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Time for their lives

By Jenni Calder


In spite of the recent explosion of Scottish historiography, few would deny that there is still a huge amount to be done. With The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women there is a great leap forward. It pushes out the frontiers not because it is a book about women, but because it tells us so much about Scotland’s people. By shining a light on the lives of 830 women, it illuminates social relationships. Here are hymn-writers and herring-gutters, politicians and prostitutes, farmers and film-makers, singers and scientists, along with their parents, often their children, sometimes their siblings, and always some sense of the context of their lives. The simple strategy of providing the names and occupations of mothers as well as fathers is indicative.

There is no special pleading, nor is it felt necessary to fit women’s lives into frameworks constructed on conventional (male) paradigms. The criteria for inclusion required a Scottish identity – generously interpreted – but not fame.

Read the original article at: The Scotsman

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