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Posts Tagged ‘Catharine Macaulay’

She was, clearly, a remarkable but polarising figure: politically radical; internationally celebrated, especially in America, if not notorious; a pioneer as a woman working in a male-dominated field who both insisted on the irrelevance of her gender and drew attention to it. Until yesterday, I had never heard of Catharine Macaulay (1731-91; bornĀ  Sawbridge, later Graham), the eighteenth-century historian, but after a happy hour or so in the library reading some of her works I’m now something of a fan. Her eight-volume History of England interpreted it as a never-ending struggle to win back the freedom and rights that had been enjoyed by the Anglo-Saxons but then crushed by the Normans and suppressed as far as possible by every subsequent dynasty; she also anticipated Mary Wollstonecraft in arguing that the apparent inferiority of women was simply a result of their mis-education. She commented on the ideas of both Burke and Hobbes – works which I haven’t yet been able to read – and was an acquaintance of George Washington and other American revolutionaries.

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