Published by Head of Zeus
Publication date – 4 August 2022
Source – review copy
The third volume in the much-admired The Colour of Time series.
A Woman’s World, 1850–1960 explores the many roles – domestic, social, cultural and professional – played by women across the world before second-wave feminism took hold. Using Marina Amaral’s colourized images and Dan Jones’s words, this survey features women both celebrated and ordinary, whether in the science lab or protesting on the streets, performing on stage or fighting in the trenches, running for election or exploring the wild. This vivid and unique history brings to life and full colour the female experience in a century of extraordinary change.
Photographs include: Queen Victoria, Edith Cavell, Josephine Baker, Eva Peron, Virginia Woolf, Clara Schumann, Martha Gellhorn, Rosa Parks, Agatha Christie, Frida Kahlo, Harriet Tubman, Florence Nightingale, Hattie McDaniel and Gertrude Bell; as well as revolutionaries from China to Cuba, Geishas in Japan, protestors on the Salt March, teachers and pilots, nurses and soldiers.
There is something infinitely fascinating about old photographs. It’s not just that they are a snapshot in time, a way to travel back to the past. It’s because they depict real people, doing things that we perhaps take for granted but were innovative or dangerous at the time. There is also something remote about them. They are invariably in black and white and so it is often easy to forget that there has always been colour and vibrancy in the world. This is where books like A Woman’s World come into their own.
Covering a century of women from 1860 to 1960 the book is separated into chapters dealing with pioneers, women who altered the face of science, politics and stage and screen. There are iconic images of Marilyn Monroe alongside Amelia Earhart, suffragettes and the first women politicians. There are some familiar faces, and photographs but you will also find long forgotten, everyday women, from nurses to taxi drivers.
Each photograph is accompanied by text from Dan Jones detailing the history of the woman portrayed, if known, how they impacted society to what changes or inventions they brought about. What I also loved about the book is that each original black and white photograph is included at the end so that they can also be seen as they would have been when first taken.
This isn’t just a fancy coffee table book, to be looked at from a distance or to be part of the décor (just take a peek under the dust jacket to see how beautiful it is). This is a book to enjoy, one that you can be open on any random page and still be guaranteed a fascinating snippet. Even if you don’t always read the text, the photographs themselves hold such detail that they can be viewed again and again with more to discover each time.
A fascinating, beautiful look into the past.