A Woman's Will
The Changing Lives of British Women, Told Through the Things They Have Left Behind
- Viki Holton
15th July 2023
Heroines and harlots, political hostesses and mistresses, the women who lived in the great houses, and the thousands more who led more ordinary lives ‒ they all have a place in British history. Many lived and died without a lasting record of their existence beyond the register of births, marriages and deaths – perhaps not even there. But fortunately, some women did leave behind far richer evidence of their lives, itemised and expressed in the wills they wrote, providing a precious historical record that can be stitched together again today.
Using women’s wills across the centuries, this book aims to tell something of women’s stories – the pioneers, the celebrities and the achievers, as well as the majority history ignored. Their bequests are fascinating and diverse, from ‘my best beaver hatt’ mentioned in Tudor times to great houses such as Chequers. They range from the Duchess of Windsor’s Cartier jewels at the top of society to the many wills of poorer women who left practical and personal possessions: pots and pans, household implements and tools for preserving, salting and cheesemaking, clothes passed down to friends and family, or a few pennies for their local church. This book will appeal to anyone interested in Britain’s story and the role women have played in it.