Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

margaret-the-firstMargaret the First dramatizes the life of Margaret Cavendish, the shy, gifted, and wildly unconventional 17th-century Duchess. The eccentric Margaret wrote and published volumes of poems, philosophy, feminist plays, and utopian science fiction at a time when “being a writer” was not an option open to women. As one of the Queen’s attendants and the daughter of prominent Royalists, she was exiled to France when King Charles I was overthrown. As the English Civil War raged on, Margaret met and married William Cavendish, who encouraged her writing and her desire for a career. After the War, her work earned her both fame and infamy in England: at the dawn of daily newspapers, she was “Mad Madge,” an original tabloid celebrity. Yet Margaret was also the first woman to be invited to the Royal Society of London—a mainstay of the Scientific Revolution—and the last for another two hundred years.

This is something I picked up on a whim. It was on the new releases shelve at my library and I was interested. I had heard briefly about her in passing and from other things but never really knew her story. This seemed like an interesting and romanticised way to learn about her.

This wasn’t as good as I was hoping. It was quite weird and abstract. It was like a mix of first and third person and I had a real trouble trying to distinguish between Margaret and the author because it was just done in a really weird manner. The author was clearly trying to include Margaret’s thoughts and writing style in it so it would feel like her own voice but it kinda lost me.

I really enjoyed the journey that we were taken on with Margaret; from her simple beginning and the slight oddities that we see to the growth and hunger for more. I really enjoyed the first part of this story which was just a story about a woman dealing with her society and what was expected of her. However, she did grow to go completely against the trend and this is where I sort of dropped off.

I am trying to expand my historical knowledge and this woman clearly did so much for the time and changed the face of woman’s literature. She clearly had her faults for the time along with her outlandish dress style but I am glad to now know part of her story.

If it sounds interesting then I would give it a try but it won’t be for everyone.


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