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Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum: Reflections on Good Friday

Posted on Mar 25, 2016 in 17th century, BLOG, early modern europe, women's history, women's issues | Comments Off

  Aemilia Bassano Lanier (also spelled Lanyer) is the heroine of my new novel The Dark Lady’s Mask.  Born in 1569, she was the highly educated daughter of an Italian court musician—a man thought to have been a Marrano, a secret Jew living under the guise of a Christian convert. She may have also been the mysterious, musical Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets, although most academic scholars dispute this. What we do know and what really matters is that she was the first English woman to pursue a career as a published poet. In Protestant England, Lanier effectively had only one option—to...

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Announcing Ophelia, the Feminist Plague Rat

Posted on Mar 22, 2016 in BLOG | Comments Off

  Ophelia is the official mascot of my upcoming Dark Lady’s Mask Book Tour and will be appearing with me at my author events! Don’t miss out on the fun!  ...

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Shakespeare’s Sisters—A Celebration of Renaissance Women Writers

Posted on Mar 8, 2016 in 17th century, renaissance, women's history | Comments Off

April 23, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with worldwide celebrations to mark his legacy. But what about the women? In her essay A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf imagines the life of Shakespeare’s brilliant sister Judith, barred from the grammar school because of her sex and forced to hide her writing from her family. To escape a forced, arranged marriage, she runs away to London to seek her fortune in the theatre, only to end up pregnant, abandoned, and destitute. Out of despair, she kills herself. “It would have been impossible, completely and entirely...

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Life Begins at 42: Saint Hildegard’s Guide to Becoming a Midlife Powerfrau

Posted on Feb 23, 2016 in 12th century, BLOG, hildegard of bingen, history | Comments Off

  We live in a youth-obsessed culture. The cosmetic industry pushes wrinkle creams and hair dye on us while celebrities resort to Botox and surgery to preserve an illusion of eternal girlhood. We live longer than ever before, yet advancing age, once a mark of honour, has become a source of shame. But what happens when women embrace midlife as an inner awakening and call to power? One such woman was Saint Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), powerfrau and late bloomer par excellence. Her youth was dire. Offered to the Church at the age of eight, she was entombed in an anchorage. Though she...

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Saint George’s Day

Posted on Apr 23, 2015 in medieval period, seasonal | Comments Off

My horse wearing a fly rug in the colours of Saint George. She’s Welsh and doesn’t look too impressed.    George is the patron saint of England and his feast day is still celebrated on April 23 with the displaying of the English flag, which bears George’s red cross. In medieval tradition, Saint George was the Virgin Mary’s champion knight; England itself was regarded as the Virgin’s dowry. Saint George’s cult had both elitist and populist aspects. On the one hand, he was the saint of nobility and monarchs. To join the Guild of Saint George, one had to...

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How Oliver Cromwell stole Christmas

Posted on Dec 22, 2013 in BLOG | Comments Off

How Oliver Cromwell stole Christmas

No Christmas for you!  Does Christmas make you want to shout Bah Humbug? You are not alone. Nor is the much touted “War Against Christmas” anything new. Oliver Cromwell goes down as history’s biggest Grinch. The Lord Protector and his Puritan-led parliament literally stole Christmas in mid-17th century England. A fervent Puritan, Cromwell was on a mission to cleanse his nation of what he perceived to be papist excess and decadence. He and his fellow Puritans regarded Christ’s Mass as an unwelcome revenant of Catholicism, “a popish festival with no biblical...

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