The Book Club

Francesca Peacock: Pure Wit

45 min listen

In This Episode

In this week’s Book Club podcast, I’m joined by Francesca Peacock to talk about the remarkable life and extraordinary work of Margaret Cavendish, the 17th-century Duchess of Newcastle. Famous in her own day for her bizarre public appearances and nicknamed ‘Mad Madge’, the author of The Blazing World has been marginalised by posterity as an eccentric dilettante. But in her new book Pure Wit, Francesca sets out to reclaim her as a serious feminist writer before feminism was generally thought of, and as a radical thinker in natural philosophy. She tells me about the contradictions of ‘Lady Bashful’ who lived to be famous, this happy wife who wrote scaldingly about marriage, and this autodidact who nevertheless wasn’t afraid to take on Hobbes, Descartes and the dusty fellows of the Royal Society. 


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