Category: JBSF11

Hotbed: Bohemian New York and the Secret Club that Sparked Modern Feminism

The dazzling story of the early feminists who blazed a trail for the movement’s most radical ideas

 

New York City, 1912: in downtown Greenwich Village, a group of women gathered, all with a plan to change the world.

 

This was the first meeting of ‘Heterodoxy’, a secret social club. Its members were passionate advocates of women’s suffrage, labour rights, equal marriage and free love. They were socialites and socialists; reformers and revolutionaries; artists, writers and scientists. Hotbed is the never-before-told story of the club whose audacious ideas and unruly acts transformed an international feminist agenda into a modern way of life.

 

For readers who loved Mo Moulton’s Mutual Admiration Society and Francesca Wade’s Square Haunting.

Wilde’s Women

‘A remarkable book… the breadth and depth of research is astonishing’ Emma Thompson

‘An illuminating study… fascinating’ Independent

Hailed as a gay icon and pioneer of individualism, Oscar Wilde’s insistence that ‘there should be no law for anybody’ made him a staunch defender of gender equality. Throughout his life from his relationship to his extraordinary mother Jane and the tragedy of his sister Isola’s early death to his accomplished wife Constance and a coterie of other free-thinking writers, actors and artists, women were a central aspect of his life and career. Wilde’s Women is the first book to tell the story of his female friends and colleagues who traded witticisms with Wilde but also give him access to vital publicity and whose ideas he gave expression through his social comedies.

Author Eleanor Fitzsimons reframes Wilde’s story and his legacy through the women in his life including such fascinating figures as Florence Balcombe who left him for Bram Stoker, actress Lillie Langtry (for a while an inseparable friend) and his tragic and witty niece Dolly who bore a strong resemblance to the writer and loved fast cars, cocaine and foreign women.

Full of fascinating detail and anecdotes Wilde’s Women relates the untold story of how the writer played a vitally sympathetic role on behalf of many women and how they supported him in the midst of a Victorian society in the process of changing forever.

The Optickal Illusion

In The Optickal Illusion, Rachel Halliburton’s meticulous recreation of Georgian society reveals the sordid details of a genuine scandal that deceived the British Royal Academy.

Her debut novel questions the lengths women must go to make their mark on a society that seeks to underplay their abilities – a theme only too relevant today. It is three years from the dawn of a new century and in London, nothing is certain any more: the future of the monarchy is in question, the city is aflame with right and left-wing conspiracies, and the French could invade any day.

Against this feverish atmosphere, the American painter Benjamin West is visited by a strange father and daughter, the Provises, who claim they have a secret that has obsessed painters for centuries: the Venetian techniques of master painter Titian. West was once the most celebrated painter in London, but hasn’t produced anything of note in years so against his better judgment he agrees to let the intriguing Ann Jemima Provis visit his studio and demonstrate what she knows. What unravels reveals more than he has ever understood – about himself, about the treachery of the art world and the seductive promise of genius. The nature of truth itself is called into question in this story of envy, lust and corruption.