A Woman’s Will: The changing lives of British women, told through the things they have left behind


A hive of bees, ‘nine pair of bedde stockes’ (bed socks), ‘my worst petticoat’, and the famous Sutton Hoo treasure: these are just some of the objects left to friends, relatives, and institutions by Britain’s women over the last 1,000 years. Female voices are often conspicuously absent from the historical record, but one place where they can be found is in women’s wills. In this book, Viki Holton explores the variety of bequests made by British women through time, from wealthy Anglo-Saxon widows to 20th-century philanthropists. The women represented come from all corners of society – queens and peasants, mistresses and nuns – and their wills offer a window into the lives of these individuals, their achievements and hardships, and the things that mattered to them most in the end. This relatively short publication is by no means a comprehensive study of the subject, but it is an engaging read, and one that shines a light on the wealth of valuable information contained in a woman’s will.

Viki Holton
Amberley Publishing, £22.99
ISBN 978-1445692432