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Writing medieval women’s lives: the case of Katherine Swynford, Lady of Kettlethorpe (and Duchess of Lancaster)

Few topics are as challenging and yet ultimately rewarding for writers than writing stories about the lives of medieval women. Not only was the period particularly muscular with regards to its approaches to public life, but patriarchy was pervasive to the point of occasionally obliterating traces of even the most elite women from records. Or…

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The contemporary Western view of Manchu China: Edmund Backhouse and J.O.P.Bland’s China under the Empress Dowager (1910)

┬áMy reading over the last few weeks has been very much focussed on a number of accounts dealing with the last- and arguably greatest- of the Manchu Empress Dowager, Cixi, or Tzu Hsi (1835-1908). Tzu-Hsi is a fascinating figure by whatever measure- a concubine on entry into the Forbidden City, she became the birth mother…