Happy International Women's Day! Here are 5 recs of books by women, about extraordinary women who have made a mark in history, whether by art, literature, politics and even war.
50 Women Artists You Should Know
by Christiane Weidemann, Melanie Klier
This beautifully produced, richly detailed and comprehensive survey of fifty influential women artists from the Renaissance to the Post-Modern era details their vast contributions to the art world. From the Early Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi and the seventeenth-century illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian to Impressionists Mary Cassatt and Berthe Morisot, and to modern icons such as Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe and Louise Bourgeois, the most important female artists are profiled in this book in chronologically arranged double-page spreads. For each artist there is a timeline highlighting significant events in her life; a succinct biography and information outlining her accomplishments and influence; additional resources to further study of the artist and, best of all, brilliant full-color reproductions of the artist's works. Packed with information, here is a stunning and absorbing book that clearly illustrates the remarkable artistic contributions of women throughout history.
Madame de Pompadour
by Nancy Mitford
When Madame de Pompadour became the mistress of Louis XV, no one expected her to retain his affections for long. A member of the bourgeoisie rather than an aristocrat, she was physically too cold for the carnal Bourbon king, and had so many enemies that she could not travel publicly without risking a pelting of mud and stones. History has loved her little better. Nancy Mitford's delightfully candid biography recreates the spirit of 18th-century Versailles with its love of pleasure and treachery. We learn and see France increasingly overcome with class conflict. With a fiction writer's felicity, Mitford restores the royal mistress and celebrates her as a survivor, unsurpassed in "the art of living," who reigned as the most powerful woman in France for nearly twenty years.
Jane Austen at Home
by Lucy Worsley
"Jane Austen at Home offers a fascinating look at Jane Austen's world through the lens of the homes in which she lived and worked throughout her life. The result is a refreshingly unique perspective on Austen and her work and a beautifully nuanced exploration of gender, creativity, and domesticity."--Amanda Foreman, author of Georgianna, Duchess of Devonshire. Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to Austen, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world’s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.
The Pillow Book
by Sei Shōnagon
Written by the court gentlewoman Sei Shonagon, ostensibly for her own amusement, The Pillow Book offers a fascinating exploration of life among the nobility at the height of the Heian period, over one thousand years ago, describing the exquisite pleasures of a confined world in which poetry, love, fashion, and whim dominated, while harsh reality was kept firmly at a distance. Moving elegantly across a wide range of themes including nature, society, and her own flirtations, Sei Shonagon provides a witty and intimate window on a woman's life at court in classical Japan.
Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany
by Marthe Cohn, Taylor Holden
Marthe Cohn was a young Jewish woman living just across the German border in France when Hitler rose to power. Soon her homeland was also under Nazi rule. Always a fighter, Marthe joined the French Army. As a member of the intelligence service of the French First Army, Marthe fought valiantly to retrieve needed inside information about Nazi troop movements by slipping behind enemy lines, utilizing her perfect German accent and blond hair to pose as a young German nurse who was desperately trying to obtain word of a fictional fiancé. By traveling throughout the countryside and approaching troops sympathetic to her plight, risking death every time she did so, she learned where they were going next and was able to alert Allied commanders. When, at the age of eighty, Marthe Cohn was awarded France’s highest military honor, the Médaille Militaire, not even her children knew to what extent this modest woman had faced death daily while helping defeat the Nazi empire.
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illustration holly maguire
what other books by women/about women would you recommend, ONTD?