The bestselling author and historian Lisa Hilton picks up the mythical ‘City of Ladies’ where the medieval writer Christine de Pisan left off, continuing a conversation about gender and greatness that began more than six hundred years ago.
In 1405 Christine de Pisan took up the pen to defend her maligned sex. Her book, The City of Ladies, was built around preserving women's reputations from the slights and misunderstandings of history. In it the author is visited by three spirits – Justice, Rectitude and Reason – who guide her in sifting through countless lives, in search of worthy citizens.
Over 600 years later, the historian and novelist Lisa Hilton picks up the book and promptly falls asleep, only to be visited by three great women from history: Cleopatra, Lucrezia Borgia and Catherine the Great. And they aren’t happy. Having found themselves barred from the original ‘City of Ladies’, they want to know why. And isn’t it time, they ask, for a new author to take up the pen?
What follows is a reassessment of the past, in which deeds and reputations, rumours and reality are held up to the light, and history is wrested back from the distortions of misogyny.
'Clever, droll and fabulous – a thought-provoking blend of history, fable and glamour' Lucy Worsley, historian
‘A witty and wonderful woman's-eye view of three of history's most maligned female power brokers’ Hallie Rubenhold, 2020 Baillie-Gifford-Prize-winning author of The Five
About the author
Lisa Hilton is a biographer, art historian and the author of the internationally bestselling art world thriller series Maestra. She has been reviewing for the TLS for over twenty years. Lisa lives in Venice, Italy, with her daughter.