So why start a blog highlighting some of the most notorious wives, Queens, courtesans, murderesses, actresses and adventurerers in history?
The answer is: Why not? These were women who fascinated the chroniclers, and biographers of their time, and their lives are still as fascinating today as they were during the age in which they lived. Sure, some of them seem less scandalous today what without our relentless news coverage of the celebrities, but in their time, they stepped out of the rigid confines of their world, and stepped boldly forth into the unknown, some by necessity, and some because they just could not live comfortably in the chocolate box of life proscribed by society.
First of let me start by saying I'm not a historian by any stretch of the imagination although I am a history geek. From the moment I picked up a copy of Anya Seton's book Katherine, I was hooked on reading about women in history. Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II's Queen, Matilda who waged war against her cousin to assert her right to rule England, Isabella, the She Wolf of France who helped depose her husband with her lover Roger de Mortimer, Boudicca who avenged the murder and rape of her daughters against the Roman Invaders, all these women came alive to me through the pages of history.
I devoured books by Jean Plaidy (another future post) about the Kings and Queens of England and their paramours. One of my favorite books was my Jean Plaidy's alter ego, My Enemy, the Queen about Lettice Knollys, granddaughter of Mary Boleyn, who married Elizabeth I's favorite Robin, Earl of Leicester and mother of Elizabeth's last favorite Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex. My other favorite authors were of course Anya Seton, and Annmarie Sosenko who wrote a fabulous book on Desiree, the first love of Napoleon who became Queen of Sweden (great book that should be reissued).
Then came Lillie on PBS, and that opened up a whole new world of women I had never heard of. I'd already started studying dancing and acting and that introduced me to Sarah Bernhardt, Mathilde Khessinkaya, mistress of Nicolas II before his marriage to Alexandra, Clara Bow, Lillian Russell and others.
The original impetus for this was a book that I hope to write about these fascinating women. However when I made a list of all the women that I wanted to write about, the list kept stretching on and on as I discovered more and more fascinating women than could ever be contained in one book.
This blog is my attempt to pay homage to these women, and to share their stories with readers. Some of them you may have heard of, and some you may not.
I hope you enjoy them as much I have writing about them.