Eve Bites Back: An Alternative History of English Literature (Hardcover)
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Anna Beer investigates the lives and achievements of eight women writers, uncovering a startling and unconventional history of literature
'Essential reading.' Claire Tomalin
Warned not to write – and certainly not to bite – these women put pen to paper anyway and wrote themselves into history.
From the fourteenth century through to the present day, women who write have been understood as mad, undisciplined or dangerous. Female writers have always had to find ways to overcome or challenge these beliefs. Some were cautious and discreet, some didn’t give a damn, but all lived complex, eventful and often controversial lives.
Eve Bites Back places the female contemporaries of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton centre stage in the history of literature in English, uncovering stories of dangerous liaisons and daring adventures. From Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe, Aemilia Lanyer and Anne Bradstreet, to Aphra Behn, Mary Wortley Montagu, Jane Austen and Mary Elizabeth Braddon, these are the women who dared to write.
About the Author
Anna Beer is a cultural historian and biographer. She is author of Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music and Patriot or Traitor: The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh, as well as biographies of Bess Throckmorton, William Shakespeare and John Milton. She is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford.
— Claire Tomalin
‘A smart, funny and highly readable journey through the lives of women writers and the challenges they and their works face. It’s an informative, enthusiastic and rightly enraging tour de force.’
— A.L. Kennedy
'Eve Bites Back isn’t pleading for justice for female writers, it’s indicting a system that has long ignored them and, to some extent, still does… Part polemic, part revisionist criticism, Eve Bites Back, as its title suggests, is sharp and aggressive, a book that will irritate, enlighten, persuade and provoke argument. It’s a work of correction, in every sense of the word.’
— The Washington Post
‘A totally absorbing and enlightening tour through the work of eight significant women authors – with one of the funniest introductory chapters ever.’
— Sarah Bakewell
‘Startling stories and facts on every page. Written with a clear and authoritative voice, this is both a very entertaining and very important book about the many obstacles that women have overcome to be writers, and the long struggles even the most gifted and well-connected women authors have encountered in order to be taken seriously.’
— Yasmin Khan, associate professor of history, University of Oxford
‘Writing with energy, wit and at times barely suppressed fury, Anna Beer brings to life the struggle to be heard of eight women writers over 500 years. Her subtle literary excavations are both informative and a gripping read.’
— David Goodhart, founder editor of Prospect and author of Head, Hand, Heart: The Struggle for Dignity and Status in the 21st Century
Anna Beer is one of those very rare writers who are able to combine rigorous research with a gripping and thoroughly accessible style. This is an ambitious, authoritative, feisty book and a worthy successor to her inspirational Sounds and Sweet Airs: The Forgotten Women of Classical Music.
— Kate Kennedy, author of Dweller in Shadows
'A delightful, and challenging read.'
— New York Journal of Books
‘Eve Bites Back … is shaped by the same principles [as Beer’s earlier work] – feminist indignation, certainly, but also a drive to share ideas and observations about a diverse body of achievement, emerging from historical periods radically different from our own … invigorating.’
— Dinah Birch, TLS
‘A thorough, wide-reaching overview of women’s literary accomplishments viewed through a fresh, modern lens … Eve Bites Back is an exemplary work of literary criticism.’
— Foreword Reviews
'In her alternative history of English literature, Eve Bites Back, cultural historian and biographer Anna Beer takes up arms against the patriarchy… extensive and meticulous.'
— Washington Independent Review of Books