This March it seems especially important to celebrate women’s history and share women’s stories. As recent news stories have reminded us, there is still so much more to be done in achieving gender equality, and ending violence against women. From rediscovered women’s classics, to contemporary voices of today, here are just a few of the things we recommend picking up to mark this year’s Women’s History Month.
Witches: The Transformative Power of Women Working Together by Sam George-Allen
(Melville House, 9781612198347, p/b, £12.99)
From ballet troupes to convents and all-female farming collectives, Witches celebrates the often-neglected revolutionary potential of women working together. Armed with a lifetime of experience and research, Sam George-Allen presents a fascinating investigation into female friendships, our workplaces, social circles, and much more, all while providing plenty of room for women to tell their own stories.
Cambrian Pictures by Ann of Swansea, introduction by Elizabeth Edwards
(Honno Welsh Women’s Press, 9781912905294, p/b, £11.99)
For nearly 40 years now, Honno Welsh Women’s Press has been dedicated to publishing works by Welsh women, in English and Welsh. Titles range from fiction to autobiographies, but of particular interest to women’s history is the Welsh Women’s Classics series, an imprint that brings out-of-print books in English by women writers from Wales to a new generation of readers. Cambrian Pictures is the 30th in this range. A lively courtship novel from 1810, it is fascinating both as entertainment and as the subject of literary study, and more than worth a read this March.
The Flapper Queens: Women Cartoonists Of The Jazz Age by Trina Robbins
(Fantagraphics Books, 9781683963233, h/b, £30.99)
It’s difficult to put into words how beautiful this book is. A celebration of women cartoonists of the 1920s, it offers stunning reproductions of artwork by famous and forgotten women artists. Also included are biographies, historical analyses, and pages upon pages of art. An essential piece of cartooning history, and a fascinating deep dive into women’s (art) history.
Becoming Unbecoming by Una
(Myriad Editions, 9781908434692, p/b, £14.99)
Sadly more relevant than ever this Women’s History Month, Una’s sensational graphic memoir is a devastating personal account of gender violence set against the backdrop of the 1970s Yorkshire Ripper man-hunt. Una deftly weaves her own experiences of male violence as a 12-year-old girl with the ongoing investigation into a series of murders that would incite the first Reclaim the Night protests. A revealing and important book on what it means to grow up as a woman in a culture of toxic masculinity and unpunished male violence, remaining essential graphic novel reading.
We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival edited by Natalie West, with Tina Horn, foreword by Selena The Stripper
(Feminist Press, 9781558612853, p/b, £20.99)
Providing a platform for all women to tell their stories, Feminist Press publish the essay collection We Too this month. Edited by educator and sex worker Natalie West, We Too was conceived as a response to #MeToo, a movement that often failed to include violence against sex workers in its narrative, but also as space for sex workers themselves to hear each other’s stories. In the words of West: “I want civilians (i.e., non–sex workers) to witness us taking care of ourselves. I want those readers to understand that we are capable of doing that work; and I want those readers who are policy makers to start asking us how they can help us do what we have already been doing.”
Dark Enchantment by Dorothy Macardle, introduction by Caroline B. Heafey
(Tramp Press, 9781916434233, p/b, £14.99)
Women-run Irish publisher Tramp Press has been doing the work in connecting readers with fantastic books written by women Irish authors. With Dark Enchantment they cast their eye to forgotten classics of the past, re-publishing 20th century writer and activist Dorothy Marcardle’s spell-binding witchy novel. First published in 1953, Dark Enchantment evokes a magical pre-war France, in which its 20-year-old protagonist becomes dangerously entwined in rumours of witchery and murder in a little village in the French Alps. Curl up with this on a cold evening, and lose yourself in a recovered classic.
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