Top

We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Shakespeare's Sisters

On sale

12th March 2024

Price: £25

Select a format

Selected: Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9781529404890

Disclosure: If you buy products using the retailer buttons above, we may earn a commission from the retailers you visit.

Discover the lives and work of four ambitious Renaissancewomen who, against all odds, made themselves heard-and read-in the time of Shakespeare

In an innovative and engaging narrative of everyday life in Shakespeare’s England, Ramie Targoff carries us from the sumptuous coronation of Queen Elizabeth in the mid-16th century into the private lives of four women writers working at a time when women were legally the property of men. Some readers may have heard of Mary Sidney, accomplished poet and sister of the famous Sir Philip Sidney, but few will have heard of Aemilia Lanyer, the first woman in the 17th century to publish a book of original poetry, which offered a feminist take on the crucifixion, or Elizabeth Cary, who published the first original play by a woman, about the plight of the Jewish princess Mariam. Then there was Anne Clifford, a lifelong diarist, who fought for decades against a patriarchy that tried to rob her of her land in one of England’s most infamous inheritance battles.

These women had husbands and children to care for and little support for their art, yet against all odds they defined themselves as writers, finding rooms of their own where doors had been shut for centuries.

Targoff flings them open to uncover the treasures left by these extraordinary women; in the process, she helps us see the Renaissance in a fresh light, creating a richer understanding of history and offering a much-needed female perspective on life in Shakespeare’s day.

What's Inside

Read More Read Less

Reviews

Heather Clark, author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath
Ramie Targoff has written a vivid, finely crafted portrait of four extraordinary Renaissance women whose writing, long buried in archives, defied all the rules. Mary Sidney's translations, Aemilia Lanyer's poems, Anne Clifford's diaries, and Elizabeth Cary's dramas contained radical messages of autonomy at a time when women had few legal rights and almost no access to education. Raised to keep quiet and obey their husbands, these writers kept diaries, created female heroines, and gave women starring roles on the stage and page. Targoff, an esteemed scholar of Renaissance literature, restores these women to the starring roles they deserve in this fresh, galavanting, and indispensable history of Renaissance England. Shakespeare's Sisters challenges and expands our historical memory in sweeping, cinematic prose. Scholarly storytelling at its finest.
Sir Jonathan Bate, Shakespeare scholar
Over the past thirty years, scholars - mostly women - have recovered and celebrated the works of an array of long-forgotten female writers of the English Renaissance. Now Ramie Targoff has had the ingenious idea of telling the lives and exploring the works of some of them in an innovative group biography. She brings back to life and shares with a wider readership the literary talents of four women of varying backgrounds but equal fortitude.
Publishers Weekly
A vibrant portrait . . .Targoff's narrative is full of vivid personalities and intriguing tales of court alliances and rivalries. It's an enlightening study of the era's literary scene and the women who persevered despite their exclusion from it.
Telegraph
With fluid prose, Targoff braids these four biographies to give an outstanding revisionist portrait of an age. She catalogues the difficulties these women faced - from lack of education, to extreme poverty, to obstreperous husbands - but the overall picture is not one, like Woolf imagined, of depression and madness. Targoff's re-written Renaissance is one in which women's lives are not relegated; where their voices are heard on the page.