W H Allen lands Ramirez's 'vivid and evocative' look at medieval women

W H Allen lands Ramirez's 'vivid and evocative' look at medieval women

W H Allen has landed the "remarkable" Femina: A New History of the Middle Ages by Oxford University lecturer and BBC historian Janina Ramirez.

Out in March 2022 and based on 10 years of research, Femina will bring "remarkable medieval women to the fore and offer the first comprehensive look at why they were written out of history". Ramirez will create a "vivid and evocative" picture of the lives of the women who influenced medieval society, including Aethelflaed, Margery Kempe and King Jadwiga, as well as individuals discovered more recently, like the Loftus Princess and the Cathar spies. It promises to ultimately reveal "how and why these remarkable people were removed from our collective memories, and highlight the misconceptions that have underpinned our historical narratives". 

Lucy Oates, commissioning editor, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Rosemary Scoular at United Agents. She said: "The Middle Ages are seen as a bloodthirsty time of Vikings, saints and kings: a patriarchal society that oppressed and excluded women. But by digging a little deeper into the truth, drawing on evidence from all disciplines, we can see that the ‘dark’ ages were anything but. Janina has such an enthusiasm for her subject, and as a visual historian brings the past to life with creativity and passion. I’m absolutely delighted to be publishing her at W H Allen."

Ramirez added: "This book is not simply about introducing you to women from history who are inspiring. It's about seeing the past and our relationship with it differently. It's about understanding how our access to history has been curated and manipulated, and how our perceptions can change going forward. 

"Medieval women have been deliberately written out of the past, their names scratched from records and their works burned. Femina doesn’t just rehabilitate their reputations. It’s about moving forward towards a more equal future, where diversity and complexity are appreciated. We can’t progress until we truly understand where we have come from, and with this book I hope a more nuanced and real understanding of the Middle Ages can emerge."

Ramirez is an Oxford lecturer, BBC broadcaster, researcher and author. She has presented and written more than 30 hours of BBC history documentaries and series on TV and radio, and is the author of five books: The Private Lives of the Saints: Power, Passion and Politics in Anglo-Saxon England (W H Allen, 2015), Julian of Norwich: A Very Brief History (SPCK, 2016), Riddle of the Runes (OUP, 2018), Way of the Waves (OUP, 2019) and Beowulf (Ladybird, 2019).