When I saw this book was up for a review I jumped at the chance to read it.
History books are littered with heroic men who have shaped the world we live in today.
But what about the women?
The history books seem to have forgotten about the women. Of course we know about Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Stopes and a few others, but what do we know of 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 Germans 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?
Or development biologist Anne McClaren, whose work in genetics paved the way for in vitro fertilisation?
And then we have the women who paved the way for council housing in Britain, municipal swimming pools and humane laws relating to property ownership, child custody and divorce wouldn’t exist in quite the same way without these heroic women included in this book.
These trailblazing women, and many more, deserve the same recognition that their male counterparts were afforded. From the 1918 Representation of the People Act – which allowed some women the right to vote – through to the ousting of Margaret Thatcher from Downing Street, and beyond.
The book is a brilliant read, a humbling read, a read that will enrage you on behalf of these women for the way in which they were very often belittled. Bloody Brilliant Women was written using meticulous research with information gleaned from memoirs, diaries, letters, novels and other secondary sources. The author uses the stories of some extraordinary lives to tell the tale of 20th and 21st century Britain. It’s a history for both women and men. A history for our times.
I hadn’t heard of half of these women and that made me both sad and mad at the same time. Why were these women overlooked? Very often what they achieved, created, defended, fought for and much, much more was more incredible than some of the men who have been included in the history books.
The book is very thought provoking. It’s very humbling. It’s a bloody brilliant read and I highly recommend it.