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Scotland's Hidden Harlots & Heroines (Paperback)

Women's Role in Scottish Society from 1690–1969

P&S History > Social History Women of History

By Annie Harrower-Gray
Imprint: Pen & Sword Social History
Pages: 190
ISBN: 9781781592717
Published: 11th March 2014
Last Released: 9th December 2021



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Annie Harrower-Gray opens up an alternative view of Scotland's turbulent history, revealing three centuries through the eyes of the nation's women. The whole of society appears, from ordinary labourers, prostitutes and factory hands to their more celebrated sisters and even witches, bodysnatchers and female Jacobites.

All their tales are freshly researched and told with a sense of humour. Colourful characters abound! Step inside the boudoirs of Edinburgh's ladies of pleasure, whose civilised manners so confused one church minister that he 'accidentally' took tea in a brothel. Creep into the graveyard with Helen Torrance and Jean Lapiq, convicted of bodysnatching half a century before Burke and Hare. Uncover the murky history of Scotland's last witch Helen Duncan, whose eerily accurate wartime predictions led to her imprisonment. This book offers an exciting and erudite voyage through the social history of Scotland.

Honour the heroines who helped to shape Scotland, yet rest in unvisited tombs!

As featured in Alloa & Hillfoots Advertiser, The Gazette and Scottish Memories Magazine.

The book was set out well and I enjoyed the different chapters too. It was an easy book to read and I read a few chapters each evening as it is an easy one to dip in and out of too. The book certainly piqued my interest and there are a few women mentioned that I want to now read more about.

Read the full review here

Donna's Book Blog

I think it's something of a bold statement to claim that the subjects of the essays in this very entertaining book helped to shape the social history of Scotland, although the corresponding social history of England is peppered with similar female characters. Annie's book captures the stories of a wide variety of remarkable and colourful women for the best part of three centuries; these are the kinds of stories I would have read in the 1950s in TitBits and Reveille magazines. Fascinating!

Books Monthly

Deftly organized into two main sections (Part One: 1690-1800 & Part Two: 1800-1900), "Scotland's Hidden Harlots and Heroines: Women's role in Scottish Society from 1690-1969" also features an informative Introduction, a two page Select Bibliography, and an eight page Index. Impressively informative, impressively original, exhaustively researched, deftly written, accessibly organized and presented.

Midwest Book Review

An engaging read, to say the least, but also a jumping off point for those who are looking to find a noteworthy woman about whom they might like to learn more.
'Scotland's Hidden Harlots and Heroines' would make a worthy addition to your bookshelf and is, quite simply, an enjoyable read.

History Scotland

Annie Harrower-Gray describes the hardiness of some of these 'invisible' women, from prostitutes to upper-class ladies, and how they shaped Scotland as a nation today.

Family Tree

As seen in The Scots Magazine.

The Scots Magazine

From 'ladies of the night' to land girls, this book offers a much more serious restitution of women's role in Scots history than its eye-grabbing title suggests - but nonetheless told with a sense of humour.

Your Family Tree

A fascinating insight into the harsh realities of being a woman in Scotland in days of old. The sagas of Helen Torrance and Jean Waldie convicted of body-snatching a half century before Burke & Hare; Scotland's last witch and the unfortunate Lady Grange sent into exile on St Kilda by her husband. A great read.

Scotland Magazine

[This book] divulges some of the lesser-known tales of Scotland's social history and successfully uncovers what life could really be like for Scottish women over the last 300 years.

Discover Your History
 Annie Harrower-Gray

About Annie Harrower-Gray

Annie Harrower-Gray is a freelance writer based in Scotland. She is a regular contributor to Scotland Magazine and writes their regular 'Haunted Scotland' feature. She also freelances for a range of family history, local history and travel publications, and has written for Radio Scotland. Her book on the history of the Fife Coast is awaiting publication by The History Press. Her short fiction has won acclaim, and two of her stories were published in Catch the Tide (New Voices Press 2009).

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