As part of the celebration of the publication of Daughters of Time – the anthology written by The History Girls, I am pleased to welcome one of the team, Marie-Louise Jensen on the blog.
On Thursday last week, seven authors of historical fiction, all History Girls, travelled to Westminster Abbey:
We were there to visit the tomb of Aphra Behn:
Names ( left to right): Diane Hoffmeyr, Mary Hoffman, Catherine Johnson, Adèle Geras, Marie-Louise Jensen, Katherine Langrish and Anne Rooney (photo copyright Sanne Vliegenthart)
We were there to celebrate Daughters of Time, our anthology of stories published by Templar on March 6th.
Daughters of Time is a collection of stories written by History Girls especially to celebrate the stories of women in history who are not as famous as they deserve to be. There are 13 stories in the collection, each written by a different author, ranging through history from Queen Boudica to the Greenham Common women.
So much of well-known history is male and we really wanted to write about some of the amazing, incredible, talented, courageous and unusual women who are in danger of being forgotten. As we regularly do on our blog: http://the-history-girls.blogspot.co.uk/
I was really moved to visit the tomb of Aphra Behn. I hadn’t visited it before and felt overawed, humbled and proud all mixed up together. The sight of her final resting place brought home to me just how revered she was in her own life time to merit a tomb in Westminster Abbey itself.
Aphra Behn was my own chosen woman to write about and it was the words of Virginia Woolf, (included in Daughters of Time) which inspired the visit. Woolf said “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn [...] for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.’ (A Room of One’s Own)
So that is what we all went to Westminster Abbey to do:
(Photo copyright: Sanne Vliegenthart)
Behn was an intrepid traveller, spy, novelist and playwright and the first woman to make a living by writing in the English language.
The epitaph on her tomb reads:
Here Lies a Proof that Wit can never be Defence enough against Mortality.
I bet she wrote that herself!
It makes me sad that Aphra Behn wasn’t on my A-level English syllabus (entirely male) so that I could have read her work decades earlier. If you’d like to see a glimpse of who she was and who all the other remarkable women we’ve written about were, do pick up a copy of Daughters in Time and prepare to be astonished at female achievements that ought to be so much better known than they are!
Daughters of Time by The History Girls, edited by Mary Hoffman. Out now, £7.99, Templar Publishing,