** A BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week**
** A Sunday Times bestseller**
'All the history you need to understand why you're so furious, angry and still hopeful about being a woman now' Caitlin Moran
Well-behaved women don't make history: difficult women do.
Feminism's success is down to complicated, contradictory, imperfect women, who fought each other as well as fighting for equal rights. Helen Lewis argues that too many of these pioneers have been whitewashed or forgotten in our modern search for feel-good, inspirational heroines. It's time to reclaim the history of feminism as a history of difficult women.
In this book, you'll meet the working-class suffragettes who advocated bombings and arson; the princess who discovered why so many women were having bad sex; the 'striker in a sari' who terrified Margaret Thatcher; and the lesbian politician who outraged the country. Taking the story up to the present with the twenty-first-century campaign for abortion services, Helen Lewis reveals the unvarnished - and unfinished - history of women's rights.
Drawing on archival research and interviews, Difficult Women is a funny, fearless and sometimes shocking narrative history, which shows why the feminist movement has succeeded - and what it should do next. The battle is difficult, and we must be difficult too.
'This is the antidote to saccharine you-go-girl fluff. Effortlessly erudite and funny' Caroline Criado-Perez
'Compulsive, rigorous, unforgettable, hilarious and devastating' Hadley Freeman
Whoever said feminists lack a sense of humour has not read enough Lewis... A funny, sparky, wide-ranging account... Her book isn’t at all a conventional history. It’s a collection of powerful personal essays on the gnarly issues that women continue to face... I read Difficult Women with gratitude. It’s an authoritative benchmark of modern feminism, written by someone on top of her game... Hooray for a great book by a clever, clear-sighted, straight-talking, difficult young woman.
Difficult Women was a joy to read... I learned so many delicious facts about women whom I thought I knew. In fact, reading Difficult Women felt like sitting down with a friend and gossiping about other women in our circle... It has some howl-out-loud funny moments... Helen Lewis does more than just tell their stories – she allows them to be complicated, something that women are so rarely permitted to be.
Difficult Women is smart, thoughtful and rich in detail... Lewis proves an excellent storyteller who seamlessly blends scholarly inquiry and journalistic investigation with autobiographical titbits and flashes of caustic wit (her footnotes are a hoot).
A sparkling history of feminism in 11 fights… The book is full of Lewis’ short, sharp political observations…almost always as funny as they are informative… It proves her point; that we all have something to learn from each other, if we can open our minds to the true, complicated nature of humanity.
Difficult Women is full of vivid detail, jam-packed with research and fizzing with provocation.
A new book tells the story of feminism through its complicated – and not always agreeable – pioneers. It may make the perfect accompaniment to Misbehaviour, the film about the 1970 Miss World protests which opens in cinemas this weekend.
Over the next six months, we are publishing a brilliant range of debut authors, who are covering everything from the science of listening to fighting feminists to djinns and disappearing children. Then there's the secret world of fungi and a mystical realm accessed through modern Beijing. Anna Fielding talks to the writers to learn more about their upcoming releases.