My new book, Uncontrollable Women: Radicals, Reformers and Revolutionaries, will be published by Bloomsbury (IB Tauris) on 16 November 2021. It’s a history of radical, reformist and revolutionary women between the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 and the passing of the Great Reform Act in 1832. Very few of them are well-known today; some were unknown even in their own day. All of them contributed something to the world we now inhabit.
At a time when women were supposed to leave politics to men they spoke, wrote, marched, organised, asked questions, challenged power structures, sometimes went to prison and even died. History has not usually been kind to them, and they have frequently been pushed into asides or footnotes, dismissed as secondary, or spoken over, for, or through by men and sometimes other women. In this book, they take centre stage in both their own stories and those of others, and in doing so bring different voices to the more familiar accounts of the period. These women and many others played a part in developing political ideas and freedoms as we know them today, and some fought battles which still remain to be won or raised questions that are still unresolved. You can pre-order the book here.
The Women in the Room: Labour’s Forgotten History tells the story of the founding and the early years of the Labour Party, but with women added back in. Between 1900 and 1918 women were active in the suffrage movement, but they were also trade unionists, socialists, pacifists, public speakers, organisers and campaigners. Some campaigned for universal rather than limited female suffrage; others took an economic rather than a political view of how women could be liberated.
The story includes familiar names such as Millicent Fawcett, Emmeline Pankhurst and Keir Hardie, but also less well-known women including Margaret Bondfield, Mary Macarthur, Marion Phillips and Margaret MacDonald. It paints a vivid picture of the activism of a diverse range of women in the early twentieth century, and illuminates their involvement in the birth of the Labour and trade union movements.
In Our Own Words is a compilation of quotations which gathers together over 1,400 wise, witty and thought-provoking political observations from hundreds of women throughout history and around the world.
Many of the quotes included have never appeared in any published collection before, and the book provides an indispensable resource for writers, speakers, and political anoraks, as well as a fascinating insight for general browsers. Some of the women quoted will be familiar and others less so, but all are significant individuals whose ideals, struggles, successes and failures have helped shape the world we live in.
In Our Own Words was edited by Nan Sloane and published by the Centre for Women & Democracy. It can be ordered from YPD Books.
‘In politics, the people I most despise are those who have no values.’ Diane Abbott, Labour politician.
‘If you are never to speak because you are afraid to cause offence, you will never say anything. I am not in the least afraid of causing offence.’ Nancy Astor, Conservative politician.
‘I would get up in the morning and I would say, “How am I going to bother them today?”’ Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Guatemalan indigenous rights activist.
‘Democracy is the best revenge.’ Benazir Bhutto, Prime Minister of Pakistan.