Bookclub: Our top book picks of the month – January

Black Tudors – Miranda Kaufmann

Opening up, uncovering and rediscovering just how rich and varied English society was in the 16th century, Miranda Kaufmann dedicates a chapter each to individual Black men and women who were recorded as living and working in England during the reigns of the Tudor monarchs.

From silk weavers to mariners and navigators to trumpeters at the royal court, each has their own unique and fascinating story, and Kaufmann draws the reader in with her stylish prose to remind us that Black people didn’t just arrive on British shores on Windrush.

100 Nasty Women of History – Hannah Jewell

A gallop through the centuries, looking at a few women you might have heard of, and quite a few you won’t. These women fought for education, fought for freedom, and sometimes just fought.

Hannah Jewell’s singular ‘voice’ and manner of writing (book sections are titled things like ‘Wonderful ancient weirdos’ and ‘Women who punched Nazis’) create a rip-roaring ride, and a refreshing take on women often much maligned and often much forgotten – not anymore, thanks to Jewell.

Outsiders: Five Women Writers Who Changed the World – Lyndall Gordon

Less of a gallop and more of a steady trot is Lyndall Gordon’s examination of ‘five women writers who changed the world.’

Gordon gives space to Virginia Woolf, Olive Schreiner, George Eliot, Emily Brontë and Mary Shelley to allow those little bits and pieces that have slipped through the cracks elsewhere in writings about them to build up bigger pictures of these literary giants.

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