Pandora's Daughters: The Lives and Work of History's Career Women

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9780094805101: Pandora's Daughters: The Lives and Work of History's Career Women

This enthralling history, full of anecdotes and first-hand accounts, centres on women through the ages who have sidestepped restraint and raised the eyebrows of their contemporaries by choosing to make their own, often highly idiosyncratic, way of life.

The pedigree of the modern career woman is not generally supposed to be long, reaching back only as far as those late-Victorian pioneers who stormed the bastions of male professions. Jane Robinson looks back over some 25 centuries and proves that theory quite wrong. The 100 or so women portrayed here were busy behind the scenes of recorded history, in the cause of earning an honest (or perhaps not) independent living. Their enterprise and flair led them to careers as diverse as they are improbable, ranging from engineers, plumbers and surgeons, to a naval commander in the Persian Wars, a Dark-Age Pope, a successful Orcadian wind-seller, some pirates, a Royal Marine and a stockbroker who ran for President of the United States.

The author considers such achievements against their place and time and the result is a tribute to an inspirational body of women whose significance has too long been ignored, as well as a wonderfully entertaining read.

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Review:

'In Pandora's Daughters Robinson gives them life ... allowing them to kick up their heels and dance across the pages.' -- Guardian, November 30, 2002

From the Author:

I have never enjoyed researching anything more than 'Pandora's Daughters', my fifth book. The characters I uncovered in it have such spirit and verve, and are so surprising in their choice of how to live and work, that I shall really miss them now the book's written. Mind you, life is a little quieter now, and I did find their astonishing energy and courage in choosing and forging successful careers in what we usually assume to be a man's world made me, as a modern woman, feel rather feeble at times.

These women, whose work spans over 2000 years, have demonstrated to me how much we can be mistaken about individuals' lives and aspirations if we generalise too much about women's history, as most historians have done before. By unearthing their personal and often long-lost stories, I have come to learn that 'ordinary' women were not all quiet, passive, domestic and acquiescent members of the so-called weaker sex, even back in the Dark Ages and beyond. Nor were those in the workplace all exploited or unfulfilled: career-woman have been going strong for many centuries in many different parts of the world, and I hope their adventurousness and self-confidence will inspire you as much as they have me.

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