John Murray Press has acquired a new book by Caitlin Davies about the "remarkable" women imprisoned in Holloway Prison, from 1852 to its closure in 2016.
Bad Girls: A History of Rebels and Renegades will tell the stories of Holloway’s diverse inmates who came from all over the UK and from all walks of life. It will also show how women have been treated in the UK's justice system over more than a century, what crimes – real or imagined – they committed, who found them guilty and why. According to JMP, it is a story "of victimization and resistance" and "of oppression and bravery".
Inmates whose stories are told in the book include Selina Salter, who made her way back from New York to arrive destitute at the gates of Holloway Prison; "queen of the underworld" Zoe Progl, who plotted a successful escape over its high walls; and Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the suffragette movement.
JMP secured UK and Commonwealth rights from Robert Kirby of United Agents, to publish in hardback, e-book and audio digital download on International Women’s Day, 8th March 2018.
Davies, who is the author of five novels and five non-fiction books, and has worked as a teacher and freelance journalist for 25 years, said she had long been fascinated by Holloway Prison and had jumped at the chance to tell its story and that of its former inmates.
"I’ve long been obsessed with Holloway Prison," she said. "I remember standing outside the Victorian castle-like jail as a child in the 1960s and wondering who the ‘bad women’ inside were. When it closed down last year I leapt at the chance to tell its full story, thanks to exclusive access to Holloway’s archives as well as former prisoners and staff. Holloway was synonymous with the suffrage campaign, but the suffragettes are only part of the story – Holloway was used to lock up troublesome women for 164 years.’"
Her editor, Kate Craigie, added: "I’m delighted to be publishing Bad Girls. For many, Holloway is synonymous with the suffragettes and with forcible feeding, but as Caitlin shows, its history is so much richer than that. Holloway’s women were often victims of – or were rebelling against – a restrictive definition of what it was and is to be a woman. Their fascinating stories should be told – and when better than on International Women’s Day."
The book follows the announcement this week of Life Lessons from Remarkable Women, the product of a partnership between Penguin Life and Stylist magazine and anthology pitched as "Rebel Girls for the modern woman". It will publish one week ahead of International Women’s Day in 2018.