A fresh, opinionated history of all the brilliant women you should have learned about in school but didn’t.
In this freewheeling history of modern Britain, Cathy Newman writes about the pioneering women who defied the odds to make careers for themselves and alter the course of modern history - women who achieved what they achieved while dismantling hostile, entrenched views about their place in society. Their role in transforming Britain is fundamental, far greater than has generally been acknowledged, and not just in the arts or education but in fields like medicine, politics, law, engineering and the military.
While a few of the women in this audiobook are now household names, many have faded into oblivion, their personal and collective achievements mere footnotes in history. We know of Emmeline Pankhurst, Vera Brittain, Marie Stopes and Beatrice Webb. But who remembers engineer and motorbike racer Beatrice Shilling, whose ingenious device for the Spitfires’ Rolls-Royce Merlin fixed an often-fatal flaw, allowing the RAF’s planes to beat the German in the Battle of Britain? Or Dorothy Lawrence, the journalist who achieved her ambition to become a WW1 correspondent by pretending to be a man? And developmental biologist Anne McLaren, whose work in genetics paved the way for in vitro fertilisation?
Were it not for women, significant features of modern Britain like council housing, municipal swimming pools and humane laws relating to property ownership, child custody and divorce wouldn’t exist in quite the same way. Women’s drive and talent for utopian thinking created new social and legislative agendas. The women in this audiobook blazed a trail from the 1918 Representation of the People Act - which allowed some women to vote - through to Margaret Thatcher’s ousting from Downing Street.
Blending meticulous research with information gleaned from memoirs, diaries, letters, novels and other secondary sources, Bloody Brilliant Women uses the stories of some extraordinary lives to tell the tale of 20th- and 21st-century Britain. It is a history for women and men. A history for our times.
"Here they come, the 'monstrous regiment' of women...marching from the shadows of the past into the sunlight of the future. In Cathy Newman’s exhilarating book, women in their hundreds emerge from obscurity, reinforcing what we always suspected: women have been active, resourceful, inventive and inspiring throughout history. This is a golden book, setting out the record of women’s achievements so they can never be challenged again." (Joan Bakewell)
"An excellent and engaging read with which to conclude the centenary year of women’s suffrage." (The Bookseller)
"Powerful, poignant and often provoking: Bloody Brilliant Women shines a light on the contribution of women of all ages, ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds who have helped to make our city and country so great. Cathy Newman narrates the stories of women who have helped shape the world in which we live today, by challenging gender stereotypes, smashing glass ceilings and blazing a trail for the next generation to follow. Eloquently written and hugely enjoyable to read, Bloody Brilliant Women provides a timely reminder of how hard women have already had to fight and why no-one’s life chances should be limited - or their career dictated - solely because of their gender." (Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London)