14th October, 2018
Review by Tabitha Peverley
‘Women couldn’t have been making the tea for the past one hundred years.’
That is the sentiment behind Cathy Newman’s decision to write her book, Bloody Brilliant Women. In her book she celebrates the women that history teachers neglect to mention, specifically those belonging to the 20th century. From adventurer Gertrude Bell to Dorothy Lawrence, who was the first female journalist to report from a warzone, they all get their chance to shine. Finally.
The one hour talk for Newman was expertly chaired by Dr Eleanor Spencer-Regan from Durham University, who had a wonderful rapport with Newman throughout the talk. She had clearly done her research as she gave a most detailed introduction for Newman, and asked some very interesting questions relating to the book and the women detailed within it. These questions led to some brilliant answers from Newman, including some which were answered by way of a reading from her book. These small excerpts gave a tantalising glimpse into what we can expect from her book – so tantalising that a few people bought it after the talk, and had it signed by Newman herself!
In the last fifteen minutes the audience were allowed to ask questions. This portion of the event was where we saw Newman’s personality shine through. Questions ranged from her book, who she would love to interview if she had the chance, her work as a journalist, and what Jon Snow is like to work with. Newman treated each question the same level of respect, each answer as entertaining and thoughtful as the last.
It is a shame the event was only an hour long. I could have listened to her speak for at least another hour. Oh well, at least I have her book to read. I’m sure I’ll learn everything I ever need to know about the Bloody Brilliant Women of the past from it.
This work was produced by participants on our Durham Book Festival Reviewers in Residence programme, a cultural journalism programme run by New Writing North Young Writers. Reviewers in Residence gives aspiring journalists aged 15-23 the chance to review books, attend events and interview authors at the Durham Book Festival. For more information about New Writing North Young Writers visit the New Writing North website.