cover image Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh

Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh

A. A. Milne. Dutton Children's Books, $40 (344pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45723-7

Combining meticulous scholarship and elegant prose, this immensely rewarding history restores women to their key role in the birth of modern Europe. Defined by family status and limited job potential, condemned as lustful sinners or born hysterics by Church authorities and male doctors, ostracized and persecuted as witches, women nevertheless confounded patriarchal strictures and stereotypes. They farmed, midwived, joined urban workshops, sold goods in markets and on quays, worked at home in cottage industry, ran day-schools for children of working parents. Women in England, France, Germany and Holland took part in bread riots, political protests, rebellions, religious riots. Many women went to court seeking separation, divorce, protection from (or the incarceration of) abusive or drunken spouses. Drawing on women's diaries and memoirs, medical and theological tracts, advice manuals and legal documents, Hufton has unearthed a wealth of information on marriage, divorce, parenting, the Inquisition (between one-third and half of its victims in Spain and Portugal were women), infanticide, rape, prostitution, women writers and religious leaders. She traces the roots of modern feminism from Renaissance Venice, where nun Arcangela Tarabotti attacked the dowry system and men's greed, to the radical women's groups of the French Revolution and English polemicist Mary Wollstonecraft's fiery appeals for women's rights. Illustrated. (Nov.)