Jenni Murray picks the best books about history’s forgotten women

From lesbian lovers in Dickensian England to the British female doctor who lived as a man … journalist and broadcaster Jenni Murray celebrates history’s lesser-known women

It is hardly surprising, considering the nature of my life’s work, that I should favour books, factual and fictional, that retrieve women from the dustbin of history and restore them to their rightful place.

Professor Janet Todd was first in a line of academics who recognised early in their careers that there were great numbers of important women who had been overlooked by historians and embarked on a mission to bring them to light. She has given us biographies of writers including Aphra Behn and Jane Austen. The one I often return to is Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life, which explores the author’s complex psychology and terrible choices when it came to men. It’s compellingly written, too.

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