Secret Voices: A Year of Women’s Diaries

Edited by Sarah Gristwood     Recommended by    

A captivating collection of extracts from women’s diaries, looking back over four centuries to discover how women’s experience – of men and children, sex and shopping, work and the natural world – has changed down the years. And, of course, how it hasn’t.

In this fascinating anthology, with a selection of entries for every day of the year, you’ll find Lady Anne Clifford in the seventeenth century and Loran Hurscot in the twentieth both stoically recording the demands of an unreasonable husband; Joan Wyndham and Anne Frank (at much the same time, but in wildly different settings) describing their first experiences with sex; and Anne Lister in the eighteenth-century north of England exploring her love affairs with women alongside Alice Walker in twentieth-century California.

Queen Victoria laments the loss of her husband; housewife Nella Last finds that World War II has given her an unexpected independence from hers. Educationalist Sylvia Ashton-Warner in modern New Zealand asks how to juggle work and family; Canadian artist Emily Carr how to manage her work and her identity. Mary Shelley records the death of her baby in half a line; Anne Morrow Lindberg heartbreakingly chronicles the weeks after the kidnap and murder of her baby son.

From Barbara Pym purchasing daring lingerie and Virginia Woolf relishing her new haircut to Sylvia Plath chronicling her ups and her downs and a stoical Amelia Stewart Knight on the pioneer trail, this book contains a rich mix of incredibly well-known diarists and more obscure ones, and often the voices echoing down the centuries sound eerily familiar today.

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