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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Warrior Queens and Quiet Revolutionaries by Kate Mosse


Kate Mosse has written many well-received works of fiction, including the novel Labyrinth, which was made into a movie. Her latest book is non-fiction, a fascinating celebration of women in history.


It reads like a detective story as Kate uncovers about 1,000 women whose names deserve to be better known in our history pages. It all starts with her researching the life of her great-grandmother Lily Watson, a famous and highly successful novelist in her time who has completely faded from the record. The other women she encountered along the way are in broad categories, warriors, writers, inventors, and the like, and it’s designed like a dictionary of names to be dipped into.


There are so many amazing women to discover that I had never heard of before. There are women from ancient times, but to choose a few from the 1800s and 1900s, there are:

  • Margaret Cruickshank, who lived from 1873 to 1918, was New Zealand’s first registered female doctor.

  • There is Kathleen Ollenrenshaw, who lived from 1912 to 2014. She was almost entirely deaf from age eight, and she didn’t get a hearing aid until she was 37. She learnt to lip-read, forged a career as a professor that led to a damehood, and was also a celebrated sportswoman.

  • There is Judith Pool, who lived from 1919 to 1975, who discovered a process for creating concentrated blood clotting factors, which has gone on to improve the lives of haemophiliacs.


This is a book for anyone interested in history. It’s partly a personal memoir about Kate Mosse researching her great-grandmother’s life. It’s about women’s struggles, but it’s also a loving celebration of women’s achievements.


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Pan Macmillan


Listen to Karen chat about this book and more here

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