Royal Society of Literature: Monstrous Women

British Library
11 May 7:00 pm


The RSL is taking bookings from Members and Fellows only. Public tickets are available from the British Library website (later in spring).

From unruly bodies to hysterical states, the monstrosity of women has preoccupied writers for centuries. Celebrating the British Library’s ‘Unfinished Business: The Fight for Women’s Rights’ exhibition, three writers explore what happens when women fail to meet the expectations of society, and how literature can confront monstrosity in woman’s form. Nimco Ali is a Somali British social activist and writer. In What We’re Told Not to Talk About, she brings together 42 women’s experiences from 14 countries, refusing to find women’s bodies shameful. Maggie Gee’s acclaimed novels include 2019’s gothic black comedy Blood, in which she explores violence and monstrosity through a dead father and the six-feet-tall daughter accused of his murder. Laurie Penny’s six books include the non-fiction Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults. Her work argues for justice, equality and humour, and to Penny, that is achieved through word: ‘I’m one of those people who understand the world through books’. Their discussion is chaired by writer and BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking’s presenter, Shahidha Bari.

This event will be broadcast by BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking programme and available as an Arts & Ideas podcast.

This event is preceded by an informal RSL Members’ Book Group led by our Director Molly Rosenberg. We will be reading Maggie Gee’s Blood. Members wishing to attend should book here.



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