Staff Pick: Women of Wonder

This month, to celebrate both International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Yale University Press London staff choose their favourite books on the theme of ‘Women of Wonder’.

March’s Staff Pick – The Pocket

Acquisitions Editor, Art and Architecture, Sophie Neve recommends The Pocket: A Hidden History of Women’s Lives, 1660-1900 by Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux

This really is an eye-opening book. It explores how women – at a time when they had few legal rights to property, money and so on – used tie-on pockets to assert their independence and agency. The security and privacy that pockets provided was crucial to women across all areas of society. Barbara Burman and Ariane Fennetaux’s research brings to light the stories of individual women’s struggles to thrive and their creative use of pockets to overcome society’s limitations on their rights and freedoms. 

Read an extract from the book and see the results of our ‘design your own 18th century pocket’ competition

Other Recommendations

Editorial Director, Mark Eastment recommends Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory by Griselda Pollock

Griselda Pollock has written a fascinating and compelling book based on the life and work of Charlotte Salomon, an artist who is best known for a single monumental artwork, Leben?oder Theater? (Life? or Theatre?)

Charlotte was born to Jewish parents in 1917 in Germany where she studied art before being forced to leave in 1939 to live with her grandparents in Nice, France. It was whilst she was here she created during the war this piece for which she is best known which illustrates her own life, including the suicide of both her mother and aunt, weaving tragic personal stories around a wealth of cultural and social references from opera to cinema, the Berlin night clubs to the works of Munch and Van Gogh whilst showing how the daily lives of the Jews in Nazi-dominated Europe was gradually being eroded. Charlotte’s short life ended in 1943 when she was deported first to the Drancy camp and later to Auschwitz, where at only 26 years old and five months pregnant she was sent to the gas chamber. This is a sad and horrific story but one that needs to be discussed and her work is celebrated in the 1600 pieces of her art housed in the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam and which has been shown around the world, including exhibitions in both London’s Royal Academy and Jewish Museum.

Watch the author discuss the book here

Publishing Assistant, Ffion James recommends Lee Lozano:Not Working by Jo Ulpin

‘Seek the extremes, that’s where all the action is’ – Lee Lozano, Grass Piece, 1969

Lee Lozano might seem a strange choice for International Women’s Day – she famously boycotted women after leaving the art world in her 1970 ‘Dropout Piece’. But in an age of hyper-productivity and ‘leaning in’, there may be some unlikely lessons in Lozano’s refusals, from her rejection of the label ‘woman artist’ to her repurposing of the labour strike as an art form.

Jo Applin’s 2018 monograph, Lee Lozano: Not Working, looks at the radical subjectivity Lozano forged through her painting and conceptual work, and it considers how Lozano’s contradictions and disengagements might actually work towards imagining a better world. Applin engages inquisitively and compassionately with Lozano’s life and art, and the book itself is beautifully produced. I highly recommend, as an alternative pick for International Women’s Day.

Read an interview with the author and an extract from the book here

Academic and Community Marketing Assistant, Tanu Shelar recommends author Helen Fry and her collection of books namely; MI9 and The Walls Have Ears

My recommendation for International Women’s Day is Helen Fry. She has written and edited several books on WW2, espionage and history. Her books although well-researched read like a mystery novel!

MI9 was recently shortlisted for The Duke of Wellington Medal in Military History 2021. In MI9 she reveals important information gathering operations which I have to say is so intriguing. Discovering details about secret missions that helped save trapped Allied fighters, MI9 reads like a fact-paced action book.

Moreover, I love her book covers of which I am going to be building a steady collection!

Read extracts from some of Helen’s books here

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash.

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