Women and Society

Julia Phillips charts the history of women in British society.

To sing of wars, of Captaines, and of Kings,

Of Cities founded, Common-Wealths begun,

For my mean Pen, are too superior things,

And how they all, or each, their dates have run.

Let Poets, and Historians set these forth,

My obscure verse, shall not dim their worth...

Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are,

Men have precedency, and still excell,

It is but vaine, unjustly to wage war,

Men can doe best, and women know it well;

Preheminence in each, and all is yaurs,

Yet grant some small acknowledgement of ours.

These lines of poetry were written by Anne Bradsheet, a seventeenth-century poet, in her poem The Prologue. Yet that 'small acknowledgement' has been slow in coming in historical studies. It is only in the last ten years or so that women's history has become a recognised field of historical enquiry, part of university and polytechnic curricula, a subject for adult education groups and workshops.

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