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The ‘Herstory’ trend is bringing women’s lives out of the shadows in the UK

LONDON – From the opera star who walked the stage covered in diamonds to a young widow left penniless with a young child in 19th-century Britain, a new wave of ‘here stories’ sheds light on female voices drawn from history were ignored or even deleted.

Britain’s Royal Opera House and charity National Trust are among those delving into the past to tell the tale of previously forgotten lives.

At London’s Covent Garden Opera House, visitors can now discover the theater’s own ‘heritage’ on a tour that celebrates the many forgotten women who helped shape it.

19th-century composer Ethel Smyth had to threaten to run away from home to convince her family to let her study music.

After winning her over and attending the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, she had great success with her “Messe in D”.

“People absolutely loved it, but she had to fight tooth and nail against both critics and some of the musicians themselves who refused to work with a woman,” said Amandine Riche, tour guide at the Royal Opera House.

Despite the acclaim, Smyth has been accused of being “overwhelmed” when pursuing typically masculine pieces like “Mass in D,” or “light and frivolous” when confined to chamber music, she said.

– Forgotten Star –

Composer Giuseppe Verdi paid tribute to another long-forgotten artist, Adelina Patti, as the greatest singer he had ever heard.

A major international star in her day, she charged what is today the equivalent of $100,000 per performance, and once arrived in a 3,700 diamond-studded dress that was valued at $23 million.

Officers from the nearby, now closed, Bow Street Police Station had to go on stage disguised as extras to keep an eye on them throughout the show.

But it’s not just the lives of rich and famous women that have been sidelined by a male-led narrative.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day on Wednesday, Britain’s National Trust is telling the story of some ordinary working women whose lives have been forgotten.

The Trust, Europe’s largest conservation organisation, has drawn on research into women living in a cluster of 19th-century houses that have been preserved and restored in the heart of Birmingham, central England.

The houses are the only ones that survived the mass redevelopment of downtown in the 1960s.

“It’s an opportunity to shed a light on people we don’t hear about often, but it was real people who lived in these houses, which is fascinating,” said National Trust spokeswoman Sophie Flyn.

Visitors can walk through the cobbled courtyard where the women hung out their laundry and peek into the rooms where they lived and slept.

– real lives –

“You get a real sense of what her life could have been like,” Flyn said.

One of the women who lived there was widow Eliza Wheeler, who ran a market stall, and her daughter Sarah.

“Being widowed and having kids in the Victorian era… that would have been a challenge, but somehow she pulled through,” Flyn added.

Maria Beadell, founder of London’s Herstorical Tours, said there is a growing appetite for history from a female perspective.

Her first historical reenactment tour, which launched in 2021, focused on London’s witches and was so popular that she added a second last year, telling the story of the capital’s sex workers in the 18th century.

Beadell said that unlike monarchs or other noble women, the stories of ordinary London women have largely been “erased from history”.

Your guided tours tell the stories of Marjery Jourdemayne, a midwife accused of witchcraft who was burned at the stake in 1441, and Sally Salisbury, an 18th-century courtesan who was imprisoned for stabbing one of her lovers.

“It’s just the way the world has been for over 2,000 years, the male voice was dominant … but these were real people who lived,” she said.

Source: Crypto News Deutsch

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