new names to learn :p

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ceara

    This book just didn’t quite sit right with me. I enjoyed learning more about some women in British history, but 20 of the 21 women were white, and Nancy Astor, a Nazi sympathiser, and Margaret Thatcher, who did immeasurable damage to many communities in Britain, were included. Just because a woman has achieved an impressive position, like Thatcher being the first PM, doesn’t mean they should be applauded by default. I would like to find a book about women in British history( or from anywhere, rea This book just didn’t quite sit right with me. I enjoyed learning more about some women in British history, but 20 of the 21 women were white, and Nancy Astor, a Nazi sympathiser, and Margaret Thatcher, who did immeasurable damage to many communities in Britain, were included. Just because a woman has achieved an impressive position, like Thatcher being the first PM, doesn’t mean they should be applauded by default. I would like to find a book about women in British history( or from anywhere, really) which is much more diverse and doesn’t applaud people who are actually pretty terrible.

  22. 4 out of 5

    David Swanson

    This is the sort of Audible book I really enjoy because it delves into the stories of individuals in history who made a difference. Unfortunately, the delivery of these stories is dull so I regard the content as 4* but the delivery as 2* resulting in a blended 3*

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicoleta Fedorca

    I like her selection of women and the explanation for some of her choices. She chose from all the tiers of the society. I would recommend the book it's easy to read and entertaining. I like her selection of women and the explanation for some of her choices. She chose from all the tiers of the society. I would recommend the book it's easy to read and entertaining.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Kathleen

    The intention to highlight the achievements of women throughout history is admirable and important, but the author doesn't go into a lot of details of each of the women. It feels like I could have searched the JSTOR biography of each of these women, found the same information and not missed out on many facts. Of course, the point of this introductory novel is to inspire people to go out and learn more about these incredible women, but the way that the information is delivered is dull and hasn't The intention to highlight the achievements of women throughout history is admirable and important, but the author doesn't go into a lot of details of each of the women. It feels like I could have searched the JSTOR biography of each of these women, found the same information and not missed out on many facts. Of course, the point of this introductory novel is to inspire people to go out and learn more about these incredible women, but the way that the information is delivered is dull and hasn't inspired me to look into any of these women more than I was already interested in doing.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    I had casually come across its title among recently recommended new books somewhere on the internet a week or two before, as if dictated by fate or luck, I thought it would literally stare at me from the new arrivals shelf in the Dasa BookCafe in Bangkok in the middle of last month; eventually, I was determined to read it after a brief browse over the pages. I kept asking myself why 21 and left it at that, knowing its solution should arise later. To continue . . .

  26. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Captivating and sensational. A brief but fascinating journey highlighting influential women from the invasion of the Romans to present day Britain. Through Murray’s gripping writing, this book will excite, shock and enthrall you. A History of Britain in 21 Women successfully showcases a small selection of incredible women that will give you a desire to explore each of their captivating stories in depth. A truly brilliant read.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    I really enjoyed this book, I learnt a lot. Some well known women, Elizabeth I. Boudicca, Jane Austen but some women I knew nothing about; Fanny Burney who documented a mastectomy operation without anaesthesia or Barbara Castle who introduced compulsory seat belts and breathalyser tests. I loved the Emmeline Pankhurst section but it was also really good to read about other women who played a part in the movement. All of the women faced a common challenge, the men around them. It seems that if you I really enjoyed this book, I learnt a lot. Some well known women, Elizabeth I. Boudicca, Jane Austen but some women I knew nothing about; Fanny Burney who documented a mastectomy operation without anaesthesia or Barbara Castle who introduced compulsory seat belts and breathalyser tests. I loved the Emmeline Pankhurst section but it was also really good to read about other women who played a part in the movement. All of the women faced a common challenge, the men around them. It seems that if your Father was in support of women and their rights then you have a good start. Some fathers believed that sending their daughters for an education would leave them barren! Nicola Sturgeon was asked recently whether she would be having children, she quickly responded by saying that would not be asked of a man are just a couple of examples. A really great book, if you’re interested in history, particularly women’s history then I highly recommend.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Rogers

    Despite being interested in both history and feminism i now realise how little I knew about key women in Britain who have made my life possible. This book is an enjoyable read and a very digestible glimpse into 21 amazing women. It got me thinking who I would put up there and what more I can do for the future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Henry Tegner

    I found A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray an interesting read and well written. At the outset I would say though that I feel a little uneasy writing about a feminist author writing about feminist issues from the perspective of a man and this is perhaps because, as a man, I am inevitable marginalised to a greater or lesser degree from its content. My copies of the book are in two forms – and electronic script version downloaded on to my Kindle, and similarly downloaded the Audible I found A History of Britain in 21 Women by Jenni Murray an interesting read and well written. At the outset I would say though that I feel a little uneasy writing about a feminist author writing about feminist issues from the perspective of a man and this is perhaps because, as a man, I am inevitable marginalised to a greater or lesser degree from its content. My copies of the book are in two forms – and electronic script version downloaded on to my Kindle, and similarly downloaded the Audible version read by Jenni Murray (and very well read, as one might expect from a prominent radio journalist). With both formats one can engage in what Kindle calls ‘immersion reading’ where you both listen and follow a cursor on the text at the same time. While this might sound off-putting it is really rather an extraordinary experience and one that holds one attention firmly on the task in hand. But today I listened to the final chapter (Nicola Sturgeon) connected via Bluetooth to the audio system in my car, driving home from Portishead, and then to Jenni’s ‘Afterword’ which I found possibly the most absorbing part of the book. I identified with her rather stern reminder of the responsibility, of women in particular, always to make use of their right to vote as this was won at the cost of much suffering. And the reason I do is because I reminded my own daughters similarly on more than one occasion although to their credit they did not really need my reminders. It is easy to see how difficult a task it was to identify among so many women only 21 who changed the course of history and enhanced the status of women as Jenni’s selection did. There must be many more almost or equally as deserving as those whose short biographies she presented. I chanced to find on Wilipedia the results of a survey undertaken by the BBC almost 20 years ago when members of the public were asked who they considered to be the 100 greatest Britons in our history (both men and women). You can find them at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/100_Gre... How intriguing that the late Princess Diana came second! I wonder what Jenni Murray would think of that? I have to say that I think I had at least heard of every one of the 21 women that Jenni chose although of one or two I had previously known very little. Perhaps it is for this reason that I found it a worthwhile read. Could I suggest anyone else more worthy of a place among the 21? Why, no – for it seems to me that a man has no business intruding on such an able woman’s patch. But I don’t think that Margaret Thatcher would agree!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    An interesting listen, including some women I'd never heard of before. Delightfully narrated (you can hear the joy in Jenni Murray's voice when talking about the women who have most inspired her). I would have preferred more time spent on the women's achievements and accomplishments than background on their parents, siblings, husbands and children. I appreciate that context is important and in some cases the histories wouldn't make sense without them, but it became formulaic and I started diseng An interesting listen, including some women I'd never heard of before. Delightfully narrated (you can hear the joy in Jenni Murray's voice when talking about the women who have most inspired her). I would have preferred more time spent on the women's achievements and accomplishments than background on their parents, siblings, husbands and children. I appreciate that context is important and in some cases the histories wouldn't make sense without them, but it became formulaic and I started disengaging as time went on.

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