Anna Komnene: The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian

Barbara Newman writes:

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland finds history tiresome because it’s peopled with ‘men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all’. From antiquity until as late as the 1970s, most history was written by men, for men, about men. Its pages seldom noted women’s doings, and they were even more rarely its authors. In the medieval West, a few women wrote lyrics and religious texts; they did not write history. Only two exceptions come to mind. The tenth-century poet Hrotsvit of Gandersheim composed an epic on the reign of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto I, and five centuries later Christine de Pizan wrote a biography of Charles V of France.

(LRB 2 March 2017)