Bloody Brilliant Women Book Summary - Bloody Brilliant Women Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro

Bloody Brilliant Women summary

Cathy Newman

Pioneers, Revolutionaries, and Geniuses Your History Teacher Forgot to Mention

4.3 (35 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman tells the stories of pioneering women in British history and their contributions to society. Candid and inspiring, this book sheds light on previously ignored figures who have shaped our world.

Table of Contents

    Bloody Brilliant Women
    Summary of 7 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 7

    During the Victorian Era, British women gained substantial autonomy through new marriage laws.

    Mary Wollstonecraft’s 1798 novel The Wrongs of Woman tells the tale of Maria – a woman who loses custody of her infant daughter and is unjustly imprisoned in a mental asylum by her husband. Though a work of gothic fiction, Maria’s fate was a sad reality for many women in Britain’s Georgian and Victorian eras. At the time, marriage for a woman meant being robbed of her fortune and freedom.

    Only in the late nineteenth century did the law begin to change, and women gradually gained protection from domestic offenses.

    One of the foundations of marriage law in Victorian England was coverture. Coverture dictated that a woman’s legal rights were subsumed by the legal rights of her husband. That meant she could not sue, be sued, or make a will. Her property became her husband’s property – even if she owned it prior to marriage – and she had no custody of the couple’s children. However, married women eventually gained legal inheritance rights and the right to own any money they earned with the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870.

    In 1884, the Matrimonial Causes Act was passed, forbidding a husband from keeping his wife locked up at home as punishment for refusing his sexual advances. It wasn’t until 1891 that the law was first interpreted and enforced in a court case referred to as the Jackson Abduction.

    Edmund Jackson married Emily Hall in 1887 and shortly thereafter left for New Zealand without his wife, seeking a better life as a farmer. Four years later, Edmund returned to England, determined to reunite with his wife. When Emily resisted, Edmund filed for a “restitution of conjugal rights” without her knowledge. This would require her by law to live with her husband and finally consummate the marriage.

    One day out of impatience, he ambushed Emily and then held her against her will in his house. Emily’s family turned to the law, filing a writ of habeas corpus. This order demanded that Edmund deliver his imprisoned wife to the court, so he could be forced to give a valid reason for Emily’s confinement.

    Though the High Court refused to issue the habeas corpus, the Court of Appeals delivered a decision that was unprecedented for the time, rejecting the notion that a husband should have complete control over his wife.

    Despite gradual progress, wives were still considered the rightful property of their husbands in the early 1900s. In the next blink, you’ll find out how women used their work during World War I to their advantage and advanced their suffrage agenda.

    Want to see all full key ideas from Bloody Brilliant Women?

    Key ideas in Bloody Brilliant Women

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is Bloody Brilliant Women about?

    Bloody Brilliant Women (2018) shines a light on some of British history’s most remarkable women, who, for years, were conveniently left out of history books mainly written by men. Newman rights this wrong, providing an exhaustive history of the multitude of women responsible for shaping Britain from the 1880s to the present day.

    Best quote from Bloody Brilliant Women

    When Edith Cavells face appeared on war posters, recruitment doubled to 10,000 soldiers a week for two consecutive months.

    —Cathy Newman
    example alt text

    Who should read Bloody Brilliant Women?

    • History buffs
    • Feminists
    • Anglophiles

    About the Author

    Cathy Newman is currently a presenter at Channel 4 News. She has previously held positions at Media Week, the Independent and Financial Times as a journalist. Newman won the prestigious Laurence Stern fellowship at the Washington Post in 2000.

    Categories with Bloody Brilliant Women

    Book summaries like Bloody Brilliant Women

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    29 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial