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Wits and Wives by Kate Chisholm download in ePub, pdf, iPad

It is also very good at showing us a new side of a man we might consider ourselves to be familiar with already. As for modern works concentrating on this aspect of the great man's life and character, they can be either too academic, or not academic enough. And she also reminds us that his is by no means the only story to be told of those days. He entertained women's opinions to a greater degree than many of his contemporaries, and he certainly relished their company.

So the fact that Johnson had

So the fact that Johnson had what we might as well call a coterie of female friends he could converse with on more or less equal terms was, if not extraordinary, certainly worth noting. Like Reynolds, Chisholm isn't afraid to show Johnson as a weak and imperfect man, and, as she says of Reynolds, her refusal to gloss over his imperfections does him honour. The deck was stacked against women in so many ways.

There have been not only quite a few books about Johnson already, but a few about his relationship with women. The thing is, though, that most of the contemporary accounts are filtered through the perceptions, and the prejudices, of others. In fact, you wonder if, in a small way, Johnson deserves a modest shrine in the history of feminism.

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