Upcoming Event

Ramie Targoff at Harvard Book Store

presenting

Shakespeare's Sisters:
How Women Wrote the Renaissance

in conversation with ADAM GOPNIK

Date

Mar
20
Wednesday
March 20, 2024
7:00 PM ET

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes RAMIE TARGOFF—the Jehuda Reinharz Professor of the Humanities, professor of English, and co-chair of Italian Studies at Brandeis University and author of Renaissance Woman—for a discussion of her new book Shakespeare's Sisters: How Women Wrote the Renaissance. She will be joined in conversation by ADAM GOPNIK—staff writer at The New Yorker and author of Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery

About Shakespeare's Sisters

In an innovative and engaging narrative of everyday life in Shakespeare’s England, Ramie Targoff carries us from the sumptuous coronation of Queen Elizabeth in the mid-sixteenth century into the private lives of four women writers working at a time when women were legally the property of men. Some readers may have heard of Mary Sidney, accomplished poet and sister of the famous Sir Philip Sidney, but few will have heard of Aemilia Lanyer, the first woman in the seventeenth century to publish a book of original poetry, which offered a feminist take on the crucifixion, or Elizabeth Cary, who published the first original play by a woman, about the plight of the Jewish princess Mariam. Then there was Anne Clifford, a lifelong diarist who fought for decades against a patriarchy that tried to rob her of her land in one of England’s most infamous inheritance battles.

These women had husbands and children to care for and little support for their art, yet against all odds they defined themselves as writers, finding rooms of their own where doors had been shut for centuries. Targoff flings those doors open, revealing the treasures left by these extraordinary women; in the process, she helps us see the Renaissance in a fresh light, creating a richer understanding of history and offering a much-needed female perspective on life in Shakespeare’s day.

Praise for Shakespeare's Sisters

“In her new book, Ramie Targoff has done something extraordinary—written a sterling work of feminist history that is never narrowly ideological nor loses sight of the particular lives and language of her heroines. We meet an extraordinary cast of unknown characters, and live more richly in a time we thought we knew.” —Adam Gopnik, author of Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery

“Ramie Targoff has written a vivid, finely crafted portrait of four extraordinary Renaissance women whose writing, long buried in archives, defied all the rules. Mary Sidney’s translations, Ameilia Lanyer’s poems, Anne Clifford’s diaries, and Elizabeth Cary’s dramas contained radical messages of autonomy at a time when women had few legal rights and almost no access to education. Raised to keep quiet and obey their husbands, these writers kept diaries, created female heroines, and gave women starring roles on the stage and page. Targoff, an esteemed scholar of Renaissance literature, restores these women to the starring roles they deserve in this fresh, galavanting, and indispensable history of Renaissance England. Shakespeare’s Sisters challenges and expands our historical memory in sweeping, cinematic prose. Scholarly storytelling at its finest.” —Heather Clark, author of Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath

Masking Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Adam Gopnik
Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. He is a three-time winner of the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism and of the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In March 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic. He lives in New York City with his wife and their two children.

Ramie Targoff
Ramie Targoff

Ramie Targoff

Ramie Targoff is the Jehuda Reinharz Professor of the Humanities, professor of English, and co-chair of Italian Studies at Brandeis University. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author, most recently, of Renaissance Woman, a biography of Vittoria Colonna, and is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives with her family in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: C. Frédéric Brenner

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