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Kate RoipheIn A Room of One's Own, with its famous riff on Shakespeare's sister, Virginia Woolf wrote that when one tries to picture the life of an Elizabethan woman, "one is held up by the scarcity of facts. One knows nothing detailed, nothing perfectly true and substantial about her. History scarcely mentions her.…What one wants, I thought—and why does not some brilliant student at Newnham or Girton supply it?—is a mass of information; at what age did she marry; how many children had she as a rule;…did she do the cooking; would she be likely to have a servant? All these facts lie somewhere, presumably, in parish registers and account books; the life of the average Elizabethan woman must be scattered about somewhere, could one collect and make a book of it. It would be ambitious beyond my daring." And now the book written by a brilliant student from Newnham, dreamed of by Virginia Woolf in the last century, exists: lively, rigorous, fiercely imagined.
—The New York Times