Undreamed Shores - Granta Magazine
  • Published: 02/07/2020
  • ISBN: 9781783783328
  • Granta Books
  • 352 pages

Undreamed Shores

Frances Larson

In the first decades of the 20th century, five women arrived at Oxford to take the newly created Masters diploma in Anthropology. Though their circumstances differed radically, all five were intent on travelling to the furthest corners of the globe and studying remote communities whose lives were a world away from their own.

In the wastelands of Siberia; in the pueblos and villages of the Nile and New Mexico; in the midst of a rebellion on Easter Island; and in the uncharted interiors of New Guinea, they found new freedoms. They documented customs now long since forgotten, and bore witness to now-vanished worlds. Through their work they overturned some of the most pernicious myths that dogged their gender, and proved that women could be explorers and scientists, too. Yet when they returned to England they found loss, madness, and regret waiting for them.

Following the lives of her subjects through women’s suffrage, two world wars and on into the second half of the 20th century, Larson’s masterful biography is a revelatory portrait of a pioneering quintet, one whose contribution has for too long been left uncelebrated.

A deeply poignant account of five women who defied convention to pioneer female scholarship at immense personal cost. If you want to understand why there is so little historical evidence of women's intellectual achievement, read this. A devastating indictment of prejudice and how it held women back from achieving their potential

Madeleine Bunting

A vivid and moving history of a pioneering group of women, sensitively told and rigorously researched. Undreamed Shores is a compelling and memorable work

Sarah Moss

The Author

Dr Frances Larson is an honorary research fellow in anthropology at Durham University. She is the author of a biography of Henry Wellcome, An Infinity of Things (OUP, 2009), which was part-funded by a Wingate Scholarship. The book was published to considerable critical acclaim and was subsequently shortlisted for the MJA Awards and chosen as a Sunday Times Book of The Year, as well as a New Scientist Best Book of 2009. She is also the co-author of Knowing Things (OUP, 2007), a book on the history of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, where she worked as a researcher after receiving her D.Phil.

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From the Same Author

Severed

Frances Larson

Our history is littered with heads. Over the centuries, they have decorated our churches, festooned our city walls and filled our museums; they have been props for artists and specimens for laboratory scientists, trophies for soldiers and items of barter. Today, as videos of decapitations circulate online and cryonicists promise that our heads may one day live on without our bodies, the severed head is as contentious and compelling as ever.

From shrunken heads to trophies of war; from memento mori to Damien Hirst’s With Dead Head; from grave-robbing phrenologists to enterprising scientists, Larson explores the bizarre, often gruesome and confounding history of the severed head. Its story is our story.